Students, faculty protest proposed conduct code changes

About 35 people gathered outside Coffman Union Thursday night.

Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Mary Pogatshnik addresses demonstrators outside Coffman Union on Thursday, Feb. 8 in protest of a change to the student conduct code. 

Jack Rodgers

Professor of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Mary Pogatshnik addresses demonstrators outside Coffman Union on Thursday, Feb. 8 in protest of a change to the student conduct code. 

Ella Johnson

A crowd of about 35 people gathered outside Coffman Union Thursday night to voice their opposition to proposed University of Minnesota Student Conduct Code changes.

Under the proposed document, student groups could be held liable for conduct they direct, sponsor or endorse that violates the University’s conduct code; or if a group’s officers don’t prevent misconduct during a group event. Students and faculty who attended the protest worry this change could make it easier for the administration to punish students who engage in “disruptive behavior” – like protests – on campus.

Under the current conduct code, “disruptive behavior” is a punishable offense that includes “participating in a campus demonstration that disrupts the normal operations of the University,” “engaging in intentional obstruction that interferes with freedom of movement … on campus,” and “using sound amplification equipment on campus without authorization.”

At the start of the rally, University student Josie Slovut of Differences Organized – the group that organized the demonstration – read a statement written by the group’s members requesting an open, student-centered forum with the Board of Regents to discuss the proposed amendments.

The proposal’s 30-day public comment and review period ended Feb. 2. The Board of Regents were scheduled to vote on the proposal during a Feb. 9 meeting, but postponed the vote for a later meeting.

Slovut and fellow Differences Organized member Maikha Khang said after the event that the comment period wasn’t adequately publicized and didn’t allow for a true dialogue among students. 

Those in attendance represented a variety of groups, including Grads United, the Asian American Student Union, La Ráza and faculty.

A University spokesperson did not make officials available for comment Thursday.