Senate of the Urbana-Champaign Campus

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M E M O R A N D U M

To: Chancellor Nancy Cantor
From: Nicholas C. Burbules, Chair, Conference on Conduct Governance
Date: November 12, 2003
Re: CG 03.05

The Conference on Conduct Governance has reviewed and approved a proposal from a task force chaired by Dean of Students William Riley, concerning changes to campus policy on the release of information about the outcomes of student disciplinary hearings. Until recently this information could not be released except under special circumstances; now FERPA rules have been changed to allow it.

This policy pertains only to actions which, in the words of FERPA, would "constitute any of the following offenses: arson, assault offenses, burglary, criminal homicide…destruction/damage/vandalism of property, kidnapping/abduction, robbery, forcible [and] nonforcible sex offenses."

Clearly, many of these sorts of actions might also be tried in the regular courts, which would normally automatically involve publicity. Yet certain actions on campus that might fall under one or more of these headings are not brought to criminal trial, but handled only through university disciplinary hearings. After long deliberations, we have come to the conclusion that in these cases the interests of public safety justify releasing limited information that might alert members of the campus community that some individuals have a prior history of these sorts of violations.

Dean Riley's task force and CCG have tried to balance the legitimate concerns for student privacy and not wanting to sensationalize these cases by recommending the release of only limited information about the student's name, code violations, and sanction - not the specifics of the case, and certainly not the name of the victim.

I am attaching a longer letter from Dean Riley explaining more about the policy and the process leading up to it.

CCG does believe, however, that this policy merits close review by campus legal counsel before implementation. While clearly permitted (if not even implicitly encouraged) by the FERPA changes, disclosure of this information might have unintended consequences that could raise further legal concerns. These were discussed at length within the task force (which included legal counsel) and within CCG (which includes some members with a legal background); and while both committees supported this change nevertheless, there was considerable discussion of such hypothetical possibilities.

Cc: Michael Grossman, Chair, Senate Executive Committee