Dean of Student Affairs Office to issue community judiciary report

The Dean of Student Affairs Office will release a community report of conduct and judicial sanctions within the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering next week, according to Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon. She said the report will be the first of its kind issued by Tufts.

The report will be a means of allowing the Arts, Sciences and Engineering (AS&E) community to see a clearer picture of the judicial actions carried out within the student body, McMahon explained. She said she hopes the report’s release will allow students to gain a greater understanding of the volume, variation and trends in adjudication.

“For me, this is a practice that I would like to bring to campus to help make people aware of what we are doing, to be more transparent and to … take some of the veils away from how our process works,” she said.

According to Judicial Affairs Administrator Mickey Toogood, the report will cover cases from the fall 2014 semester. In issuing the report, Toogood echoed McMahon’s hope that the report will help create transparency in the university’s judicial process.

“Without this [report] our process is fairly quiet: We are kind of a black hole,” he said. “This is a way of letting people know what actually goes on, and what we do about it.”

McMahon explained that this report will differ from previously issued reports on judicial affairs, such as the Annual Security Report, also known as the Clery report, which details the university’s crime policies and statistics and is issued every year by the Department of Public Safety.

“Some of [the community report’s] stuff doesn’t fall into the Clery categories,” McMahon said. “Clery is very specific about what it covers and reports.”

While the Clery report’s content is dictated by federal law, the community report will be constructed within the Dean of Student Affairs Office and will reflect the university’s administrative conduct process, McMahon explained. Some of the areas covered will include academic honesty violations and residential noise complaints.

Within a specific category in the community report, McMahon explained that the total number of complaints will be listed first. For example, 11 complaints were registered last semester for tampering with fire safety devices, with seven students ultimately found responsible and four found not responsible.

“Usually this is people disabling a smoke detector so that they can smoke,” McMahon said. “It’s serious in the sense that if … there’s a fire in a residential space on campus, your actions impact other people.”

The report will also indicate the sanctions meted out to the responsible students. In the case of last semester’s incidents of tampering with fire safety devices, five of the seven responsible students received probation level II for their offense. Students names, however, will be excluded from the report, according to Toogood.

McMahon explained that when the report is released, it will be available to the entire AS&E community through the Dean of Student Affairs Office website, and will be accessible with a valid Tufts login. One of the reasons for waiting until February for the release, according to McMahon and Toogood, was the fact that some fall cases have only recently been resolved.

After the report’s release, McMahon expressed a hope that it will help students feel more certain of the potential sanctions warranted by their actions.

“People can feel more grounded if they have a [Tufts University Police Department] report written up in which they are involved … and they say, ‘OK, it says in the book that this, this or this could happen,’ this is going to give them a little more information about what the possibilities are,” she said.

McMahon added that she hoped the report would indicate to students that complaints are being dealt with appropriately by the Dean of Student Affairs Office.

Senior Becky Goldberg, the chair of the Tufts Community Union Judiciary, said she believes the report will help to increase transparency about the judicial process among Tufts students.

“I think … it’s wonderful that [McMahon and Toogood] want the student body to know what’s going on and not hide it from the students,” she said.

Goldberg also hopes that the report may help to cut down on the number of student violations.

“I also think that hopefully this will prevent a lot of [violations], because if you know what your student body is doing [and] you know what’s happened to those students in terms of sanctions, hopefully you’ll be less likely to do them yourself,” she said.