Truthfully, this was the first Code of Conduct that I was told to read for an assignment. Typically, in high school when asked to read it, I would either not read it at all or on the rare occasion that we had to return a signed piece of paper, I would just sign the paper and not even look at the Code of Conduct itself.
I started reading with the assumption that it would just describe certain actions that everyone knows are actions that should not be done on a college campus, such as consuming drugs or sexually assaulting someone. Surprisingly, the text was very long and somewhat specific. However, with the Code being in depth, it was also very vague. As my classmate Laura stated, the text must be open to interpretation so that everything that someone could possibly do is covered in the text and could interpret it anyway that they desire. However, that raises the question of which parties get to interpret it? For example, the last sentence before the list of actions that should not be taken is a sentence that reads “This list is not all-inclusive”. With the list not being all inclusive, how then does the student body at Geneseo as well as faculty and even the Geneseo community decipher what actions should and should not be taken. Granted, some rules are common sense such as sexually assault someone, or damage of the colleges property. But other misdemeanors such as recording people are not so clear. So often now, people use their phones to take pictures of things or to record something that someone is doing. Every time someone does this without the subject of the picture or video being notified, they are in violation of the Code of Conduct, even if the purpose was not to harm the subject of the video. This concept for me is hard to wrap my head around because without even thinking, I bring out my phone to record something that I saw. My intention is never to hurt anyone but subconsciously I think it’s okay because everyone else does it. It’s just what you do, for lack of better words. That certain example can be interpreted many ways. For example, the Geneseo Code of Conduct states that “when such a recording is likely to cause injury or distress.” But what does that said injury or distress qualify as? How do I know if the person will be distressed? That definition of “distress or injury” is very open to interpretation.
Another one of my classmates, Roisin shared that she had an experience with Code of Conduct violations and she specified that as someone discusses their punishment and the severity of said punishment differs between which faculty member you talk to. Personally, I don’t think that makes any sense because if two people perform the same violation and one person suffers a steeper consequence than another just doesn’t seem right. I understand that one person could be more apologetic than the other, however, as faculty-especially administrators-there should be guidelines to how they judge things. This personal story that Roisin shared is another example of how vague the Code of Conduct could be and an example of how many different things could be interpreted in so many ways.