Conduct code sparks debate in riot’s aftermath

by Joanna Dornfeld

Over the next few weeks, University officials will grapple with how and when the student conduct code should be enforced.

Last Monday, student life director Robert Jones said students arrested during the riot following the April 6 NCAA hockey championship victory could be suspended or expelled because of their actions.

So far, no reports have been filed with Student Judicial Affairs against any of the 25 people arrested. At least 11 are University students.

Betty Hackett, Student Judicial Affairs director, said she can’t determine what penalty students might face until the office has looked over the reports.

Hackett said penalties will be assessed based on the infraction’s severity. She said it is too soon to determine whether students will be suspended or expelled.

“We try to keep the student in our community when we find that their behavior has been adequately addressed,” she said.

Anyone can report a complaint to Student Judicial Affairs. The office reviews the complaint and decides whether there is enough information to charge the student. The student then has the option to either meet with judicial affairs staff and come to an informal resolution or go before the Campus Committee on Student Behavior.

But some students said they think the administration and police are trying to make an example of a few individuals.

Joe Micheletti, a biology senior, said he was arrested just after 10 p.m. on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and 15th Avenue Southeast while on his way to The Library Bar and Grill to celebrate the Gophers’ win.

Micheletti said he called an officer a “bitch” after the officer used profanity to address someone nearby.

“The situation was highly publicized,” Micheletti said. “I think they’re overreacting.”

Micheletti said he is not concerned about being either suspended or expelled because he believes his charges will be dropped.

Hackett said the riot will incite debate about whether arrests made off campus should be considered by the University administration.

“If they’re off University property, I don’t think they should have any say,” Micheletti said. “If it’s on University property, I think that should be up to the board.”

The code of conduct does not directly address this question, stating only that the University “has an obligation to protect its property and the property of members of its community from theft, damage, destruction, or misuse.”

Normally an offense must be committed on campus for it to be brought before Student Judicial Affairs, but it depends on the nature of the offense and where it occurred, Jones said.

“The University has a fundamental concern with conduct which breaches the peace, causes disorder, and substantially interferes with the rights of others,” the code states.

“The University has a special interest in behavior which threatens or actions which imperil the physical and mental health and safety of members of the University community,” it states.

Nicholas Vannucci, a College of Liberal Arts freshman, said he was arrested on the corner of Fourth Street Southeast and 14th Avenue Southeast between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Vannucci said the University shouldn’t punish the students arrested in Saturday’s riot because the University doesn’t consistently punish students arrested or cited by police.

“It doesn’t concern them,” he said. “It doesn’t affect the way you should be educated.”

Vannucci said he is disappointed the University administration has not been more supportive of the students arrested.

He said if the University “turns their back on him” he will transfer to another school.

Along with questions about the code of conduct, administrators are looking into student allegations that police used excessive force.

“We’ll be looking at all of these issues,” Jones said. “It’s not that we’re not concerned about that.”

Jones said the University has not yet seen any evidence to back up the students’ claims.

“We’re just in the process of gathering information at this point,” he said.

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes
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