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Changes could prompt more UMD student discipline

Changes to the University of Minnesota system's Student Conduct Code could result in student expulsion for crimes committed off-campus. The changes, which apply to all U of M campuses, were approved by the Board of Regents last week.

Changes to the University of Minnesota system's Student Conduct Code could result in student expulsion for crimes committed off-campus. The changes, which apply to all U of M campuses, were approved by the Board of Regents last week.

Changes were made so universities can become involved in cases of off-campus criminal activity that could affect campus life, said Bruce Gildseth, vice chancellor of Academic Support and Student Life at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

"If there is a sexual assault involving two students, the university may want to get involved while there may or may not be a court proceeding going on," Gildseth said. "In the past [jurisdiction] has been limited to campus or campus events."

The changes were routine and nothing in particular triggered them, Gildseth said, but there are frequent concerns from neighbors wanting the university to be more involved in off-campus behavior.

UMD students were initially not pleased with the added restrictions, said Meghan Keil, president of the UMD Student Association.

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"After it was passed and some provisions were put on it about how it could be implemented, the student population was more willing to ... accept it," she said.

Administrators explained to students that expulsion would result in extreme cases of criminal activity, and some offenses -- such as a bar fight -- could result in students being placed in separate sections of classes. Minor infractions, such as underage drinking off-campus, wouldn't result in intervention from the university unless it became excessive, Keil said.

"Students are worried they'd be taken out of class for drinking off-campus," Keil said. "But I think now they do understand. It's good for those extreme cases."

The procedure used for off-campus incidents would probably be the same as for on-campus, said Kathy Skelton, UMD conduct code coordinator.

After a report is generated by campus police it comes to Gildseth's office, and he meets with the alleged offender and applies sanctions, if any.

"Off-campus crimes would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis," Skelton said.

Campus police work closely with city police, but "we're not a court of law up here," Gildseth said.

The changes allow the universities to intervene more quickly to remove a student from a class or the campus, even before a student has been charged or convicted of a crime, he said.

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Hazing and rioting were also added to the conduct code as acts subject to disciplinary offenses.

JANA HOLLINGSWORTH is a general assignment reporter. She can be reached Tuesdays through Saturdays at (218) 279-5501 or by e-mail at jhollingsworth@duluthnews.com .

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