With increasing volatility in society and our own communities, it is important for the University to be transparent and address bias and prejudice-motivated behaviors. Until now, our Student Code (Policy 6-400) did not name these behaviors. Without specifically naming them, we inherently silence victims by not acknowledging the behaviors of bias, prejudice and racism. This leads to members of our marginalized and underrepresented communities not feeling heard or seen within their very own university.
Effective April 12, 2022, the following changes are applied to the University of Utah’s Student Code of Conduct:
- Adjusted the definition of discrimination and harassment and added language to cover bias or prejudice motivated behaviors against members of a protected class so this language reflects the university’s existing non-discrimination policy, which now includes: race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, age, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, genetic information, or status as an individual with a disability, or as a protected veteran.
- Added framing language to explain the rationale for why violations motivated by bias or prejudice can receive enhanced sanctions.
- Added “property of others” to be protected from attempted or actual theft, damage or misuse.
- Added language to direct hearing committees to consider enhanced sanctions for violations motivated by bias or prejudice.
These necessary changes are being made to ensure that students’ free speech rights afforded by the First Amendment are not violated while holding our community members accountable if they take harmful action that was motivated by bias or prejudice.
The changes outlined above stemmed from many individual conversations with faculty, staff and students, as well as feedback solicited from the Academic Senate, Academic Senate Executive Committee, Institutional Policy Committee, University Institutional Policy Committee, Council of Academic Deans, Dean of Students Student Advisory Board, Associated Students of the University of Utah, Black Student Union, Center for Equity and Student Belonging, Black Cultural Center, Racist and Bias Response Team, Anti-Racism Committee, Student Affairs Leadership Team, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Housing & Residential Education, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, SAFE and the President’s Cabinet.
Ultimately, this is one step the U is taking to address the systems that are in place that continue to uphold inequities within our community. We recognize that there is much work still to be done, and we anticipate undertaking a detailed review of the Student Code in the 2022-23 academic year and possibly proposing additional changes.
Finally, please know that Human Resources and the Office of Faculty are currently performing similar reviews of the Staff and Faculty Codes of Conduct.