Response to “On Your Best Behavior”

Submitted By Emeka Nnoli

Dear Editor, 

Since the start of Fall semester, the management of the Henderson State University (HSU) have disseminated a lot of information to the student and faculty. Besides the information on “Saggy Pant,” which generated a lot of bad press, the school’s information update on the new student code of conduct appears to be better handled with fewer flaws.

Initially, Mr. Fielding, the assistant vice president of student affairs, informed about the changes in Title IX, which will now require any student charged with sex or gender-based misconduct to face the newly set up Title IX committee, which will no longer include Mr. Fielding. This is a good decision because it is reasonable to exclude him from the committee so that he can dispassionately see to the enforcement of the punishment as he has promised, “he cannot have a student that has been assaulted sit in a class or walk the halls of this school with their attacker.” Again, having the culprit suspended until the victim is able to finish his or her study at HSU will achieve two purposes: It will allow the former some ample time for sober reflection as well as give the latter a sense of security while in school. The indefinite duration of the punishment is fair and just because that will help assuage the victim’s grief because time heals all wounds.

Then, the school management informed about the issue of illegal drugs when Fielding outlined some of the new steps aimed at curtailing the abuse of hard drugs and other substances. He specifically announced that any student caught using or selling drugs within the vicinity of the school will face immediate suspension. This marks a clear departure from the past when the school hardly applies stiff disciplinary measures against students found to be in possession of marijuana, owing to a first-time violation. In the efforts to make HSU drug free, the new rule stipulating a year suspension will engender some seriousness in the students to stay off drugs or risk getting rusticated.

Meanwhile, there are some inconsistencies in the released statement, which need to be clarified. For example, when Fielding said, “I checked around with other colleagues at other schools, and I didn’t find one that suspended students for first time marijuana use, at any other institution,” he only referenced other schools but failed to state what their policies are regarding first-time marijuana use. One does not know whether other schools ever suspend students for violating drug policies or whether they take more drastic measures than those of HSU. This calls for more aptness and clarity in the information given out to the public despite the spokesperson’s earlier warning of possible confusion “in the document’s vague wording.” However, his statement only confirms that HSU will be the first school in the area to apply suspension for all first-time violations, and that is a welcome development.