Student Appointments Made to ‘Code of Conduct’ Task Force

by Jake Hawkins

Last night the Student Government Association appointed seniors Becky Goncharoff and Alexander Barton to a task force charged with creating a “code of conduct” for the Transylvania University community.

The task force, formed by the President’s Advisory Council, will also include faculty and staff appointees to be announced before Thanksgiving break next week.
There were three positions available for students on the task force. SGA originally planned to fill all three at last night’s meeting, but junior Josh Edge made a motion to leave seats open if three nominees did not each receive a vote from at least half of the voting senators. Although there were eight nominees, only two received such a majority.

“I think this is a really important conversation that we’re having and we need to make sure that the people who are involved in this dialogue are people that really represent at least some major aspect of what is the student body,” Edge said.

The remaining seat will be voted on at SGA’s Dec. 1 meeting and all students are invited. Any student can be nominated, and any student can participate in the discussion about nominees.

While the code will be new to the Transy community, it is not a new concept. Other universities have adopted similar codes.

Goncharoff said that she thinks the code “needs to be idealistic but it needs to be malleable in the sense that people can interpret it in different ways and it’s not locking us into a certain type of behavior.”

“It should also be inflexible to certain outside pressures of bad change, if you will,” Barton said. “Anything that would exclude other people, in a sense, anything that would make it exclusive and not inclusive as the Transy community has been.”

According to Vice President and Dean of Students Mike Vetter, the code will be “a set of values that all constituents of Transylvania, faculty, staff and students, (can) ascribe to.”

“I think it’s good for a community to have a code, or whatever you want to call it,” said Vetter. “I think it’s going to be aspiration- and value-driven and not, in any sense, feel like it’s rules that are taking away freedoms and such.”

“Code of Conduct” is only a working title. The task force will decide what to call it as part of its discussions.

“I think that ‘code of conduct’ as a temporary title is an unfortunate temporary title because it gives off that impression that we’re talking about specific behaviors,” Goncharoff said.

Dr. Nancy Wolsk, the chair of the President’s Advisory Council, spoke about how the need for such a code came about.

“(The idea is) kind of new. It’s come from parents, it’s come from students who are asking for this, particularly incoming students who are asking during admissions interviews, it’s students that I’ve had in classes, it’s students that other people have had in classes. So faculty, staff, students, really — it’s come from a variety of sectors,” Wolsk said.

What the code will contain remains to be seen. Vetter and Wolsk both left it up to the task force to decide.

“It’s not rules and regulations,” said Vetter.

“I don’t see us talking about outlawing things,” Wolsk said. “We’ve got regulations in the handbook. That’s a very different thing from what we’re thinking of in terms of ‘code of conduct.’ ”

All of Transy will ascribe to the code — faculty, staff and students — and all three groups will have equal representation on the task force.

“One of the things we’re looking at with (President) Owen Williams is he really is collaborative,” said Wolsk. “The (President’s Advisory Council) is a model of that, and so is the alcohol task force. … I think this notion that we’re reaching a kind of consensus is going to be really important.”

“(Senior) Grant Buckles and I had a meeting with President Williams … and we kind of discussed what the purpose of (the code) was going to be,” said senior Jessica Beard, the SGA president. “It’s not saying, ‘You can’t do this,’ it’s saying, ‘This is what Transylvania represents’ and ‘This is the community you’re entering.’ That’s the
way SGA understands it.”

Buckles is the student representative on the President’s Advisory Council.


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