Meredith College’s 2021-2022 Undergraduate Student Handbook features several changes to the College’s various policies and procedures. The Meredith Herald recently spoke with Dean of Students Ann Gleason to get some insights on these changes and the process it took to make them happen.
One of the most notable changes is the one made in the Honor System section of the handbook where hostile acts towards another now count as an Honor Code violation. Dean Gleason explained that the recent additions to the Honor Code were made following a review of the Honor Code by the Honor Code Review Task Force. The Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Board approved the proposed changes and submitted the proposal to Dr. Jean Jackson, Vice President for College Programs, for review and consideration. In April 2021, Dr. Jackson, in consultation with President Jo Allen and the Executive Leadership Team, approved the recommended additions.
In this section of the handbook, the new intolerances/bias subsection details what is considered a hostile act towards another. According to the handbook, “any conduct that serves no scholarly purpose appropriate to the educational experience and demonstrates bias against others because of, but not limited to, their actual or perceived religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation or any other category protected by applicable law” is considered an act of intolerance. Examples of such acts listed in the handbook include vandalism, use of slurs or epithets, threats, culturally offensive gestures and culturally appropriated or insensitive theme parties. Punishments for offenses that escalate to a criminal level, such as stalking and physical harassment, could incur further action from the College. In addition, the handbook now includes information about offenses like dangerous behavior and retaliation.
Prior to this year, the only statement regarding harassment of any sort was a short section in the 2020-2021 Undergraduate Student Handbook which stated: “Harassment includes, but is not limited to, acts of intolerance and/or malice directed at individuals or groups and delivered in oral, written, or electronic form. Sexual harassment violations will be addressed through the College’s Title IX/Sexual Misconduct policy and procedures.”
When asked about the impact of these changes, SGA Vice President Jeanine Carryl, ‘22, said she hopes that “these changes will hold everyone accountable for their actions and words on campus, [and will let] students know that there is a system set in place that is willing to support [them] if a hostile act is inflicted upon them.” Dean Gleason hopes “by better defining and strengthening the violations for harassment, discrimination and bias in the Honor Code, that our campus will be able to promote deeper personal responsibility and integrity in students when addressing conduct based on discrimination and bias.”
Dean Gleason wished to remind students that “the Meredith College Honor Code is a ‘living’ document and is always under review in an ongoing way. Students are encouraged to express their experiences, feedback, concerns and recommendations through SGA, Student Life Committee, Honor Council Chair or the Office of the Dean of Students.” Undergraduate students looking for guidance on how to report an incident can find information on the Student Complaints/Grievances for Undergraduate Students page.
By Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor