To all members of our community
In light of the recent protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony Mcdade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, UNC Charlotte's Student Conduct & Academic Integrity office is acknowledging the impact of these events on our faculty, staff, students, and community members, particularly Black people and people of color. For over 400 years, Black and African American people in this country have faced systemic oppression, discrimination, hatred, and violence. As conduct professionals, we are responsible for addressing student behavior and assisting students reporting violations committed against them. We want to share the following information with our community.
Our profession is committed to and responsible for following multiple laws and codes of ethics. One law in particular stands out: the concept of due process. After nine Black students were expelled for engaging in a sit-in during the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, three of them filed suit, and the 5th Circuit Court ruled in Dixon v. Alabama (1961) that institutions of higher education could not take punitive action against students--including suspension or expulsion--without providing due process. In the Code of Student Responsibility, and in all we do as professionals, due process is imperative. Students have a right to know their accuser. Students have the right to respond to charges in front of an unbiased hearing officer. Students have the right to appeal. And students have the right to report harassment, discrimination, and threats without fear of retaliation.
From the referral step to the appeal step of our process, and every step in between, we have a commitment to treat each student as an individual with rights. We acknowledge that higher education conduct and judicial systems have, historically, contributed to systemic racism. Our staff has completed years of academic and professional training and created initiatives (not just those required by law) to work against complicity in systemic racism. Some of these initiatives include providing Student Conduct Counselors, for students wishing to have support and representation; multiple methods of reporting; an annual report studying trends in our conduct system, and educational sanctions focusing on UNC Charlotte’s core values such as respect, equity, and diversity.
As with the scales of justice, our work is about balance. We must balance free speech rights with wanting to protect our campus community from harmful words and actions. We must balance student rights with student responsibilities. We must balance our commitment to encouraging personal growth and development of responsible students and demonstrating to victims our commitment to holding those students accountable for their actions.
In the coming weeks, as UNC Charlotte remains in a remote format, we will be seeking ways to connect with students who wish to share concerns, provide feedback, or ask questions about our conduct process. We will also continue, as a staff, to commit ourselves to antiracist work and use it to inform how we perform our responsibilities to campus. If you are a current UNC Charlotte student (or attending in the fall) and are interested in working with this initiative, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our students are the most important part of our work. You have the right to a safe experience at UNC Charlotte. We see you. We hear you. We will continue to make sure justice is done.
“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In solidarity and on behalf of the SCAI Team,
Dr. James A. Lorello, Director of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity