The Georgetown University Student Advocacy Office is negotiating with Georgetown University officials to introduce a clear timeline outlining the student disciplinary process.
Members of the SAO met with administrators to discuss the Timeline Policy Proposal May 13. The proposal pushes for a three-day time period for students to review their charges prior to an Administrative Action meeting, during which accused students can respond to allegations. The current Code of Student Conduct does not include a mandatory waiting period, meaning students facing disciplinary charges could be forced to attend an administrative meeting without sufficient time to understand their case and prepare a possible defense.
Providing a three-day waiting period would alleviate students’ stress and promote a fair disciplinary process, according to the proposal.
“This specified resolution timeline directly contributes to student well-being throughout the disciplinary review process,” the proposal states. “It eases anxiety and gives students a clear framework for the adjudication process.”
Several students have criticized the unclear disciplinary timeline as being unduly stressful for students charged with infractions. Some who have previously been involved in the disciplinary process stated their support for the new SAO proposal, including Fiona McGoldrick (COL ’22).
“I didn’t even have a full business day between the date I was notified about my charges and the date I had a scheduled hearing,” McGoldrick said in a testimony in the proposal. “I was extremely rushed, and I barely had any time to get help from SAO in order to prepare my written statements; it just added more stress to the situation. I wish I had at least three business days to get ready.”
Georgetown’s omission of a clear disciplinary timeline contrasts with the policies of many other universities, such as The George Washington University, American University and Howard University. GWU and AU both provide at least three days for students to prepare before a scheduled conference, while Howard outlines a waiting period of at least 10 days in its Student Code of Conduct.
The SAO, which represents and advises students navigating the disciplinary process, hopes to implement a disciplinary timeline similar to those of other universities, according to SAO member Elizabeth Hasfal (COL ’23).
“We felt that our first policy proposal since the committee’s return should seek to alleviate students’ anxiety surrounding Georgetown’s disciplinary process by advocating for a disciplinary action timeline,” Hasfal said in an email to The Hoya. “Through our research, we discovered that other universities in the Ivy League and the DMV area have disciplinary action timelines that resemble the timeline that our committee is looking to implement at Georgetown.”
The Office of Student Conduct plans to work with the SAO over this summer to implement some reforms for the 2020-21 academic year, according to Director of the Office of Student Conduct Judy Johnson.
“The Office of Student Conduct is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable process for adjudicating allegations of violations of the Code of Student Conduct, and we value our partnership with SAO,” Johnson wrote in an email sent to The Hoya. “Both offices agreed to work together on this proposal during the summer, a period during which revisions to the Code are typically considered, with the hopes of implementing this proposal by the start of the academic year 2020-2021.”
Before the meeting between the SAO and members of the OSC, the Georgetown University Student Association senate unanimously passed an urgent resolution supporting the SAO’s effort during their meeting May 10.
Due to the SAO’s meeting with the Office of Student Conduct, GUSA representatives felt an urgent resolution was crucial to promote the SAO’s proposal, according to GUSA Senator Eric Bazail-Eimil (SFS ’23).
“With the SAO having a meeting with the Office of Student Conduct so soon, within the last few days, we felt it was important to reflect that elected voices are in support of the SAO’s proposal to create a disciplinary timeline,” Bazail-Eimil wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Students, especially those on campus right now amidst all this chaos, are much better served through its implementation and the assurance of a clear and transparent administrative process; the present system has added too much stress for it to continue any further.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to provide students with a sense of consistency and clarity when it comes to the disciplinary process, according to GUSA Senator Leo Rassieur (COL ’23), who co-sponsored the resolution.
“I’m sure that we can all agree that the work the SAO does is incredibly important, particularly given the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis,” Rassieur wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I think that what Hoyas need at this moment is a sense of normalcy and predictability, and having a more firm timeline for the disciplinary process will help guarantee that. Students need time to understand the charges against them, understand their rights in the situation, and prepare themselves for the disciplinary process.”