November 6, 2007

U.A. Committee Passes Revised Code of Conduct

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After unanimously approving a revised version of the Campus Code of Conduct last night, the University Assembly’s Codes and Judicial Committee plans to pass on the proposal to the full U.A. for review next week.
At the request of President David Skorton last May, the CJC began a revision process to refine the Code to address concerns raised by the Cornell community over the past year. In September, the CJC presented the resulting draft, inviting students, staff and faculty to make comments and suggestions to the proposed Code.
In its presentation, the committee said, “The CJC’s aim was to produce a solid and sound code that would provide the framework for more substantive revision of particulars in the future, because the Code is after all a living document that evolves over the years.”
Accounting for suggestions offered at an online forum and campus meetings held by the committee, the CJC put together a final version in accordance with the president’s request to address current concerns and the committee’s stated goal of designing a flexible Code that can meet the needs of future Cornellians.
“What we did was in the best interest of the community and the Code,” said CJC Chair Kathleen Rourke, news liaison and public manager at the law school.
Arising from debates about a controversial proposal known as the Krause Report, which made suggestions to overhaul the University’s current Code, much interest has been sparked regarding makeovers for a new conduct policy. Some of the main concerns focused on by the committee were issues of jurisdiction, clarity, procedures and the role of the Judicial Administrator.
In these four areas, the CJC proposed to maintain procedural rules upheld in the past, but did make changes to the other areas of the Code. The revision clarifies violations to be included in the Code, listing a number of new ones and rewording old ones; extends authority to the J.A. in settling cases and bring cases to court and redefines jurisdiction of the University policy to expand beyond campus when “the conduct poses a substantial threat to the University’s educational mission or property or to the health or safety of University community members.”
“We’re really hoping students will react favorably,” said Student Assembly appointee to the CJC Rachel Dorfman-Tandlich ’09.
According to Dorfman-Tandlich, most of the changes have been small, with only the jurisdiction issue being a substantive revision. The big difference will be that under this proposal, serious violations occurring off campus will also be subject to punishment under the Code. Further clarifying, Dorfman-Tandlich said that such serious incidences would be limited to offenses like stalking and violence.
“There are some situations where we want things to follow students,” she said.
“You’re a Cornell student anywhere you go,” added Jack Cao ’10, S.A. delegate and co-secretary of the CJC.
The changed violations include that it is against the Code to take any photo, audio or video recording of another person without their consent, as well as to destroy evidence or “obstruct the application of this Code.”
Rourke feels students and the rest of the Cornell community will be in support of the changes, crediting the great diversity of the CJC for bringing many sides of the issue to the discussion and coming to a workable compromise.
“It’s been a very representative committee and the people have just been fantastic,” she said.
From this point, the revised Code will be passed on to the U.A. before seeking approval from Skorton. The final discussion of the proposal will be held next Wednesday in Clark 701 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“That’s really the last chance to give input before it’s given to the president,” said Peggy Beach, director of the Office of the Assemblies.