Conduct code changes

Stephanie Sansoucy

Students and student organizations are now allowed to use attorneys or non-attorney advocates in some aspects of Student Conduct after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 74 on Aug. 23.

This law, which is within The Reform Regulatory Act of 2013, will allow an attorney to be present as long as the Student Conduct charge does not include academic dishonesty, whereas before there was no legal representation allowed. Also, if the Student Conduct Board, a board comprised of all students, is used for the case, an attorney or non-attorney advocate cannot be involved.

Updates were added to the Student Conduct Code to include the state changes, Jonathan Adams, associate director of Student Conduct said.

The new process involving attorneys or non-attorney advocates takes away from the educational experience of Student Conduct, said Susan McCracken, director of external affairs and community relations.

“We view Student Conduct boards as an educational process, not a judicial process,” McCracken said. “By introducing attorneys, it doesn’t honor our educational intent for students.”

When the law was originally proposed, it didn’t seem to be progressing, McCracken said. So, it was a surprise when it was added in August.

“Those of us with universities were really surprised because it had not been moving in the [North Carolina State] Senate,” she said.

Currently, the university is determining the implications of this new bill. Each university in the UNC system will have to send a cost analysis, which will include the number and type of proceedings, to the state Board of Governor’s by May 1, 2014.

But the use of attorneys or non-attorney advocates could still be expensive, McCracken said.

“Student Conduct is a busy office, and it will take more time to keep with data,” she said. “So that is less time spent with students and finding a resolution.”

Using Student Conduct as a learning tool for students was a more positive way to deal with problems regarding the students, said Cindy Wallace, vice chancellor of student development.

“This rule, which was hidden pretty deeply in another bill that had nothing to do with college campuses, was not researched, [they] had no idea of the financial impact it would have or the complications,” she said. “It was not supported by UNC General Administration and by every single campus, and that wisdom did not carry in the General Assembly.”

Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Senior News Reporter