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Columbia Has Released New Policy Banning Recording During Gender-Based Misconduct Meetings

columbia_university_-_low_memorial_library-dColumbia has just updated the guidelines and requirements for gender-based misconduct hearings, investigations, and appeals. Many of the guidelines, including the accompaniment of an advisor, remain consistent with the previous policy. However, a new rule prohibiting recording of any kind appears on the document. It follows:

“Recording any part of the investigative process or unauthorized copying of any documents by any means is strictly prohibited. “Copying” includes but is not limited to: audio recording, streaming, photographing, scanning, transcribing, or any other method of reproduction that conflicts with the spirit of this directive. Allegations of non-compliance will result in the advisor being asked to leave the proceeding, and he/she may be prohibited from attending ongoing or future meetings. Additionally, if a student is found to have acted in concert with the advisor to record proceedings or copy materials, those allegations will be reviewed through the Dean’s Discipline process and may result in additional disciplinary sanctions.”

Both Federal and New York State law permit the recording of such meetings (see: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights’ April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence & New York’s campus anti-sexual violence bill, “Enough is Enough”). No Red Tape has started a petition against these policies–you can click here to sign it.


You can read the entire updated document below:

GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTS FOR GENDER-BASED MISCONDUCT ADVISORS
Updated: September 2016
These guidelines and requirements govern students and their advisors in the investigation, hearing, and appeals process under the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students.
1. Students involved in the gender-based misconduct process (the Complainant and/or the Respondent) may each be accompanied to any meeting or hearing related to an incident of gender–based misconduct by a single advisor of their choice. The expectation is that the same advisor will support the student during the entire process, absent extenuating circumstances.

2. Students and advisors understand that Columbia University’s Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students (“the Policy) sets out a 60-day framework for conducting the investigation, consistent with guidance from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Accordingly, students and advisors must respond promptly and efficiently to scheduling requests related to the process and do everything possible to avoid any unnecessary delay. At a minimum, scheduling requests should be responded to on the same or next business day. Generally speaking, all University administrators – including the staff of the Gender-Based Misconduct Office (“the Office”) – will communicate directly with the student, rather than the advisor.2 It is the student’s responsibility to communicate with his/her advisor, including but not limited to information related to process updates. While efforts will be made to accommodate the schedules of students and advisors, the process will not be unduly delayed due to an advisor’s unavailability. If an advisor’s continued requests to reschedule meetings unduly delays the gender-based misconduct process, the Office may continue the investigation without the advisor present or allow the student to select an alternate advisor.

3. Students and advisors understand that the process is a fact-gathering investigation, and is not conducted like a court proceeding or litigation. During all meetings and hearings, the advisor may talk quietly with the student and/or pass notes in a non-disruptive manner, using discretion. The expectation is that the advisor will assist the student in preparing for the proceeding and will give the student advice, counsel and support. The advisor may not substantially intervene in meetings with the Investigative Team. While an advisor may address the Investigative Team during an investigative interview to seek clarity, these interactions should be limited. Furthermore, during an administrative hearing the advisor may not directly address the hearing panel, nor may he/she give evidence, directly question witnesses, or make verbal objections. During hearings, if the advisor has an objection, he/she may write out the objection and hand it to the administrator of the hearing for consideration. In addition, while advisors may provide guidance and assistance, all written submissions must be authored by the student.

4. All students and advisors in the process are expected to behave in a respectful and sensitive manner. If any student or advisor does not adhere to the expectations set forth in this agreement, or, more specifically, if an advisor goes beyond the limited role for meetings and hearings as set forth above in paragraph, an advisor may be asked to leave the proceeding and may be prohibited from attending ongoing or future meetings.

5. Recording any part of the investigative process or unauthorized copying of any documents by any means is strictly prohibited. “Copying” includes but is not limited to: audio recording, streaming, photographing, scanning, transcribing, or any other method of reproduction that conflicts with the spirit of this directive. Allegations of non-compliance will result in the advisor being asked to leave the proceeding, and he/she may be prohibited from attending ongoing or future meetings. Additionally, if a student is found to have acted in concert with the advisor to record proceedings or copy materials, those allegations will be reviewed through the Dean’s Discipline process and may result in additional disciplinary sanctions.

6. During the process, advisors may contact student-witnesses in an effort to gather additional information for a particular investigation. However, before contacting or engaging any student, the advisor must: (i) clearly identify him or herself by name to the student in any communication(s); (ii) unambiguously state to the student whom he/she advises in the investigation; and finally (iii) inform the student that he/she is under no legal obligation to provide the advisor with any requested information, or to speak to the advisor at all. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in the advisor being prohibited from participating in this process. To the extent that the advisor wants to introduce information to the process provided by a witness, the advisor should provide the information to the Investigative Team as soon as possible, but no later than the predetermination conference.

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5 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous There’s no reason to ban recordings unless they’re planning on breaking the law. WTF, Columbia?!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I am surprised NRT is against this. This rule helps the victim. The proceedings are generally stacked against the male, and recording the proceedings would generally help the accused more against unfair trial, bias, or information left out.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Read the comments. It includes one by a survivor explaining why the policy is also harmful to survivors. Really, it harms everyone to not be able to record. Survivors and the accused both deserve rights.

      1. Anon says:

        @Anon Your use of the term “Survivors” is quite amusing. The types of cásese being heard involve “misconduct”..nothing close to being murdered.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What about Michael Sovern sleeping with his first wife Joan while she was his unmarried student?

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