Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A revisit of in loco parentis? 

A faculty member posted to the campus discussion listserv about student reactions to Homecoming and the willingness of the administration to punish students for off-campus behavior.
The students didn't understand how SCSU could discipline them for off-campus behavior and, upon learning that under many conditions it could, found this to be unfair, discriminatory, etc.

What became clear in the discussion was that student conceptualizations of their relationships with SCSU were inappropriate. They seemed to consider the student-SCSU relationship as if SCSU were their employer or (entertainment?) service provider. Many strongly argued that SCSU has no legitimate interest in their non-classroom behavior just like they believed that an employer or business has no interest in non-work or non-customer related behaviors.

These problematic student conceptualizations could explain many problems. It seems to me that SCSU needs to surface and correct such misconceptions during the student orientation process. It is not enough to threaten to punish students. They need to understand that SCSU really can, and why.

Indeed, it was clear that students need to better understand their relationship with the university in general. Their inaccurate beliefs were almost perfectly predictable based upon social (working, lower) class.

The faculty member was asked to elaborate further but alas did not. I'm certainly not clear on what the social class reference at the end was about. I also wonder whether there's a distinction to be made between a public and a private university here? I would encourage readers to look at the introduction to our student code of conduct. I have checked the prohibited conduct list and find no direct reference to off-campus actions, but does the intro may give them enough broad latitude to act on off-campus behavior?