Should you sign the Campus Compact?

Dec. 5, 2020, 3:32 p.m.

Stanford placed holds on students’ Axess accounts on Thursday, preventing them from enrolling in classes without completing a quarterly check-in. For students planning to live on campus for winter quarter, the check-in requires signing — or not signing — Stanford’s Campus Compact.

The compact does not affect the expectations for students’ behavior but does affect the disciplinary process if they are accused of violating COVID-related restrictions. Signing the compact is primarily a consent to a different process of dealing with rule infractions.

The compact reclassifies COVID-19 rule violations to a separate administrative process. Students who sign the compact will be subject to the judgment of the Compact Review Panel, which is made up of faculty, staff and students rather than Stanford’s administration. Students who do not sign the compact will be held accountable by the Fundamental Standard and Stanford’s administrative action provision to ensure campus safety.

The range of potential disciplinary actions is virtually the same for students who do and do not sign the compact. So far, the Compact Review Panel reportedly hasn’t removed any students from on-campus housing and, unlike administrators, the panel does not have the power to expel students. Actions taken by the Compact Review Panel may be appealed to the provost. Stanford’s administrative action provision does not expressly have an appeals process.

In September, the compact was criticized for policies surrounding sexual assault reporting and requiring that students live in “monastic isolation,” but it has since been greatly revised, leading some to question whether to agree to the document.

Disciplinary action procedures

Students who sign the compact and then are accused of violating COVID-related restrictions will be subject to the judgment of the Compact Review Panel rather than traditional disciplinary measures. A full guide describing disciplinary actions that may be taken by the Compact Review Panel can be found on the University’s compact violations guidelines page.

Unlike traditional disciplinary measures, actions taken by the panel will not appear on a student’s record. The panel comprises faculty, staff and students and is “intended to be able to respond quickly,” unlike traditional measures which can take “months.” 

The panel also does not have the power to remove a student from enrollment at Stanford. The University wrote on its Campus Compact FAQ page that “interventions are focused primarily on education, and only in the most extreme circumstances do they lead to more serious consequences.”

A member of the Compact Review Panel who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about panel proceedings told The Daily they felt the panel’s decisions were fair. “Not only … fair but extremely forgiving,” they said. “More lean toward leniency than not.”

Safeguards for sexual violence reporting

The University has written that it “will not” punish students for “COVID-19 health and safety violations, including those in the Campus Compact” if they are reporting or aiding in the reporting of sexual violence, though the University did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment regarding if these same protections would apply to students who did not sign the compact.

The University defines sexual violence as including but not limited to “sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and all other Prohibited Sexual Conduct described in Stanford Administrative Guide 1.7.1 whether under Title IX or some other University rule, or an attempt to commit or to knowingly aid or facilitate another person to commit any of the above.”

Stanford wrote punishing students for reporting “might chill reporting and negatively impact student safety” on the Compact FAQ page. The University changed this policy — which initially did not grant amnesty to students who host a gathering of multiple individuals and report incidents of sexual violence at the event — after criticism in September by survivors and campus advocates.

Removal from housing and punishments for COVID-19 restriction violations

Although removal from housing is a potential form of disciplinary action the Compact Review Panel could take, no students were removed from housing in the fall quarter as a result of compact violations, according to the member of the Compact Review Panel. “No students have been removed from campus, including housing, in response to reported compact violations,” wrote Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris in an Oct. 15 email to The Daily.

Stanford wrote that “removal from housing will be the last resort action taken by the panel to mitigate a serious public health risk.” on their Compact FAQ page. Students who do not sign the compact can be removed from housing by Stanford’s administration if they commit a serious enough offense.

The University defines three levels of violations to the Campus Compact. Low-level violations could include failing to wear a mask when required or not following physical distancing requirements. They will be addressed via “educational conversations with … university officials.”

Mid-level violations include attending parties and inviting unpermitted visitors to campus, among other things. They may result in conversations and increased COVID-19 safety training, but could in “egregious” cases result in restrictions from participating in Voluntary Student Organizations and restriction from access to non-residential Stanford facilities.

High-level infractions include hosting any indoor gatherings parties, participating in large outdoor gatherings where physical distancing and other safety measures are not in place, and deliberately interacting with others after testing positive for COVID-19, among other things. These violations are automatically reviewed by the Compact Review Panel and are punishable by the same punishments as mid-level violations, except they include the potential for removal from campus (but not expulsion).

Contact Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’

Sam Catania ’24 is the Volume 262 Editor in Chief of The Daily. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer, the producer of the weekly video roundup, a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam hails from Philadelphia and is studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at'

Login or create an account

Apply to The Daily’s High School Winter Program

Applications Due Soon