August 26, 2011

Columbia University Updates Gender-Based Misconduct Policy; Ombuds Exempt from Reporting

The Ivy League university in New York has revised its student policy for gender misconduct. Columbia's Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students, published earlier this month, more clearly defines who must report alleged violations and specifically exempts the university's Ombuds Officers:

Any University official (e.g., Student Affairs staff, Advising and Residential Programs staff, Officers of Administration, Full-time and Adjunct Faculty, Teaching Assistants, etc.) informed of an allegation of gender-based misconduct involving students is expected to file a report with Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct. Certain University officers who are serving in a privileged professional capacity (i.e., counselors, clergy, medical providers, and rape crisis counselors) are not bound by this expectation, except as required by law. This also applies to persons serving as the Columbia University and Teachers College Ombuds officers.
The new procedures aim to ensure compliance with Title IX of the Higher Education Amendment of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in educational institutions. The update followed revelations that Columbia had never expelled a student in nearly eight years of investigations and hearing by its Office for Disciplinary Procedures for Sexual Assault. (Columbia Spectator; The SAFER Blog; Columbia Gender-Based Misconduct Policies for Students.)

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