Spring 2020 Code Revisions - Section 1: Principles and Values

This Student Code of Conduct (“Code”) establishes Cornell’s expectations applicable to all students, recognized student organizations, and recognized living groups (including fraternities and sororities) at Cornell’s Ithaca and Geneva campuses, and Cornell Tech. The standards contained in the Code are based in Cornell’s historical educational origins and mission. These standards reflect the founding vision and values of Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. Cornell’s educational legacy embodies personal growth through higher learning and Ezra Cornell’s aspiration to ‘… found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study’. [1] This Code is intended to preserve a higher education community and residential campus where ‘any person’ in the community can pursue their education in a secure and nurturing environment.

In 2019, the university adopted a set of Core Values intended to serve as the foundation for a more equitable and inclusive atmosphere for all on our campuses.
     Purposeful Discovery
     We value the process of discovery through learning, teaching, scholarship, and innovation to advance the University’s mission, in all cases striving with integrity for excellence and purpose. The search for and the dissemination of knowledge are tightly linked: as A. D. White noted, “The power of discovering truth and the power of imparting it are almost invariably found together.”
     Free and Open Inquiry and Expression
     We are a community whose very purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. We value free and open inquiry and expression—tenets that underlie academic freedom—even of ideas some may consider wrong or offensive. Inherent in this commitment is the corollary freedom to engage in reasoned opposition to messages to which one objects.
     A Community of Belonging
     As a university founded to be a place where “…any person can find instruction…,” we value diversity and inclusion, and we strive to be a welcoming, caring, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff with different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn, innovate, and work in an environment of respect, and feel empowered to engage in any community conversation.
     Exploration across Boundaries
     Ezra Cornell embraced a vision that we would be a place to “…find instruction in any study.” To that end, we value the importance of all academic disciplines and celebrate the power of connections among them.
     Changing Lives through Public Engagement
     As the land-grant institution of New York, with our main campus within the ancestral homelands of the Cayuga Nation and a long history of national and international connections, we value engagement in our community, our state, and the broader world, learning about their needs and strengths, and applying the knowledge we create for the benefit of society.
     Respect for the Natural Environment
     We value our role in advancing solutions for a sustainable future and we recognize the close relationship between people and the Earth, acting in ways to live and work sustainably.
The expectations and standards in this Code of Conduct should be applied in a non-punitive educational objectives including opportunities to demonstrate growth from mistakes, and to implement restorative justice, and sanctions imposed should, to the greatest extent possible, advance Cornell’s educational goals.
The principle of freedom with responsibility is central to Cornell University. Freedoms to teach and to learn, to express oneself and to be heard, and to assemble and to protest peacefully and lawfully are essential to academic freedom and the continuing function of the University as an educational institution. Responsible enjoyment and exercise of these rights mean respect for the rights of all. Infringement upon the rights of others or interference with the peaceful and lawful use and enjoyment of University premises, facilities, and programs violates this principle. The Code protects individual rights based in law and University policies, and is dedicated to fair treatment of all members of the university community. At the same time, the Code prohibits misconduct that unduly imposes upon the rights of others or compromises the effective operation of the University in the fulfillment of its educational mission.
Authority over and administration of the Code and associated Procedures are vested with the Vice President for Student and Campus Life (VP SCL), in consultation with the elected Assemblies of the University. Student conduct matters are delegated to the Office of Student Judicial Administrator, overseen by the Dean of Students. The conduct of University faculty and staff are separately addressed under policies and procedures applicable to employees of the University.

[1] Ezra Cornell, First Inaugural Address, Oct 7, 1868; Motto magazine, Top Motto Among All American Colleges and Universities, “ Top 10 Motto List ”, 2007.