November 15, 2007

U.A. Supports Campus Code

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The University Assembly met last night to discuss the proposed revisions to the Campus Code of Conduct. After months of discussions between administrators, students and faculty members, the meeting established the U.A.’s unanimous support of the revised Code. This agreement marks one of the final stepping-stones crucial to the document’s approval and implementation.
The process of revising the code began in 2006 when Barbara Krause, a senior advisor to then Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings, produced the Krause Report, a revision of the Code that did not welcome positive feedback.
In response to a request from President David Skorton, the University Assembly’s Codes and Judicial Committee has since embarked on the process of revising the Code.
On Nov. 5, the CJC unanimously approved the revised Code and subsequently forwarded the document to the U.A. to seek endorsement.
According to Peggy Beach, director of the Office of the Assemblies, last night’s meeting allowed the entire U.A., comprised of representatives from undergraduate, graduate and professional students, faculty and staff to “consider the recommended changes to the Campus Code of Conduct.”
The commencement of the meeting brought overwhelming support of the document.
Martin Hatch, CJC liaison to the U.A., described the proposed Code as “an effort quite extraordinary for any campus administrative body.”
Prof. Randy Wayne, plant biology, further commended the document, describing it as “an inspirational document that is an antithesis of the Krause Report.”
One of the most pertinent issues discussed amongst the members of the U.A., in addition to other attendees including members of the CJC and the Office of the Assemblies, was to extend the authority of the Judicial Administrator to handle serious offenses and violations of the Code that occur off campus. The proposed code delegates the J.A. the authority to address situations off of University grounds when “conduct poses a substantial threat to the University’s educational mission or property or to the health or safety of University community members.”
Concerns were expressed regarding how such a policy would be executed without interfering with both the Cornell University Police Department and the Ithaca Police Department.
Judicial Administrator Mary Elizabeth Grant stated that there are often cases that require dual prosecution.
Grant acknowledged while “criminal justice cannot suspend someone, Campus Code cannot put someone in jail.”
Rachel Dorfman-Tandlich ’09, Student Assembly appointee to the CJC, stated that she was initially worried about the inclusion of off campus jurisdiction, citing the concern that it could be taken too far if not properly defined.
However, Dorfman-Tandlich stated the proposed Code would only act in response to serious acts, such as violence or rape, and not offenses that she equated to “open container violations in Collegetown.”
Andrew Cowan law ’08, member of the CJC, further clarified that the Code would limit its authority to cases that had potential “ripple effects” that could hinder the reputation of the University.
Following the clarification of concerns expressed by U.A. members, the Assembly constructed a resolution that would be presented in conjunction with the proposed Code to President Skorton for his approval.
The resolution describes the proposed Code as “an exemplary document that reflects balance and compromise regarding the rights and responsibilities of the Cornell community.” The U.A. further proceeded to unanimously vote 16-0 in support of the proposed Code.
Alex James ’10, an undergraduate voting member of the U.A., stated that he expects the Code to be “warmly received by the undergraduate community.”
Elan Greenberg ’08, president of the Student Assembly, stated that the process of revising the Code reflects “Cornell’s tradition of delegating significant responsibility to students.”
Additionally, Beach acknowledged how the process of revising the Code was subject to input from the entire Cornell community.
“There were open forums, all meetings of the CJC are open and were posted to the [U.A.’s] website, the online feedback site was advertised and available,” Beach stated. “I feel the CJC was very proactive in soliciting feedback from the community and paid close attention to all of the comments.”
Though pending the endorsement of President Skorton, the U.A. urged that the Code be implemented on July 1, 2008, the start of the next academic year.