Code of Student Conduct task force submits final report

Nearly eight months after its creation, the campus’s Code of Student Conduct Task Force submitted its final report Thursday, detailing proposed revisions to the UC Berkeley Code of Student Conduct.

The task force was formally charged by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer in October 2010 with the responsibility of modifying the campus’s hotly debated code of student conduct. Recommendations listed in the report include the establishment of an independent hearing officer position, the creation of a fixed timeline for the conduct process and the clarification of several definitions within the code.

“I appreciate the enormous amount of work, time, and thought that went into this process,” Breslauer said in an email to the task force. “The main points you have recommended strike a good balance between your stated desire for procedural consistency and fairness, on the one hand, and your belief that those who violate the Code should take responsibility for their actions.”

Breslauer said he accepts the specific proposals almost entirely as written, with a few recommended changes, such as holding a broader discussion systemwide about reviewing the campus’ sexual misconduct process and incorporating only a statement on free speech and not a statement and definition on civil disobedience.

Over the course of the school year, the 19-member group — composed of administrators, faculty and students — met several times to evaluate if current policies are fair and consistent.

Many students facing conduct violation charges have complained their hearings have not been conducted in a timely manner.

“It became apparent to the Task Force that a significant challenge for both the students participating in the conduct process as well as the (Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards) staff revolved around the timeline,” the report states. “As a result, student confidence in the conduct process suffered as widely varying case durations and unclear timelines created confusion and frustration.”

The task force recommended a strict timeline to which the center and students must adhere.

The timeline begins when the Center for Student Conduct receives a complaint within 60 working days of the date that the author of the complaint knew or “should reasonably have known” about the alleged violation, according to the report. If the law or an external agency requires that information be withheld, the timeline is modified to 30 working days from the time the information “can or could have been released.”

Within seven days, the center must determine whether it needs extra time or whether it will send the student an alleged violation letter. The student then has one week to decide between several options for the process. If the student chooses to proceed with a hearing, it must be scheduled for at least 15 days, and no later than 25 days, after the reply deadline.

If the student does not reply, the center may impose the proposed sanction if it is less severe than suspension or expulsion. If the proposed sanction is suspension or expulsion, the center can propose the case to an independent hearing officer, who may choose whether to impose the sanction.

The task force also recommended more detailed descriptions for “certain policies or procedures” that the code states students may be found responsible for, but does not outline what the violations mean. It recommends that the Office of Legal Affairs and UCPD ensure the definitions are aligned with city and state laws.

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.