ERIC Identifier: ED408919
Publication Date: 1997-00-00
Author: Dannells, Michael
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education Washington DC.| BBB32577 _ George Washington Univ. Washington DC. Graduate School of Education and Human Development.
From Discipline to Development: Rethinking Student Conduct in Higher Education. ERIC Digest.
Student discipline has been a point of concern and contention for most of the history of higher education in the United States; today is no exception. Perhaps no other single subject so dramatically reflects our attitudes about students and how we define our duty and our relationship with them. From the earliest dissatisfactions with pious and moralistic paternalism in the colonial colleges, to recent controversies over hate speech versus First Amendment rights, student behavior and institutional responses have vexed faculty and administrators with a set of issues both fundamental and timely. Why do we concern ourselves with student behavior at all? What should be the "reach" of the institutions of higher education? What standards of behavior should colleges expect? How are those standards best communicated? By what processes should misconduct be adjudicated? If standards are broken, how should institutions respond? What is our overreaching purpose in student discipline? How do we know when it is met? Who should be responsible for it?
Student discipline comprises a set of complex and inter-related issues that deserve careful examination and reasonable recommendations. This report provides both, with an eye toward new trends in responding to and preventing student misconduct, and to programs that avoid unduly legalistic processes, while enhancing student development in the continuation of the institutional mission.
WHAT ROLE SHOULD COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES PLAY IN STUDENT DISCIPLINE?
Urgent present-day concerns about such behavioral problems as crime on campus, hate speech, date/acquaintance rape, alcohol (and other substance) abuse, and academic dishonesty, coupled with demands for greater supervision of students, the increasing litigiousness of a civil-liberty minded populace, as well as an increase in older, more consumer-oriented students, have left campus leaders understandably wary, while searching for new ways to fashion policy in this area. As a legacy of the student rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and the accompanying judicial scrutiny of disciplinary decisions, today's codes of conduct tend to be heavy on process and light on real guidance for the student. It is time for colleges and universities to rethink their purposes for engaging in student discipline and fashion rules and processes that follow logically. Hoekema (1994) has proposed a useful and thoughtful analytic framework and conceptual model for thinking about codes of conduct, based on three overarching moral/ethical principles: preventing harm, upholding freedom, and fostering community. Many campuses could benefit from a close consideration of this approach.
WHERE SHOULD INSTITUTIONS BEGIN IN RECONSIDERING STUDENT DISCIPLINE, AND WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED?
WHAT MORE DO WE NEED TO LEARN ABOUT STUDENT DISCIPLINE?
IN WHAT WAYS MUST CAMPUSES CHANGE TO FOSTER THE DEVELOPMENT OF DISCIPLINED STUDENTS?
Student affairs leaders, and in particular the chief student affairs officer (CSAO) on campus, must actively and positively embrace their responsibility to encourage the building of moral/ethical communities on campus. The best student discipline program is the preventative type that creates a campus environment of caring and compassion, and one that deters hateful and destructive behavior by virtue of commitment to the community. One of the most effective ways to achieve the building of such a commitment is through service learning. College students, especially young college students, who have had the opportunity to learn about the needs of others through service to them, are far less likely to engage in the kinds of selfish and immature behaviors that account for the bulk of the disciplinary caseloads at most institutions. CSAOs, with their expertise in experiential learning, and with the opportunity to promote such programs though a myriad of student services, are in a unique position to contribute to the curriculum and promote the development of the whole student.
The importance of building more caring and collaborative communities of learning on our campuses has been a consistent theme in the literature on higher education for almost a decade. Student discipline can play a vital part, but first, institutions must clarify their values, and then campus leaders including both academic affairs and student affairs must take responsibility for developing disciplinary programs which are fair, humane, and uphold those values for the betterment of the individual student and for the community as a whole.
Kaplin, William A., and Barbara A. Lee. 1995 "The Law of Higher Education." 3rd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pavela, Gary. 1996. "Judicial Affairs and the Future." "Critical Trends in Practice," edited by Wanda L. Mercer. New Directions for Student Services No. 73. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gehring, Donald D. and Gary Pavela. 1994. "Issues and Perspectives on Academic Integrity." 2nd ed. Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
This ERIC digest is based on a full-length report in the ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report Volume 25-2, From Discipline to Development: Rethinking Student Conduct in Higher Education by Michael Dannells.