Discipline Report shows small drop in total infractions, but uptick in fraud
Total reported offenses dropped from 413 to 378 between 2010-11 and 2011-12. Fewer students were found responsible for academic violations, most of which continued to be plagiarism. While there were 32 cases in 2010-11, only 22 were recorded in the following academic year. The net punishments for these academic violations were less severe as well, with fewer one-year suspensions and no two-year suspensions or expulsions issued.
There was a significant increase in the number of instances of fraud, from 11 to 25, but the increase was due to a clarification in University policies in the 2011 edition of “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities,” according to Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students Victoria Jueds.
Starting with the 2011-12 academic year, freshmen and sophomores who fraudulently registered a vehicle through juniors and seniors began to face disciplinary action in addition to the upperclassmen involved. As a result, although the number of fraud cases did not necessarily increase, the number of students reported for fraud was higher.
While the change in the number of fraud cases was attributable to updated University policy, Jueds explained that the overall decrease in the number of infractions was not due to a policy reform.
“The standards used by the adjudicating bodies [in deciding an infraction] have not changed,” she said.
Theft cases also decreased, from 164 to 138. However, in both years, all but 15 of the violations were found to involve illegal sharing of files protected by copyright. Therefore, the change in the numbers reflects fewer cases of illegal sharing by students on campus, not a decrease in the number of thefts of physical property.
Other notable changes were a decrease in the number of assault cases, from 11 to four, and an increase in health and safety cases from 20 to 35. Health and safety cases include, for example, being on elevated surfaces or smoking tobacco in dorms.
Alcohol violations remained constant at 25, and drug violations decreased from 47 in the 2010-11 school year to 37 in the 2011-12 year.
The number of criminal offenses recorded in the Discipline Report by ODUS is different from Public Safety’s Daily Crime Log, especially in the categories of theft and harassment. The Daily Crime Log notes 251 cases of theft and 27 cases of harassment in comparison to the Discipline Report’s 138 cases of theft and nine cases of harassment over the 2011-12 academic year.
University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua explained that the discrepancy exists because Public Safety records all infractions, including those allegedly committed by non-students. If a bicycle is stolen on campus, Mbugua explained, it will be reported to Public Safety but not registered in the Discipline Report.
The Discipline Report specifically records University infractions by undergraduate students. Jueds said that the threshold for the University disciplinary system is much higher than the threshold for reports in the Public Safety Crime Log.
“The majority of the non-academic offenses that are adjudicated through the University disciplinary system originate as reports from Public Safety,” Jueds said. From that point, the disciplinary system makes inquiries and determines whether the evidence is “clear and persuasive” that the student’s behavior violated a University policy, she said.
“I don’t believe that trends in student conduct can be measured in terms of years,” Jueds said. “I think at best they can be measured maybe in terms of decades. So from 2011 to 2012, I would hesitate to draw any sweeping conclusions about student conduct from those numbers.”
Staff writer Marcelo Rochabrun contributed reporting.
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