Stylistic and organizational changes to the Code of Student Conduct intended to clarify the disciplinary process are set for implementation by the end of the summer in anticipation of substantive changes to the document this fall.
The revised code will do away with the category A, B and C violation system, which categorized disciplinary transgressions by their severity, with A as the least serious and C the most serious. Instead, violations will be organized by topic with corresponding sanctions listed alongside each violation. Procedures for the disciplinary review process will now be in a separate document — a distinction intended to increase the accessibility of the code, which is currently 31 pages.
After the shortened code is released, the Georgetown University Student Association and Student Advocacy Office plan to pursue changes to sexual assault policy, alcohol policy and restrictions to on-campus social life.
One potential change would be formalizing the university’s practice of not charging students who report sexual assault with disciplinary violations for infractions such as underage drinking — a safeguard currently not included in the code.
“We are also looking at the sexual assault policy to try to get it into the code of conduct itself, so that when students are reading this and when people are looking into it, it is very clear that this is a safe place and that you can report without fear of retribution,” GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said.
GUSA and SAO are also planning to seek changes that would equalize on-campus and off-campus alcohol policies, building on Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson’s April decision to lift the one-keg limit for on-campus parties.
“A lot of these discussions are broader campus life discussions. I can’t really say necessarily what we’re going to push for,” SAO Co-Director Ben Manzione (SFS ’15) said. “The keg limit was one of the first steps for policy equalization so we’re going to work on alcohol policy changes along those lines.”
The stylistic revision to the code of conduct stemmed from the university’s external review of conduct policies and practices completed in December, which suggested simplifying the code to increase the efficiency of the disciplinary process.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson charged the Disciplinary Review Committee with figuring out how to implement the changes suggested in the external review. The committee decided to complete the project over the summer independently.
Decisions about the revision involved students from GUSA, SAO and the DRC, but not the general student population.
“Students are more than adequately represented on the DRC,” Manzione said. “If you have a forum, for example, on the code of conduct changes, it just brings more voices into the room and it would delay the process. It definitely wouldn’t have gotten done by the beginning of the year.”
Tisa agreed, acknowledging that future changes will call for a more inclusive process.
“When it comes to the substantive changes there is still a lot more to work,” he said. “We’re hoping that once the code is shortened and more accessible to students, we’ll get even more student feedback and in the future it’ll be a much more collaborative process.”
Former GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13), who served on the DRC last year, pointed to last October’s lifting of the evidentiary standard for on-campus violations from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing” as the first step in solving problems in Georgetown’s disciplinary process and this revision of the code as the second.
“Literally no one would read it. It’s so dense and there is so much procedure in the code itself that there is just this problem at Georgetown of even knowing what the rules are,” Gustafson said. “We will hopefully, as a student body, have a better culture of understanding around what our responsibilities are as students.” .
Director of the Office of Student Conduct Judy Johnson and Olson were both travelling and could not be reached for comment.