The Challenges of Student Conduct

So in honor of an ongoing Careers in Student Affairs Month, this piece is to relate some of what I have learned during my experience interning with the Office of Student Conduct.

Here are some things to consider. Students (and sometimes faculty and staff) view students conduct as the “bad folks” on campus; those unafraid to get mean when need be. I have always known I have a soft spot for students and knowing that discipline was my weak spot, I was a bit intimidated heading into this opportunity. I was downright scared to be honest.

What I have experienced, on the other hand, has been a different story. If I as the hearing officer was scared, some students come in even more intimidated. Let me take a moment here and address different conduct models. While all conduct models incorporate some combination of these, most lean more to one side or the other. They are either punitive in nature (the idea that you broke this and this is the prescribed punishment) or they are educational in nature (you did this and based on that and this which is going on in your life, this is the education you should go through and ideally learn something from). There are pros and cons to each practice. Most students come in with the first model in mind and are scared to see how they will be punished. You get to see some students come in that are getting in trouble for the first time in their lives and are nearly in tears before you even begin. Other you may be seeing for the umpteenth time and act as if they can’t believe you are actually punishing them.

Of course student conduct in my experience thus far is really full of interesting and exciting people. They have the ability to be intense when the time calls for it, but they are also caring and relaxed and have the ability to make you laugh. Regardless of how you feel, these staff members are engaged in the community. Focusing on students is essential and my piece of advice for anyone interested in conduct experience, remember first and foremost that it is a conversation. That is what I have seen these people do incredibly well. They take time and engage the students in open and honest conversation, learning things that otherwise may have turned into a lost cause.

Then again, something else I have learned during this experience is the headache that can come with grading work. For that all I can say is please read and follow the instructions. That is all I am asking. I am pretty lenient otherwise, but really?

So what should you know about a career in Student Conduct? It is not for everyone. I’m not sure at the moment if it is for me. But the people involved in it are amazing and wonderful people. I have seen them manage and do things that other staff who are trained in cannot manage. Of course I have also seen the intimidation that worried me at first. So you should know that the students and campus come first. If that is for you, good. If not, good.


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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