Skip to main content
  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Title One – Article I

Title One. Statement of Principles and Policies
Article I. Fundamental Principles
Article II. Supporting Policies
Article III. Responsible Speech and Expression
Article IV. Amendment of Code
Title Two. Constitutive Provisions on Judicial System
Title Three. Regulations for Maintenance of Educational Environment
Title Four. Regulations for Maintenance of Public Order

A. The Essential Purpose

The essential purpose of the University’s governing of community conduct is to protect and promote the University community’s pursuit of its educational goals. The University, as an educational institution, has a special set of interests and purposes, the protection and promotion of which are essential to its effective functioning. These interests, with respect to the governing of community conduct, include the following:

1.   the opportunity of all members of the University community to attain their educational objectives;

2.   the generation and maintenance of an intellectual and educational atmosphere throughout the University community; and

3.   the protection of the health, safety, welfare, property, and human rights of all members of the University community, and the safety, property, and reputational interests of the University itself. These general interests, of course, are also the subject matter of the public laws of the state and nation.

B. The University’s Role

The University’s role in regulating community conduct is distinguishable from society’s. Therefore, the powers of the University’s judicial boards shall be limited to the enforcement of University conduct regulations and shall not extend to the enforcement of public laws, except to the coincidental extent that such University conduct regulations are similar to provisions of the public law.

C. The Principle of Freedom with Responsibility

1.   The principle of freedom with responsibility is central to Cornell University. Freedoms to teach and to learn, to express oneself and to be heard, and to assemble and to protest peacefully and lawfully are essential to academic freedom and the continuing function of the University as an educational institution. Responsible enjoyment and exercise of these rights mean respect for the rights of all. Infringement upon the rights of others or interference with the peaceful and lawful use and enjoyment of University premises, facilities, and programs violates this principle.

2.   The Campus Code of Conduct is the University community’s code, and hence is the responsibility of all community members. All members have a duty to cooperate with University officials in this Code’s operation and enforcement.


Last Updated: October 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm


  1. I was asked to send my comments. As I am no longer a member of the Cornell community (which is “the author” of the Code), it is not my place to actively lobby for my vision or make specific recommendations. However, as someone who learned the Code extremely well and conducted extensive and exhaustive research into the history, legislative intent, and underlying purposes of the Code (as well as the Codes of other schools), I will offer just two, yet fundamental, points of advice that the drafters should keep in mind while undergoing a Code revision. I have attempted to remove any prejudices I have from these comments so that they are more accurately the wisdom – if I have gained any at all- of going through the process, serving as a drafter, and coming from a due process legal perspective.

    One, the problems of the justice system at Cornell cannot simply be solved by changing the wording of a couple clauses within the Code. All too often, the University Assembly looks to Code amendments. Much of the “justice” or lack thereof in the system moves and is formed by the participants of the Code process, not the clauses. Justice and the law are not independent, but are very much intertwined with broader politics. The very wise creators of the Code realized this and left an important power with the University Assembly – biyearly confirmation of the Judicial Administrator. In the past, the University Assembly and its leadership usually have not wanted to create problems with the administration and thus have almost always confirmed the Judicial Administrator. In fact, its leadership has already indicated its intent to reconfirm the current Judicial Administrator. Generally, this should not be so. One should not worry about the career of the person who occupies that office or if “political capital” will be lost for other matters. The measure should be looking systematically at whether “justice” is being delivered. Indeed, this is the primary purpose why the University Assembly exists. The University Assembly must decide whether it will be a robust check and balance for justice in the likes of the US Senate or if it will merely act as a rubber stamp like the Chinese National People’s Congress.

    Two, people talk about making the Code more “readable.” In my analysis of the history of the Code, I became aware that this argument was originally made by the administration as simplifying the Code gives more authority to the Judicial Administrator’s office. With a more “readable” Code is a more ambiguous Code. While some may not like legalise and seemingly intricate procedures, those are exactly what give us our substantive and procedural due process rights. Thus, this must be preserved. At times, it may not be fun to read, but I would not underestimate the intelligence of Cornellians to understand the Code if they really want to. I am confident that if they are the ones being prosecuted, they will appreciate the protections they are afforded from all of the legalise the administration would like stripped.

    In my view, these two things, Code enforcement and procedural rights, are probably the most important items that should always be in the heads of the members of the University Assembly. If you or any UA members have questions, please feel free to contact me at or

Leave a Comment

Neither your name nor your email address will be published. However, we do encourage you to include your name at the end of your comment.