The Georgetown University Student Association senate passed a resolution endorsing the implementation of the new “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard at its meeting Sunday night.

Though the resolution expresses support for Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson’s decision to raise the standard, it also urges the university to extend the new standard to off-campus incidents.

Olson announced last Thursday afternoon that he had accepted the recommendation made by the Disciplinary Review Committee to raise the burden of proof to “clear and convincing” from “more likely than not” for all on-campus incidents other than sexual assault.

The change will come into effect Jan. 1 and will not apply to violations that happen off-campus, which will continue to be judged by the current “more likely than not” standard.

According to Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh, off-campus designates all non-university property. Incidents that occur in university-owned townhouses and East Campus will still be considered on-campus.
GUSA Senate Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) applauded past and current executive efforts that pushed for the change. He also acknowledged the senate for introducing bills at critical moments, including a bill that endorsed the Disciplinary Review Committee’s recommendation to raise the burden of proof last spring and a bill that introduced the evidentiary standard referendum in September.

“This resolution is a cumulative effort of the senate,” Tisa said.

Several off-campus senators, however, voiced concerns about the resolution’s failure to consider the rights of off-campus students.

“I think we do need to recognize that as significant as this is, it’s also very meek,” off-campus senator Sam Buckley (COL ’14), who voted against the bill, said.

Buckley expressed disappointment in the standard’s inconsistent application.

“We seem to be moving rather consistently in campus debates recently towards the system [in] which there is a separate set of standards being applied to on-campus and off-campus students. That’s deeply concerning,” Buckley said.

GUSA Senate Vice Speaker Zach Singer (SFS ’15) agreed with Buckley but argued that the resolution tempers its endorsement with criticism.

“I think this resolution balances both the step forward and the step that needs to be taken in the sense that we acknowledge we’re happy that the change is made —  which is better than no change being made — but we’re not fully satisfied with it,” Singer said.

Tisa acknowledged the need to push for equal rights for both on-campus and off-campus students but said that the evidentiary standard change will have a substantial effect on student life.

“It needs to be the policy of the student association that student rights can’t be denied or shifted,” Tisasaid. “However, for anyone on campus, which includes about 90 percent of all incidents that are adjudicated, they are now protected by this new standard.”

GUSA Chief of Staff Jake Sticka (COL ’13) expressed optimism that the standard would be expanded to apply to off-campus incidents.

“We’re committed to advocate for the standard to be extended to off-campus incidents,” he said. “In good faith conversation, it will occur.”

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