Student Conduct Code, August 2008 revision

By Gus Bode

I read this code as an attorney, a professor emeritus of the department of administration of justice and as an executive board member of the SIUC Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. It is apparent that the students, faculty members and administrators have made good faith efforts to address the serious problems of earlier drafts of the code, but they have failed to provide what the code promises under student rights and responsibilities – that students accused of violations of the code will receive “procedural due process.”

Although the jurisdictional issue is important and cases for which the university can assume jurisdiction are extremely broad, that issue has been much discussed, so I will point out other problems.

1) Duties and responsibilities set forth in the code are all on the students whereas the university has no duties or responsibilities toward the students, except to provide a procedure consistent with due process, which this code fails to do as I set forth below.


2) Recordings are to be made of hearings. Students are entitled to copies, but they must pay for them. Nothing is said about the cost, which is likely to be substantial. Nor is it made clear how the copies are to be made. Most students would neither have the time nor the skills necessary to listen to such recordings and reproduce an accurate transcript. The university should bear this cost. There appears to be no right of students to have or even to make copies of complaints or other paper records. In a case I had, I had to sit in the hearing room and make copies from my own notes.

3) Copies of tape recordings are destroyed after the appeal period runs. There is no transcript, so when the recordings are destroyed there is no record of the proceeding.

4) There seems to be no requirement that the reasoning leading to the decision be set forth in detail, nor is there any record of decisions to form a precedent-based system. There is no way to tell whether a present decision is consistent with prior decisions. There is therefore no way to build a system of “law” as in American appellate law. Each decision is independent of every other decision. It is only the decision-maker who can “secretly” take into consideration prior decisions she or he may have made.

5) Students do not have the right to have an attorney or legally trained person of their choosing to represent them at the hearing. They may only have an adviser who whispers advice in their ears, which by definition cannot be part of the record. This limitation, when coupled with the difficulties described above for the student to obtain a record for appeal makes it nearly impossible for the student to obtain a procedure consistent with due process of law. Therefore, appeals, and records of these appeals, which are an integral part of the American legal system and of its due process component, are missing. A system without an effective appeal is a clear denial of due process.

Robinson is a professor emeritus in the administration of justice department.