The Office of Student Conduct exists to provide students with fair punishments and ensure that the campus remains a safe and secure environment. With their contribution to the school’s safety, one would think it would have an organized, well-run office. In my experience, it isn’t. With the vital role the office plays in the lives of students, it is imperative that conduct pinpoints their issues, and fixes them. I recently crossed paths with the office and was astounded by the lack of help and abruptness I received from the staff. The following is my personal experience with student conduct, my opinion is evident, but you can draw your own conclusions.
My problem is not with what my punishment was; I am aware that I broke a school policy and understand that there are consequences to this. Rather, my concern is with the way my case was handled. I arrived early to my conduct meeting, cooperated with the woman I met with and complied with the sanctions I was given. Leaving this initial meeting, I expected that I would complete my sanctions and that would be that. I was wrong.
A few weeks later I realized that one of my sanctions had not been fully explained to me during my meeting and was actually going to be a lot more work than I had originally understood. Hoping to address my concern, I went back to the conduct office and asked if I was able to speak with the head of conduct. This is when my concern started. I was flat out denied the opportunity to meet with her due to the fact that she already had a full schedule. I then asked to schedule a meeting at a later date and was again dismissively told no, she’s too busy. Realizing that there was no way I was going to be able to speak with her, I asked if there was anyone else who might be able to help me who was actually available to meet with me at some point. The woman working the front desk then informed me that meetings were unavailable because the office was understaffed.
Students find themselves entangled with conduct issues all the time, and fulfilling sanctions, especially when you have never had to do so before, can be unbelievably confusing and frustrating. Because holds are placed on your account until your punishment is finished, having the ability to do so quickly and properly is of utmost importance to students. Students deserve to have the opportunity to meet with a staff member who can assist them should they run into obstacles or become confused about something during the process of completing sanctions. The Office of Student Conduct simply needs to have a sufficient number of staff members to make this a reality.
Unable to schedule a meeting, I decided to just go ahead and complete my sanctions, even though I did not fully understand them. In order to do this, I needed information explaining how to complete the next step in my process, which I had been told I would receive via email. I never recieved this email, and therefore could not move forward with my sanctions. When I returned to the office to request that they send me the email, the woman working noticed that they had information regarding my sanctions entered incorrectly into the computer. I fully realize that mistakes happen, but with a well-organized system there would not be this many problems regarding one case. In order for students to respect decisions made by conduct, the office needs to handle cases in an organized and efficient manner.
Being faced with numerous obstacles throughout my experience with conduct led me to be unsure about the University of Tampa as a whole. If the Office of Student Conduct was understaffed and disorganized, were other offices struggling in the same way? My education is extremely important to me and I want to feel confident that the university I am paying to attend is well run. Hopefully the Office of Student Conduct will move past any issues they have been having due to being understaffed this semester, and students in the future will not have the same frustrating experience with them that I did.
Emily Silverman can be reached at email@example.com