August 17, 2020

SIU updates student code to support campus and community safety

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale students returning to campus this week are focused on safety as well as academics. From wearing face masks to social distancing, they are paying attention to the guidance received from the university. 

To reinforce this guidance, the university has updated its student conduct code, which outlines their rights as well as responsibilities. 

“Students do care about safety, and we are seeing broad compliance with mask requirements,” said SIU Chancellor Austin Lane. “We have a lot of communications out there reminding them of their responsibilities, and we have peers stepping forward to serve as positive role models. Students are listening. However, it is important for us to have an avenue to address issues if they arise.” 

The university has updated its Student Conduct Code, which outlines student rights and responsibilities, to cover health and safety measures adopted by the university in compliance with ordinances, directives and guidance from health officials, the City of Carbondale and the State of Illinois. 

These include, but are not limited to, “failure to wear a face mask in public or in a university classroom, failure to social distance, attending, holding, or sponsoring a gathering with an attendance greater than permitted by law and university guidelines” and “failure to isolate or quarantine as ordered by a public health official or the university.” 

Lori Stettler, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs, agreed that students want to do their part. 

“Our goal is to make sure they know they are accountable for following through,” she said. “We have a range of options for students who are referred to our Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, which oversees the disciplinary process. First and foremost, a student has a right to due process, when they can accept responsibility or opt for a hearing. 

“If a student or a student organization is found to have violated the code, the sanction will be based on the individual circumstances. For a student, it could range from education to expulsion. For a student organization, it might include putting the organization on probation or involuntary separation from the university.” 

Stettler said the update to the conduct code provides the university with internal tools to enforce pandemic safety measures. But students are also subject to other consequences. For example, the City of Carbondale’s new face mask ordinance requires people to wear protect face coverings when “engaging in in any activity outside of their residence, while other people are present” … “when it’s not possible to maintain a minimum 6’ social distance from others.” Violation of the ordinance could lead to fines of up to $750.

On campus, masks are required in indoor public spaces regardless of the ability to maintain social distance; indoor public places include spaces anyone can access, such as reception areas with walk-in access, lobbies of buildings and restrooms. Masks must be worn in all locations, including offices, laboratories and classrooms, where multiple people are present and social distancing is variable or not possible. Masks are strongly recommended when outdoors on campus and are required outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

The governor’s Restore Illinois Plan currently allows gatherings of up to 50 people with appropriate safety measures, including masks and social distancing. The university and city fall under the plan, but Stettler strongly advises students to stay away from parties or events where people will gather.

“On campus, we are requiring the submission of rigorous safety plans before approving any events, and our registered student organizations will be held to the same standards,” she said. “We will not be approving off-campus parties sponsored by student organizations. No matter who hosts an off-campus event, however, we are telling students to stay home. You put yourself and others at risk.

“While we understand that students want to socialize and have fun while at college, we want to impress on them their responsibility to do so in a responsible manner,” Stettler added.   “Protecting our Saluki community is our highest priority, and everyone must do their part to stop the spread of the virus.”