At NYU, student conduct is primarily governed by three documents, Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order which was enacted in 1969, University Policy on Student Conduct which was enacted in 1978, and policies governing behavior in NYU’s residence halls. Additionally, NYU has a bevvy of policies pertaining to specific circumstances on topics such as substance abuse, bullying, sexual assault and weapons.
The first document states that federal, state and city law must be followed on campus, in addition to the University’s rules and NYU is within its rights to enforce and punish violations. Each school within NYU is responsible for disciplining its own students but the document is vague about disciplining students from more than one school. The policy was adequate for dealing with run of the mill issues of academic dishonesty but was inadequate for “problems such as the maintenance of order in University buildings and grounds in connection with protest demonstrations, … [involving] students from more than one school,” according to the University Policy on Student Conduct.
The policy also outlined the school’s position on disciplining the off-campus behavior of students. “In general, a student’s off-campus activities should be subject only to sanctions of the public authorities. Where a student is convicted of a violation of law, he should not be subject to University discipline for the same offense unless his conduct seriously affects his position as a member of the academic community,” reads the policy.
The document also makes an noteworthy point on freedom of speech stating that “free inquiry, free expression, and free association are indispensable to the purposes of the University,” and goes further saying “regardless of moral impetus, no student or group of students has the right to deny the freedom of other members of the University community.” What the specific freedoms members of the community are entitled to remain unclear.
The Disciplinary Process
Each school disciplines their own students. If a student in Gallatin commits plagiarism, that student will be disciplined by Gallatin. If two students from, say, Tisch and Stern get in fistfight, the disciplinary process falls to the Office of Student Conduct within the Division of Student Affairs, which deals with all cross-school discipline. If a student violates housing policy, the student’s building leadership team will dole out punishment and will sometimes refer more serious cases to the Office of Student Conduct.
“Our approach to student conduct focuses on opportunities to educate a student, as opposed to issuing sanctions that are solely punitive,” said Tom Ellett, Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs. “Our ultimate goal is to help a student reflect on their decisions, correct course, and get back on track toward graduation.”
The three most serious disciplinary outcomes are expulsion, suspension and removal from housing. Each disciplinary matter is reviewed on a case-by-case basis though certain actions generally lead to certain disciplinary outcomes. Selling drugs, even in small amounts, possession of weapons and certain kinds of sexual misconduct and violence are often grounds for expulsion. Removal from housing is considered when there is serious destruction of property, items falling from windows and repeated drug or alcohol related violations. Suspension is considered when students engage in physical violence and harassment. The above list is not comprehensive and includes only the most notable and common offences.
A version of this article appeared in the Sunday, Aug. 27 print edition. Email Sayer Devlin at [email protected].