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Career and Conduct: Should You Talk with Students about Conduct Code Violations?

In October, New York became the second state after Virginia to pass legislation that requires universities to note on transcripts that a student has been found responsible for violating a school’s conduct code for actions that relate to “crimes of violence.” Senate Bill S5965 states that,

FOR CRIMES OF VIOLENCE, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE, . . . INSTITUTIONS SHALL MAKE A NOTATION ON THE TRANSCRIPT OF STUDENTS FOUND RESPONSIBLE . . . THAT THEY WERE “SUSPENDED AFTER A FINDING OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR A CODE OF CONDUCT VIOLATION” OR “EXPELLED AFTER A FINDING OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR A CODE OF CONDUCT VIOLATION.”

Even if you don’t yet have similar legislation in your state, it is worth considering how the New York and Virginia laws could change how career services staff members work with students as well as what affect it may have on entry-level recruiting. Although the language required by the New York legislation does not state the student’s offense, it only mandates the notation in situations that involve “crimes of violence.” (The Registrar’s Office at Washington and Lee has a page detailing how universities subject to the legislation are reporting the information on transcripts.) Therefore, if an employer asks for transcripts and sees the notation, the employer will know that the student was found responsible for conduct that is reportable under the Clery Act’s guidelines.

For Career Services offices, a first step should be to touch base with the conduct staff on your campus. Ask about the conduct process and get a sense as to the volume of cases that go through the conduct board each semester. Find out how conduct staff members work with students who have been found responsible for violations of the conduct code. You may also want to talk about how career services could be involved in the sanctions process – should an appointment with career services be required of students who are found responsible of a violation?

A second step may be to update your intake process to ask students if they have been involved in a conduct proceeding. Use this information to help a student begin to think about how being found responsible for a conduct violation could affect his/her job search. Ask the student if s/he knows how s/he will respond when asked for a transcript as part of the hiring process.

Finally, does it make sense on your campus to develop related programming? If it does, you may want to consider a webinar over an in-person session. A webinar would provide a level of anonymity while still allowing the students to ask initial questions related to their situations. Or, it may prompt a student to ask for a 1:1 appointment to discuss the matter further.

For those recruiting entry-level talent, a better understanding of the campus conduct process may also be beneficial. It could help to understand how the campus conduct process differs from a court hearing and what it means when a student is found responsible of a conduct violation. And, it would also be helpful for recruiters to talk with career services staff about when and how they use transcripts as part of the hiring process.
12.15IMG_0122About the author: Jill Wesley is the Director of Career Services at the College at Brockport. Previously, she worked in Career Services at Harrison College and Purdue University. She holds a BA (English) from Dartmouth College, and MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a JD from Indiana University-Indianapolis.

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