Disciplining students for nonacademic offenses is one of the minefields of student life—at Brown and elsewhere. Discontent with the way some high-profile sexual misconduct cases were handled during the 1990s prompted then-president Sheila Blumstein to order a comprehensive review of Brown’s disciplinary procedures two years ago. This fall the results of that review went into effect.
The changes, which the Corporation approved in May, are notable for increased student involvement, particularly in adjudicating minor cases, and for the removal from the student handbook of language that had been widely criticized as vague and confusing. Students, not deans, will now choose those students who sit on nonacademic disciplinary hearing panels; and minor, first-time offenses can now be resolved by a newly created Peer Community Standards Board made up of ten undergraduates. In addition, language forbidding “behavior which … shows flagrant disrespect for the well-being of others” has been scrapped and replaced with phrasing that more closely parallels state law.