The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Student Code of Conduct

This article is part of a spread the Torch ran on the issue of sexual assault.

The St. John’s Board of Trustees updated the Student Code of Conduct on Oct. 1 changing and adding a major emphasis on the policies and procedures of sexual violence.

“It’s a critical piece because a lot of times I think the student does not understand,” Daniel Trujillo, associate vice president and dean of students, said. The clarification of the focus serves as a result to the students’ lack of policy accessibility.

Subcategories in the modified report include sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, sexually inappropriate conduct and unambiguous definitions of consent and stalking, along with other points.

The code cites consent as “when a person freely, actively and knowingly agrees at the time to participate in a particular sexual act with another person,” and goes on to note that “consent can be revoked by either party at any stage.” Along with a definition of consent, the code outlines the denotation of non-consensual acts and attributes.

Similar to the reasoning behind the articulation of consent, a more explicit definition of stalking is accentuated in the code of conduct.

The code defines stalking as a “behavior or activity that places another individual in fear of personal harm and/or is intended to cause emotional distress to another individual.”

In any case, even if there is a relationship between the individuals, the code states the prohibition of any behavior that may be considered stalking.

Layla Noriega, a junior legal studies major and a member of the University’s Student Conduct Board, thinks the revisions will play a larger role in helping conduct board members finalize decisions in cases.

“It is hard finding what students can be responsible for when they do something wrong,” she said. “We read definitions and sometimes it is hard to put the facts of the case with the rules of the code.”

Paul Lee, a sophomore at St. John’s who also participates in Student Conduct Board, understands the reasoning behind the clarification but anticipates bigger actions. “I think St. John’s should have a seminar on the issue, and a day dedicated to preventing sexual violence,” he said.

In addition to the code, the student conduct process asserts the procedures and interim sanctions that may follow. These tentative actions include a “no contact” policy between individuals involved, and/or a “suspension or limited access to University facilities, residence halls, activities or events.”

The “no contact” policy allows Student Conduct to provide a major focus on consulting with victims of attacks.

The policy ensures no contact between a survivor and perpetrator, ranging from social media to the friends of those involved. Resources such as change in class schedule, counseling and a Public Safety escort service may be administered as well.

Trujillo believes the attention brought to these issues will encourage victims to emerge from hiding. “Especially if someone is a survivor, this can make so many victims come forward,” he said.

The Student Code of Conduct and the process are major components in the University’s response to take action, most notably with the “It’s On Us” campaign.

According to Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, St. John’s University was awarded a three-year grant from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women in 2011, after the University met the 10 suggested steps to comply with Title IX.

These steps consisted of training students on sexual assault and establishing ways to settle complaints within 60 days of the filing. When representatives of the DOJ-OVW visited the University this April, St. John’s was selected to receive the grant for another three years.

“St. John’s has always been ahead of the curve in responding to the issue,” Trujillo said.

More information on the Student Code of Conduct and the process can be found on the ‘Student Code of Conduct’ section on stjohns.edu.

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About the Contributor
Amanda Umpierrez, News Editor
News Editor:
Amanda is a senior Journalism major/Government and Politics minor who has been with the Torch for a year and a half. She intends to inform the St. John's community of important information on a local, national and international level.

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