Every year, incoming freshmen and transfer students bring their own cultures and experiences to Northwestern. This change brings different viewpoints and learning styles to the community but can also lend itself to disciplinary issues.
Last year, 56% of NW students came from Iowa. This year, the number dropped to 54%, due largely to the increase in overall enrollment and a stable number of IA students.
In terms of behavioral contracts, a form of campus discipline, incidents are leveling off after an above normal beginning.
“I don’t know that we’ve had more [contracts] than in most years, but we have had more of them earlier in the year,” said Director of Residential Life Patrick Hummel, “but we’re about on pace for a normal year.”
Hummel attributes this to the normal adjustments all students make when attending college.
“We have a lot of Midwestern kids who know the area, know Northwestern and/or know the denomination,” Hummel said. “However, as we get more diverse geographically, we have some others who don’t know Northwestern or the expectations quite as well.”
As recruits come from across the country and the size of athletic teams grow, many sports teams have seen the effects of the change.
“It does seem like there have been more than in a typical year,” said Head Football Coach Kyle Achterhoff. “A lot of our players are not Midwestern guys, and what they’re used to is different.”
Some squads, however, have been unaffected by the trend.
“I don’t see a difference at all,” said volleyball coach Kyle Van Den Bosch. “The way NW is heading is great, and I hope it continues.”
For athletes who have on-campus or off-campus discipline issues, the Code of Conduct (CoC) Policy comes into play.
Adopted three years ago, the policy states that “any student on campus who breaks campus rules first goes through the campus discipline system. If they are a part of the Athletic Department, they must go through the procedures of the CoC Committee, consisting of the Athletic Director, Assistant Athletic Director and a member of Residential Life.”
The CoC decides each incident on a case-by-case basis, based first on the severity and then on the individual’s pattern of behavior. This applies not only to campus contracts, but also to off-campus issues.
“The goal of this, though it entails discipline, is to help individuals who have made mistakes to realize the issue and create personal growth,” said Athletic Director Barry Brandt. “We tend to be internalized on ourselves and our rights, but our own rights sometimes trample on the rights of others without us knowing it. We need to think big picture. That’s why we created the Code of Conduct, to be an accountability and educational process.”
Recently, two students were involved in an off-campus incident that required the attention of the sheriff’s department. Each student’s case is looked at individually after the facts have been gathered from all possible sources.
“The CoC was created to give the department consistency across all sports,” Brandt said. “ Every case stands on its own.”
None of the campus discipline is intended to merely punish students for their behavior.
“We try to do very few things that are purely punitive,” Hummel said. “Most of what we do is developmental to help the individual grow.”
Much of the cultural adjustment from state to state is experienced by all college students in a new environment.
“Some will decide this place isn’t for them,” Hummel said. “Some get here and think, ‘what is this place? It’s like Pleasantville here.’ That can take getting used to.”
Such a change can make dorm life more difficult or build barriers between students who don’t understand each other’s differences.
“Our growing cultural diversity can be a much bigger challenge than an ethnic diversity,” Brandt said. “All students bring their own ways of thinking, and college is their first chance to fully make their own decisions.”
According to Hummel, it’s up to students to help each other adjust.
“Engage people from all states and cultures,” Hummel said. “Some people who come from homogenous areas simply don’t know how to do that. Everyone is adapting here in some way.”