Forced to Miss Class

The Faculty Senate supported the SAO’s view and passed a resolution regarding this issue. Find the article by clicking here

Unjust Scheduling Pattern by the Office of Student Conduct
Editorial printed in the November 19 issue of The Cowl

Judicial advisors for the Student Advocacy Organization on campus have witnessed the coordination of an unjust pattern of meeting times for those students accused of violating the College’s policy. As of late, the Office of Student Conduct has been scheduling hearing sessions for students to report to the office during times that interfere with student class time. Two students in particular communicated this legitimate time conflict to the Office, with ample advance notice, only to have their request to reschedule be denied. It should be noted that although the senior office assistant has been very accommodating, the final scheduling ultimatum was through specific order “Per Dean Butler”, the Dean of Student Conduct.

Lacking concern for academic matters, the Office had the audacity to tell one student that although he would be late to class, the Office would provide him with a note.  Is the business of this office more important than the primary reason a student attends college? Certainly the hearing officers could find time within their busy schedules to accommodate a student’s academic needs. The Office of Student Conduct should not impede on the educational progress of students by making students take time out of class to attend a hearing. With most classes only meeting two to three times a week, forcing a student to miss class is completely unreasonable.

The mission statement of the Office of Student Conduct explicitly cites the goal of preventing damage to the “necessary atmosphere for academic pursuit.” By scheduling a student to come in for a hearing during a class time, this certainly damages academic pursuit and only further hinders “the individual’s growth and experience” for each student.

Students at Providence College have classes to attend and work to complete, perhaps, at the very least, the Office should find a way to reimburse the tuition money for the lost time in the classroom.

Letter From Dean Butler

Guilty Until Proven Innocent


  • On December 4, 2009, the SAO communicated these concerns that letters were being sent prior to the full conclusion of a student’s proceedings to Dean Fortunato of Student Affairs.
  • On March 5, 2010, the SAO was again informed that more letters were being sent home prematurely and addressed these concerns to Dean Butler of Student Conduct, and Dean Sears and Fr. Murphy of Student Affairs.
  • As of December 27, 2010, two more letters were mailed to parents before either student had the chance to submit an appeal. A year later, this problem still has not been corrected.

Two Strikes for the Office of Student Conduct
Editorial printed in the December 3 issue of The Cowl

Once again, the Office of Student Conduct has demonstrated a disregard for fair process in failing to adhere to the College’s disciplinary policies. While consulting students throughout their judicial proceedings, I recently was made aware that this office has been unjustly sending letters home to the parents of students who allegedly had violated school policy.

Parental notification is one of the possible sanctions that the office may render to a student who is found guilty of a particular charge. The notification involves a letter that is sent to the student’s home, explaining, for example, that the student was caught with alcohol. The main injustice behind the recent notifications is that many of these letters have been sent prior to the full conclusion of a student’s proceedings. The Student Handbook explicitly states, “Sanctions resulting from the case will not be implemented until after the appeal is resolved.” Some of these letters have been sent home before students have even had the chance to submit their appeal.

If the Office of Student Conduct cannot follow a procedure as simple as not applying a particular sanction until after an appeal is resolved, what is next? These instances only further enforce the idea that students must be aware of their rights in order to advocate for themselves. The Handbook also reads, “Providence College views student discipline as an integral part of its educational process.”  Procedures that are explicitly stated need to be followed more consistently.

Student Affairs Position

Let’s Be Careful Choosing A Replacement

Editorial printed in the February 18 issue of The Cowl

With the announcement of the new interim organizational structure of the Student Affairs Administration, it is imperative that Providence College search for a qualified permanent replacement for the position of Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students. The departure of Chris Fortunato presents a significant loss to the Student Affairs Office and searching for someone of the same caliber will require careful consideration.
Experience, training, and even additional educational degrees are not sufficient qualifications to fulfill the dynamic roles presented by this position. These backgrounds cannot substitute for the formal legal education obtained by individuals like Fortunato and other Deans of Students at peer Catholic Institutions such as Fairfield University, Loyola University and Notre Dame. Selecting a replacement with no legal background will create vulnerability among the department and students alike.
Lack of legal knowledge presents a gap that training and experience cannot fulfill. An administrator with this important position should have not have to pick up the phone to ask the College’s attorneys how to make a decision. The person selected for this position should have an autonomous background and appropriate legal decision-making skills, partly because we live in a society where it is all too common for disputes to be settled by the legal system. Selecting a replacement without the legal know-how will foster the insecurity present among other departments. As with the Office of Student Conduct (whose previous Dean was an attorney), the recent lack of properly qualified personnel has come primarily to the detriment of the students who must pass through its doors. If administrators who assume quasi-judicial roles without any modicum of legal knowledge deal with legal situations, it is the student who will undoubtedly suffer.
Though Providence College is a private entity with much more sovereignty than a public institution, it is still bound by the contractual obligations of the College’s message and the ideals marketed to prospective students and their parents. I hope that administrators can make the right decision in selecting a candidate that will be in the best interests of all students.

A Clarification of Rights

A Clarification on Student Rights in the Classroom

Editorial printed in the November 5 issue of The Cowl

This letter is written in regards to comments made by Professor Barry in the “Operation Red Cup” article of the October 8th issue of the Cowl. Professor Barry made a very unsettling statement regarding the publication of arrest information when he proclaimed “I want to know which of the students in my room were arrested last night.” In case Professor Barry was unaware, ALL individuals involved in the justice system in our country are innocent until proven guilty and perhaps one out of those seventy-five students arrested that weekend were wrongfully charged.
A student should not be burdened with the stigma of having their name published unless they have been found guilty in a court of law.  Unless Professor Barry wished to provide a compassionate voice to a student in need, I cannot see any logical reason for his desire to know who the accused students, if any, in his classroom are. I can only hope that a professor would never discriminate against a student based on the possibility that he/she had made a mistake or was falsely charged.  While attending a school so enriched by Christian tradition, surely we all recognize the importance not only of fairness but also that of forgiveness. If any faculty member, including Professor Barry has the best interests of their students at heart and would like to be sent information on how they could become a student advocate, please feel free to contact me.

Jon Dooley
Student Advocacy Organization

Student Denied Advisor

PC Student Denied a Judicial Advisor

Editorial printed in the October 26 issue of The Cowl

A few weekends ago, following a write-up, a student contacted the Student Advocacy Organization (SAO) seeking counsel after learning of his right to a judicial advisor.  Upon receiving an email regarding the date of his judicial hearing, the student’s advisor from the SAO informed him that due to a time conflict he would not be able to attend. The student contacted the Office of Student Conduct in a timely fashion and informed them of this legitimate conflict that would prevent his advisor from being present during proceedings. In his email, he asked if the hearing could simply be pushed forward a mere fifteen minutes so that the timing would no longer be an issue. The Office of Student Conduct then denied this perfectly reasonable request stating that they had back to back hearings all day and were therefore too busy to change his time.  After personally contacting the Office of Student Conduct, I was informed that the student’s advisor could join the proceedings when he was finally available but that the times would not be changed. Surely fifteen minutes could not have presented that significant a time burden, especially if it was in the best interest of a student. By denying his advisor this ability, it surely impeded with this student’s right to an advocate.

A student should certainly be entitled to have an advisor present during ALL proceedings, to ensure that he/she is being supported from start to finish. I fail to see a significant reason why the Office of Student Conduct cannot be more accommodating, especially when it concerns a fundamental right afforded to a student as set forth in the College’s handbook. The denial was not only a disservice to him, but also illegitimizes the judicial process and compromises its overall message of fairness. Perhaps this Office needs to be reminded that their primary role is to justly administer the judicial process and that they should reevaluate methods if they cannot carry out their responsibilities effectively. Certainly, this injustice does not coincide with the mission statement, supposedly familial atmosphere, and Christian values promoted by Providence College. Being “too busy” for a student should never be the answer.