Committee on Discipline releases annual report

Increase in academic misconduct cases; decrease in Title IX cases

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The y-axis is "cases reported." The COD received 10% fewer complaints from 2015-16 to 2016-17. The COD began reviewing cases related to student organization misconduct in 2014-15, in addition to academic integrity and personal and sexual misconduct cases.
Courtesy of Committee on Discipline 2016-17 Report

The Committee on Discipline (COD) report for the 2016-17 academic year, released earlier this month, breaks down the 279 complaints that were brought before the COD this year by several metrics, including the type of misconduct, the method of resolution, and the outcome.

Of the 279 complaints (down from 317 in 2015-16), 82% were of alleged individual student misconduct, while the other 18% were of alleged student organization misconduct.

Academic misconduct comprised 80 cases, up from 52 in 2015-16 and 33 in 2014-15, and the majority of these cases (47) were categorized under cheating.

Cases of personal misconduct, also a subset of individual student misconduct, totalled 144, down from 192 in 2015-16. The likely reason for this drop, according to the report, was a change to the Good Samaritan Amnesty Policy such that the COD and Office of Student Conduct “no longer processes these cases.” The report also noted a 48% decrease in the number of unauthorized access cases, which usually involve “hacking” or “tours.”

There were six Title IX related cases, down from 11 in 2015-16; this included one sexual harassment case and five cases of nonconsensual sexual contact or penetration. A newly separated category, intimate partner violence, appeared on the report this year, but zero such cases were reported.

Incidents involving student organizations included 10 cases categorized under alcohol, down from 31 in 2015-16, and 15 noise complaints, up from 13.

The most common methods of resolution were COD administrative resolutions (100), faculty letters to file (63), and delegation to a student-run judicial mechanism (36). Regarding the third option, the report mentioned that the COD partnered with student governing organizations such as the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, and Association of Student Activities to handle most cases concerning student organization misconduct.

Case outcomes included two expulsions and 8 suspensions or degree deferrals, but in alignment with patterns from previous years, most sanctions were less severe and involved probation, letters to file, and substance abuse education or treatment, in addition to 181 cases ambiguously categorized under “other educational sanctions or referrals”; many cases involved multiple sanctions as well.  

When asked for reasons or additional context to explain the above trends, Professor Suzanne Flynn, chair of the COD, wrote in an email sent to The Tech, “Changes in the numerical count of cases can occur for many possible reasons and any comments would only be speculation at this time.”

The report also outlined initiatives the COD pursued last year: members, especially those on the Sexual Misconduct subcommittee, received extensive training on topics such as “LGBT issues related to the COD’s work, questioning techniques, and the neurobiology of alcohol-induced blackouts” to develop “expertise and consistency” when hearing cases. Additionally, the Sexual Misconduct subcommittee met biweekly to conduct case study reviews and develop an internal rubric for sanctioning.