Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Forums spark review of student code of conduct

Following yesterday’s forum around a racist Snapchat posted by freshman Keene-native Maria Gates and the Plattsburgh State administration’s response to it, the PSUC administration has proposed changes to passages of the student code of conduct regarding harassment and endangerment.

The forum, which began at 5 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. in Yokum 200, drew a crowd that filled the entire lecture hall and left some without seats.

After the forum, the swarm of students and faculty packed the Angell College Center to further pressure the administration to take action. Some students brought overnight gear, pillows and blankets in preparation to sleep on the ACC floor until administration did something.

Before 11 p.m. Director of PSUC Educational Opportunity Program Kyla Relaford announced that although she could not discuss the records of individual students, she assured the charged crowd that “action had been taken.”

A second forum led by Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman and Director of Student Conduct Larry Allen followed this morning in the Cardinal Lounge of the ACC. Hartman said President John Ettling talked with SUNY System Chancellor Kristina Johnson, who students are calling on to come to the campus and address the issue.

“I will carry the message that they want a SUNY presence here, so I will try to make that happen,” Hartman said.

Some attendees expressed outrage over Ettling’s absence from the forum.

“Your bosses should be here,” student Akel Martin said. “He is just sending you two [Hartman and Allen] so he does not have to come. We are getting angry at you so you can get mad at them. If you can’t do anything, bring someone who can.”


“The president isn’t involved with the code of conduct; that’s why he was not here,” Hartman said.

Section 7 of the student code of conduct, titled “Disorderly Conduct,” currently reads: “Any disorderly conduct which interferes with the rights of others is prohibited. Examples of disorderly include harassment, threats, physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse.”

Proposed changes to section 7 would change the title to “Bullying, Harassment and Disorderly Conduct” with the description reading: “Any disorderly conduct which interferes with the rights of others is prohibited. Prohibited behavior includes harassment, threats, physical abuse, the threat of physical abuse, bullying or coercion.”

Proposed changes were also made to section 9.01, currently titled “Endangerment,” which reads: “Reckless or intentional acts which endanger, or put at risk, the health and safety of any member of the community is prohibited.”

The changes would rephrase the section as: “Reckless or intentional acts which endanger, or put at risk, the health, safety and welfare of any member, group of college community members or guests of the college are prohibited.”

Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs Ken Knelly said the student code of conduct is updated periodically. The last changes were made last year in relation to Title IX amendments.

Hartman said research has already gone into creating a bias response team to better deal with these issues.

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