This afternoon, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson announced his approval of raising the evidentiary standard from “more likely than not” to “clear and convincing” for all on campus students, effective January 1, 2013. The standard does not, however, extend to off campus students.
“The decision to change that standard for incidents that happen starting on campus…it’s a change that acknowledges in an important way that this issue matters to students, that it has been a topic of interest for students broadly and student leadership,” Olson said. He emphasized that the GUSA referendum and other such efforts on the behalf of students to convince Olson were heard and taken seriously.
“We have not made a change for incidents off campus. We take the interests of everyone involved in our community seriously…and we take interest in the perspective of our local neighbors and community neighbors seriously.”
Olson also added that the University is soon to undertake a review of the Off Campus Student Life office. “We want this process to be reasonable and appropriate for students…and neighbors,” he said. “Students’ voices have mattered a great deal here…there are other voices that matter as well and we want to be sure we are being thoughtful.”
Associate Vice President Jeanne Lord emphasized that the reviews are “time consuming” and do not usually take place very often, but “just like all the other reviews this will involve students, faculty, administrators, and certainly some of the neighbors as well, because they have a very clear and legitimate perspective.”
The GUSA executive plans to continue pushing for the 10 percent of off campus students who do not yet fall under the “clear and convincing” standard.
“When we were going into the referendum and these past three years of discussion and research on raising the standard of evidence, the goal was to have it changed for all students,” GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) said. “We’re not going to stop now. The goal is through the Georgetown Community Partnership and the review of the Off Campus Student Life office to push forward and continue advocating for all instances at Georgetown because in reality that’s what we feel is the most fair standard under which to judge incidences at Georgetown.”
GUSA passed a resolution last April in support of the Disciplinary Review Committee’s proposal to raise the burden of proof standard to clear and convincing. Before, the Student Code of Conduct stated that a student can be found guilty of a violation as long as it is “more likely than not” that he or she committed the offense. This amendment would require evidence of wrongdoing beyond merely the likelihood that a crime was committed.
“We acknowledged, going into this, that there are particular impacts that off campus student behavior has…that is important for us to be attentive…we wanted to be really thoughtful and sensitive to those impacts,” Olson concluded.