Editorial: Mar. 20, 2014

An accidental Snapchat got senior Zach Rasp a suspension.

Over Christmas break Rasp went out to dinner for his 21st birthday to a restaurant that serves alcohol. A friend bought Rasp a “ceremonial” beer.

“I did not drink it, nor could I. Over Christmas break I was extremely ill, to the point where I was in the hospital multiple times,” Rasp said. “I was on multiple prescriptions that clearly said ‘do not consume alcohol.’”

Rasp took a Snapchat photo of the beer with intentions of sending it to a friend who was unable to make it to dinner, but accidentally hit “My Story”instead.“MyStory”isafea- ture that was added to the Snapchat app in October 2013, which allows users to create slideshows or videos that are available for public viewing by all Snapchat friends for 24-hours, according to Information Space.

A screenshot of Rasp’s image was sent to his RA. He was then told that he would not be reported to the RD, Drew Benson, if he self-reported himself to the dean of residential life, Phil Steward, Rasp said.

“I met with Phil Steward and told him the story along with bringing in all my medicine. He reassured me that there is a major difference between consuming, possessing and being in the presence of alcohol or drugs,” Rasp said.

Rasp claims he left the conversation with Steward assured that he would not suffer any further consequences for the situation.

A month later, Benson sent Rasp an email, informing him of a mandatory judicial council meeting that required his presence. During the meeting, Rasp pleaded his case, bringing in his medicine as evidence, he said. The council questioned him, asking why he didn’t “flee” the scene.

After the meeting, Rasp was sentenced to a two-day suspension for being in the presence of alcohol, which he requested to appeal. According to Rasp, Steward determined the appeal was invalid and he was asked to leave campus that evening, a Friday night, and return the following Monday at the same time he left.

According to Rasp, he was unable to leave campus until later in the evening and he claims Benson inappropriately confronted him before he was able to leave campus. He said Benson threatened him with a longer suspension and gave him “20 minutes to be off campus.”

As members of faculty, Steward and Benson are not permitted to comment on individual disciplinary situations with students, and did not answer an inquiry on the topic. That being said, this could very well be a classic case of “he said, she said;” Rasp did violate the University Handbook.

“Students may be placed on conduct probation, suspended, moved from apartment housing to inner campus housing or dismissed/withdrawn from the institution for violation of any University policy, or due to the inability to adjust to campus life expectations,” according to page 43 of the University Handbook. “The University also retains the discretion to fashion other sanctions or corrective actions that it deems appropriate in a particular case.”

However, we believe the language used in the University Handbook to describe disciplinary action consequences is far too flexible. It leaves no room for accountability between students and faculty administrators.

As the GlimmerGlass reported in this issue, VP for Student Development, Woody Webb said he wants “to maintain consistency” between disciplinary situations, but he notes that each situation is unique and the consequent punishment is “de- pendent on circumstance.” Webb explained that when a case is being evaluated and punishment is being decided, the factors considered are “policy, the situation, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.

“We strive very hard to maintain integrity,” he added.

While we believe that integrity is more than likely achieved in most student disciplinary situations, the lack of transparency and lack of concrete suspension policies in the handbook prevents accountability, and all too often leaves disciplined students feeling as though they have been treated unfairly.

We request a policy revision.

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