The Codes and Judicial Committee of the University Assembly released a report on the Campus Code of Conduct Tuesday, completing a review of some of the biggest suggested changes to the Code.
At the end of the Report to the U.A., the CJC requested an extension and expansion of its task so that it may continue to investigate the suggested revisions to the judicial system and the Code of Conduct contained within a proposal known as the Krause Report. Former Judicial Administrator Barbara Krause law ’88, then senior advisor to the president, compiled the Krause Report at the behest of then interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III.
Three questions regarding the Krause Report sit at the center of the CJC’s report: who holds responsibility for the Code, should the Office of the Judicial Administrator remain independent of the University and does the Code’s jurisdiction extend to members of the Cornell community members on and off campus.
The CJC, in its report, finds that the U.A. should continue to hold responsibility for the Code, that the OJA should remain independent,campus judicial proceedings and that the geographical parameters of the Code “need further exploration.”
In an argument supporting the maintenance of the current U.A. and CJC oversight for the Code, the CJC report cites a document written by a committee of the Cornell Law School Student Association.
In imagining the results of transferring power over the Code from the community to an internal office at Cornell, the report states that “the ultimate decision to amend the Code would … lie with an administrator who may not appreciate the community’s concerns in the same way as an elected, representative assembly.”
The Krause Report recommends that documents calling for amending the Code go through the University Policy Office. However, the Executive Summary of the Krause Report recommends that “community input, especially student input, should be sought through this process.”
On the topic of the OJA’s location within the University’s bureaucratic infrastructure, the CJC’s report states that “the very idea of a just adjudicative process requires independence. Without an impartial decision maker, it is difficult to argue that ‘justice’ is done.”
The Krause Report recommends that an Office of Student Conduct be located within the Dean of Students Office. Along with this recommendation, the Krause Report recommends the “constitution of a new ‘University Conduct Council’” and the “appointment of a new position identified as the ‘Conduct Review Officer.’”
As for the examination of the parameters of the Code for members of the Cornell community, the CJC’s Report on the Code finds that the “Krause Report proposes an unequal adjudication of violations Code for faculty, students and staff,” in its suggestion to establish a “separate process for adjudicating violations of the Codes by students, faculty and staff.”
Decentralization of disciplinary referrals could create “unwarranted confusion” and “risks to confidentiality,” according to the CJC report.
“The safety of everyone in our community demands the OJA be a singular authority over everyone on our campus,” the report reads.
The introduction of the CJC report states, in part, that “we are confident that the … report is supported by this extensive community discussion and commentary.”
“The University Assembly is supposed to represent the University, and the current judicial process is designed to give the UA a central role in making changes to the Code,” said Louis Alley ’07, a member of the CJC. “The Cornell community is subject to the Code, so [its] feedback is essential.”
“We got a lot of feedback from the community and online forums … from faculty, staff and grad students,” said Manuel Allende ’08, a member of the CJC. “But feedback from undergraduate students was lacking. We had very few people at the forum in the Straight in February, and there were very few undergrads who came out to speak about the Krause Report.”
Alley said that some members of the CJC had many years of experience in working with the Code and with the OJA, but reiterated the feeling that the “backbone of the report is the public comments on the website and the community forums.”
Alley said that the “CJC has a lot more work ahead of it in order to resolve all of the issues raised in the Krause Report.”
“There are so many things that the Krause Report brings up and the process of going through the Krause Report is slow because, for each area of the Krause Report, we have to gather feedback and talk to appropriate Cornell offices,” Allende said.
As for the future of the changes suggested by the Krause Report, Alley said that parts of the Code may be amended by the U.A., subject to either presidential approval or approval from the Board of Trustees. Alley said that he suspects a recommendation on changes for the Code from the U.A. would carry some weight.
Before releasing its report, the CJC had two community-wide forums in February to solicit opinions on the Krause Report, one in November and one in February. The CJC also gathered public sentiment on the Krause Report through an online forum on its website, at http://assembly.cornell.edu/KrauseReportComments/Home.