Posted by: lcowie | October 2, 2008

Restitution

Elon freshmen enjoy newfound freedoms but frown at restitution hours

by Lesley Cowie

After spending the last 18 years living with their parents, college freshmen look forward to moving into their dorms and making their own decisions. The freedom of staying out past curfew is just one of the luxuries enjoyed by ecstatic freshmen.

The first month of school blurs by with introductions to new peers, syllabuses, and places. For many freshmen, the real fun occurs during the weekend.

Along with the freedom and the decisions come the consequences. According to Whitney Pack, coordinator of judicial affairs, September and October are the months with the highest number of judicial violations.

“It makes sense because I think a lot of the time freshmen are coming in and really adjusting,” Pack said. Freshmen want to know the rules and boundaries, how things are enforced, and how to deal with all the time and freedom, she said.

Ending the orientation fun

Last year’s statistics show that there were 250 incidents in September and 150 in October that required restitution hours. According to Pack, those numbers are not exact, but they are close.

“The rest of the year was maybe 25 or 50 incidents in the other months,” Pack said. “Once you get past September and October, it’s very even because after that point, you take out that factor of students really not knowing the environment, not knowing the culture. And that’s where you really get across-the-board similar violations for freshmen, as well as upperclassmen…It really goes down from there.”

Judicial officials often assign students restitution hours after they violate a decree on campus. Any nonviolent violation, Pack said, could require community service hours.

“It’s really based on the individual student and the situation,” she said. “All alcohol violations have a certain number of minimum restitution hours that are the recommended sanction listed in the handbook.”

The general sanction is typically 10 hours. Although students get restitution hours for other violations, Pack said that alcohol cases are the most common violations that come through the judicial affairs office.

“If it’s a very serious violation, they [students] might be sanctioned to a greater number of hours,” Pack said, “but also if it’s just multiple minor violations, that would be another reason [for more hours].”

The deadline for completing restitution hours equates to one week for each five hours assigned, plus one week of planning time. If a student is assigned 10 hours, Pack explained, he or she would have three weeks to complete it. To make their hours count, students must also complete a timesheet and have their supervisor sign it.

Seizing new service opportunities

Restitution hours may be completed on campus or with off-campus organizations. The judicial affairs office maintains a list of opportunities for students.

Recently, the Special Olympics contacted the judicial affairs office, asking for volunteers. According to Pack, the group needed people to help out and be referees for a sporting event.

“We are a little bit more selective with off-campus [opportunities],” Pack said. “It depends on the hearing officer’s discretion and the type of violation, as far as the student being able to make their hours off campus. We really want to make sure that it’s a good relationship for both the site as well as the student.”

In terms of campus activities, students may work in an administrative office or help different clubs and organizations that are hosting events.

Pack mentioned that last year’s fall concert was an opportunity that many students participated in, by helping set up and clean up. The Invisible Children Walkathon also contacted judicial affairs, asking for volunteers.

According to Pack, when students work with campus organizations, they become exposed to something a little different than what they might otherwise have experienced on their own. We often refer students in that direction, if they are interested, she said.

“It [Restitution] gives students an opportunity to meet people they otherwise wouldn’t have met,” Pack said. “If they are working in an office with administrators, hopefully they’ll get to build some relationships with faculty and staff members. Additionally, if they are working an event with a student organization, we hope that they gain an experience and a perspective of a new organization…”

More information about violations, sanctions and restitution can be found in the Student Handbook.

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