View Bill 21-22-17

Senate Bill 21-22-17

Bill ID: 21-22-17
Name: Proposal to Amend the Code of Academic Integrity and the Code of Student Conduct to Incorporate Other Exceptional Circumstances
Proposed: 08/31/2021
Sponsor: M Pease, Undergraduate Student Senator; Emily Berry, Graduate Student, Sajeda Shaikh, Undergraduate Student, Jennifer Wang, Undergraduate Student, Zach Goldberg, Undergraduate Student, Kayleigh Hasson, Undergraduate Student, and Virginia Pierrie, Former Graduate Student
Proposal: This proposal will seek to address gaps in the current approach to determining an appropriate
sanction in the student adjudication process. While the existing process provides an extensive
consideration of intangible factors, such as student learning, it does not provide the opportunity to
consider tangible consequences, such as loss of student health insurance or student visa status.
The current language in the Code of Student Conduct regarding the factors considered when
determining an appropriate sanction for misconduct is as follows:
8. When used in the context of this Code, the terms below mean the following:

j) “Mitigating factors” may be considered in determining sanctions. Factors include, but are not
limited to, the present demeanor and past disciplinary record of the Respondent and any steps
the Respondent has taken to address their behavior.

k) “Aggravating factors” may be considered in determining sanctions. Factors include, but are
not limited to, the present demeanor and past disciplinary record of the Respondent, as well as
the nature of the offense and the severity of any resulting damage, injury, or harm.
The current language in the Code of Academic Integrity regarding the factors considered when
determining an appropriate sanction for misconduct is as follows:

2. When used in the context of this Code, the terms below mean the following:

g) “Mitigating factors” may be considered in determining sanctions. Factors may include, but are
not limited to, the conditions under which the incident occurred, the present demeanor of the
Respondent, whether the Respondent has acknowledged responsibility for the alleged
misconduct, and any steps the Respondent has taken to address their behavior.

(h) “Aggravating factors” may be considered in determining sanctions. Factors may include, but
are not limited to, the present demeanor and past disciplinary record of the Respondent, the
on behalf of themselves and Emily Berry, Graduate Student, Sajeda Shaikh, Undergraduate
Student, Jennifer Wang, Undergraduate Student, Zach Goldberg, Undergraduate Student,
Kayleigh Hasson, Undergraduate Student, and Virginia Pierrie, Former Graduate Student
extent of dishonest or malicious intent, the degree of premeditation or planning, as well as the
nature and importance of the academic exercise.

The current interpretation of the factors considered mitigating in the course of a potential
misconduct adjudication are narrowly tailored and do not allow for the examination of potential
secondary implications of a sanction for students at the University of Maryland.

The existing policy does not allow for the consideration of indirect consequences that will occur
as a result of a sanction. While these indirect effects do not create additional consequences for the
“normal” University of Maryland student, the impact can be severe for students with exceptional
personal circumstances and goes against the University’s promise to “elevate the quality and
accessibility of undergraduate education” and “expand the ethnic and economic diversity of [its]
graduate students.”

In putting together this proposal, the writers have met with various stakeholders across campus
(see “Stakeholder Meetings” section) to ensure a collaborative policy change, reviewed policies from
peer institutions such as UNC Chapel Hill, discussed implementation strategies and the importance of
training with the Office of Student Conduct, met with student governance groups to seek support and
feedback, and examined the disproportional effects of current policy on certain student groups.

This amendment would not seek to amend or omit any of the existing language in the Codes.
Rather, this amendment suggests the following addition:

h) “Other Exceptional Circumstances” may be considered in determining sanctions. An
other exceptional circumstance is a circumstance which would reasonably cause the
cumulative impact of a sanction to be grossly disproportionate to how the sanction
would take effect in normal contexts. Other exceptional circumstances include but are
not limited to deportation, sudden financial insolvency, complete loss of shelter, loss of
access to critical medical care, and immediate physical harm. Additional exceptional
circumstances that are unenumerated in this Code may be considered as deemed
reasonable by University Judiciary Boards or staff members in the Office of Student
Conduct.

If approved, this additional language would become Section 2, Part (h). As a result, the
language regarding aggravating factors would become Section 2, Part (i); the definition of knowingly
would become Section 2, Part (j).

Incorporating this proposal into practice would not require substantial change, and could be quickly
implemented:

1) Amend the language in the Code of Academic Integrity and the Code of Student Conduct

2) The Office of Student Conduct and Legal Aid Office incorporate this language into their training
of USJ members, Student Advocates, and Community Advocates.

3) The Office of Student Conduct will internally define the word “reasonably,” in addition to the
standard of evidence for this new provision.

While this proposal would likely have mainly positive outcomes, there are small potential negative
consequences. Incorporating this new provision would make the process of disciplinary conferences,
disciplinary conference boards, and honor reviews slightly more cumbersome, as a new step will be
added. However, it will be the role of the presiding officer or OSC/R&R staff member to interpret
whether an exceptional circumstance should be accepted, similarly to how mitigating and aggravating
circumstances are accepted. In addition, the proposed language could be interpreted to incorporate
certain circumstances but not others, and we invite the Senate to explore additional language options
to reduce any confusion in this regard.

We expect no financial consequences from this policy change.
Active?Yes
Policy: https://policies.umd.edu/assets/section-v/V-100B.pdf
Related Bills:

Status

Status: Complete
Under Review By: Senate Executive Committee (SEC)
Received: 10/11/2021
Decision Date: 10/18/2021
Decision: The SEC voted to charge the Student Conduct Committee with a related charge.
Actions: The SEC voted to charge the Student Conduct Committee with a broader review that includes the considerations in this proposal as well as a related proposal. Please see Senate Document #21-22-22 for more information.
Related Files: