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.

It is redundant, but I think

Submitted by Sam Steiger on Mon, 2020-10-19 18:11

It is redundant, but I think it is for the benefit of the reader.  Sections 4.1 through 4.20 explicitly state prohibitied actions.  Section 4.21 seems to be a catch-all for "breaking the law."

If 4.21 was present without 4.7, then a reader would have a much harder time understanding the drug-related expectations under the Code.


Process complaints

Submitted by Nicholas Fanelli on Mon, 2020-10-19 17:34

This entire process has been distorted and shady from the beginning. Between the CJC controversy and then the University's push to adopt them without input/rushed through while students were off campus, the entire thing needs to be redone with students at the center.


why does the code apply only to students? And why has the university decided to lower the burden of proof while exempting itself from any consequences this lower burden of proof would cause? I fail to see any other reason for this rather then the current Administration wanting to crack down on students for what they know to be unsubstantiated claims and evidence-less infractions.


Stick with "Clear and Convincing"!!

Submitted by Arielle Rose Johnson on Mon, 2020-10-19 17:17

In section 20.2, there is a proposal to change the standard of proof to "preponderance of evidence" when in the past it has been "clear and convincing".  I strongly believe that our campus should operate under the principle "innocent unless proven guilty".  Stick with "clear and convincing"!  (Yes, "preponderance" should be applied to Policy 6.4/ Title IX issues especially because there is a real danger to survivors of sexual assault, but the Campus Code of Conduct hearing process doesn't handle that set of cases.)

I also want to say-- I am all for hearings that are open to the public with an opportunity for "cross-examination", and it's not clear whether this code revision is getting rid of that.  The more transparency the better.  Counselors should be able to talk about their cases with each other, the public should be able to know what's going on, etc. 

The university is supposed to be a space of intellectual freedom.  If we change the standard for all cases to "preponderance of evidence", I'm worried that members of the Cornell community with unusual viewpoints and/or marginalized identities will be more likely to be wrongfully convicted.  And the less transparent the hearing process is, the more likely it is that those wrongful convictions will be allowed to happen.  


CJC & OSA Drafts Now Available

Submitted by Logan Rue Kenney on Mon, 2020-10-19 17:07

Right above the Cornell Statement on Responsible Speech and Expression, you will now find the resolution passed by last year's UA asking the University Counsel to work within two drafts. These drafts, by the Codes and Judicial Committee and Office of the Student Advocate, are now posted as well.



Logan Kenney

Chair, University Assembly



Feedback on Student Code of Conduct

Submitted by Anonymous Student Role on Mon, 2020-10-19 17:07 (user name hidden)

I'm hesitant to support the below two provisions.  While well-intentioned, clauses such as these can be enforced in a manner that is far more severe than intended with minimal evidence.  I would recommend deleting these clauses. 

  • permitting enhanced penalties for harassment or assault violations that are motivated by bias;
  • expanding the code’s treatment of harassment to include all categories protected under New York state’s Human Rights Law and aligning the code’s definitions of harassment with the way in which harassment is defined under Policy 6.4


4.7 redundancy

Submitted by Anonymous Committee Member on Fri, 2020-10-16 09:26 (user name hidden)

Given 4.21 why is 4.7 included? Isn't it redundant? 


Revision of the Student Code of Conduct

Submitted by Richard F. Bensel on Wed, 2020-10-14 15:00

The process under which the Revised Code was considered in the University Assembly last year was seriously flawed.  For example, the President of the University, along with the President of the University Assembly, endorsed a text that the Student Assembly had prepared at the last minute.  Although there was not enough time to thoroughly examine that text, we did discover that the vast majority of the text in fact came from a text submitted by the University Counsel at the beginning of the academic year.  In any event, the agenda under which the student text was brought before the University Assembly violated the Bylaws of the UA and should not have been the format for deliberations.  There were other violations of procedure during that session that raise serious doubts about the entire process.  In my opinion, the whole process should begin again, taking the draft submitted by the CJC last spring and resubmitting it to the CJC as a basis for their deliberations.  If the central administration wishes to resubmit (the now revised) text prepared by the University Counsel, that should be done as well. Any other way of proceeding has the effect of legitimating a very manipulative and heavy-handed process that cannot help but undermine the legitimacy of the Code.


Hard to comment when we can only see the revised version

Submitted by Anonymous authenticated user on Wed, 2020-10-14 10:31 (user name hidden)

Why not post the old version with edits shown, if the document was lightly edited, or side by side versions of the old and new documents, if the document was heavily edited? 

Seeing both versions at once would make the reply and comment process much easier for readers.