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No record? Just fine!

Students may not have to worry about having a misdemeanor on their criminal record after Sept. 5, when the Civil Infractions Code goes into effect.

There may be a lesser punishment for crimes like public urination, said City Prosecutor Matt Reger, at last night’s Undergraduate Student Government meeting.

The city Civil Infractions Code, which was passed last year, will give officers a choice of whether they hand out a misdemeanor or a fine for small crimes.

Last year at this time, people caught committing minor misdemeanors would face two possible outcomes.

Officers could give verbal warnings or fines and a mark on a person’s permanent record.

But now, students may receive a civil offense, which can be compared to a parking ticket, Reger said.

Some USG senators questioned whether the new policy would lead to more citations because officers find the new code more appropriate for minor offenses.

If Reger has it his way, the city police will embrace the policy.

“First of all, I would hope they would use it, but second of all I think they will use it,” Reger said.

USG president Bernard Little expressed concerns about the new code and possible misuse by officers.

Because there are no concrete guidelines, unfair or prejudice citations could leak into the system.

“Whether we like it or not, discrimination happens,” Little said.

Because officers will not have to justify citations, Little worries they will discriminate against students, especially minorities.

Although Little trusts the city police, he still worries about race issues that affect minorities.

“We like to know that everyone is fair, but being a black male in today’s society, I know everything is not fair,” Little said.

Johnnie Lewis, senator at large, thinks the change works in favor of students.

“It gives officers an opportunity to do what’s best for students,” Lewis said.

Aside from the new city policy, Little also discussed the major issues USG will address this year.

Among those issues were the university travel policy, funding for student organizations, BiG Charge and Bursar bills, and rising tuition costs.

Little encouraged USG senators to discuss these issues with the student body.

He will address these and other issues in his State of the Student Body Address next month.

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