January 19, 2007

Cornell Solicits Feedback for Code Changes

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The Codes and Judicial Committee of the University Assembly continued to examine possible changes to the Campus Code of Conduct at a public meeting yesterday. The CJC is seeking input from all members of the Cornell community, mainly through open forums and online feedback.

At their Nov. 30 meeting, the U.A. passed a motion charging the CJC with soliciting and organizing input; the CJC will also submit a report about their findings to the U.A. by March 7. This report will address the main issue found in the Krause Report — whether an Office of Student Conduct, which would report to the Office of the Dean of Students, should replace the existing judicial administrator’s office.

According to an e-mail from President David J. Skorton to the campus community on Dec. 7, the U.A. will then present the report to Skorton’s office.

Skorton will review the report and make final recommendations to the Board of Trustees at their May meeting. This planned time schedule would allow the new code to be implemented for the 2007-2008 school year.

If this timeline is not fulfilled, Skorton has stated that he will “consider an extension.”

Skorton has also asked members of the Cornell community to send comments on the current and proposed codes directly to him.

In November, Skorton announced that a working group would collaborate with the U.A. on the proposed revisions to the Code of Conduct. The members of the working group were primarily Day Hall administrators.

Some members of the Cornell community were concerned about the power this group would have over a revised Code.

At a U.A. meeting in late November, Prof. Abby Cohen, lingustics, expressed concern about the make-up and authority of the working group.

“I think it sorely under-represents both faculty and student inputs,” Cohen said.

In his Dec. 7 e-mail, Skorton announced that “there is no need for a separate working group” because the CJC “is the right body to lead this important campus-wide review.”

The CJC will be asking the community for more input in the next few weeks, mainly on the major issues raised in a review of the Code of Conduct done by Barbara Krause law ’86, then-senior advisor to the president. These issues include whether the disciplinary code and judicial processes will apply to only students or students, faculty and staff (including the administration); whether misconduct off-campus should be subject to discipline by Cornell; whether the judicial administrator’s office should continue to be independent or come under control of the Office of the Dean of Students; and whether the U.A. or the administration should be responsible for the Code.

Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67 expressed uncertainty about the last issue, explaining that most universities combine discipline and advocacy into one office. This system supports the view that the dean of students’ office is in a unique position to evaluate and review the community’s conduct standards.

“Discipline and advocacy are not mutually exclusive,” Hubbell said. “[But] I really enjoy my role as student advocate.”

In November 2005, then-President Hunter R. Rawlings III asked Krause to review the Code of Conduct and draft a report about possible changes to that Code. Krause finished the report in April, but the proposed changes were not addressed publicly by the administration until November.

Krause’s report, a memo from Rawlings introducing the report as well as drafts of a proposed Student Disciplinary System and University Code of Conduct are available online at http://assembly.cornell.edu/UA.