News

Stanford introduces revised policies for student group governance and accountability

Jan. 13, 2022, 1:05 p.m.

Stanford will enforce “The Core 10 Policies” and a revised Student Group Accountability Process to simplify student organization and group governance, according to a Thursday email from Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks and Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion, Community and Integrative Learning Emelyn dela Peña. 

The Core 10 Policies and revised accountability process will apply to undergraduate, graduate and professional students who are members of voluntary student organizations, Greek organizations, club sports or varsity athletics teams or who reside in Row Houses, according to the email. The changes were led by the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) and Office of Community Standards (OCS), and were informed by student feedback, according to the email.

“We have a diversity of student groups, so we need policies that are accessible to all those groups so they can be successful and thrive,” Hicks said.

The Core 10 Policies condense over 45 previous policies governing student organizations into 10, according to the email. From interacting with students, Hicks and dela Peña wrote that they learned “we needed brief, clear and consistent guidance.” The shortened policies are a streamlined version of existing material.

The policies relate to collective responsibility, hazing, student alcohol and drug use, party planning, nondiscrimination, emergencies, leadership selection, membership, insurance and risk management, commercial activity and financial guiding values and policies.

Assistant Dean and Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Amanda Rodriguez, who helped draft the policies, said that the selected 10 policies are those that will “enable all student groups to be the most successful, to thrive, to lead the organizations well, to get a good positive experience as a member and to really just simplify expectations so that our student groups have a really great experience.”

Violations of the Core 10 Policies will be addressed through the University’s revised Student Group Accountability Process, according to the email. Under this process, the University created different avenues through which violations can be addressed, depending on their alleged severity and the group’s conduct history, according to the email.

From student feedback and research into group accountability processes at other universities, Hicks and dela Peña wrote that they learned the University “needed a quicker process that consistently addressed problematic behaviors across groups and residences.”

The goal in making the revised Group Accountability Process was to create a process that was student-focused and educational, according to Assistant Dean of Students Alyce Haley. While the previous process did not take the severity of the allegation or a group’s disciplinary history into account, the new process includes different tiers depending on these factors, outlining possible avenues for adjudication for each tier, which will help reduce the length of time it takes to complete the process, according to Haley.

There is also a new option in which groups can accept responsibility and agree to proposed sanctions so they can learn from their mistakes without having to go through the full process, Haley added.

The new process will also apply in the same way to all student groups to ensure that these standards are consistent — in particular, that groups are being held accountable in uniform ways, according to Haley.

While voluntary student organizations, fraternities and sororities were previously governed by the University’s Organizational Conduct Board group accountability process, varsity sports teams and Row Houses were not subject to the group accountability process in the past, according to the email — something which is changing because “group accountability and collective responsibility should be applied to all experiences,” Hicks said.

A driving factor in this decision was consistency, according to Hicks. Non-Greek Row Houses operate as an entity, and varsity student teams “also operate with a lot of history and practices and things that we want to make sure are accountable to the same standard,” Hicks said. “While they’re not competing and practicing and doing all those things, they’re still a collective group.”

“The goal of this is to make sure that we are looking at group behaviors, and that we are intervening to correct those behaviors across the board, regardless of the group type that engaged in those behaviors,” Haley added.

The revised process also emphasizes student learning and growth, according to Hicks.

“We feel strongly that this process is just much better for students: to be nimble, clear, where a wide range of violations may occur, but also in the ways that students can learn, reset, and get back out there,” Hicks said.

For voluntary student organizations (including club sports), fraternities and sororities, the Core 10 Policies and revised Student Group Accountability Process will take effect on Thursday. For varsity sports teams and Row Houses, they will take effect on Sept. 1, 2022.

Hicks and dela Peña expressed gratitude to the students who participated in the working groups and implementation plans, and wrote that the University will offer training and informational sessions on the Core 10 and the new Student Group Accountability Process this winter.

Hicks also emphasized the importance of these changes for both the University and students.

“It charges us to be proactive about education and outreach,” Hicks said. “Just simply getting back to those core things of student well-being and harm prevention — that we’re accompanying students and student groups in a way that should foster success.”

Malaysia Atwater '23 is a managing editor in the News section. She is a political science major from Centennial, Colorado, and she enjoys dancing and re-watching Grey's Anatomy in her free time. Contact her at matwater 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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