For any student having a good time on a Friday, the potential to be written up can hang over their head, threatening bank accounts and potential for involvement at Gonzaga.
Ideally, this process should deter students from partaking in activities that violate the campus rules, but confusion on the write-up process and a painfully “college-student” amount of money in their bank accounts has students looking for some changes in the process.
“The Student Code of Conduct outlines that fees and fines may be assigned up to, but not exceeding $1,000. However, the most frequently assigned fine is $50 for an alcohol violation,” Paula Smith, assistant dean of the Resolution Center for Student Conduct and Conflict (RCSCC), said in an email.
The money collected from these fines goes toward “educational functions of the [RCSCC] which include workshops, presentations, conflict resolution services, alternative resolution processes and outreach efforts,” according to Smith.
This was unsurprising to Ben Walker and Sara Lynn, two sophomores who agreed drinking is definitely the most common thing people do on campus that would get them in trouble.
“I feel like people definitely partake in activities that would…” Walker trailed off and then said with a laugh, “Yeah, people drink on this campus.”
Lynn was fined $50 for an alcohol violation last year but still feels the process was unclear.
“In my situation, at least, the process was not fair,” Lynn said.
After speaking with a resident assistant casually on a Friday night, Lynn found herself with a $50 charge to her school account two weeks later.
“I was not told by anybody that I was in trouble,” she said. “No one ever took my card, asked for my name or made any indication that I was going to be written up.”
According to Lynn, the email detailing her documentation as well as one telling her that she had failed to appear for her meeting with RCSCC had somehow ended up in her junk mail.
“Because of that system, I missed my meeting and my ability to talk about it,” Lynn said. “It was too late, and I missed the opportunity to deny it.”
Walker found himself in a similar situation as the email sent to him detailing his write-up was also sent to his junk mail.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize that they’ve been written up,” Walker said.
In his case, Walker had heard about the potential for emails to go to junk mail and fortunately checked his for that purpose.
Despite the process being confusing, he does believe assigning fines is an effective way to make sure people are following the rules.
“If people didn’t get fined, they would just do it,” Walker said.
Smith also finds that the process is effective, especially through student feedback.
“Students consistently report feeling heard by their conduct officer, having the ability to take ownership for their actions, feeling respected by their conduct officer and finding closure in the process,” she said.
Walker agreed that he felt heard once he actually met with RCSCC.
“They were understanding,” he said. “They understood that they could’ve gotten details wrong.”
According to Smith, RCSCC does have a low recidivism rate meaning it typically only has to meet with students once during their time at GU. This could be due to a willingness to understand, Walker said.
Lynn agrees to some extent with the idea that the punishments are fair and effective. While she believes a standard $50 fine is acceptable, she also believes that the idea of a write-up in itself is effective enough.
“I think when people are in that situation, they are more terrified of the concept of a write-up," Lynn said. "They don’t even immediately talk about the money until they’ve actually been written up."
The potential to alter or jeopardize your future at GU is the main driving force to stay in line, she said.
“I think it’s mostly just about their future and what that means for them,” Lynn said. "Just getting involved with the leadership programs at GU becomes harder.”
Ultimately, Walker and Lynn agree that because GU is not a “party school” the amount of enforcement is appropriate. They do, however, hope for more clarity in the disciplinary process going forward.
“I hope there will be more communication when [a write-up] does happen, and just clearer enforcement and discussion,” Lynn said.