Regents discuss changes to student conduct code

Proposals include changes to sexual assault and medical amnesty policies.

Kevin Beckman

Proposed changes to the University of Minnesota’s Student Conduct Code would broaden the definition of sexual assault and expand protections under medical amnesty provisions.

The University’s Board of Regents requested a review of the conduct code earlier this year and heard suggestions for changes from representatives of the Office for Student Affairs at a board committee meeting earlier this month. 

A proposal to broaden the definition of sexual assault would include all aspects of sexual misconduct including relationship violence, sexual assault, stalking and sexual or gender-based harassment. 

Specific definitions of each of these terms would be included in future revisions to the Board’s policy.

Additionally, the committee discussed expanding immunity protections for underage drinking in the event of medical emergencies.

Since 2013, Minnesota state law has granted prosecution immunity to underage drinkers in the event of medical emergency.

The University’s student conduct code includes a similar provision, granting immunity to those in need of emergency treatment as well as the student who called for assistance.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young said at May’s committee meeting that the medical amnesty provisions in the conduct code were modeled after the state’s law.

The Board is considering expanding immunity provisions to include more than just two students, citing concerns that students may still not seek medical assistance for fear of prosecution if the group were larger than two people.

“It should be about getting your friend help,” said Regent Darrin Rosha. “If you have an interest in not being prosecuted or not having a friend prosecuted or not having your student group prosecuted or sanctioned, you are going to tend to see that person as more likely to be able to sleep it off.”

Regent Patricia Simmons said at May’s committee meeting that revisions to medical amnesty provisions could be considered but that they shouldn’t put the University’s conduct code in violation of state law.  

Rosha said he was unsure why the state’s statue only protected two people.

“It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” he said.

Regent Thomas Anderson said he agreed.

“We’re trying to follow the state government, but we don’t really know what their rationale was for only granting amnesty to two people,” Anderson said. “We want to get amnesty expanded to as many people as possible.”

Other proposed revisions include affirming the right of students to participate in peaceable assemblies and protests and adding language to clarify that the entire conduct code applies to student groups as well as individual students.

Incoming Minnesota Student Association President Abeer Syedah said the student government’s cabinet and committees helped provide feedback on the proposed revisions and said MSA favors the changes.

“[We] believe they’re strong steps in the right direction,” Syedah said.

Matt Sumera, communications director for the Office of Student Affairs, said the offices of the provost and vice provost will take suggestions from regents and discuss the proposed revisions with hopes that the Board will vote on a finalized code at its June meeting.