Reforms in store for student-conduct code

UC Berkeley officials have begun taking steps to improve the university’s Code of Student Conduct provisions and their implementation, acting on the advice and recommendations of a task force created to review the conduct process.

The panel of 19 faculty, staff and students, convened last fall by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, was asked to evaluate Code of Conduct timelines, the conduct-related communications process and the consequences of violations, among other topics. The review, the first since 2003, was, in part, a response to concerns raised about the code, and related policies and practices, in the wake of campus protest activity during the 2009-10 academic year.

All the committee’s recommendations, presented to Breslauer over the summer break, have been accepted, and most are already in the process of being implemented. Most notable is the creation of a new position — with the title of “independent hearing officer” — to ensure a clearer, more consistent process for the adjudication of students’ cases. The selection process for the new post is expected to begin later this month.

The task force was co-chaired by Harry Le Grande, the campus’s vice chancellor for student affairs, and physics professor Bob Jacobsen. Its 19 members met weekly, in full committee or in subcommittees, throughout the 2010-11 academic year.

“The work of the task force was focused with one overarching goal in mind — to ensure the Code of Student Conduct and related practices and policies are fair and student-centered,” Le Grande said. “The discussions were robust, and I am confident that its work will create a clearer roadmap for the student-conduct process.”

According to Samar Shah, a task force member and current ASUC student advocate, the revisions are the result of a consensus built from the wide-ranging opinions of the students, faculty and administrators who participated in the review.

“While the recommendations are not perfect, they have the potential to fundamentally make over the conduct process and provide a much more efficient and just experience for students,” Shah said. “All of this hinges entirely on the actual implementation of the recommendations, which is far from completion, despite an encouraging start.”

Links to the task force’s full report, along with a summary of the recommendations and implementation progress to date, are available here. An op-ed by Shah appears in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Cal.