Students made some noise and our voices were heard.
The Office of Student Conduct’s initial attempt this semester to make the burden of proof in all cases of student conduct be “a preponderance of the evidence” has folded.
The office will follow through in making preponderance of the evidence the basis for cases of sexual violence, in accordance with Title IX guidelines — an unavoidable move. But in all other cases, the Student Conduct Board will need to possess “clear and convincing evidence” to convict.
The Office of Student Conduct’s decision not to push to make “preponderance” the burden of proof in non-sexual violence or harassment cases should be celebrated.
Let’s refresh your memory. On Sunday, the Student Association’s leadership was first informed of this proposed move, after the Office of Student Conduct had apparently been reworking parts of the rule book for months. The full student body was informed in Tuesday’s B-Line, which stated, “it has become necessary to make some immediate changes to the Code of Student Conduct.”
That same day, Kate Flatley, SA vice president for academic affairs, and SA President Katie Howard met with administrators and made it clear that the move to “preponderance” was unacceptable.
And somewhat astoundingly, the administrative brass listened.
This is an important and symbolic victory for the student body. The reversal of the initiative is the sort of biliateral compromise between students and administration that make us proud of the SA, and comforted about Couper.
Our ability as a student body to organize and act quickly, under the representation of the SA E-Board, sent a message to our administration that we can make rain every once in a while. And we believe it’s a nice change of pace to see Binghamton University students actually care about something that has the potential to affect them in a negative way.
The fact that Binghamton will still use “clear and convincing” for the standard of judging any case of student conduct at all is extremely impressive. Very, very few schools do. Stony Brook, Albany and Buffalo all use “preponderance,” for instance.
Students yelled loudly enough, or rather, eloquently enough for the Office of Student Conduct to take them seriously. Too often, we aren’t seen as equals. Regardless of age, we have an expectation to be taken seriously, and it seems as though we were.