Recently, a rash of student conduct issues has taken the focus from education–and in some people’s minds–earning the school a different reputation entirely.
School policy prohibits officials from discussing any details regarding individual students, but Fredi De Yampert, PhD, Finlandia’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, was able to talk about their response in the wake of these issues.
Finlandia is currently conducting an internal investigation, which De Yampert says they do whenever there is a report of a breach of their code of conduct.
De Yampert said, “Many times, those conduct issues turn out to be nothing more than college students being college students. However, sometimes they are more serious and so we will sometimes, following policy, place students on an interim suspension while we conduct a more lengthy investigation. Again, whatever we do, we follow the conduct policy and we interview all parties involved.”
At the end of the investigation, the university determines what actions they take.
Finlandia also takes a look in the mirror to see if they could have done anything different.
De Yampert said, “We always try to strive to do our very best, and so when situations arise, we conduct what we call a debriefing, where we all sit down together. We review what actions and steps and policy procedures worked very well and what policies and procedures didn’t work quite as well as we would have liked, and how we can make them better.”
Finlandia expects to conclude its internal investigation on Friday.
Like many other schools, Finlandia recruits from out of the area–often giving students an opportunity to get an education they may not have had otherwise.
What steps are taken to help these students adjust to living away from home in the Keweenaw?
De Yampert said, “We have a Student Affairs department, essentially, that creates support resources, as well as activities on campus. We have, if they’re student athletes, they’re usually pretty busy during the athletic season for their sport, and then when they’re off season, there are intramurals that have been introduced, there are dances, other activities that students can keep busy with, there are other projects and, of course, there are always their academics.”
Students are provided academic coaches and TRIO student success services, which helps many first generation students.
In the past few weeks, Finlandia has had to take action for student conduct in as many as ten cases–four of which have resulted in criminal charges.
Though some say that shows a failure on Finlandia’s part to provide a safe environment for the students and the community, others point out that the university is showing they will not tolerate that type of behavior.
De Yampert believes the actions of the few shouldn’t characterize the student body as a whole.
De Yampert said, “The small group of students that tend to do something that is a little more public, tend to get more recognition than those that are quietly succeeding and doing phenomenal work, and we do have the majority of our students who are academically successful, very positive, want to be here, strive to do phenomenal work so they can enter the workplace very well prepared and those students tend to be very quiet.”
De Yampert says they would always want to hear from any student who has experienced a problem or has a suggestion on how the university can improve.