The Code of Conduct for non-academic transgressions. Chapter 17 of the UW system bylaws. Snooze fest. Think again. It is really quite epic, and not in a good way. As lying by omission seems to be the new vogue with such vague legislation as the healthcare bill, the stimulus, and the new bill to grant the president emergency control over the internet in the case of a national security threat, the trend towards obscuring the power grab through political hodge-podge is alive and well. Why even look to the federal government to see large bureaucracies and indeterminate language opening the door for egregious usurpation of liberty and due process under the law when equally if not more mortifying maneuvers are occurring at UW. Forget symbolic speech. Forget the freedom of association. This is about privacy. This is about the moratorium imposed on the constitution by the American system of higher learning and how the state of Wisconsin is exemplifying this robbery of rights.
Apparently you can be a member of the US cabinet if you are a tax cheat, but what about library fines? The new vague student conduct codes give the administration the right to theoretically expel students for parking tickets and library fines.
Upon reading the definition section I am already scared. "Hearing examiner." "Investigating officer." Both appointed at the discretion of the chancellor. Each with free reign to investigate behavior and execute hearings over potential disciplinary sanctions. No defined role in the hierarchy of university governance. No code of ethics or prescribed procedure for them to follow. In the world of Obama cabinet appointments, these officers are not secretaries. They are czars. No accountability and no transparency from what I see.
In defining what constitutes punishable behavior, one initially isn't alarmed. Harassment. Damage to property. Drug possession. Why shouldn't these acts be punishable?
One only anticipates Orwellian control of the psyche and physicality of basic existence when they read further. Whistling interrupting a class or University ran event is punishable. What next? We are caging the bird, and if the Bucky Brigade catches you singing, you best hold onto your DARS because the expulsion czar might shred it and throw you out of the Reich of Bucky on your Cardinal behind.
Disciplinary sanctions are outlined in bulleted list form. "One or more" of the sanctions can be imposed. There is no step system. You best appease the czar because you don't know if they will make you pay restitution or banish you with repulsion.
It is no new development that schools limit free speech, explicit and symbolic, among other rights in order to impose order and safety. Usually, procedures followed are clearly outlined. The UW system prefers to make rulings reminiscent of fascist or communist tribunals.
“The committee shall not be bound by common law or statutory rules of evidenceand may admit evidence having reasonable probative value..." Basically, there is no fairness. No justice. No Due process. The evidence is valued at whim, interpreted on a hunch, and utilized in totalitarian (mis)justice. Will you be banished to Siberia, or will you simply pay a nominal fine? Will your life be used to bribe you into silence, or will the university pursue its final solution of sorts by expelling you? If only you didn't whistle during that lecture. The czars and Aunt Biddy don't allow whistling!!
A preponderance of evidence is enough to expel a student. Not clear evidence without a shadow of a doubt, but a preponderance.
Now I am not naïve enough to think that any institution in the UW system would actually expel a student for something like whistling, but this prudence doesn’t take away from the fact that any institution in the UW system could do just that.
I said that under the new non-academic disciplinary code as set out by chapter 17 that students could face sanctions on campus for merely having parking tickets or library fines. I am not lying. The vagueness of the rules allows it. “For violating a standard of conduct, or other requirement or restriction imposed in connection with disciplinary action,” punishment may by rendered. Such ticketable offenses like parking violations and overdue library books are technically illegal, but what kind of fear inducing, power crazed society would impose disciplinary sanctions with such gravity that they could ruin one’s education and future for such minuscule offenses. If education is a student’s job, what is up with the unfair standards? You can have any job from janitor to chancellor if you have misdemeanors, but God forbid the administration finds out that as a student you have an overdue library book. Again, I am not insinuating that any UW institution would discipline students for such minuscule municipal offenses, but the fact that they could should not be ignored.
What set out as modernizing the disciplinary code has turned into a license for collegiate administrations to punish students for the most inconsequential offenses. Why? Ask the dean. Ask the chancellor. Ask the student regent. She voted in favor of this law. Ask your legislature. They passed the law. Ask your student government. I saw firsthand how little was done on the issue. Shared governance everybody. Huh. I spent a semester on an ASM committee. We talked endlessly about chapter 17. We really brainstormed. What became of it? Nothing. No lobbying. No lit drops. Nothing. We failed much in the same way that Obama’s government and the people who elected him in earnest to in the end not hold him and his administration accountable failed. Shared governance was similar to “change we can believe in.” A wool pulled over our eyes.
We live with a government out of control. Numerous unaccountable officials and an overgrown bureaucracy perpetrating closed door brokerage of American freedom. We live in an environment where unaccountable administrators control our educations and our lives, and we have just given them permission to punish us and limit our pursuits regardless of how minuscule. Students are mere pawns just like citizens living in the land of hope subjected to broken promises and brokered rights. 1984 is finally here. Czars hold our fate in their hands. Threats to freedom abound. Vagueness is in vogue. Totalitarian control is imminent, and it is all happening not only in the White House, but also, in Bucky’s house.
Read Chapter 17 at http://students.wisc.edu/saja/pdf/UWS17-policy.pdf. It will blow your mind!!