New Department, New Director: Sharron Evans Heads Student Rights and Responsabilities

Linda Monacelli, Staff Writer

 

Former Director of Student Leadership Development (SLD) Sharron Evans is now the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR), as of July 1. The SRR office, B-129, is located within B-119, in the B building, between the computer lab and Pedroso Center.
The Student Rights and Responsibilities office was created as part of a restructuring process initiated in January 2012 by Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Ross. The new department has absorbed certain initiatives previously handled by the Dean of Stu- dents office. According to Evans, the Dean of Students office embodied a “potpourri of programs and initiatives that didn’t really fit under what a Dean of Students or conduct office should be.” Thus, the Dean of Students office was shut down, and a new department with a new name, that is, Student Rights and Responsibilities, was established and set to operate with a more narrow focus.
The two main initiatives of the SRR office include regulating student conduct and creating campus community standards. Evans pointed out that although the university has values, it has not established official standards pertaining to “what is expected of people in the community in order for this to remain a conducive institution of higher education for people to learn, for people to explore and for people to flourish.”
As far as how Evans’ current position compares to her previous position, Evans explained that it is quite different. As director of SLD, she oversaw programming and leadership training initiatives serving student-led extracurricular organizations. The SRR office deals more directly with student behavioral issues and students’ rights and expectations on cam- pus. “We are the ‘complaints’ department, so to speak, for our students because they have certain rights at the university and we want to help them ensure that those rights are respected,” Evans said. “But also they have certain responsibilities to the community and so we also hold them ac- countable for when those responsibilities are not upheld.”
Evans is also one of four core members of the Behavioral Concerns Team (BCT), a multi-disciplinary initiative established two years ago in compliance with the 2008 Campus Security Enhancement Act of Illinois. This federal mandate, organized by the state in response to the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University cam- pus shootings, prompted NEIU to create an Emergency Management Team, under which the BCT operates.
The three other core members of the BCT include Veronica Rodriguez, director of Student Leadership Development; Dr. Alina Viola, assistant director of Counseling Services; and crime prevention coordinator Lieutenant Paul Kruszynski of campus police. Together, the BCT responds to and assesses cases of alarming or erratic student behavior in order to prevent grave disturbances and violence on campus.
On June 28, 2012, Student Affairs introduced the Involuntary Student Withdrawal Policy which states:
“Northeastern Illinois University reserves the right to in- voluntarily withdraw a student whose behavior suggests a significant risk of harm to self or others. Involuntary student withdrawal may or may not include plans or contingencies that condition the return of a student to the university.” Sharron Evans explained that this policy is a precautionary measure that NEIU would take in the event that a student’s behavior were to threaten his or her own safety or that of others. The policy defines concerning behavior as falling into one of three categories: dangerous, disruptive or disturbed. If a situation proves immediately dangerous and life-threatening, cam- pus police should be contacted without hesitation. If a student seems disturbed, repeatedly be- haves in a disruptive manner, or shows signs of being a threat to the safety of the campus com- munity, the student should be reported to the BCT at http://www. neiu.edu/~bct/. The BCT would then assess the case and conduct an investigation. The results of the assessment and investigation determine the ultimate course of action. If involuntary withdrawal should be necessary, the director of SSR would send the student a written notice of the decision, and the student would have five business days to petition it.
The SRR office is committed to keeping NEIU’s campus safe and maintaining it as an environment conducive to studying, learning and growing. The SRR office is also dedicated to developing and maintaining campus community standards. Students are encouraged to contact the office with any questions, comments or concerns regarding the initiatives of SRR. Sharron Evans may be contacted by phone at (773) 442-4610 or email at [email protected]