Exponent Explains: Student Code of Conduct

Students are often faced with troubling news when they violate the student code of conduct at MSU. However, Ed McKenna, director of student conduct, explained that the process does not have to be intimidating; instead it can be helpful to student growth.

As with any successful institution, abiding by certain responsibilities is a necessity to that institution’s success, and students at a university are no different. However, McKenna understands what it’s like to be part of the process because he wants “to change student’s lives” and “work with students in a more one-on-one setting” as his own life was changed by a university’s conduct process.

McKenna remarked that he’s “not afraid to share that he went through [his] University’s conduct process” and that it was the “most influential experience” in his life. He said that “instead of [the process] being punitive” he was given the opportunity to join the program, and “one of the outcomes changed [his] life.”

The Office of the Dean of Students is trying to help develop students through different means than punishment. Instead, they are focused on responsibility, and as McKenna said, discussions don’t deal with “guilty, not guilty, it’s responsible, not responsible.” Nonetheless, the code of conduct is certainly something to be taken seriously.

McKenna stressed that while “there’s one conduct program, there are different entry points [Athletics, Family and Grad Housing, Office of Institutional Equity, and Residence Life] into the conduct process … but there’s one unified code of conduct that students have to abide by, or work within.”

It may seem like the code of conduct only applies to on campus events, or events directly associated with facets of the school, but the Office of the Dean of Students are also in contact with Campus Police, and the Bozeman Police. If they are contacted by the Bozeman Police, then they can get involved because as McKenna says, they “have jurisdiction to work with students even if it is off campus,” and they often will if they feel it is in the best interest of the student.

McKenna emphasized that students be “proactive about understanding the code of conduct” because “the university has a vested interest in the well-being, safety, and conduct of students on and off campus.”

Student codes of conduct can seem like a means of inhibiting the growth of a student, especially if they are the one involved in the process. But, taking responsibility for actions helps to show that these processes are necessary in the development of students who may be struggling with academic and life issues.

Ultimately, McKenna said that the code of conduct is “really all about development, whether it’s moral development, or ethical.” He wants to ask students “how [their] actions not only affect  success … but how do they affect the community.” Students are part of a greater communal existence, and it is their responsibility to contribute to the community, and take care of themselves as well.
Those interested in learning more about the code of conduct at MSU should go to montana.edu/knowyourcode.