The DePauw University Community Standards Board is turning an ear toward students by adding a student review process in efforts to increase engagement, rationality, and transparency. The board will now consist of four anonymous student members to vote on the case based on evidence presented with Vice President of Student Affairs Dorian Shager’s vote as a tie-breaker.
“I think having peers weigh in on conflicts will be helpful. It makes this entire process more student-focused, which we have been working on for a while,” Assistant Director of Community Standards Kelsey Wetli said.
Community Standards Revised Process
DePauw students were first introduced in March 2021 when Wetli and Shager received feedback from the Community Standards Advisory Board. If a student denies responsibility for the violation held in question, that student will have two business days to provide a written statement with any additional information needed to support why they are denying the charge, according to Wetli. The Community Standards Review Board will then review the statement and any notes taken in the original report to make a final decision based on the preponderance of evidence which must be 51% or more. If there is evidence for the allegation, the student will be held responsible. If there is not, the violation may be dropped. Along with this review change, Community Standards also added a few other changes to the process last spring.
Community Standards Resource Team
The Community Standards resource team, consisting of trained students and staff members, is offered to students prior to their meeting as a support piece. Wetli explained that when a student receives a community center letter, a resource area is provided with a link to a site with the resource team contact information. She is hopeful that this addition will clear up any prior questions and also ease students' nerves to make the meeting and procedure run smoothly.
Added Sanction Level
In addition to other changes, Community Standards has incorporated a new sanction level. While the old system followed a path of: Formal Warning, Probation, Suspension, Expulsion, the new sanction is “Review,” which falls between Formal Warning and Probation to give students a thorough evaluation based on their violation.
To better understand the weight these changes could hold, junior Bria Randolph shared her experience with Community Standards prior to these changes.
“When I denied my charges, the same people who ran my meeting read my statement. So it was like we were just running in circles pretty much,” Randolph said.
She was pleasantly surprised when she heard that students would be able to weigh in their opinions, as she’s had five meetings in her college experience thus far.
Randolph believes it will be easier for students to relate more to their peers than the Community Standards Team can. She expressed how her experiences with Community Standards have not been positive but is hopeful and excited that the Review Board of students could potentially know one's character and understand where the student is coming from.
She also appreciated the new resource team.
“During my meeting, there was no guidance at all. I was so worried about running out of time because I had so many questions. I think this resource will make it more effective so you can actually talk about what you need to talk about,” she said.
Randolph is not the only student who appreciates these changes.
Senior Tessa Scalzo also had a similar experience going into her Community Standards meeting freshman year.
She described her experience as “nerve wracking” and “confusing”, and wishes she had a service like the new resource team, especially as a first-year. She believes this is important to make the student feel comfortable and confident when discussing the violation.
Community Standards is committed to making a change to their partial reputation. By prioritizing student considerations and making sure the system is well reviewed, students at DePauw can look forward to increased credibility within the Community Standards system. The new system will begin the week of August 22 and carry out the rest of the year.