Sunday, May 20, 2018

College unveils new handbook changes

Sonjay Singh ’15, News Editor

Continuing the implementation of its new Social Policy, the College unveiled proposed changes to the Student Integrity Contract and Student Handbook over the summer.  Aimed at reinforcing the Charter Committee Report released last year, the most substantial amendments to the student handbook explicitly state the new regulations on Greek Organizations, which include a reduced pledging period of 10 days, a minimum GPA of 3.0 for Greek members and mandated co-education.  The only change to the Student Integrity Contract amends the phrase: “fair grading, protection against improper disclosure, and protection of freedom of association are guaranteed under this contract,” to “fair grading, protection against improper disclosure, and protection of freedom of association are guaranteed under this contract, subject to the regulations and procedures of Trinity College.”

These changes seem to confirm what College rhetoric has been for the last year: the idea that the Integrity Contract should not be viewed as absolute but rather, transient with the changing attitudes and regulations of the College.  Rather than guaranteeing a fixed form of freedom of association, the contract instead maintains whichever interpretation is most compatible with the current rules of the College.

Campus-wide reaction to these changes has been decidedly negative with many seeing them as an unfair curbing of student autonomy. Eamon Bousa ’15, SGA Senator for the Junior class, expressed his unhappiness by saying: “There was a disappointing lack of student input when there should have been a lot of room for campus-wide debate.”  He has also begun a petition, which aims to halt the proposed changes until they can be voted on by the student body in a referendum with the goal of “giving students a voice in the regulation of their organizations.” 

This claim is echoed by others in the Student Government such as Elliott Barron ’15 who stated: “I am deeply disturbed  by this administration’s lack of commitment to open student discourse and  democracy…particularly in a document which opens: ‘we the students.’”

When asked to comment on this issue, Dean Alford said: “The change emerged during a legal review of the handbook and makes clear that the guarantees in the integrity contract do not trump College rules. The change is making explicit what was previously implicit.”

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