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Report of academic, social code violations revised to preserve student anonymity

Reported cases of sexual misconduct increase, number of academic and social code violations unclear

October 18, 2019

Last week, the Office of the Dean of Students released its annual conduct report in a campus-wide email and published it online.

The annual report of academic and social code violations was formatted differently this year, in order to protect the identity of students involved in cases heard by the Judicial Board (J-Board) and adjudicated by the Office of the Dean of Students, while simultaneously improving readability and accessibility, said Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi and Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Community Standards Kate O’Grady.

Previously, the annual report presented only the cases for the previous academic year. The new report includes the finding of the J-Board and the Office of the Dean of Students and the resulting sanction in each case heard in the past 10 years. It is comprised of eight documents, one for each category of violation within the Academic Honor Code and Social Code.

Case information that may potentially identify involved students, including when a case was heard and adjudicated, is omitted, and the cases are not arranged in chronological order. The goal of such omissions, said Odejimi and O’Grady, is to create a “truly informational” report that maintains the anonymity of the students involved in each case.

“It’s really difficult for students who have to go through [the process], and we don’t want to exacerbate that by then splashing out there—for everybody to see—what happened,” said O’Grady, who serves as advisor to the J-Board.

The change also means that it is unclear exactly how many cases of alleged academic and social code violations were heard last year. Odejimi and O’Grady declined to disclose those numbers.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, there were six alleged cases of academic code violations and three alleged social code violations. Last year, said O’Grady, “there were neither an unusually high number nor an unusually low number of cases.”

Moreover, Odejimi and O’Grady wanted to simplify the report’s format to create an accessible, understandable reference document, updated annually, that can be viewed by students, faculty and other members of the Bowdoin community who are curious about what has happened in past cases, which may be used as a precedent for future cases.

“Our goal is to provide greater clarity to the Bowdoin community on academic and social violations so that everyone has an idea of how the College operates when dealing with matters that are important to the College or are violations of the College policy,” said Odejimi, “so they can be better informed about our process in general and also about what to expect if they happen to be in an unfortunate situation where they’re going through the process.”

The Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Annual Report from 2018-2019 was also released last week, though the format of this report was unchanged from past years. It reported five violations of the Student Sexual Misconduct and Gender Based Violence Policy, up from three in the 2017-2018 academic year. This number includes neither all allegations of sexual misconduct or cases in which the complainant chose not to pursue an investigation or alternative resolution.

Odejimi and O’Grady opted not to revise the format of the sexual misconduct report, created in conjunction with the Title IX office, because it is not intended to represent a precedent of decisions made in sexual misconduct cases.

“We wanted to just simply report out on the number of cases as we always have, whereas the other information [conveyed in the annual report of academic and social code violations] is intended for the community’s education,” O’Grady said.


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