Being Human

The persistence demonstrated so far proves the commitment the professionals in our field have to our institutions, colleagues, and students, but we cannot forget to use that same grace and understanding with ourselves.

Perhaps one of the best-kept secrets of adulthood is that no one knows how to adult. For most of us, adolescence and early adulthood were full of trying to figure it all out only to eventually settle on the realization that none of us actually have the answers. Luckily, Google and YouTube usually do, but my searches for “how to completely upend all normalcy and move complicated conduct processes to a virtual environment without violating your own code” don't seem to be pulling up many tutorial videos this time.
Less than a month ago, our offices were functioning business as usual— meeting with students, managing cases, following up on sanctions, and more with little way to foresee the drastic change to our professional environment on the horizon. We were the experts in our respective areas on our campuses and felt at least some level of confidence in our ability to execute processes and to have meaningful interactions with students. If it's any consolation, at least you're likely still the student conduct expert in your new work environment even if your only comparable colleagues are pets and family?
Change is hard. Change with zero guidelines, no precedent, and no chance to Google the answers is a different beast.  
While weighing difficult decisions about what elements of cases to keep in place, what the written codes require, and how to prioritize decision making, Anthony Polito of Case Western Reserve University changed the course of the conversation with one simple reminder-- to be kind to ourselves. It was as if you could sense the collective sigh and reflection from every person in the group. It was as if every participant had finally been given permission to be human. 
Anthony went on to explain that in the absence of the normal work environment, some abilities may be hindered, which included an example that without face-to-face interaction it could be more difficult to pick up on the nuances of nonverbal indicators during a phone or video hearing. Though the change of setting may create new challenges, what matters is that we still show up and make the effort to serve the students with compassion. Let's save some compassion for ourselves too. 
As a supervisor, my mantra has always been “as long as you can rationalize why you made the decision, I will always have your back.” Crisis management and problem-solving call for quick, logical decisions, not long drawn out thinking in search of a nonexistent flawless response. It was to be a reminder that the effort and intention of the helper are what matter.
Listen up, folx. There are no right answers to many of the questions we now face. There's probably some not-as-great answers, but the persistence demonstrated so far proves the commitment the professionals in our field have to our institutions, colleagues, and students, but we cannot forget to use that same grace and understanding with ourselves. The adaptations our institutions must make will not be entirely without error. The adulting instruction manual does not have a chapter on our current situation nor does Google have a step-by-step tutorial on how to fix our upended processes. Don't forget to pause to offer yourself grace and to show yourself kindness.  
Aside from the poignant reminder to cut ourselves some slack during this upheaval of routine, the following content area themes were discussed over the course of Wednesday's ASCA Chats, “Closed campus, open cases: Handling outstanding cases and sanctions.” 
Hearing Procedures:
  • For board hearings, recommendation to practice these with staff in advance to make sure all persons and technology are playing nicely prior to having anyone else join
  • Entering into code revision now due to availability of time and plan to write it in a way that does not lock in a requirements of hearing(s) because things definitely change 
  • Secure file sharing in advance of meeting if this is part of usual process (Ex: DocuSign)
    • 2-party recording states would prohibit screenshots, 
    • Not following rules of online hearing process could be considered “abuse of process,” “noncompliance,” or have other charges added 
Fraternity & Sorority Life:
  • Prioritizing fraternity and sorority sanctions knowing they need to be completed in time for participation in recruitment
  • Greek houses not on campus property able to remain occupied, but Clery reported. Some campuses having conversations with these groups about current conduct expectations proactively.
  • HQs have conflicting rules about whether its members are permitted to convene, even electronically, during this time which could hinder sanction completion 
Outstanding Sanctions:
  • Assuming campus partners still working, chat with them about possible resources and alternatives
  • Can meet with students to see if there are alternative sanction options to meet the same intended learning goal
  • With BASICS, it may not be beneficial to wait to complete that sanction. One institution worked with health educators on campus to create prompts to accomplish similar goals
  • Persons who pose a serious threat are able to still being put on interim suspensive
  • Sanctions that had already been assigned prior to spring break.
  • Campus-based sections becoming remote:
    • Used other campus offices to help create a leadership academy course online
    • Use of ethics case studies
    • Saves students time and stress to verbalize what has been learned rather than having to write reflections
Student Care:
  • Does your EAP provider have capacity to add an SAP (student assistance program) to supplement campus counselors?
Miscellaneous Trends:
  • So far, when given an option, more students opting for phone over video meetings. 
As our processes continue to grow and adapt to the sudden change in environment, so will we. It's imperative that we reserve for ourselves some of the grace given our students while we catch up.
Want to join a future chat? Check out our schedule and register online
Have additional thoughts or recommendations on any of the questions/topics discussed during today's chats? Feel free to share in the comments.
Any opinions, stated or implied, are those of the author and do not reflect the official view, position, or endorsement of the Association for Student Conduct Administration.


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