Student Conduct Advocacy Committee Launches to Guide Students Through Disciplinary Proceedings

The college has recently formed a new committee, the Student Conduct Advocacy Committee, led by Virginia Moscetti ’23, Daniel Song ’25, Alesha Archil ’25, and Kevin Kurtz ’23 in collaboration with Dean Michelle Ray and Dean Nathan Miller. Yerin Chang ’23 and Peiwen Wang Fall ’22 were also instrumental in helping organize this initiative. 

This committee was proposed by students to provide a support system for peers who are alleged to have violated the conduct code, helping them navigate the proceedings, informing them about different options, and ultimately handling the consequences. This committee was partly created due to students voicing that the disciplinary proceedings were unclear, confusing, and stressful, and that they often felt unsupported. 

In an interview with The Phoenix, an anonymous source shared frustrations towards the disciplinary process and the administration’s handling of alleged conduct violations.

“While I read the CJC handbook thoroughly, I did not feel like the administration represented their handbook whatsoever. Instead, it felt like the administration twisted words in the handbook to their own advantage … the disciplinary process was not supportive of my needs and I often felt like having student support would’ve made this experience so much better … I would’ve felt less anxious about the process,” they said.

Moscetti similarly emphasized a lack of accessible resources throughout the disciplinary process. 

“Although the resources aim to be student-centric, it’s difficult for administrators to approach the conduct process from the perspective of the student. Students don’t really have a support system that’s at their level,” Moscetti said. 

Having a student committee fill the role of supporting peers during the disciplinary process is not something new or exclusive to Swarthmore – Princeton University has the Princeton Peer Reps, and Haverford College has an honor code that is entirely managed by students. 

The Student Conduct Advocacy Committee will not assist students whose violations go to court or involve legal charges, nor will it formally represent any student. However, for violations that are handled within the Swarthmore community, the committee will help with cases involving anything from minor violations, such as underage drinking, to major violations, such as breaking into a building and academic infractions. 

Moscetti explained that some students often do not fully understand the accused violation or potential punishments imposed. The committee will help break down jargon-filled language and demystify a complicated handbook. The committee hopes to reduce confusion with the conduct proceedings and provide confidence and support to the students who have to go through this process. 

In an interview with The Phoenix, Song outlined the process of starting the committee. 

“[An important step was] learning the ins and outs of the conduct process at Swarthmore since even I have not been very familiar with it,” he said. “The program will start playing a role in that process, hopefully for a long time after I graduate.” 

The committee also has another goal: providing more transparency about the disciplinary process as well as the consequences of violating the conduct code to the general student body. 

Moscetti explained that looking at the number and types of violations of misconduct could be used to guide Swarthmore on where to direct attention to improving the campus environment. For example, if repeated violations of academic misconduct are occurring in one department or one class, Swarthmore could potentially reach out to faculty in that department or better inform students working in that area to try to reduce violations. 

“I feel like the end goal of these types of proceedings, besides just maintaining the integrity of the school as a whole, should also be reducing the [number] of violations that happen,” Moscetti said. 

Haverford College has a public forum where they anonymously post results and debates from different misconduct cases to keep students informed. Moscetti described the forum as “awesome and inspiring, especially because they’re really transparent in the way that they . . . handle these cases.” 

The Student Conduct Advocacy Committee will be made up of ten students. Five of the members will play more active roles by taking on cases, meeting with peers to offer information, and helping throughout the disciplinary process by editing personal statements. The other five members will collect data, update online information, distribute documents on specific proceedings, and promote transparency to the general student body, making the disciplinary process a community conversation. 

The committee is both a resource to students with alleged violations and, as Moscetti hopes, a platform that strives to “redress some of [Swarthmore’s disciplinary] issues from the inside out” with the long-term goal of lowering future violations.

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