Student Discipline: Good Neighbor Policy
A good neighbor policy governing student behavior in the greater community can help students become responsible citizens and improve your college or university’s relationship with its business and residential neighbors. While institutions do not wish to intrude on student privacy, it may be necessary to become involved when a student’s behavior interferes with community enjoyment of reasonable peace and quiet. A policy that lays out expectations and consequences for infractions can simplify the process.
Draft a Strong Policy
Your policy should make it clear that students, on and off campus, are expected to act responsibly and uphold all state and local laws. Examples of inappropriate conduct can reinforce the message. Specifically, provide information on the following:
- Parties. A person hosting a party can be held accountable for guests’ actions. As hosts, students are expected to exercise some control over guests’ behavior, such as ensuring there are no violations of laws pertaining to underage drinking, open containers, or drug use.
- Property of others. Student tenants and their guests should respect the property of their landlord and that of neighbors. Lease agreements often require tenants to abide by certain rules pertaining to parking, noise, pets, and litter.
Set up Sanctions
Address student misconduct affecting neighbors on a case-by-case basis. Policy violations could result in a range of sanctions from a warning to a suspension or expulsion. Institutions may tie specific types of violations to minimum sanctions. Noise disturbances, for example, might result in a written warning and a fine. The creative use of sanctions can help students understand consequences of their behavior. For minor infractions, it may be appropriate for students to agree to:
- Make restitution or perform community service to benefit the persons or neighborhoods affected by the students’ behavior.
- Write an essay about what they could have done differently on the day in question to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the behavior.
Collaborate With Your Community
Open lines of communication with neighborhood groups, law enforcement, and local government are essential for successfully implementing your good neighbor policy. Appoint one or more people from the Dean of Students office or other campus offices to serve as liaisons or points of contact for police or neighborhood concerns involving students. Hold regular meetings or receptions with neighbors and the government to encourage information sharing and cooperation.
About the Author
Heather Salko, Esq.
Manager of Risk Research
Heather oversees the development of risk research publications. Her areas of expertise include employment law, Title IX, and student mental health. Before joining the Risk Research team, she practiced employment and insurance coverage law and handled UE liability claims for more than a decade.