Bad news for students: TU policies non-binding

Newsflash, fellow students: TU doesn’t have to follow any of those conduct policies it’s published. Apparently, they are only for your reading enjoyment. I hope you had fun reading ‘em, because that’s all the good you’re going to get out of those policies if you do something to displease the powers that be. Let’s review the evidence.

Last week, the Collegian reported on a disciplinary case that was handled in a summary fashion and with no hearing. The morning after that story came out, President Upham sent a campus-wide email explaining that “no hearing was required” in that case since it was handled under the Policy on Harassment and not under the Student Code of Conduct.

Never mind that the Policy on Harassment lists the Student Code of Conduct as a “governing document.”

When you think about it, President Upham’s email is almost more frightening than the original story. Like, did TU really just admit in writing that it has no qualms about disciplining its students summarily and without a hearing?

I’d be in a more charitable mood except that the school deliberately created an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear to discourage us from publishing our story about Trey Barnett. When that story hit the national press, the school rapidly backpedaled. A spokesperson from University Relations went so far as to tell the Student Press Law Center that she was not aware of any policies the Collegian could have violated.

We can’t get a straight answer out of these guys. They wouldn’t tell us at the time what policies we might have violated in investigating and publishing that story, and now they tell us that no such policies exist? What’ll it be, TU?

In other news, it turns out that TU might not be liable for violating its own disciplinary policies.

Way back in 2012, the Northern District Court of Oklahoma ruled that TU is not contractually bound by its Student Handbook. Why? Because the handbook contains disclaimers which say it isn’t a contract. Now that’s just great.

Of course, the individual policies available on TU’s website don’t contain this disclaimer. Mixed messages are always the best way to communicate with your constituency.

But wait, it gets better. TU’s Policy on Harassment, Non-Discrimination Statement and Equal Employment Opportunity Policy (accessed via Campus Connection) all end with a delightful piece of cover-your-ass language.

Here it is: “The authority to grant exception to one or more of these policies and procedures is vested with the President of the University of Tulsa or his/her delegated representative(s).”

There’s nothing quite like writing a policy that has places no meaningful limits on your actions whatsoever.

Here’s a question, TU: Why do you bother publishing the policies if you don’t promise to hold up your end of the bargain?
Seems kind of cynical if you ask me.

Post Author: tucollegian

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