Is this how we solve problems now? Back to simplicity, huh? (Jorge L. Ayala)
Aimed at reducing confusion, an updated version of a widely-used document has been drafted for simplicity, clarity, and to aid in problem-solving in relation to reporting violations of student conduct at Saddleback College.
The revised Referral for Student Conduct Code Violation form is now being used by the office of Student Services in order to expedite the problem solving process and clarify a number of uncertainties that were present with its predecessor.
The new form, listed on the Student Services website as the Discipline Referral form, was created by Vice President for Student Services Juan Avalos, and features a bulleted list of all possible code of conduct violations to simplify the reporting process.
“In the past, you would just write whatever you thought happened,” Avalos said. “Our idea was to help people when they fill this out, so that when we get it, we know exactly what they’re talking about because the box is checked.”
The bulleted list comes directly from the code of conduct in the Student Handbook, available online at www.saddleback.edu/vpss/documents/codeofconduct.pdf. Since the form is specifically for the filing of code of conduct violations, the list is to assist individuals in finding out if his or her complaint or grievance is actually a violation.
“We would spend so much time going back and forth [discussing] what the actual violation was, that we couldn’t determine if it was [student discipline],” Avalos said. “If you’re filling out the form and you can’t check a box, then that tells you that [your issue] isn’t student discipline.”
Avalos was receiving numerous complaints every week that he couldn’t resolve, as they weren’t under his jurisdiction. The old form was ambiguous in its purpose, and therefore would be filled out regardless of whether or not the person knew it was a student discipline issue.
Library fines, for example, are not handled by Student Services, nor are they a code of conduct violation. Despite that, Avalos still received code of conduct reports for library fines.
“I was getting way too many reports coming here that had nothing to do with conduct [violations],” Avalos said. “A report was filed because a student didn’t pay his library fines, and there was nothing for me to do.”
One of his goals with this updated form was to show other departments many of the reports they were sending were internal issues solved within the department rather than through Student Services.
“This is to clarify the process, not change the process,” Avalos said. Student services still needs these reports to be filled out in order to address discipline issues, but they need to receive reports for things they can actually address. And this isn’t always about getting people in trouble, it’s about solving problems.”
The new form has boxes on the second page for a ‘formal disciplinary referral’ or an ‘informal documentation for files’ based on the need of the individual filing the report. Not every issue needs punishment and often times documenting a problem can help an individual without punishment.
“Some things don’t require [intervention],” Avalos said. “If it does, and if it’s serious, then I need to know that it is serious because it may require more aggressive response from [our office].”
According to Avalos, many students who end up in his office often don’t realize that they broke the code of conduct, or they didn’t purposely offend and apologize or make amends, not repeating the offense.
“Some things that come in through this process become opportunities,” Avalos said. “If the situation warrants it, we’ll talk about what you need from us to help you be successful. It’s called student discipline, but the idea isn’t punishment, it’s intervention.”