Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Matt Battaglia '16, grad, the chair of the University Assembly's Codes and Judicial Committee, speaks at the U.A. meeting on Oct. 17, 2017, where he outlined the U.A.'s proposed changes to the Code of Conduct.

October 18, 2017

University Assembly Proposes Ending Indefinite Suspensions of Campus Organizations

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The University Assembly proposed a host of changes to the Campus Code of Conduct on Tuesday night that included both lengthening the period that an organization can be suspended and ending the use of indefinite suspensions for campus organizations. The changes will now head to President Martha Pollack, whose approval is required to change the Code.

Among the changes that the U.A. voted to send to the president is an increase of the maximum suspension that Cornell can hand down to University-registered organizations — from one year under the current Code to five years under the proposed change.

Matthew Battaglia ’16, grad, the chair of the Codes and Judicial Committee, said this change was so that Cornell can deal with systemic issues that may infect campus organizations in an appropriate timeframe.

“A one-year period to deal with these issues is not sufficient to affect institutional change,” he said, adding that the proposed five-year maximum would allow the University Hearing and Review Board to have more discretion.

This change would not affect Greek organizations because they are not University-registered, said Gabe Kaufman ’18, chair of the U.A.

Gabriel Kaufman '18, chair of the University Assembly, speaks at the U.A.'s meeting on Oct. 17, 2017.

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Gabriel Kaufman ’18, chair of the University Assembly, speaks at the U.A.’s meeting on Oct. 17, 2017.

Battaglia also outlined the CJC’s proposal to increase the statute of limitations for University-registered organizations from one year to three years so that investigators will have more time to gather evidence in order to build a pattern of behavior, and so that victims are able to accuse organizations of violating the Code longer after the alleged behavior.

The new Code would also discontinue the use of indefinite suspension of University-registered organizations in an effort to prevent organizations and members from being left in a “state of limbo for years and years,” Battaglia said.

“Indefinite suspensions were originally meant for issues where there need to be demonstrations of personal growth,” Battagalia said. “In the time since then, the hearing boards have created new procedures that allow for this same level of granularity.”

The update also clarified that minors who are not Cornell students but are on Cornell’s campus are not subject to the Code, such as children at a sports camp.

No-contact orders, under the proposed changes, would be binding for all parties involved. Kaufman said this means that, for example, if one student is given an order to stay away from a second person, that second person cannot approach the student either.

The CJC also proposed creating a committee that would evaluate the work of the judicial administrator and make a recommendation to the president several months before the judicial administrator’s term expires regarding whether he or she should continue to serve. The current judicial administrator, Michelle Horvath, began her role in June 2016.

Also on Tuesday night, the University Assembly formalized a statement condemning hate crimes after several other assemblies had done the same.

After a black Cornell student said he was assaulted and called the N-word in collegetown on Sept. 15, many student groups have released formal statements denouncing hate crimes or hate speech.

Alec Martinez ’18, Student Assembly representative on the U.A., said he did not see a reason why the U.A. should pass a statement more than a month after the altercation took place.

“I don’t know what our purpose is in passing this,” Martinez said, “It’s kind of like a shout into the void, and it’s coming a month after the fact.”

The statement’s lead author, Anna Waymack, grad, the executive vice chair, insisted that it be published regardless of the date.

“We are not behind,” Waymack said. “We do, however, move slowly on formalizing our actions.”