Tuesday, November 16, 2021
This past summer the Florida legislature passed the Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity House Bill 233, which went into effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Comprised of amendments to three existing Florida statues, this law covers Statues 1001.03 Specific powers of the State Board of Education; 1004.097 Free expression on campus; and 1006.60 Codes of conduct and disciplinary measures.
Pertaining to student codes of conduct, the bill proscribes certain requirements that now must be contained in the codes of conduct maintained by the Florida College System and State University System intuitions, many of which our code already contains. New provisions that are not currently part of Valencia’s process include a student’s right to remain silent in a proceeding, and the right, at a student’s own expense, to hire an advisor, advocate or legal representative to be present and who can fully participate in the disciplinary proceeding.
Since the bill passed, a team — comprised of Student Affairs staff, legal and faculty and staff representatives — has been working to make necessary modifications to Valencia’s student code of conduct.
Some of the key changes proposed by the team to Valencia’s existing Student Code of Conduct POLICY: 6Hx28:8-03 are:
- Students will be given a written notice of specific charges at least seven business days before a disciplinary proceeding.
- Students have the right to have an impartial hearing officer and Student Conduct Committee.
- Students have the right to remain silent, and this silence cannot be used to adversely impact the student as it relates to the disciplinary outcome.
- Students can now have an advisor, advocate or legal representative attend their meetings with them and their advisor, advocate or legal representative are able to actively participate in the conduct process.
- Students also have the right to an accurate and complete record of every disciplinary proceeding relating to the charged violation of the code and all known witnesses that have provided, or will provide, information against the student, including a record of every appeal, to be made, preserved and available for copying upon request by the charged student or student organization.
- A provision will be included describing the time limit to charge a student or student organization with a violation of the code of conduct, and the circumstances where this timeline can be waived.
These proposed changes have gone through the Policy Review Committee and Faculty Council for full review. The updated Student Code of Conduct Policy will go to the Valencia’s District Board of Trustees for approval at their next regular meeting on Thursday, December 2, 2021.