Georgetown’s Disciplinary Review Committee passed a recommendation to raise the burden of proof for disciplinary responsibility to “clear and convincing evidence” in a meeting Thursday afternoon.
The recommendation will now be considered by Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.
Current policies dictate that a student must be found responsible for a disciplinary violation if the adjudicator believes that he or she was “more likely than not” responsible. The new standard would require a higher level of certainty on the part of the adjudicator and would apply to all violations of the Code of Student Conduct except incidents of sexual assault, for which the U.S. Department of Education mandates a “more likely than not” burden of proof.
“The current system is arbitrary, it’s ambiguous, it’s confusing and it doesn’t provide for equitable outcomes consistently,” student appointee to the DRC James Pickens (COL ’12) said.
Pickens was one of three students on the DRC, which also included former Georgetown University Student Association President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and graduate representative Fitz Lufkin (COL ’11). The remaining members include student affairs administrators and university faculty.
The final decision now rests in Olson’s hands.
“He ultimately has the final say about whether he will accept our recommendation, send it back to the committee for review or reject it. All three have happened in the past,” Pickens said.
“We hope that he would look upon the recommendation of the committee favorably since we spent three meetings on [the issue],” Lufkin added.
Representatives of GUSA’s Student Advocacy Office, which was founded in the spring of 2011 to advocate students’ rights in the university disciplinary process, praised the higher standard of evidence.
“This is a really significant benchmark, simply for the fact that we haven’t really had any kind of long term, macro-level accomplishments as an office,” said SAO co-director Sam Schneider (COL ’13), also a member of The Hoya’s Board of Directors. “Student code of conduct reform … [is] something that the office is very dedicated to.”