Student Conduct Board facilitates justice

By Sydney A. Stalnecker

Youngstown State University students are given the opportunity to hold other students accountable for their actions through the Student Conduct Board. The board handles most cases ranging from warnings to expulsions.

Erin Hungerman, the university conduct officer and assistant dean of students, oversees the handling of all cases presented at YSU. The severity of the case determines how the office of student conduct handles the case. Lower-level cases can be handled through a one-on-one conversation. Higher-level cases are handled by the Student Conduct Board and go through a process similar to a court case.

“When we start talking about things like suspensions, expulsions, sexual misconduct or assaults, things that are higher level, or just repeated offenses, those are things that would go to the Student Conduct Board,” Hungerman said.

The board is set up to mimic the procedures of a courtroom.

“The Student Conduct Board hearing functions a little bit like a court case. The student who is alleged to have done something comes and they present their case,” Hungerman said. “If there is a victim in the case, they give their testimony, any witnesses give their testimony. Then, the hearing panel kind of serves as a jury, and they make a decision in the case.”

Despite the title, the Student Conduct Board doesn’t consist only of students.

“The Student Conduct Board is a panel of three folks, and that is combined of faculty, staff and students,” Hungerman said. “They make decisions in cases that come before the office of student conduct.”

Francine Hazy, a graduate student in the College Counseling and Student Affairs program, started working with the Student Conduct Board in August 2020 and finds it to be a rewarding experience.

“You really get to advocate for students and kind of hear everybody’s perspective and try to handle things as fairly as possible,” Hazy said. “It’s more rewarding — you feel like you do get to make a difference.”

Veronica Erjavec, a senior communications major, joined the Student Conduct Board at the beginning of her junior year, and has participated for four semesters. She was motivated to start because she plans to earn her master’s degree in counseling. 

“I decided my sophomore year that I wanted to go into counseling and student affairs, and I thought one of the best things that I could do was to get more experience in other departments,” Erjavec said.

Like Hazy, Erjavec said being able to help students and make a difference in their future is rewarding.

“It’s just a very gratifying experience more than anything,” Erjavec said. “It just feels really good to know that you can maybe play a part in helping somebody improve their future.”

Erjavec views the cases as an opportunity to hold students accountable for their actions — not to punish them.

“Do you want to view it like you’re getting someone in trouble or you’re punishing them or sanctioning them, or do you want to view it like we are holding people accountable for their actions?” Erjavec said.

Hazy’s role on the board provides opportunities for her to learn more about different aspects of campus and allows her to gain a well-rounded perspective on how students, faculty and staff view certain topics.

“You hear a lot of different perspectives from the witnesses, professionals on campus, professors, students,” Hazy said. “It’s helpful because — for example, with the residence case — I haven’t lived in a residence hall so I got to learn more about that part of campus life.”

The Office of Student Conduct will accept applications for next semester until Friday, April 23. Email Erin Hungerman at [email protected] with any questions.