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Professional Development of Student Conduct Administrators

Info: 8912 words (36 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: EducationManagement


The need to have well-trained faculty, staff and student conduct administrators are essential so that students are afforded due process as a citizen of the United States. The student code of conduct staff will need to be aware and competent of legal issues which affect decision outcomes, current best practices that address alternative resolutions to student behavior, and outcome data measurements of student behavior which has improved and mutually beneficial to the student, the college, and university.

Contemporary Institutions of Higher Education

Lake (2009) wrote and described for many years about contemporary institutions of higher education and the prevailing operating procedures concerning adjudicating student conduct controlled by senior-level administrators such as deans. Historically, the handling of student conduct cases for violations were informal (Karp & Sacks, 2014, Olafson, Schraw, Kehrwald, 2014). However, the administration of today infractions of the student code of conduct is administered by student affairs staff who require training to address student behavior in a manner consistent with integrity and care and the law (Bennet, 2014; Olafson, Schraw, Kehrwald, 2014).

According to Nuss (1996) and Stimpson and Janosik (2015), student affairs historically has mirrored the history of higher education. Since colonial days with the founding of colleges, the faculty was caretakers of students in the absence of their parents. Students were viewed as being immature and needed constant supervision by adults to make good choices. Tasked with enforcing rules and regulations as if they were the parents in other words “In loco parentis” were faculty and staff. Also, the faculty and staff acted in the role of the absentee custodial parents which was in the capacity of supervising students even while students sought and cultivated other means of expressing independence such as the emergence of literary societies, fraternities and sororities, and student clubs and organizations. “Extracurricular activities were a student response to the traditional, strictly classical course of study” (Nuss, 1996, p. 66).

Following the colonial period and subsequent years, the approach to student discipline evolved and the way students were viewed and treated also changed along with higher education. Dannells (1997) wrote, “Many forces conspired to reshape colleges’ expectations and treatment of their students towards a more positive view of students as young adults capable of making decisions about their education and their conduct”(p. 7). Towards the close of the eighteenth century, administration relieved faculty of the responsibility for student conduct. Instead, college and universities senior leadership transferred student conduct and discipline to persons who had strong student engagement and who were able to enforce policies while also having the support of the students (Karp & Frank, 2016).

The need to have trained student affairs administrators in the new field of student affairs led to the creation of titles such as Dean of Men, Dean of Students, and Dean of Women respectively at the end of the nineteenth century (Karp & Frank, 2016). These newly formulated positions were solely engaged in the student experience moving from a traditional role on the periphery to a role which was fully integrated into the student’s daily lives to include out of classroom experience but also in adjudicating student behavior. According to Schwartz (2003), the first Dean of Men on a college campus was Thomas Arkle Clark in 1895, commonly referred to as “T.A.” at the University of Illinois. Thomas referred to his job as instrumental in helping to create and mold the role of student disciplinary officer. According to Rhatigan (2009), the duties of the role of Dean of Men involved “an emphasis on the welfare of the whole student, responsibility for student discipline, and a genuine care for offering student advice and support” (Rhatigan, 2009, p.5).

Professional groups were formed to help advocate and support student affairs. The Deans of Men and Deans of Women founded separate organization groups to further their cause. In 1882 the American Association of University Women (AAUW) was established to improve the standards and access of women in higher education and to level the playing field to be on par with men of similar educational background. In 1919 the Conference of Deans and Advisers of Men was founded with the purpose to collaborate with other Deans of Men who were tasked with student discipline and to some degree administrative services. This group eventually evolved into what is now known today as NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The title of Dean of Men and Dean of Women evolved into the title Dean of Students (Nuss, 1996).

The additional layer of administrative authority necessitated the need to have well-trained personnel in colleges and universities to address the needs of students and to relieve faculty of disciplinary issues so they could concentrate on teaching and research. Walter Dill Scott, tenth president of Northwestern University and a pioneer in the field of industrial psychology, was chief engineer and proponent of student personnel work. The research that Walter Dill Scott conducted at Northwestern University utilizing its archives about people was instrumental in organizing what was formerly student personnel work, into what is now called student affairs. The emphasis in dedicated areas of student’s engagement precipitated the establishment of supportive professional organizations to address specific needs related to student affairs. In 1910 the Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers was established. Also, the American College Personnel Association was founded in 1924 to formulate policies, practices, and programs for professionals within student affairs and assist professionals in the larger higher education community (Nuss, 1996).

After the cessation of hostilities related to World War II, the United States Congress passed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act commonly referred to as the G.I. Bill in 1944 and subsequently signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The G.I. Bill allowed members of the armed forces the ability to generous financial aid for tuition and living expenses thus creating access to higher education in unprecedented numbers. The influx of significant increases of students on college and university campuses required additional administrative positions designed to manage the bulging student population. “The swelling of postwar enrollments signaled the need for massive construction of laboratories, classroom buildings and dormitories” (Thellin, 2004, p. 265)

The period between the passage and implementation of the G.I. Bill and the student revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s had a huge impact on student conduct, “campus disruptions became common and sometimes violent as students demonstrated for peace, freedom from conscription, freedom from parietal rules, and for greater involvement in campus governance” (p. 10). In these turbulent times, the institutional belief of “In loco parentis” quickly dissipated. Also, the ratification of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment which lowered the voting age from age 21 to 18 years of age critically severed how higher education viewed students. This according to Danells, “substantially contributed to the movement away from viewing the student-institutional relationship as “In loco parentis” to a more contractual and consumerist view.” (p. 10).

Lake (2009) wrote for significant numbers of years concerning the adjudication of student conduct matters by Deans who supervised informal procedures, however at the modern college or university today it is not uncommon to have student conduct violations overseen by administrators who are properly skilled and trained to adjudicate conduct infractions. Every campus has “someone whose job it is to be a conduct or hearing officer, or investigator, or the like” (p. 14). Colleges and universities today have rules and regulations as outlined in a student handbook either in the hard copy or electronically which the student can access and normally there is a hyperlink to review and download for review.

A research study by Miller found that behavior by the student in the class should not be confused with the academic performance of the student. “A persistent concern, however, requires the educator to carefully distinguish between performance, conduct, and behavior before further action.” (Miller, pp. 248-251)  Grading for the student is based on his or her performance given the assigned coursework. The Student Code of Conduct which guides the decisions concerning student conduct lies in the institution’s handbook. Charged with implementing standards of common courtesy and professional disposition is the professor. Additionally, to address student behavior, it was strongly encouraged that faculty should pay close attention to and utilize agreed upon expectations of civil and professional behavior.

Kidder (1995) suggests that decision making is driven by our core values, morals and integrity and falls into two categories: Moral Temptations and Ethical Decisions. The moral temptation is a decision about right vs. wrong and is inextricably a part of the core values that each person possesses. The decision-making process allows the student conduct administrator to put aside personal feelings and interests. Ethical decision making allows an administrator to take into consideration all viewpoints.

A research study by Bracewell revealed that students who violate the Student Code of Conduct might also be breaking local, state, and federal laws. For example, a student who has a weapon in his or her possession with the intent to commit a criminal act of violence may also warrant the need to employ proper authorities. Specifically, the Student Code of Conduct was formulated to promote a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. Thus, regulating inappropriate student behavior has always been at the forefront of institutions of higher learning in efforts to hold students accountable for their actions and behaviors.

A research study by King (2012) highlighted students sanctioned by the Student Code of Conduct who felt their return on investment in their education was negative regarding the college or university. Students who were disciplined for infractions and were required to participate in community service exhibited lower rates of reoccurrences of the same behavior that warranted the infraction. Students who adhered to the Student Code of Conduct and valued the outcome of the decisions concluded the experience was helpful. In turn, student affairs professionals have great power to shape students conclusions and ultimately their future decisions. Consequently, students who did not favor there disciplinary outcome felt the complete opposite.

In a peer-reviewed journal, Morrissette stated “Classroom incivility has been the focus of increased attention in higher education circles and is, commonly labeled as a “growing problem” (Morrissette, 2001, p. 3) Many blame the deterioration of civility in society at large for the problem (Connelly, 2009).  Nonetheless, experts still struggle to answer the following question: Has incivility always been a problem on university campuses, or has it become worse in recent years?  According to Nilson (2003) and Nilson and Jackson (2004), many of the widespread uncivil behaviors seen in college classrooms today were virtually nonexistent through the mid-1980s.  Only in the last two decades has classroom incivility been recognized and labeled as a national concern in higher education.

In a peer-reviewed journal, Berger stated, “despite our best efforts, classroom incivilities occur.  The following beliefs and attitudes contribute to incivility: 1) irrational beliefs; 2) inaccurate assessment of students’ knowledge; 3) less competent and responsive teachers; 4) lateness/rudeness”. In another journal, article Morrissette indicated “Irritating and immature student behavior is time-consuming for faculty to manage and prevents them from teaching course content.  More intense encounters leave them stressed, stunned, and shaken.  Thus, short-changing students when disruptive behavior derails classes.  In a civil student conduct case, an infraction reduction can occur when faculty assume a proactive stance and employ practical prevention strategies. ”In a study by Ali & Gracey, several issues were addressed but focused primarily on issues of disruptive behavior in the classroom. The study covered the definition of disruptive behavior. It is important to note that the research made it clear that some infractions fall under the purview of issues handled by the Office of Student Affairs while the Office of Academic Affairs reviews the remaining cases. For example, if a student were to be disruptive in the classroom such as being belligerent or uncooperative to the professor that would fall under auspices of student affairs. Students found guilty of violating academic guidelines then that case would be referred to the Office of Academic Affairs and adjudicated accordingly.

“Facing disruptive behavior seems to be an inevitable part the working environment of many educators (Anderson, 1999; Nordstrom, Bartless, Bucy, 2009; Siedman, 2005) The issues leading to the disruption are often easily resolved by pointing out to the student how their behavior disrupts the teaching/learning process. Sometimes, several reminders from the instructor are needed before the student responds appropriately. In rare cases, students may persist with their disruptive behavior and administrative measures subjecting the student to some form of disciplinary action may be needed. The key is for the educator to take some action to stop the disruptive behavior, reactivate the student’s participation in the learning process, and prevent other class members from being affected” (Nordstrom, Bartels & Bucy 2009). Also, if the offending student will be a member of future classes taught by the instructor, it is important to attempt to preserve a good relationship between the two.

A research study by Nadelson (2010) examined a host of issues that include but not limited to student ethical behavior during testing, participation in unauthorized group homework, and or plagiarism from the internet. The research showed that some students acted ethically because of the ramifications of violating the Student Code of Conduct (Amar, Strout, Simpson, Cardiello, & Beckford, 2014; Bennett, 2014). Other students took a moral stance and felt that a dishonest act was a poor reflection on the individual, the instructor, other students, and the greater academic community at the university. However, not all students felt this moral dilemma and chose to take the risk of violating student academic integrity. This is an example of an academic issue that the Student Code of Conduct normally addresses.

In recent years, the faculty has seen an increase in latecomers, sleepers, cell phone addicts, and downright discourteous students in their courses (Karp & Sacks, 2014). Classroom incivility is the disruptive behavior that occurs in higher education learning environments at an alarming rate. Incivility is often a reciprocal process; both students and faculty may contribute to a climate of disrespect for one another or the learning process. University students are increasingly diverse, unprepared for college-level work, juggling multiple life roles, and facing tremendous pressures to perform in large, impersonal classes. Often trained as researchers, the faculty struggles to manage their classrooms effectively. Millennial Generation students (and their parents) present a new set of challenges for faculty, including consumerist attitudes toward higher education and a failure to take responsibility for their learning. Overall, uncivil behavior violates an unspoken or implied understanding of respect for the learning process and the academy (Karp & Sacks, 2014; Olafson, Schraw, & Kehrwald, 2014). If not dealt with swiftly and effectively, it can have detrimental effects on teaching and learning. The purpose of this paper is to review the academic literature about classroom disruptions, including the causes of incivility and strategies to manage negative student behaviors. In particular, young, female, low-status, and minority instructors face the greatest challenges. Recommendations for faculty include presenting engaging lectures at a moderate pace, respectfully interacting with students, gathering student input in the development of a classroom code of conduct, communicating clear expectations, and familiarizing oneself with classroom incivility research, as well as sharing this research with students” (Knepp, 2012).

“Faculty members are often unprepared to effectively handle classroom conduct, which may be distressing and disruptive.  A range of [proactive] techniques are present that faculty can use to help prevent the development of negative emotions and conflict in their classes.  Recommendations include communicating warmth and sensitivity toward students by remaining enthusiastic and available, establishing a shared course framework by determining course objectives and seeking students’ input, and helping students develop relationships in class through interactive teaching” (Meyers, 2003,p. 94).

Emmanuel and Miser (1987) described, “Any judicial system reflects community values of the college or university, and judicial actions taken or omitted give clear messages to students, faculty, and other constituent groups as to which behavior pattern is valued, tolerated, discouraged or banned” (p. 87). It is the responsibility of the educational institution to have a defined student conduct process that they can access and are aware of their rights and responsibilities as members of the educational community.

Historical Background

In the early days of colleges and universities, the doctrine of “In loco parentis” (in the place of the parent) in other words the parent delegated the parental responsibility of his child into the hands of the college or university. In having absentee custodial responsibility for the student the college or university also has dominion over correction and restraint (Sheeran, Rinaldo, Polka, & Smith, 2015). “In loco parentis” dogma “provided that the college had the right to step into the place of the student’s parents and a duty to protect the safety, welfare, and morals of its students” (Thomas, 1991, p. 32). A student attending a college or university is held responsible for complying with policies and procedures, on academic integrity, college life order, and the protection of individuals and property (Olafson, Schraw, & Kehrwald, 2014). To address the concerns of faculty and staff sanctions are used to reinforce the requirements for academic integrity as well as behavior as outlined in the student code of conduct within the student handbook.

Due Process

The founding fathers addressed due process in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments respectively both state that a person has a right to a fair legal process when the government seeks to burden a person’s protected interests in life, liberty, or property, and the pursuit of happiness (Lowery, 2006; Tabacchi, 2017).  The functional due process is the assurance that the government will not impinge on the essential rights of citizens (Lowery, 2006; Tabacchi, 2017). Considered momentous since it signaled the end to where a college or university could act in the role of a parent or other words could punish or dismiss a student was the groundbreaking Supreme Court Case in St. John Dixon et al. v. Alabama State University. The court decision which is still in effect today necessitates that educational institutions use due process when adjudicating student conduct cases. Policies and procedures must be effectively disseminated to students and referenced in any disciplinary hearing.

The Association of Student Conduct Administrators (ASCA) is a professional organization whose mission is to provide direction and guidance to those in the field of student conduct (Bennett, 2014; Karp & Frank, 2016; Stimpson & Janosik, 2015). In 2001 Kompalla and McCarthy maintained that the student disciplinary process should not be a purely punitive approach but rather should be multifaceted. Student conduct administrators should have an educational emphasis, also, looking at ways to support students and provide leadership which in turn would benefit the educational institution. According to Pontious (2008) expounded that student conduct program learning outcomes should employ integrity and moral codes. Student conduct programs should seek to provide educational opportunities for the students and not operate from the standpoint of being confrontational.

Howell (2005) explained that the purpose of student conduct programs is to encourage and support the institution of higher education, while also guiding students and adhering to community standards. Howell indicated “Judicial affairs officers should develop sanctions that not only address the behaviors in question but also attend to other developmental or behavioral issues surrounding the behavior” (p. 389). Student conduct programs are put in place to answer questions about academic and behavioral expectations by the student population. Also, the goal of student conduct administrators is to educate students and provide information sharing to those students who fail to meet the student obligations as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.

Student conduct administrators involve training to include but not limited to consultative resources for students, faculty, staff and other members of the educational community on the Student Conduct process, Student Code, academic integrity process, alleged violations, current legal parameters, and due process rights of students (Bennett, 2014; Lowery, 2006; Karp & Sacks, 2014). Historically, the Association for Student Administration (ASCA) does not include a process of training for adjudicating student conduct cases. In the 20-year history of ASCA minimal conference papers addressed training for student conduct administrators (Lowery, Taylor, Bourne, & Kitchens, 2006). Moreover, the Gehring Academy affiliated with the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) provides training to participants who seek to become knowledgeable about best practices as they relate to student conduct adjudication cases.

Theoretical Approach

Lawrence Kohlberg was a moral philosopher and student of child development. He was director of Harvard’s Center for Moral Education. His focus area of interest was the moral development of children and how they develop a sense of right, wrong, and justice. Kohlberg identified that growing children advance through successive stages of moral development. Kohlberg observations and studying of children and adults led him to hypothesize human beings progress successively from one stage to the next in an uninterrupted order (Kohlberg, 1969; Zhang & Zhao, 2017). These stages of various cognitive development necessitated qualitatively different approaches of thinking and of problem-solving at each stage (Kohlberg, 1969; Hong, Hwang, Wu, Huang, Lin, & Chen, 2016; Mattanah, 2016). Kohlberg’s theory of moral development was primarily concerned with justice, and that it continued throughout the individual’s lifetime. Kohlberg’s theory apprises students on how good and bad decision making can impact your future. The theory is referenced throughout the student conduct process from beginning to end (Hong, Hwang, Wu, Huang, Lin, & Chen, 2016; Mattanah, 2016).

Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development holds that moral reasoning is the basis for ethical behavior, the theory has six identifiable development stages, with each successive stage building upon the moral dilemmas of the previous stages. Stage 1 (Kohlberg, 1969; Zhang & Zhao, 2017). Obedience and Punishment Orientation: The minor/individual is well behaved and virtuous in order to avoid being disciplined. Stage 2. Minor/individual distinguishes that there is not just one right view which is handed down by the established order.  At this stage, the minor/individual do what is required, and make allowances as necessary to fulfill his or her own requests.

Stage 3. Interpersonal Conformity: What is moral and just is exhibited by obedience to the conventional behavioral values expectations of one’s society or contemporaries. Individual acts to gain approval of others, good behavior is that which pleases or helps others within the group. Stage 4. Law and Order: Minor/individual becomes aware of the wider rules of society so judgments concerning following the rules in order to uphold the law and to avoid blame for breaking laws is viewed as a paramount concern. At this stage, authority figures are seldom questioned. Stage 5. Social Contract: Good and proper behavior in a specific situation is not relegated to a specific list of rules, but from reasonable adherence to universal, generally accepted moral principles. Individuals have natural or inalienable rights and civil liberties which must be safeguarded by the general public. Stage 6: Universal Ethical Principles: People at this stage have developed their own set of moral guidelines which may or may not fit the law, the ethics and moralities apply to every person. Rules and regulations are considered binding if they are embedded injustice, and an obligation to justice carries with it an onus to disobey unjust laws.  In essence, every individual is due respect at all times.

Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is beneficial in particular with regard to education, more directly the education of young adults and their sense of rational, logical, and moral development (Kohlberg, 1969; Zhang & Zhao, 2017). Kohlberg’s intention was to empower individuals to understand forward-looking stages of moral thought, the ethics, and moralities of universal freedom, justice, and the requirement for social order. Kohlberg’s belief was that the advancement of moral feelings and behavior would support individual’s adherence to societal norms.

Professional Development of Student Conduct Administrators

Researchers have identified critical components necessary for effective student conduct investigations. Lowery (2006) discussed legal implications and individual due process as they relate to student conduct processes. The conduct resolution procedures should provide outreach and education to students about University policies and procedures to prevent and deter violations. The 1961 ruling of Dixon v. Alabama State Board of Education mandates that educational institutions of the higher education use due process as it relates to student conduct processes.

Caruso, Cordner, and Brooks (1987) sought to clarify the education and training necessary for those who are involved in adjudicating student conduct cases. For example, the hearing officer’s role may vary depending on the educational institution, also the official investigator assigned to hear student conduct cases may vary as well. Some institutions retain legal counsels, others may utilize campus conduct committees, and may use a combination of student conduct administrators depending on the adjudicated student violations. Schuh (2013) explained that the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) established education outcomes for many programs in student affairs, including but not limited to student conduct programs. Minimal literature exists from the perspectives of the student conduct administrators employing integrity and care. Also, training and education are lacking and is necessary for student conduct administrators to perform their job duties effectively in the best interest of the institution of higher learning and the student.

The Competence of Student Conduct Administrators and Sexual Allegation Cases

The conduct and discipline of the students in University and colleges have been the main concern of the higher educational establishments. As the result, the Association for Student Judicial Affairs emerged in 1987, which was renamed to Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) recently. It was recognized that in order to improve the discipline of the students, the administration of the universities has to focus on the conduct and its facilitation among the learners. Consequently, with the development of this issue, the training of conduct administrators became an important step in maintaining a more effective approach to the student conduct. The new models of practice have emerged that focused on the three aspects of conduct administration, including mediation, restorative, and social justice. The increased attention to the competency of conduct administrators has emphasized that the educational institutions required a more effective model of maintaining the order and safeguarding the discipline on the campus.

The competency of conduct administrators has become one of the main issues in connection with the manner in which the Administration resolves the issues and the resolution of the sexual assault cases. While the University or a college is required to maintain the discipline and make sure that the incidents involving students are addressed effectively, several concerns emerged that cast a shadow on the student conduct administration. One of the major issues is the resolution of the critical issues involving the students, especially what concerns the sexual assault cases on the campuses. Lancaster & Waryold (2013) recognized that in most cases, the cases involving sexual assault are resolved without any outcomes for the perpetrators, which emphasizes the lack of competence of the student conduct administrators. The researchers emphasized that the main responsibilities of the administrators are to assess, explore, and adjudicate complaints of violations of the conduct code; yet, in many sexual assault cases the allegations of the victims are not considered not only due to the intention to “silent” the case but also due to the lack of competence of the administrators (Lancaster & Waryold, 2013). As the statistics show, 11.2%, of all students experience sexual assault when they are in college; 8.8% of the female students experience rape during their college years (RAINN, 2015). A major portion of sexual assaults on campus remains unreported due to the different reasons, from the fear to be judged by the peers to the lack of belief to the justice. As student conduct administrators are responsible for the prevention of the sexual misconduct on campus as well as the assistance in the case resolution, they require certain skills in order to attain these goals.

ASCA recommended training the administrators in order to prevent the sexual misconduct in the campus as well as to investigate the cases more effectively. According to ASCA (2014) recommendations, the administrators have to be aware of the remedial procedures for the victims, they have to recognize the difference between the legalistic language and the principles of dealing with this type of misconduct on the campuses, and they have to be able to collect the evidence by contacting the victims and witnesses. In terms of sexual misconduct, ASCA (2014) recognizes five stages of student conduct resolution procedures that includes the evaluation of the existing policies, the interaction with all parties involved, the investigation of the complaint or allegation, adjudication, and the response of the educational establishment. These steps have to be familiar to the administrators, as they have to be able to recognize the problem and to eliminate it or prevent from occurring in future. Moreover, as ASCA (2014) recommends, “training campus experts should include the Title IX team/coordinators, investigators, adjudicators, appeals board members, and so forth” (p. 2). The administrators have to be able to receive the training in all aspects considering the sexual misconduct on campus.

At the same time, one of the major problems with the sexual misconduct and the lack of competence in this case of the administrators is the approach of the universities to handling these issues. ASCA and campus policies cannot guarantee the traditional judicial process in case of sexual assault, as the educational institutions do not have the authority to conduct criminal processes. They are allowed to use administrative punitive measures, yet, they cannot incarcerate or fine the accused due to the absence of legal tools. The ability of the conduct administrators to handle such a serious crime as rape is very limited since they are not equipped with the instruments to gather the necessary evidence, implement the laws, and judge the accused (Howard, Griffin, & Boekeloo, 2008). It was recognized that such serious crimes have to be handled by the police and the courts rather than the college administrators (Payne & Respass, 2006).

At the same time, the punitive measures in this type of cases are essential in order to prevent the sexual misconduct from occurring in future. However, at this point, the higher education institutions are not clear how to establish the fair evaluation of the sexual misconduct cases and make sure that the justice is restored (Koelsch, Brown, & Boisen, 2012). For instance, the administration is not clear how to address the problem of sexual misconduct when the students are on campus and how to determine if the assault actually happens (James, 2015). Since the student conduct administrators are not able to target these incidents at once, it is not clear how they can monitor the students during the time when they are on campus.

Student Conduct Administration and Judicial Board Practices

The objective of student judicial affairs on campus is to make sure that the misconduct among students and the staff members are addressed accordingly. The role of student conduct administrator may vary in this process since the judicial power is usually provided to the Judicial Boards that are formed during the hearing. As Derajtys & McDowell (2014) imply, Judicial Boards have to answer three critical questions before implying the decisions. First of all, the administrators and the Board have to determine why student conduct has to be monitored and managed by the educational institution. Secondly, it is essential to determine why the students violate the rules of the institution, and finally, how to respond to a specific violation (Derajtys & McDowell, 2014). The disciplinary penalty has to reflect the misconduct of a student as well as to serve as the prevention of the future misconducts. The disciplinary penalty has to regulate student behavior in general by showing an example to other students.

Recently, more attention was directed to the detecting how effective the judicial programs and conduct administrators are. According to O’Reilly & Evans (2007), the sanctions imposed against the students may fall within two types, including the active and passive ones. The Board may use the active sanctions that require the participation of the student offender, for example, the need to undergo an educational training or conduct the community services (O’Reilly & Evans, 2007). Passive sanctions usually include the temporary removal of the student from the campus, limitation of his/her ability to visit the classes or academic probation. The student conduct administrators can issue the warnings and educate the students regarding the possible punitive actions that may be the outcome of the misconduct. In most cases, the retention rate of the students is higher in the situations when the passive sanctions are imposed. However, this method is limited in its efficacy if the student conducted a serious offense.

Nowadays, the higher education institutions use formal, informal, or mixed judicial boards. It has to be mentioned that the formal system is very rare among the modern universities, as it required the use of the official jargon and the system itself resembles the courtroom, which is not appreciated by the universities (Braswell & Gold, 2012). On the contrary, the informal system avoids using the judicial jargon and the legalistic language, which usually used in the petty violations. Finally, the mixed system includes the characteristics of the formal and informal systems that developed the hybrid approach to the judicial matters on the campus (Braswell & Gold, 2012). As Derajtys & McDowell (2014) noticed, the formal systems is the most efficient compared to the other two due to its ability to regulate the behavior of the students, implement a clear and concise system of decisions, and make sure that the case is judged fairly. However, the universities do not prefer the implementation of the official system, as it requires the additional financial investment as well as the establishment of the official procedures that can be difficult to apply in the conditions of the education system.

Administrative Boards usually include the conduct administrators, professors, in some cases, the campus staff members and students. It is considered that the Boards that include other students are the most effective ones, as they decrease the recidivism rate among the students (Derajtys & McDowell, 2014). As it was confirmed, the effect on the recidivism rate of the inclusion of peers in the Boards can be explained by the practical experience of the students in the judicial hearings, which affects their awareness and prevents the misconduct from occurring. Nowadays, the main purpose of the conduct hearings is to involve students in a meaningful dialog. The data retrieved from the hearings and meetings enable the conduct administrators to understand better the actions of the students, their intentions to adhere to the ethical norms on the campus, and personal aspirations. Stein, Richin, Banyon, Banyon, & Stein (2000) implied that the administration and teachers have to consider the characteristic traits of the students before conducting the disciplinary meetings in order to address the problem more effectively. In addition, the conversations with the students enable them to reflect on their thoughts, behavior, and the violations of the ethical norms. In the perfect scenario, the hearings and meetings help the students to increase their awareness regarding their involvement in the misconduct and make positive changes in their behavioral patterns (Zdziarski & Wood, 2008). The conduct administrators have to be ready to use the developmental approach to students by educating them as well as the legalistic approach that may help to regulate the students’ behavior.

The hearings are usually held by the Administrative Boards, while the student conduct administrators can choose to organize the meetings with the students by themselves. They can schedule the meetings with the students who committed minor violations and require the guidance of the conduct professional. In this case, the passive sanctions can be imposed that does not include the limitation of the attendance. For instance, Thornton & Peterson (2005) proposed using the passive punitive sanctions in the case of academic fraud or plagiarism instead of expelling in order to retain the students and provide the possibility for them to improve themselves. At the same time, these meetings are the main method of preventing the violations and misconduct among the students. The Administrators have to make sure that the students are aware of the outcomes of the misconduct and serious violations of the ethical rules on the campus. If the problem involves other students, the Administrator may choose to involve them in the meeting as well in order to create a dialog. It is essential to detect if the student commits a serious offense or a minor disturbance, which will determine the character of punitive measures.

The meetings represent the traditional model of conduct that the Administrators usually use in case of the violations. It is considered that this approach is effective in terms of maintaining the discipline and making sure that all students receive fair treatment. The disruptive behavior is targeted at once in this model, this approach supports the individual development and ethical resolution of the problems. The inability of the Administrators to involve the students in critical dialog regarding their conduct leads to the inability to prevent the violations. According to Taylor & Varner (2009), the conduct administrators have to foster the active learning approaches during the meetings that may help all parties to find common ground.

As it was noticed earlier, the Administrators, as well as the judicial Boards, are not able to implement fair punitive measures in the serious cases, including sexual harassment and rape. The main reason is the inability of the educational institution to establish the formal judicial system. The conduct administrators can only interact with the victims and the accused as well as to establish the members of the Board that will conduct the hearing. At the same time, it is impossible to expect that the administration will be able to develop a system where the students do not violate the university conductor when they adhere to the ethical values only as the result of the conversation. In many cases, the hearing is essential as well as the harsher punitive measures in order to make sure that the students understand the outcomes of their actions.

The Impact of Student Conduct on the Learning Process

One of the main goals of the student conduct administrators is to make sure that the students not only comply with the ethical code of conduct of the University but also that they all of them continue to study and do not disrupt this process for others. One of the theoretical frameworks targeting the process of learning was developed by Vygotsky. His socio-cultural theory of learning implied that the teachers and administrators have to facilitate the conditions that stimulate the students’ learning process (Subban, 2006). Vygotsky’s framework requires the teachers to make sure that the students are learning in the proper cultural and social contexts, where the discipline in the classroom as well as in campus affect the process of learning dramatically. In order to make sure that the process of learning is not erupted by the misconduct, the inadequate behavior, the administrators have to make sure that the disruptive behavior is addressed at once. The individual approach to every student is fostered by Vygotsky’s theory as well, which may be difficult in terms of conduct administration. At the same time, the administration has to make sure that the students’ problems are targeted immediately and they do not manifest the same type of behavior in future.

The main issue with the student misconduct is that this issue disrupts the educational process. The serious offenses of the students, as well as the petty violations, have a negative effect on the process of education. For example, if one student constantly involves the violations of the ethical code of the university or a college, this will accumulate the negative experience for the educational establishment as well as other students. According to Bharadwaj & Khan (2016), the students’ disruptive behavior may lead to the increase of the misconduct and violations in the student population that will have a detrimental effect on the entire environment of the institution. Constant avoidance of the punitive measures and reluctance of some educational establishments to implement sound punishment methods for the misconduct will eventually decrease the quality of education in the university as well as the productivity of the students.

The main goal of the educational facility is to establish the safe and stimulating environment for the students. In the conditions of misconduct and ignoring the university code of ethics, the students will not benefit from the educational process and the presence in the institution in general. Cochran & Cochran (1999) proposed using the counseling approach to students who demonstrate misconduct and violation of the ethical norms of the educational facility. Specifically, the researchers proposed to use counseling instead of punitive measures in order to address the cause of the problem rather than dealing with the outcomes (Cochran, & Cochran, 1999). The goal of the administrator is to prevent this situation by approaching the student, whose behavior starts to disrupt the educational process. Moreover, the main goal of the administrator is to recognize the problem at the very beginning and address it with the necessary warning, conversation, or punishment if the students commit a serious violation. By accepting this theoretical approach, the conduct administrators are able to prevent the reoccurrence of the offenses and make sure that the approach to students’ is conducted is implemented more effectively.

Administrators have to make thoughtful decisions concerning the best approaches to training students to regulate their behavior on the campus. It may seem a difficult task since the administrators have limited resources in terms of their ability to address every student individually. Simultaneously, the administrators acquire the possibility to create the environment in the educational institution that eliminates any attempts to affect the quality of the educational environment in the institution. They will receive the possibility to minimize the efforts spent on the judicial procedures and the withdrawal of the students from the institution. Instead, if the problems are targeted at once in the institution, they will not reemerge in future. In the higher educational establishments, the students have to learn how to behave properly in the modern society. It is clear that some of them did not encounter the punitive measures in their school or at home for their behavior. As it was noticed earlier, the so-called “rape culture” that was not addressed for a long time, led to the disturbing outcomes for the institutions, female students, and the American society in general. Therefore, the inability of the administrators to address one problem may generate the development of the new ones that can generate new implications for the educational system and the universities.

By training students in the atmosphere of clarity, acceptance, and productivity, the administrators can avoid the serious problems, including the sexual harassment, rape, heavy drinking, and bullying. The balanced framework that uses the approach of fair treatment of all students, due process, and the prevention mechanisms, will enable the administrators to save their resources and educate the students instead of punishing them. For instance, Lathrop & Foss (2005) recommended developing clear and transparent rules concerning the politics of the university on plagiarism and cheating in order to prevent this type of misconduct instead of expelling the students after they manifest this behavior. This approach can provide to the educators with the clear guidance and support during the work with the problematic students. Specifically, the components of the balanced framework will affect the ability of the administrators to implement the punitive measures as well as to establish the atmosphere of absolute compliance with the ethical code of conduct. The students have to understand the consequences of their actions as well as the positive outcomes that they can gain when following the norms of ethics of the university. One of the negative aspects of the misconduct in the educational institution is the acceptance of the Administrators of the violation of certain students, for example, wealthier and more influencing, and lack of considerations regarding the student whose behavior is the result of their background.

While there are a lot of debates dedicated to the inability of the administrators to implement the effective methods in terms of prevention of the student misconduct, they still are able to use their power to affect the students on campus and monitor the behavior by addressing the complaints. The teachers, as well as other students, can provide the information on those who violate the ethical conduct and commit serious offenses on the campus. The administrators can monitor these students by creating the journal that will include the details of the case, the evidence collected during the investigation, and the conclusion that will be essential for the judicial procedures. It is clear that the administrators do not have the skills of the law enforcement investigators, yet still, they are equipped with the skills and abilities to search for the basic clues and develop a recommendation for the judicial procedures if they are essential for dealing with the misconduct.


The administrators have to adopt the proper leadership framework in order to accomplish all goals. Specifically, they can use the transformational approach in terms of the prevention of the misconduct and the authoritative framework concerning the students who committed serious offenses. The administrators have to reinforce the positive changes as well as they have to implement the serious actions that will make the students to abandon their inadequate behavior and prevent the similar misconduct from happening. For example, the administrators can communicate with the students regarding the alcohol consumption regularly by educating them in terms of the outcomes of their behavior. At the same time, when the same student ignores the warning and, for example, involves in the physical confrontation with other students, the punitive measures are essential. In this case, the transformational approach will not work, as the administrator has to make sure that the student’s behavior will not be tolerated in the educational establishment.

The approach to the students as the active learners may help the administrators to implement the transformational leadership and change the students’ perceptions of the misconduct by showing them real examples. Specifically, the administrators can show the students what happens if they involve in serious offenses. For example, the students have to observe the real-life examples that the serious violation can lead to the expulsion from the university or a college. Only by seeing how these situations affect the real people, they can understand the value of their learning and the privilege of studying in the institution of higher education. Therefore, the students have to make sure that they are familiar with the regulations, the ethical code of conduct, and the possible outcomes of their actions if they fail to comply with the rules provided by these documents. It is essential to note that the students are able to use self-regulation techniques that will more likely to help them to avoid the inadequate actions. They can receive the assistance from the administrators in the form of consultation, support, and help.

It is clear that the administrators face multiple issues that cannot be solved at once. They require the tools, training, and skills to work with the student population. The students are all different, which makes the job of the conduct administrator particularly challenging. They can use the investigative skills to evaluate the cases and complaints. They can use the meetings with the students and the professional training as the resource for their work. At the same time, the punitive measures and the prevention methods can be developed only in terms of administrative responsibility. It is clear that the students commit many actions as the result of the lack of understanding the outcomes of their actions. In addition, the students may not be aware that their behavior is disruptive and inadequate due to the lack of training in this direction. The administrators have to make sure that the students on campus are familiar with the conditions of their situation and the punitive measures are essential in terms of the serious offenses. The judicial procedures have to consider the character of the case before conducting the hearing. In addition, the due process in the cases of misconduct and sexual harassment has to be restored by the legislation in order to treat all students equally.


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