The Georgetown University Student Association released a proposal for revisions to the Student Code of Conduct as well as a Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities Monday.
According to GUSA members, the most notable proposed change is to the burden of proof requirement in code violations.
The revision would change the language of the determination of guilt from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing” evidence in cases not involving sexual assault as part of an effort to protect students from being penalized in cases based on minimal evidence.
The Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities drafted by GUSA details student rights, including the freedoms of expression and association and the freedom from discrimination. It gives students the right to deny unreasonable search and seizure by a university official but is not specific about what merits an unreasonable search.
The bill also states that students have the right to be notified of charges against them within at least 10 days of the incident and of sanction decisions within 48 hours of a disciplinary hearing.
According to GUSA members, the bill is also intended to give students a clear sense of their duties as members of the Georgetown community. The document lists responsibilities such as presenting identification to university officials, maintaining positive neighborhood relations and reducing risk-taking behavior.
GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) and Chief of Staff Mike Barclay (COL ’12) presented the bill to the GUSA Senate Sunday.
Senators raised concerns about how students will be protected from violations of the bill of rights. According to Barclay, GUSA is still discussing an enforcement mechanism to prevent such violations.
The Student Code of Conduct Reform Committee, which is comprised of seven members of GUSA’s executive branch, will hold its first meeting with the Disciplinary Review Committee to discuss the proposed changes Tuesday. Barclay and James Pickens (COL ‘12), co-director of the Student Advocacy Office, will introduce the amendments.
Before any proposed changes can be implemented into the Code of Conduct, they must be approved by the committee, a group that consists of two GUSA cabinet members, the director of student conduct, the associate vice president for student affairs, two faculty members and two appointed students.
The bill of rights must also be approved by the disciplinary committee to become university policy.
Laverriere foresees more changes being made to the bill of rights and the Code of Conduct before they are finalized.
“I think it’s really early on, and I don’t necessarily think the bill of rights we put out will be the final document,” he said. “What we put out today is the beginning of the discussion. It’s by no means the end.”
GUSA is considering a number of methods to gather student input on the bill of rights, including holding town hall meetings and a campus-wide referendum.
“This is something that will affect each individual student on Georgetown’s campus,” Barclay said.
“I think if the bill of rights, or a form of it, were to be adopted I think it would fundamentally alter the way the code was interpreted and acted upon,” Laverriere said.