Fall 2020 Proposed Amendments to the Campus Code of Conduct


The University Assembly was charged by the President to review the following recommended changes that were a result of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate:

  • Reworking the Code to have an educational and aspirational rather than punitive, quasi-criminal tone.
  • Significantly simplifying the Code and having it use “plain English”.
  • Narrowing its focus to students.
  • Separating standards of behavior from administrative procedures for managing misconduct.
  • Simplifying the administrative procedures.
  • Expanding the treatment of Harassment.
  • Permitting enhanced penalties for Harassment or Assault that are motivated by bias.
  • Considering moving less serious types of misconduct to the Office of the Dean of Students for resolution.

The Office of University Counsel has considered these recommendations into the proposals posted here for public comment. While reviewing these proposals, we ask that you keep these recommended changes in mind:

  • Do you agree or disagree with these changes?
  • Do you think the Office of University Counsel incorporated these changes well into its proposals or did it not go far enough with incorporating some of these changes?
  • Are there changes that aren't part of that list that you think we should consider as well?

All of your comments will help create a better Code for our community. Review and public comment by the Cornell community are welcomed and encouraged. The deadline for submitting feedback and comments is 5:00 PM EST on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

**At its concluding meeting in the spring of 2020, the UA asked University Counsel to draft a new version of a Student Code of Conduct and associated procedures that would reflect input from several entities that had worked on versions over the past two years.  The newly posted documents reflect Counsel’s work reconciling these different versions and approaches and explicitly invite campus input on numerous issues, including what standard of evidence the community believes should be applied to cases arising under the Student Code of Conduct.

The items below are related to the substantive section of the Code revision. 

The items below are related to the procedural section of the Code revision.

This page contains comments posted by members of the Cornell community pertaining to General Comments in the current and proposed Campus Code and judicial system. Before posting to this forum, please read the comments below to make sure that the information you are providing is pertinent to the discussion and has not already been addressed before. Comments containing inappropriate language, including but not limited to offensive, profane, vulgar, threatening, harassing, or abusive language, are subject to removal.

Review and public comment by the Cornell community are welcomed and encouraged. The deadline for submitting feedback and comments is 5:00 PM EST on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.


** Commenting is closed.

Substantive portion (Code Changes) - Section 5

Submitted by Anonymous Student Role on Mon, 2020-10-26 19:54 (user name hidden)

The link on this page regarding other policies, specifically Academic Integrity, (http://theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/academic-integrity/) is yielding a server error. Has this page been updated with new policies, or is this a link to existing policies that the University does not intend to change?


Evidence Standard

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Fri, 2020-10-23 21:34 (user name hidden)

Please stick with the clear and convincing evidentiary standard for all desciplinary decisions; the university's decision in disciplinary cases is going to be considered the final word on the matter for students seeking employment afterwards, so there should be substantial evidence that they are truly guilty. 



Submitted by Anonymous Student Role on Fri, 2020-10-23 10:44 (user name hidden)

"...any weapon or other object that can be used to cause physical harm..." is absurdly vague.  Does this mean the baseball team is violating this policy?  Baseball bats could be considered dangerous since more people were killed by blunt objects like hammers and bats than rifles every year for the past 5 years.  And what about umbrellas? Some have handles designed to look like sword handles, does this make them "reasonably perceived to be a weapon"?  This section needs to be far more specific.


Standard of evidence

Submitted by David Forbes Delchamps on Thu, 2020-10-22 12:51

Please stick with the clear and convincing evidentiary standard.  FWIW, the Code of Academic integrity uses clear and convincing.  Based on my long experience as an Academic Integrity Hearing Board chair, I find that standard appropriate for both the AI Code and the Code of Conduct.


Bias and impartiality

Submitted by Anonymous Student Role on Wed, 2020-10-21 19:10 (user name hidden)

I agree with the comment to get rid of the additional penalties for crimes committed concomitant with bias. It will be difficult to remain impartial.  As an example, last week's violent counter-protest in Ithaca appeared to involve students who clearly violated the COVID gathering restrictions.  Will these students be punished?  Should there be an additional penalty based on their anti-Trump protester animus?  How would that be adjudicated?


What about employee code of conduct ?

Submitted by Rich Gourley on Wed, 2020-10-21 17:41

With the Code of conduct only applying to students, it leaves very little in the way of alternatives for employees.who are accused of violatioons of the law (code).  Law enforcement will only have the option of criminal referrals for faculy and employees..  That just doesn't seem right or fair.


Modifications should be clearly indicated

Submitted by Anonymous Committee Member on Tue, 2020-10-20 22:48 (user name hidden)

As a previous commenter expressed, the parts of the code that have been modified should be highlighted so that it is easier for community members to see what the changes are. In past requests for community comments, changes were clearly indicated -- it seems disingenuous not to clearly mark them in this case.


Treading cautiously

Submitted by Vincent Damon Martinez on Tue, 2020-10-20 08:38

Understanding the need to maintain a safe and enriching Academic environment, it is disconcerting that the language in the text throughout maintains a tone of subjectivity vs. definitive and finite language.  If the intent is to preserve good order and discipline, then clearly stated actions and consequences must be outlined so there is zero misinterpretation.  

The language further makes so the the Law of Due process may potentially be skirted in support of a favored outcome, this in turn may result in litigation at multiple tiers causing a tarnished reputation to the institution, staff, and student body.  This is a very pernicious course of action which should be treaded carefully in that it does not cause undue harm out of fear of reprisal from unsubstantiated claims.  (In plain language: be clear, to the point with rules and punishment for all that break them.  Don't try to appeal to any specific group out of fear of protest, ensure all people have the opportunity to face their accusers (according to United States Constitutional Law), do not cause harm to the school, faculty, and students. All claims should/must be investigated properly with outcomes set out according to the violation, do not punish prior to outcome because of an accusation, doing so may lead to hefty lawsuits further harming the reputation of the school and those that are involved in it).


Thoughts from a Grad Student

Submitted by Nikola Danev on Mon, 2020-10-19 20:11

I think that the University is not drawing enough attention to this and purposefully making it very difficult to see what the changes are so that fewer students express their opinions. Under the guise of simplifying language, the code is being changed so that it can be more loosely interpreted. University Counsel did not sufficiently take into consideration the submissions by anyone that disagreed with the original text.


Right to cross-examination?

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Mon, 2020-10-19 18:55 (user name hidden)

Am I missing something or did they remove the right to cross-examination? If true, that is deeply troubling.