By NICOLE DUGGAN/Montana State News

The MSU University Council vote to approve the updated student code of conduct was pushed back on Wednesday, as University administrators decided to extend the public comment period on the document.

Leslie Taylor, MSU legal counsel, said that she and Dean of Students Matt Caires made the decision to extend the comment period after hearing many “strong opinions” from students about the proposed changes to the code. The pair have been meeting with many student groups on campus, including ASMSU and representatives from Residence Life, and have been hearing  “good feedback” from the students, she said.

The student code of conduct, which is enforced by the Dean of Students Office, is the set of expectations laid out by the university to uphold student conduct while at the university. According to the code, “student conduct that disrupts, invades, or violates the personal and property rights of others is prohibited and may be subject to disciplinary action.”

The code is reviewed annually by the Dean of Students Office and campus administrators. According to the university’s website the last changes to the code were passed in August of 2012.

The majority of the current proposed changes to the code involve clarifying language to clear up confusion about the intention and purpose of the code. However, some additions to the code seem to be causing the pushback from student groups.

Under the revised code students will be required to report any arrest that occurs off campus property but still affects “substantial university interests.” Students are also required, under the new “bystanding” clause, to report serious violations of the code by other students that they witness.

Another addition to the code allows the University to revoke a degree “if serious misconduct was committed while the student was enrolled but reported after the accused student has graduated or withdrawn.”

Caires said that many of the students he talked to seemed shocked that there was a student code of conduct. He stressed that what was up for debate with students were the additions to the code, not the clauses that are already in the code and have been approved by the University Council already.

The comment period for the student code of conduct revisions has been extended to March 1. The comments will be heard at the University Council meeting on March 4 at 8:30 a.m. in the MSU Alumni Foundation’s conference room before a vote to approve the changes.

The code and the proposed changes can be found in full at: http://www.montana.edu/legalcounsel/proposed/index.html

Edited by Arina Billis

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