November 7, 2008

CJC Will Discuss Gorge Safety in Coming Year

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In their first meeting of the year, the Codes and Judicial Committee met last night to discuss their agenda for the next year. One of the main issues the CJC will address is gorge safety.
Members of the committee are currently debating whether to make swimming in certain gorges a violation of the Judicial Administrator Code of Conduct. There is also some debate as to how any measures will be enforced. The committee is working out language that would be inserted into the code of conduct if such a measure is undertaken.
The CJC recognizes that efforts are needed to revitalize gorge safety in the wake of several deaths and injuries that have occurred over the last few years. However, this is a delicate issue not just for the CJC, but also the University since swimming and playing in the gorges is a longstanding part of Cornell tradition.
One such measure to promote gorge safety would be to provide education to students during orientation week.
Kade Laden’10, University Assembly convener and liaison, indicated the need to take some kind of action at the urging of the University and the community.
“Coming from increased pressure of University officials, it is clear that something needs to and will be done. Meetings with city officials are already underway. A newly formed campus organization, Friends of the Gorge, will also address the issue of gorge safety.”
Members of the committee are trying to determine which bodies of water will be covered by the Code, but the committee is targeting bodies of water adjacent to University grounds such as Cascadilla Gorge, Fall Creek Gorge and Beebe Lake. They stressed the need to take care of this issue before the warm weather makes it possible to swim in the gorges again.
Student reactions are mixed in response to this issue.
Zachary Gerow ’10 suggested putting blue light phones at the bottom of the gorges in order to minimize safety hazards.
He said, “There is no way to keep the students from enjoying the gorges, but when an accident does occur, that could be the first response.”
Similarly, Ian Waters ’10 believes that students will swim in the gorges despite restrictions from the University.
“People are going to swim in the gorges regardless of whether its a Code of Conduct violation or not. It’s tradition,” he said. “If they want to do something meaningful they should put up signs where the water is too shallow to jump, and try to mark, or remove logs and rocks that can’t be seen.”
Currently, the Office of the Judicial Administrator is also looking for students to fill up the student pool who would serve on University hearing and review boards. The committee will also debate adding small changes to the Code. The committee is considering whether to explicitly add the word ‘marijuana’ to section 3d of Article 2. The Code currently states it is a violation “to unlawfully manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess, use, or sell controlled substances as defined by state or federal law.”
Another change the committee is examining is the length of suspensions. One other issue the committee will look into is whether the Code should address defamation, libel and slander issues. Along with these items, the Judicial Administrator is also considering adding a no-retaliation clause against complainants or witnesses who testify at hearings. The reason these items are not currently incorporated in the Code is the fear that it will lead to violations of first amendment rights. Additionally, a person can go through the courts should such a situation arise.
Laden said he anticipated a very busy year in light of these issues.
“It’s good to finally get the committee underway for the academic year. We have many small issues that need to be addressed regarding the Code and larger ones such as gorge safety that will affect the entire campus for years to come,” he said.
Chairwoman Kathleen Rourke, publications manager for the law school, led the meeting.