A new agency within Student Government (SG) aiming to support students undergoing the student conduct process is expecting to offer services to all three campuses starting Oct. 1.
Bulls Student Advisors (BSA) will provide advisers who understand the intricacies of the student conduct process for free to, upon request, accompany students during formal hearings and help them understand their rights.
“When students are in the student conduct process, they’re told they’re potentially in trouble with the university,” said junior political science major and BSA Director Sam Rechek. “That’s not something you really share, even with your semi-close friends. So, students could benefit from a support system during that process.”
Students charged with minor violations of the student code of conduct, such as on-campus underage alcohol possession, property damage and failure to comply are eligible for having their cases taken by staff advisers, who can participate in all aspects of hearing proceedings and speak for their client upon request, but may not testify on behalf of the student.
However, the BSA won’t take cases for students who are charged with more severe offenses, such as stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence, according to Rechek. The advisers will instead guide them to the appropriate office within the university, such as the Center for Victim Advocacy, student legal services or the Ombuds Office.
An office in the SG suite of the Marshall Student Center has been reserved for the BSA, as well as a formal budget of $35,000, supplied by SG’s unrestricted reserves fund. The budget covers the wages for staff positions and office supplies, such as computers, pamphlets, signs and other promotional items to share with the student body.
Students from other campuses have the option to be advised over Microsoft Teams or travel to the Tampa campus for in-person support.
Established in spring 2021, the BSA was spearheaded by Rechek after attending a conference in November 2019 and interacting with students from different universities with a similar agency in place.
Inspired by their efforts, Rechek helped the Senate write a bill proposing the agency, which was signed by former Student Body President Claire Mitchell on March 15. Rechek was then selected for the director position by SG Lieutenant Governor Kiara Brooks in June.
“[The students I met at the conference] told me that their agencies were helping students and fulfilling a niche,” said Rechek. “They found there was this need to provide students with support during an unfamiliar and stressful time, and I thought it was a really good idea to promote ethical behavior on campus and inform students of their rights and wanted to replicate it.”
No agency like the BSA existed prior to its establishment. When students are informed of their inclusion into the student conduct process, they will be notified that their case can be taken by a staff adviser who is familiar with the student code of conduct and the rights it grants students. Prior to the formation of the BSA, advisers for formal hearing were typically parents or friends, according to Rechek.
Other positions within the agency include the assistant director, who will oversee administrative functions such as training and storing student records, and two staff advisers, who will work with students within the student conduct process while their charges await resolution.
“I need to ensure that I and all the people that are brought on this staff are trained in all the necessary areas of the student conduct process,” said Rechek.
Once the final processes are complete and services are officially underway, the BSA will offer help for students across campuses. Rechek said he anticipates the day when the BSA’s services are finally offered.
“I’ve already been starting to get questions if we’re offering services yet, which is really exciting,” he said. “I keep having to tell them to wait until October, so I really have to make that happen.”