Committee on Discipline releases 2010-2011 report

More personal misconduct; fewer academic cases

The MIT Committee on Discipline (COD) gave its annual report Wednesday at the March faculty meeting in 10-250. Prof. Robert P. Redwine, the chair of the committee, presented the results from academic year 2010-2011.

The COD had fewer hearings last year, only five, down from the prior year’s 12. There were 61 students were involved in the 30 reported incidents.

See charts on page 14 for details.

The number of assault and reckless endangerment incidents, 19, up from two, would normally be concerning, Redwine said, but many of the students were involved in one particular incident. He did not mention what the incident was.

No students were expelled last academic year, down from two in 2009-2010. Three students were suspended, down from eight. Institute faculty and staff submitted file letters for 15 students as documentation for cases of misconduct did not result in a COD investigation.

Redwine expressed concerns about the drop in hearings for academic cases in 2011 (from 12 to five), suggesting that one possible explanation was that teaching staff might not be referring all necessary cases to the Office of Student Citizenship. He spoke about increasing outreach to teachers, especially new faculty, and emphasizing the importance of the role of the student citizenship office.

The increase in “serious personal misconduct, especially sexual” was concerning, Redwine said, but he drew attention to a positive possibility: The Institute has devoted more resources to outreach in such cases. He hopes that because of this, it may well be that the number has increased because more students are willing to come forward.

Redwine also mentioned that a review was due for the student discipline process, in part because of changes to federal regulations. While most changes would likely be small wording changes, Redwine brought up the potential for “more significant changes” that would require faculty approval to go through.

Redwine also noted that the dean of Harvard College had asked for his opinion on having students on the committee, something that MIT does and Harvard does not. Redwine said that the student membership on the committee was incredibly valuable. “Apparently Harvard worries about confidentiality,” he said. “In my experience we have never ever had an issue with that. We had worried more about some of the faculty.”