Spring 2020 Proposed Amendments to the Campus Code of Conduct


The Codes and Judicial Committee of the University Assembly was charged by the President to review the following recommended changes that were a result of the Campus Climate Task Force:
  • 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 CJC 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 CJC 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 the Codes and Judicial Committee in its efforts to create a better Code for our community. Review and public comment by the Cornell community are welcomed and encouraged through 5:00 PM on Friday, May 8, 2020.

Downloadable PDF of consolidated public comments


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. Please note that a * denotes a section that has corresponding CJC comments that the committee wishes the public to review.

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 through 5:00 PM on Friday, May 8, 2020.


** Please Login to add Comments.

Ideas for improvements to Section 4

Submitted by Arielle Rose Johnson on Thu, 2020-04-09 13:16

In 4.1 I have no idea what "affectional preference" means and it isn't clarified elsewhere.  Does it mean gender presentation?  Racial/ethnic presentation?  Who you choose to be romantically/sexually involved with as opposed to sexual orientation? (e.g. a bi woman is romantically involved with another woman?)  If "affectational preference" could just be clarified that would be great. 

Also 4.1: I notice that disability is excluded from the list, which, again, is: "To use ethnicity, gender, national origin, political persuasion, race, religion, or sexual orientation or affectional preference as a basis for exclusion from university or group activities on campus." I realize that some groups can't have physically disabled members just for logistical reasons, e.g. an outdoor rock climbing club, but disability should be included in this list.  Maybe something like "disability status (except in cases where a physical disability is incompatible with an activity and no reasonable accommodations can be made)". 

Also 4.1: "political persuasion"... interesting... you have to let a Republican join the Cornell Democrats?  Not sure I would change this, but just noting that it does seem odd given how many campus groups are explicitly political. 

4.2: I think it's fine for graduate and professional students who are of legal drinking age to be publicly intoxicated on campus sometimes, e.g. at the BRB during TGIF.  Is there a way to make that clarification?

4.4: I really like that "unwelcome" is in there to clarify that e.g. BDSM in a campus dorm room is fine.  Keep that word in the final version!

4.7: Do protests violate the campus code of conduct?  I really think that there should be a way for students to protest without breaking the code of conduct. 

4.9: Might need to clarify that students with legal medical marijuana can be in possession of it on campus (as long as they also have their card with them) and can use it in their dorm rooms?  I guess the "unlawful" wording might already take care of that?  

4.10: Really?  If you fail to comply with any policy issued in an informal way by a departmental administrator, e.g. "Make sure to rinse out the coffee pot after you use it!" you're in violation of the code of conduct? Maybe clarify which types of policies this actually applies to.
4.12: Remove "Conduct must cause unreasonable interference from both a subjective and an objective perspective."  There is no "objective" perspective on sexual harassment and assault.  Ask Kate Manne, a famous scholar who works on sexual harassment and misogyny and is based at Cornell!

Also 4.12: In terms of needing to meet one or more of "- it is meant to be either abusive or humiliating toward a specific person or persons; or - it persists despite the reasonable objection of the person or person targeted by the speech.":  Some assault isn't "intended" to be abusive or humiliating, but absolutely is.  And sometimes a person can't verbally say no, but it's abundantly clear from non-verbal cues that they mean no.  (Again, consult Kate Manne on this.)  Consider the example of a creepy graduate student instructor talking in detail about an undergraduate student's breasts in front of the whole class.  The graduate student "intends it as a compliment" and not as abuse or humiliation, but it is abusive and humiliating.  The undergraduate student doesn't speak up or say anything because they're shocked and humiliated, but they absolutely do not want for it to be happening.  A graduate student instructor talking about an undergraduate student's breasts in front of a class should violate the code of conduct but it doesn't under these criteria.  

4.16: Need to make an exception here for survivors of traumatic experiences (e.g. sexual assault) who have unclear memories of the experience or give slightly differing stories at different times as a result of trauma.  

General note: it may be better to lean more heavily on referring to Policy 6.4 than to effectively make new ideas about what constitutes harassment, etc. in this Campus Code of Conduct document.

Thanks for the ongoing good work!


Amendments to the codes

Submitted by Rich Gourley on Wed, 2020-04-08 13:11

I would hope that during this time of reviewing and amending the code that the University recognizes that the time of having a two tiered system of accountability must end. Currently there is a carve out that Fraternities & Sororities are not held to be accountable to the code of conduct as it relates to their activities. That means that for all intents and purpose approximately 20% of the student population is exempt from the code of conduct. The explanation has always been the IFC's self governance and judicial review are adequate. I can tell that after 32 years of seeing the disparity, it in fact does not work and that a protected class has been allowed to exist. It's time to end this carve out and make ALL students/staff/faculty held to the same standard.


Application of Code of Conduct

Submitted by Daniel J. Mansoor on Wed, 2020-04-08 09:51

• Code of conduct must be applied consistently across all student groups. Clubs and sports teams (whether club or varsity level) should be held to the same requirements as fraternities and sororities. There is a perception that there is a set of rules for Greek members and a separate (lax) standard for varsity athletes.
• I would be more explicit on "public intoxication" to include "pre-gaming" which in addition to being physically dangerous to users, also has been an excuse to claim that an event is "dry" -- where no alcohol is being served but participants are intoxicated.
• Is there a way to place an emphasis on healthy or reasonable use of alcohol (regardless of age)? Seems to me not only would alcohol abuse be reduced but so would the behaviors linked to over-consumption of alcohol: sexual assault and harassment; hazing,...