BREAKING: Todd Olson accepts “clear and convincing”, excluding off-campus incidents

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.

16 Comments on “BREAKING: Todd Olson accepts “clear and convincing”, excluding off-campus incidents

  1. I think this report is slightly wrong, but correct me if I don’t get it. It’s not off campus STUDENTS who are subject to the “more likely than not” standard, it’s off campus INCIDENTS. There is a difference.

  2. *Off vs On: It is the students who are subject to the standards. Faculty, staff, and chaplain residents are not subject to this

  3. Pssshhh what a joke. “Considering other voices?” Todd, be honest: your real motivation is to make the lives of students who escaped campus housing as miserable as possible. Instead of providing quality, affordable, and sufficient housing on campus, You (with your pals Ron and Jennifer) are trying to drive students on campus by making the alternative as difficult as possible.

    But why stop here? You’ll have more luck pushing students into your spacious Village C’s if you raise the evidentiary standard to “Kafkaesque.”

  4. @AMDG – “on campus student” or “off campus student” refers to where students live. if ANY student (who lives in burleith or in a dorm) does something on campus, the new rules apply. off, the old ones. that’s why you should refer to incidents and not students.

  5. Not perfect, but hey — GUSA actually got a real win for students Check plus, C&V!

  6. @CWAH

    Don’t forget that this effort started years ago, with the idea to do a thorough review of the Code of Conduct starting in the second Angert/Kluger term and with most of the grunt work done last year with Meaney/Laverriere. That said, credit to the current team in helping get to the finish.

  7. No real cause for celebration considering the number of people that live off-campus. Olson is essentially alleging that D.C. laws are insufficient when it comes to students. Did GUSA apply any pressure or do they just think we’re idiots? You’re not going to gain anything by buddying up the administration; your political capital is SOLELY derived from pressure.

  8. Parse Clara’s statement above. What do you think?

    Also the number that you refer to is about to dwindle significantly and the number of incidents there already is below the population portion (10% of incidents). Look at the chess board and realize there’s a long game to be played.

  9. Behind the babble, it’s clear that they’ve just given up. Sending it to GCP and expecting anything to result is a completely futile endeavor. It’s basically run by Ron Lewis, for goodness’ sake!

    Per the second point, I think it’s less a matter of playing a long game and more of having a stunted theory of change. Anyone who has worked on a labor organizing campaign, for example, understands that it’s about leveraging your people power and not trying to buddy up to these clowns. The administrators DO NOT CARE about you, so you might as well stop trying to appease them.

  10. I understand that it takes a special person that can cut through their horse-shit and tell them what’s good. Causing controversy and speaking truth to power is HARD, but someone has to be brave or, more to the point, persistent enough if change is ever going to happen.

  11. Whoah @Tatiana I didn’t realize how brave you were until you told me. So, so brave…

  12. Is Tatiana really suggesting that C+V haven’t applied enough pressure? Or that they are insufficiently radical or pro-student?

    Has Tatiana not actually noticed any part of this story until now? Because it certainly seems like she has missed all of it.

    Without C+V (and, yes, their predecessors), this would not have happened.

  13. Firstly, Tatiana, I’m sorry GUSA has disappointed you to the degree that you are commenting on Vox at 2:30am on Friday night.

    Secondly, how exactly would you suggest GUSA more effectively leverage people power? The proper channels were used, then private pressure was applied, and then a public campaign was waged (referendum, open letter, etc). Recall that the Georgetown Voice editorial board, which I suspect shares much of your worldview, praised this method.

    Thirdly, you appear to fundamentally misunderstand GCP. How can you make claims about its power structure when it has yet to meet?

  14. Just putting it out there, but “clear and convincing” might lead to increased enforcement of the actual laws (i.e. few students under 21 get caught for drinking in dorms among other things) that so often go overlooked on campus. So, while everyone debates whether or not the standard should be raised for off campus housing, I’d be more concerned with whether the system will end up worse than it is now. It’s unfortunate that the campaign for the referendum focused more on emotional appeal to the student body than critically engaging both sides of the debate. I completely agree that wrongly accused students are better off under “clear and convincing” but there is a lot of “clear and convincing” evidence of violations across campus that could easily lead to increased sanctions if RAs or other members of the university decide to step up enforcement. Just my two cents…

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