Opinion: The punishment does not fit the crime

Cory Spiers

Did anyone else see the e-mail containing the revisions to the code of student conduct?  No? I didn’t either, at least not at first.  

If you’re anything like me, your view of this email might have been hindered by the many messages clogging your inbox.  For those of you who were unable to sift through your spam, the e-mail contained the following:

“Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock has approved revisions to the Code of Student Conduct, effective August 15, 2013. These revisions were made to (a) make the Code more user-friendly and transparent; (b) incorporate the Sexual Misconduct Addendum as recommended by faculty, staff and students on the Interpersonal Violence Task Force; and (c) ensure compliance with federal and state laws, as well as University of North Carolina system policy.”

A link to the Office of Student Conduct’s website is provided in the message which in turn directs you to the new Code of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Code.  The document is 36 pages long and full of the type of writing that only lawyers and professional writing majors enjoy.

Due to reason (b) listed in the e-mail, I focused my reading on the areas concerning sexual misconduct. In light of the recent issues that brought about the forming of the Interpersonal Violence Task Force and the Sexual Misconduct Addendum, I expected the code to consist of radical changes in these areas.
The addendum added language to the prohibited conduct section, and was incorporated into the broad process language, according to an article in the Tuesday issue of The Appalachian. This would include a new section dedicated to “What Consent to Sexual Activity Means.”

Kelly Andrews, chair of the student conduct board, in the same article that the changes to the Code of Student Conduct are meant to be more user friendly by making the code more accessible to students.
Other than the new section on consent, there was another change to the code.  The prohibited conduct section was altered, and instead of recommending both a minimum and a maximum sanction for violations, now only a minimum sanction is listed. 

The minimum sanctions levied for sexual harassment, non-consensual sexual contact and sexual exploitation are disciplinary probation, and for non-consensual sexual intercourse the minimum sanction is suspension for eight semesters.

Is a minimum sanction for sexual misconduct even necessary to denote? The minimum sanction levied for selling, manufacturing or delivering a narcotic is expulsion as well as for calling in a bomb threat.  If the minimum sanction of expulsion is an option, then why is it not levied against so serious an offense as rape or sexual harassment?

I feel confident in many ways that our administration has the best interest of the students in mind, and in cases of sexual misconduct, they are certainly most concerned about the victims, but why not cut out all this red tape and just adopt a zero tolerance policy concerning sexual misconduct?

It would appear to me that the best way to protect these victims and prevent future assaults is to remove the predators from our campus permanently and immediately.

Smith, a senior secondary English education major from Cashiers, is an opinion writer.