Senators debate disclosure policy at Dec. 8 meeting By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor 217-244-1072; email@example.com A proposed amendment allowing university officials to publicize the outcomes of student disciplinary hearings evoked much debate at the Dec. 8 meeting of the Urbana-Champaign Senate. Nicholas Burbules, chair of the conference on conduct governance, presented a proposal to amend Rule 62 of the Campus Code of Policies and Regulations Applying to All Students that said that the “name, code violations and sanction of a student found in violation” of the Code “may be released to the public.” Recent amendments to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act granted universities permission to disclose the final results of disciplinary proceedings involving students who are alleged perpetrators of violent crimes or non-forcible sex offenses if university officials determine that a student’s criminal offense also violated university policies. The amendment was crafted by a task force of campus faculty members, students and administrators, which included associate dean of students William Riley. Burbules said they believed that disclosure was a matter of public safety and that it protected the university from potential liability if a previous offender were to re-offend. Moreover, the task force believed that the student disciplinary process might be the only recourse available to victims who decline to pursue prosecution. However, Burbules said that the disciplinary process is not a default mechanism and that often cases subject to criminal proceedings are also heard by student discipline. Several senators stringently objected to the proposal, including Linda Biehl, professor of law, who said the wording was vague and left disclosure open to subjective judgment. Other senators expressed concern that the policy violated due process, that it would stigmatize students and that it established the university as a proxy for law enforcement and the justice system in criminal matters where the university has no jurisdiction. Burbules said that current university statutes cite the criminal offenses named in FERPA as being violations of university policy, and that jurisdiction was not at issue. The amendment only granted university officials the option of publicizing the results of disciplinary proceedings. CCG member Mark Roszkowski, professor of business administration, spoke against the amendment at the meeting and in a memorandum to Chancellor Nancy Cantor that was distributed to the Senate. Roszkowski challenged the task force’s rationale that disclosure was a matter of public safety and said he failed to see how disclosure would afford any protection to other students. In addition, Roszkowski said that reporting a violator’s name under Section 951 of FERPA would tie the offender’s name to the federal criminal code, thereby criminalizing the disciplinary proceedings. Disclosure would be viewed by the violator and the public as a punitive sanction and would violate the rights of criminal defendants. Roszkowski also expressed concern that publicizing students’ names and alleged offenses would undermine the educational value of the disciplinary process by encouraging students to deny wrongdoing in an attempt to circumvent the disciplinary process and public scrutiny. “I think the proponents of this proposal seriously underestimate the criminal character of this sanction,” Roszkowski said. “This proposal is a bad idea. It’s bad for victims. It’s bad for the accused. It’s bad for the disciplinary system because it destroys the integrity of the system.” Cantor volunteered to meet with CCG to address the concerns raised by senators before rendering a decision on the amendment. In other business:
- Cantor said that the Siebel Center was nearing completion and would be open in the spring. Construction is under way on the Institute for Genomic Biology, the family resiliency center and phase one of the South Farms project. In addition, Gov. Rod Blagojevich released $2 million for planning the renovations to Lincoln Hall. A $30 million campaign to raise money for the library has begun, with $9 million raised so far, Cantor said. The money will be used to update collections, digitize and preserve materials, and support facilities and faculty. Cantor told the Senate that raising funds for student scholarships and graduate fellowship support are also high priorities for the campus.
- Provost Richard Herman told the Senate that next year’s budget was filed and that it included a 4 percent salary program, a 3 percent general price increase and a 10 percent increase for the library. Herman said university officials are not expecting a budgetary rescission this fiscal year. The tuition increases and the tuition guarantee would provide some relief, enabling the university to restore some courses and reduce class sizes, if legislators decide to restrict the university’s appropriations next fiscal year, Herman said.
- Jack Dempsey, executive director for Facilities and Services, reported on the reorganization of his unit, which received a 25 percent reduction in its base budget from its 2002 base budget. In addition to decreasing campus mail delivery, grounds maintenance and repair and janitorial services, five administrative positions also were eliminated, saving approximately $580,000. The administrative review committee also recommended centralizing utilities operations while leaving operations and maintenance decentralized and developing a protocol for outsourcing. Facilities and Services also plans to begin a $6 million fire safety program, a component of the university’s $400 million backlog in deferred maintenance, after Vice President Stephen Rugg receives approval from the UI Board of Trustees.
- The Senate passed a resolution expressing support for Cantor and her statements regarding Chief Illiniwek.
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