Coming September 1: Updates to Columbia University Gender-Based Misconduct Policy

Welcome, or welcome back, to Columbia! We are pleased to let you know that Columbia's updated gender-based misconduct policy will be posted to this website tomorrow, September 1, 2015.
The updated policy reflects many recommendations and comments from students throughout the University, including students who received support from the Gender-Based Misconduct Office’s case managers and/or parties or witnesses in the disciplinary process.  Attorney-advisors and others who participated in the process last year also provided valuable input.  This updating process is in keeping with the University’s commitment to ongoing policy review.
The policy also incorporates requirements from New York’s newly-enacted “Enough is Enough” law, which applies to all of the State’s higher education institutions.

Here are several highlights from the updated policy:

• The updated policy is reorganized so that important information, including definitions of consent and related terms, is found in the opening pages.  The definitions are substantively the same as in last year’s policy, including the definition of consent, which continues to require affirmative consent, conveyed by words or actions, for all sexual contact.  The definitions’ language has been modified to enhance clarity and to comply with New York law.

• The policy includes additional descriptive examples that help explain its application to real-life scenarios.

• The policy contains an expanded statement about amnesty for alcohol and other drug use.

• The policy contains additional information about accommodations for students affected by gender-based misconduct.  

• The provisions describing the disciplinary procedures include additional detail about the steps in the investigation and resolution process.

• The policy provides information about mandatory notations that will appear on the transcripts of students who are suspended or expelled after an adjudication.

• Hearing panels that are part of the disciplinary process will now be comprised of three professional staff affiliated with Student Conduct and Community Standards.

• Appeals will now be heard by three deans instead of one, as the previous policy had provided.

• The policy includes New York State Students’ Bill of Rights.

• Barnard has adopted its own policy and procedures for cases in which Barnard students are respondents. Columbia’s policy and procedures will apply in all other instances, including when a Barnard student is a complainant and a Columbia student is a respondent.   Barnard will provide an attorney-advisor on request, to its students who are directly involved in the gender-based misconduct disciplinary process, just as Columbia has been doing.

The Gender-Based Misconduct Office is directed by Jeri Henry, Associate Vice President for Student Conduct and Community Standards.  It is now located on the eighth floor of Watson Hall, 612 West 115th Street, and is part of Student Conduct and Community Standards, a new office focusing on a range of student conduct issues.

The Gender-Based Misconduct Office provides case managers to assist students with accommodations, resources, and the disciplinary process.  The Office also has professional investigators who are responsible for investigating reports of policy violations.

The University also continues to have extensive resources available for students seeking to report an incident, obtain support or services, or learn more about the issues.  Check out “Where to Get Help” on Columbia’s Sexual Respect website for full information.  A resources guide will also be posted with the updated policy.