The rewritten and slightly condensed Code of Student Conduct features streamlined guidelines in an effort to increase transparency in the disciplinary process.
The 2013-2014 code, released Thursday night, includes simplified language as well as visual elements to make it easier to navigate and comprehend. At 27 pages, the code is four pages shorter than the previous version. The biggest change is the elimination of the Category A, B and C system.
Previous changes made in the past year — like the elimination of the one-keg limit for on-campus parties and the new parking prohibition for undergraduates — are included.
The changes to the Code of Conduct were taken from recommendations by an external review conducted last fall by administrators from Duke University and Loyola University Chicago.
“As part of their recommendations, they suggested modifying the code of conduct so that it could be more easily accessed by students,” Office of Student Conduct Director Judy Johnson said.
A primary component of the external review concerned the reduction of bureaucracy. To this end, the revised code abrogates the Category C Review Committee, which formerly reviewed category C violations to determine whether the cases merited judicial hearing board review. All cases will now be handled by the judicial hearing board, which is set to expand student involvement.
“The Disciplinary Review Committee concluded that it was an unnecessary additional step. It added time to the process,” Johnson said. “Cases could be resolved more quickly if the Office of Student Conduct could do the same function, eliminating the two-day time frame.”
The Office of Student Conduct is pushing to speed up the disciplinary review process. Complainants will now have two weeks to file the initiation of judicial proceedings form, rather than the previously allotted 30 days.
Certain external review recommendations, however, have not been met with immediate implementation. For example, the revised code did not implement the suggestion of creating a mediation system for resolving disciplinary cases, although Residential Living has a pre-existing mediation process and Johnson is a trained mediator.
The external review also recommended keeping student disciplinary files after graduation for longer than the current period of one day. However, because the university already keeps files of suspended students who later return for two years and it keeps files of students who do not return after suspension or are expelled permanently, they have declined to keep the rest for longer for the time being.
Additionally, elaborating on the speech and expression policy has been tabled for future review. Free speech was a main platform of Georgetown University Student Association President Nate Tisa’s (SFS ’14) campaign platform last year, and Tisa has said he plans to work on expanding free speech zones this year.
While Johnson described the effort as “ongoing,” there is no amnesty clause for reporting sexual assault — another item on Tisa’s agenda.
The DRC is convening to explore further policy changes.
“Now that the stylistic change is complete, we actually hope to be able to utilize more student input and more student energies in looking at the code and making it something that is a reasonable and shared community standard that we all feel is appropriate,” said Tisa, who also sits on the DRC. “Idea number one has always been transparency … and then goal number two is reform.”
The Code of Student Conduct revision was a joint effort by the Office of Student Conduct and the DRC, which includes students. However, it was Olson who meted out final approval for the implementation of these recommendations.
“I think it is going well,” he said. “After the results were shared, there was a lot of discussion. … There have been a variety of changes made and I am very encouraged by it.”
In an effort to increase the accessibility of the code, GUSA’s Student Advocacy Office will release a statement highlighting certain changes and describing the reasoning behind them. The student conduct will be available through the Georgetown mobile app.
The decision to expand the Judicial Hearing Board to hear all cases, undertaken after discussion between SAO and the Office of Student Conduct, aims to amplify student engagement. Each case sits before a board of two students and three administrators.
“The pool of hearing board students is being expanded because we want students to feel connected. We want them to feel like there is student ownership of the process because now that the SAO is involved in that process, there is,” Tisa said.
SAO is attempting to expand the pool of students trained to deal with such matters. The group has received more than 40 applications — a large increase from last year. The application period closes Sept. 11.
“One of the difficulties in addressing changes really quickly is that we didn’t have enough hearing board members for turning cases around very quickly,” Johnson said.
Ultimately, Tisa said, a more accessible student code will help students advocate for themselves.
“We are hoping that students read [the code] and are more active and more knowledgeable about what it says so they can advocate for themselves and then we can be more effective as an institution once the general knowledge is a little higher,” Tisa said.