The University of Tennessee is making the biggest update in about 40 years to its student code of conduct.
The UT System Board of Trustees approved the revised document at its meeting last week, and now the proposed changes go on for state-level approval.
One major addition to the code of conduct is known as the Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty Policy.
Campus leaders say this is a standard policy in higher education and it's an important one to have on the books.
Imagine you're an underage college student at a party and your friend has had too much to drink and needs medical attention, but you've been drinking, too.
"You might not want to call the authorities because you're going to get yourself in trouble or you're going to get your friend in trouble," said UTK student body president and senior Carson Hollingsworth.
That's the case under the current code, he said, but the revised Student Code of Conduct includes protections for a such a situation.
"If I call on my own behalf because I feel like I'm potentially in danger, I would potentially receive amnesty," explained Vice Chancellor for Student Life Vince Carilli. "If I call on your behalf because I believe you are a danger to yourself or others, I would be a Good Samaritan and therefore not be subjected to the code, provided that it isn't a habitual abuse of the code."
But this new policy is no free pass.
"While you might not get a sanction from the university, you'll still maybe go through an educational process," Hollingsworth said.
"For us, part of the education is really sitting down and talking with students to learn a little bit about their experience," Carilli said. "For example, if someone is, you know, consistently finding themselves in need of help, do we have some dependency issues?"
Plus, if someone is a repeat offender, they may still face sanctions.
"You know, if you are habitually abusing alcohol or drugs or impaired in some way, you know, every weekend, it wouldn't necessarily apply," Carilli explained.
He and many campus groups hope this revised code gets the approval it now needs on the state level.
"It's just a great policy to make sure that you're looking out for your fellow students, you're looking out for your friends," Hollingsworth said.
The revised student code of conduct now goes to the Tennessee Attorney General for approval, then the Secretary of State's office. Finally, the Joint Government Operations Committee must give it the thumbs up.
You can read the revised Student Code of Conduct HERE. The Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty Policy is on page 31.
Other changes include one that would allow minor disciplinary actions on student records to be expunged after several years following a student's departure from UT.
"Right now, our students are negatively impacted, potentially, because we retain those records in perpetuity," Carilli said. "In the revised Code of Conduct, we have a records retention policy that says we expunge all of that information after they are, you know, gone for so many years."
There's also a change that would condense UTK's student disciplinary action boards, a move that has prompted some outcry, Carilli said.
"We have, what I would call right now, a cumbersome-at-best process to adjudicate cases of alleged student misconduct," he said, explaining how in the revised code, "we've consolidated about four or five different boards into one board that we've titled the Student Conduct Board."
Because of the consolidation, he said, some boards - including the Greek Judicial Board - have been eliminated, and some of those students and groups have voiced their opposition to the move.
In the proposed change, cases of alleged sexual misconduct or assault and research misconduct would be handled differently.
"The sexual misconduct is dictated by the Title IX Dear Colleague Letter, that came out of Washington in 2011," Carilli said. "The research misconduct guidelines came out of Washington within the past couple of years, about the need to have faculty members really sit and hear those cases because of the depth, as I'm sure you could imagine, related to the different types of research, how it's conducted and if there's misconduct in the process."
The student code overhaul began more than three years ago when Carilli started as Student Life Vice Chancellor.
In 2015, the office came out with revisions, which have been worked on until they became what trustees approved last week.
Now, it's up to the state to decide.
UT could implement the revised student code of conduct as soon as the fall semester.
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