UT conduct code rewrite delayed; state rep offers critique

State Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, is among critics of a new student code of conduct that’s in the works at the University of Tennessee, according to the News Sentinel.

The student code of conduct outlines expectations and the process to adjudicate violations. Changes like eliminating indefinite suspension as a sanction, adding medical amnesty to encourage students to ask for help and others are suggested.

It’s a total overhaul from the current code that’s been in place for decades with only minor tweaks, said Vince Carilli, vice chancellor for student life.

…Carilli planned to propose the new code, in the works since early 2014, at the June trustees’ meeting, but it was postponed after State Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, raised concerns about not being able to see the document before the meeting.

And now that Daniel has seen the proposed code (Note: It’s HERE), he said he doubts UT will be ready to present at the October meeting.

Daniel listed concerns and suggestions in a Sept. 4 seven-page letter to Carilli, stressing the new code is difficult and intimidating to read and students aren’t given due process. The goal should be student safety and a fair discipline process, he said.

“I think you can accomplish both,” Daniel said.

In his suggestions, Daniel said the conduct board should be all students instead of the proposed mix of students, faculty and staff so students can be judged by their peers similar to a jury in court.

And Daniel, a former Sigma Alpha Epsilon adviser at UT, said he hasn’t had a relationship with the UT Greek community in more than a decade, but has heard they would prefer the Greek judicial board, which adjudicates violations from that community, not be eliminated. In March 2013, a UT Greek Life Task Force issued a report that included ideas to curb alcohol violations from that community.

Carilli said adding faculty and staff to the conduct board provides continuity and teaching opportunities. Plus, he said no other student groups have a specialized board, so the Greeks shouldn’t either.

The elimination of this board is also expected to be a big topic of conversation for students, said Will Freeman, UT student government association president. He said another big topic with students will the amnesty policy.