The Students Rights and Responsibilities Committee has decided to remove the “three-strike” policy from the University of Rhode Island campus policies.
“With the three-strike policy, the student conduct administrators are held to ‘one, two, three, I have to suspend you,’” said Katrina Dorsey, associate dean of Students and Community Standards for URI. “In that we felt that we were structured to follow the policy as opposed to being able to talk to a student and help them figure it out.”
With this change, when a student is written up for being found in the presence of alcohol, rather than automatically being given a strike, the student will be given the opportunity to state their case and talk to an administrator about what happened. Then, depending on the severity of what actually occurred, sanctions could be placed if the student conduct administrator believes they are necessary.
Dorsey said that the three-strike rule allowed for students who were found responsible just in the presence of alcohol three different times, not having had consumed any alcohol, to be eligible for suspension. “Without the three-strike policy, we are able to talk to students about making decisions,” Dorsey said.
Assistant Director of Residential Education Amanda Downey said that the standard administrative guideline that is followed allows for a consistent approach to sanctions. There are recommended guidelines that are used and have always been used, and these have not changed.
“Taking away the three-strike policy takes away the appearance that any person can make three mistakes and that is all,” Downey said. “This isn’t baseball, this is life.”
The sanctions applied to a situation where there is alcohol and violence involved may be different than for someone that had one or two drinks and didn’t engage in violent behavior. Downey said that after the first alcohol violation there is going to be some form of educational component used as a consequence, depending on the severity of the offense. The student may be urged to take an online class or meet with a counselor.
“We took away the three strikes, but we are focused more on the educational piece more than ever,” said Joan Harrington, senior coordinator of Student Conduct. “We want to make sure that the philosophy of what we do, which is education, is part of the sanctioning process.”
Harrington continued to explain that this is a more individual approach for students.
“We want an opportunity to educate, and maybe if we get that opportunity, we can begin to change those behaviors,” Dorsey said. “It also gives us an opportunity to work with students because our ultimate goal is to get students to graduate from the university.”
Dorsey said that she understands that this is the first time that many students are off on their own experimenting with life decisions. And this change also gives students the opportunity to talk to someone rather than having to make something up to get out of the strike. “It helps us help them make better decisions,” Dorsey said.
The “three-strike” policy had been in effect since 1995, according to Daniel Graney, assistant dean of students. Although not yet incorporated into the student handbook, the removal of the “three-strike” policy is in effect this semester.