UC Berkeley to implement revised code of student conduct

UC Berkeley officials announced Monday that a newly revised Campus Code of Student Conduct will go into effect Wednesday, completing more than a year of work to address concerns regarding the conduct process.

Changes made in the revised code include a stricter timeline by which to resolve cases and the hiring of an independent hearing officer who is charged with ensuring that all procedures have been followed and works independently from the Center for Student Conduct and Community Standards.

The process to revise the code was in part prompted by controversial student conduct proceedings stemming from campus protests in November 2009.

In October 2010, a task force — co-chaired by Harry Le Grande, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Bob Jacobsen, a campus physics professor and chair of the campus division of the Academic Senate — was charged with reviewing the code and making recommendations to modify and revise it.

The recommendations were approved Jun. 24 and have been implemented into the newly revised code, which was recently approved by the UC Office of the President.

“We are optimistic about (the new code),” said Associate Dean of Students Christina Gonzales. “We really want it to work.”

Gonzales said she is confident that the new conduct proceedings timeline will resolve concerns associated with the time in which charges are addressed. Under the new timeline, the center is required to notify students charged with violating the code within seven business days of when the original complaint was filed, and students are required to respond within 15 days.

“Both sides have a responsibility now,” Gonzales said.

Lee Maranto, the newly  hired independent hearing officer who is responsible for ensuring that this timeline is adhered to by both parties, said the changes will be “extremely effective” in making the conduct process clearer for those involved. A task force report explaining the recommendations said that including an officer independent from the Center for Student Conduct in the process will help in “creating more consistent interpretation and application of Code procedures.”

Maranto, who will be graduating with a law degree in May from Golden Gate University and worked in student affairs before going to law school, said he believes the position will allow the campus to fairly gauge how well the code addresses the original concerns about the conduct process.

“Before the independent position was created, the process was a lot more subjective,” he said. “Being independent will allow me to take a step back and evaluate the process pretty fairly.”

ASUC Student Advocate Samar Shah, a member of the task force, said that while he is hopeful that the the new timeline will allow more students to resolve their cases without hearings, he is still wary of the impact the code will make in resolving the issues the task force was asked to address.

“This is not the first time the code has been revised,” he said. “It is still hard to understand, and students are still unclear on the process.”

Shah said the best method to revise the code would have been to create an entirely new one more understandable and accessible for students — something that would have been impossible, since the campus code must include aspects of the UC Codes of Conduct.

However, he said he remains optimistic because of improvements he has already seen in effect.

“The conduct process is only as good as it is under the worst conditions,” Shah said. “I don’t expect it to run smoothly, but this is the first of many attempts that has actually worked.”

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.