The Code of Student Conduct requires a review every five years to ensure that the Code continues to meet the changing needs of our community.
In 2014-2015, as the questions of charges and adjudication of sexual misconduct were being taken up by the Sexual Assault Task Force, this review focused on all areas of the Code of Student Conduct except those related to Sexual Misconduct.
Three overarching questions informed the review
- Do the Student Conduct Procedures support the mission of the University and the Principles of the Brown University Community?
- Does the conduct system support the academic and educational work of the institution, and does it effectively and fairly address behaviors that interfere with teaching and learning?
- What can be done so that the Principles of the Brown University Community and the Code of StudentConduct are well understood and supported in the campus community?
A small committee comprised of administrators, students, and faculty was charged to determine:
- If the Offenses in our code are consistent with the mission of the university and the changing climate;
- If the procedures, policies and practice within our Code are fair and equitable to both parties in all cases;
- If the procedures, polices, and practice with regard to the handling of Student Organizations are effective and appropriate;
- If the procedures, policies and practice with regard to the handling of Harassment allegations, other than those of sexual harassment, are effective and appropriate;
- If the procedures, policies and practice with regard to Student Conduct Board and Administrative Hearings are effective and appropriate.
Recommendations developed from committee discussion as well as from presentations by and input gathered from constituents across campus. In addition to community engagement in the process, draft recommendations were presented for discussion at the Brown University Community Council in spring 2015.
The recommended changes were accepted by the Corporation of the University and have been incorporated into the Code of Student Conduct -- including sections on offenses, hearing types and procedures, sanctions and accompanying terms -- as available on the website of the Office of Student Life.
Changes to the Code: For a full presentation of Code of Student Conduct procedures, please refer to the Conduct section of the Office of Student Life website. A quick overview of changes to the Code of Student Conduct is as follows:
- Harassment and Bias: Add “humiliating” to the description of the offense of harassment; tier the offense so as to separate general harassment and bias-related harassment.
- Drugs and Alcohol – possession of and provision of: Tier both offenses to separate alcohol and other drugs.
- Harm: Remove the word “physical” from Offense IIa so that it can encompass forms of harm other than physical.
- New Offenses: Add Offenses for relationship/dating violence, stalking, retaliation, and hazing.
- Remove Offense: Remove “failing to appear as a witness” as a separate offense; instead add the language to comments under Offense VII: Failure to Comply with Proper Directives of a University Official.
- Protests and Freedom of Expression: Add clarifications to Offense I. Modify the University’s protest policy to include information on academic freedom and freedom of expression, including the faculty vote of 1966. Add clarification to the explanatory comments of Offense I that a violation which exceeds limits will result in student conduct review that could result in temporary or permanent separation from the University.
B. Investigation of charges: Move toward an investigator model for all higher level cases which are complex or sensitive in nature: assign a community standards dean for the Office of Student Life as the investigator. Retain current model of collecting statements for all other cases.
C. Procedures: Eliminate the use of character witness statements in all cases; retain use of statements of information directly related to the event(s)/charge(s) to be heard.
D. Hearing Panels: Make minor changes to the composition and use of panels.
- Hearing panels for Student Conduct Board Hearings are composed of three members of the Brown Community. Under current rules, panels are required to comprise one faculty member, one dean, and one student. Because of the difficulty experienced putting together panels and the resulting delays in scheduling hearings, we propose changing the restrictions on composition slightly to require that the panels comprise three members, one of whom must be a student; the other two members will be faculty members or deans.
- While many students have served exceptionally well as panel members, we propose increasing the rigor of selection for student panelists.
- We recommend using hearing panels primarily for bias-related harassment charges and for student organization hearings.
- Letter Adjudication: For minor infractions, such as noise complaints and copyright violations, eliminate the Peer Community Standards Board (PCSB) and institute instead a new “Letter Adjudication” by which students would have an option to accept responsibility for a violation and accept a proposed sanction. Students who do not wish to accept a Letter Adjudication could elect a hearing of the charges against them.
- Deferred Suspension: To the existing sanction of Deferred Suspension add language to make clear the severity of this sanction, to specify the restrictions that accompany this sanction, and to reinforce that further violations during the deferred suspension are likely to result in immediate suspension and the student’s removal from campus.
F. Student Organizations: Restructure sanctioning for Student Organizations to more closely match those for individuals, and adjust the Rights and Responsibilities for organizations so as to make them more relevant.
G. Organization of information: Separate out all information related to cases of sexual harassment and violence so that all information is contained in one place and is more accessible to students.
The Code of Student Conduct in full
The website of the Office of Student Life provides additional information about the Code of Student Conduct -- including policies, offenses of the Code, hearing types and procedures, sanctions and accompanying terms, and student rights and responsibilities.