New interim student conduct officer focuses on pre-emptive education

August 21, 2013 | Features, UToday
By Cynthia Nowak

“What I really want students to understand deeply is this: Making mistakes doesn’t mean that they’re bad people.”



So said Mary Martinez of the Office of Residence Life when she assumed her new responsibilities as interim student conduct officer. Added Martinez, who’s been with the University since 2009 — most recently as a residence hall director — “We all make bad choices, but those can often turn into great teachable moments.”

In her new position, Martinez, who prior to joining UT held positions in residence life with Michigan State University, is responsible for overseeing and administering the UT Student Code of Conduct. Her main focus, though, is the issue Martinez sees as central to student conduct: education.

“We want to educate students on the code of conduct they can follow to avoid ever meeting me,” she said with a smile.

“One of our areas of focus will be honor and getting the word out about the concept: What does it mean to be an honorable person, an honorable student? Your choices and decisions might not be the best for a situation, yet you can still be an honorable person, and keep from making poor decisions in the future.”

“We are extremely excited about Mary moving into this role,” said Virginia Speight, director of residence life. “Mary’s approach of proactive education — introducing the concept of student honor and ownership — fits well with our priorities of enhancing the student experience and ensuring that we are focused on student centeredness in all areas of our office.

“These education efforts will enable students to better understand and embrace the Student Code of Conduct.”

Noting the diversity of the University’s student population, Martinez added that all members of the campus community have a role to play in ensuring positive conduct and a successful student experience.

“To help ensure our education efforts reach their mark, we strive to work with students where they’re at. Mutual understanding and respect are keys to effective education,” she said.

“But it’s not an effort that’s confined to the Office of Student Conduct. It’s a responsibility where the entire University needs to be involved — hall directors, teaching assistants, professors, senior administration. We all need to meet students where they’re at and educate them from there.

“That’s the best way to help them reach greatness.”

Information about the Student Code of Conduct can be found here.

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