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SUNY Potsdam tightens student code of conduct

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POTSDAM — SUNY Potsdam will not tolerate harassment based on bias, hate or bigotry.

The college council adopted stronger language into its student code of conduct aimed at deterring actions related to race, color, national origin, gender, age, creed, color, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status or organizational affiliation.

“These are changes in the student code slated towards best practices,” said William G. Morris, dean of students.

Though the behavior was prohibited by the code’s previous language, the changes make clear that bias-related acts could subject offenders to more serious levels of sanctioning.

The move comes after a series of incidents over the past year, said Annette L. Robbins, director of student conduct and community standards.

“We’ve had a number of harassment cases, between 12 and 15,” she said. “This is somewhat in response to racial incidents last fall. We felt like we needed to shore up policies on bias-related incidents.”

Mr. Morris said the reported occurrences don’t necessarily equate to a rise in hate-crime on and around campus.

“It may sound alarming, but as a community we’re more aware of what constitutes harassment,” he said.

Though the changes follow some recent incidents, Mr. Morris said the university was being proactive.

“Not only are we changing the language, but we’re also broadening it so people don’t have to guess,” he said. “It is easier when more and more people become familiar with our student code. They know what is expected and what isn’t tolerated.”

The policy covers students on and off campus, said Mr. Morris.

“If it is a violation of our code, we still hold them accountable,” he said.“We have frequent communication with a number of different departments, including the village police. If a student’s name shows up on a police report, they will likely have a conversation with someone here on campus.”

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