Policies

As members of the Columbia University community, all students are expected to uphold the highest standards of respect, integrity, and civility. These core values are key components of the Columbia University experience and reflect the community’s expectations of its students. Students are expected to conduct themselves in an honest, civil, and respectful manner in all aspects of their lives. For a complete description of our policies please visit Documents. Policy violations include, but are not limited to, the following behavioral and academic misconduct: 

Academic Violations

Academic misconduct violates the principle of intellectual integrity that is the foundation of our institution. To violate that principle is one of the most serious offenses a student can commit. Faculty and instructors may list specific expectations on a course syllabus and examples of academic misconduct are listed in the Bulletin and policies of the schools at Columbia University. Additionally, violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to:

Knowingly or negligently engaging in behavior that assists another student in a violation of academic integrity is prohibited.

Giving unauthorized assistance to another student or receiving unauthorized aid from another person on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations, without the instructor’s express permission, is prohibited.

Offering or giving any favor or something of value for the purpose of improperly influencing a grade or other evaluation of a student in an academic program is prohibited.

Wrongfully using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, study aids, or the ideas or work of another in order to gain an unfair advantage, is prohibited. Cheating includes, but is not limited to, the possession, use, or consultation of unauthorized materials or using unauthorized equipment or devices on tests, quizzes, assignments or examinations, working on any examination, test, quiz or assignment outside of the time constraints imposed, the unauthorized use of prescription medication to enhance academic performance, or submitting an altered examination or assignment to an instructor for re-grading.

Collaborating on academic work without the instructor’s permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized collaboration on tests, quizzes, assignments, labs, and projects.

Falsification, forgery, or misrepresentation of information to any University official in order to gain an unfair academic advantage in coursework or lab work, on any application, petition, or documents submitted to the University, is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, falsifying information on a résumé, fabrication of credentials or academic records, misrepresenting one’s own research, providing false or misleading information in order to be excused from classes or assignments, or intentionally underperforming on a placement exam. Furthermore, another party providing false information on another student’s behalf is prohibited.

Violating established institutional policies related to the ethics, honor codes, or professional standards of a student’s respective school, is prohibited.

Failure to take precautions to safeguard one’s own work is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to: leaving work on public computers; sharing work with other students for a completed course without authorization from the course instructor; and sharing course notes without instructor authorization. 

Unauthorized taking, circulating, or sharing of past or present course material(s) without the instructor’s express permission is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, assignments, exams, lab reports, notebooks, and papers. Methods of obtainment and distribution include but are not limited to: taking photographs, videos, or screenshots; uploading to public websites such as CourseHero or Github; emailing; sharing through Courseworks or Canvas; or taking and/or distributing unauthorized recordings of lectures/course instructions.

Unauthorized advance access to exams or other assignments without an instructor’s express permission is prohibited.

The use of words, phrases, or ideas that do not belong to the student, without properly citing or acknowledging the source, is prohibited. This may include, but is not limited to, copying computer programs for the purposes of completing assignments for submission.

Inappropriately and deliberately harming or attempting to harm someone else's academic performance is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to: altering another student’s experiment data; disrupting the experiments or tests of others; taking actions which prevent others from completing work; or making modifications to parts of a group project without the knowledge of contributors.

Using any material portion of an assignment to fulfill the requirements of more than one course, without the instructor’s express permission, is prohibited.

Compromising a testing environment or violating specified testing conditions, to intentionally or unintentionally create access to an unfair advantage for oneself or others, is prohibited. 

Behavioral Violations

Behavioral violations of University policy have been identified for the purposes of maintaining a safe and healthy educational environment. Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following

Gaining unauthorized access to the roof, fire escape, ledge, and/or window of any building is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to, sitting or standing on a window ledge, fire escape, and/or building ledge or in any way allowing any body part or item to hang, and/or be placed outside, including by means of throwing and/or dropping. 
Additionally, gaining entry to and/or egress from any unauthorized space is prohibited. Prohibited spaces include, but are not limited to:

  • roofs, fire escapes, windows and/or building ledges;
  • another person’s residence without authorization;
  • some walkways, bridges, tunnels; and
  • classrooms, buildings, laboratories, and/or libraries after hours.

The possession and/or use of alcohol when not in accordance with established policy (Columbia University Policy on Alcohol and Drugs) and the Guide to Living is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • possessing and consuming alcohol when under the age of 21;
  • using false identification to obtain alcohol;
  • providing alcohol to a minor;
  • possessing and consuming alcohol in a prohibited area;
  • possessing a keg, bulk container, or device used for rapid consumption of alcohol;
  • forced consumption of liquor for the purpose of initiation into or affiliation with an organization; and/or
  • taking part in games of chance, drinking games, contests, and other activities that induce, encourage, and/or require consumption.

Additionally, drunkenness accompanied by behavior that is disorderly is prohibited.

Inciting or assisting another person with violating University policy(ies), including but not limited to acting as an accomplice through action or negligence to the commission of any misconduct, is prohibited.

As stated on the back of the Columbia University Identification (“CUID”) card, “The ID is your official University ID card and is issued for official purposes only. This card is non-transferrable and is the property of the University.” Students are expected to produce their own CUID card when requested by a University official and may not use their CUID card in an unauthorized manner nor allow another person access to their CUID card.

No student should engage in behavior that is inconsistent with the Columbia University Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy.

Specifically, Discriminatory Harassment, in violation of the Non-Discrimination Statement and Policy, is defined as subjecting an individual to unwelcome conduct, whether verbal or physical, that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive working, learning or campus living environment; that alters the conditions of employment or education; or unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work or academic performance on the basis of the individual’s membership in a protected class.[1] Harassment may include but is not limited to: verbal abuse; epithets or slurs; negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; and display or circulation (including in hard copy, by email or text, or through social media) in the working, learning and living environment of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group.

 


[1]  As established by law, protected classes include: race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, status as a victim of domestic violence, alienage or citizenship status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, unemployment status.

 

Unauthorized use (including misuse) of University or affiliated organization name(s) and image(s) is prohibited. Students should consult the Web & Identity Guidelines for more information.

Unauthorized copying or distribution of any University record by any means is prohibited. Copying includes, but is not limited to, audio recording, streaming, photographing, scanning, or any other form of reproduction that conflicts with the spirit of this directive. 

No student should engage in behavior that interferes with the academic mission of the University or compromises the well-being of the University community. This includes but is not limited to behavior which is disruptive to the classroom or laboratory environment. Students should not expose others to conduct that is disorderly, lewd, or indecent.

This policy does not generally limit the discussion or expression of ideas solely because they might be thought of as offensive, immoral, or disrespectful.

Knowingly and/or recklessly endangering the health or safety of others or oneself is prohibited. The implied or express consent of the person against whom such violence or force is used will not be considered a justification for engaging in prohibited behavior. Prohibited behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • acts that endanger human life, or threaten physical injury;
  • unwanted physical contact with any person that reasonably places that person in fear of physical injury or danger is prohibited (e.g., physical restriction, fighting, pushing, punching, slapping, spitting on, and/or kicking any person).

Knowingly and/or recklessly endangering the health or safety of animals is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to actions that, for no justifiable purpose, cause the animal physical pain or actions that are done in a neglectful, depraved, or sadistic manner.

This policy does not prohibit someone from lawfully hunting, trapping, or fishing nor does it prohibit anyone from engaging in properly conducted tests, experiments, or investigations involving the use of live animals as approved by the respective affiliated institution.

Failure to respond to the legitimate request of a University official or law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his/her official duties is prohibited.

Furnishing false information, including the presentation of false identification, when dealing with a University official or local law enforcement, is prohibited.

Violations of local, state, federal, and/or University fire safety policies are prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • possession and/or use of flammable materials, certain cooking items, or items that operate with an open flame (e.g., grills, lanterns, candles, or incense);
  • starting a fire (including by means of careless cooking);
  • pulling a false fire alarm;
  • tampering with fire safety equipment; or
  • failing to evacuate during a fire alarm.

Harassing any individual for any reason is prohibited at Columbia University. Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct/threat of physical conduct that, because of its severity, or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affects an individual’s living conditions. Harassment of an individual may occur in person, via electronic means, or through a third party. A single, isolated incident may qualify as harassment if, based on the facts and circumstances, the severity adversely affected an individual’s work, education, or living conditions.

Any reckless or intentional act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition of continued membership in, a group or organization, is prohibited. This may include the destruction or removal of public or private property, or any act that a reasonable person would find demeaning, uncomfortable, embarrassing, humiliating, or ridiculing. The express or implied consent of participants will not be an excuse. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts; they will also be considered violations of this policy.

The possession or use of illegal drugs, unauthorized controlled substances, inhalants, and/or drug paraphernalia when not in accordance with the law or established policy (i.e. Columbia University Policy on Alcohol and Drugs and the Guide to Living) is prohibited. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • the sale, distribution, intent to distribute, or manufacturing of illegal drugs or controlled substances; or
  • unauthorized use, possession, or distribution of prescription medication(s).

Any violation of the University Acceptable Use and Computing Policies, including, but not limited to, copyright infringement, is prohibited.

Violations of federal, state, or Violations of federal, state, or local laws are prohibited. This may include violation of the law of another country, state, or municipality as applicable.local laws are prohibited.

Any adverse action or threatened action, taken or made, personally or through a Third-Party, against someone who has filed any complaint or has been the subject of a complaint or any other individual (a Hearing Officer, Witness, Third-Party Reporter, or Advisor) who engages with an established disciplinary process is prohibited.

Canvassing or solicitation for funds, sales, or subscriptions is prohibited on campus or in University buildings unless written permission has been granted by the appropriate designated authority. Additionally, outside and for-profit groups are not allowed to sell items or solicit members of the University community on campus without prior approval from the appropriate designated authority.

Posters, flyers and other event advertisements pertaining to sales and solicitation for funds, sales or subscriptions must be approved by the appropriate designated authority prior to posting or distribution.

The sale of merchandise, or publications or service on University property, other than by contracted vendors, authorized stores, restaurants, departments or divisions of the University, is likewise prohibited except upon permission of the appropriate designated authority.

Smoking is prohibited in any indoor areas, in all University vehicles, and outdoor seating or viewing areas of sports arenas and recreational areas, such as those at Baker Field. Smoking is also prohibited outdoors within 20 feet of all University buildings (including undergraduate housing). Additionally, the possession of smoking-related devices is prohibited in University residence halls and brownstones.

The installation, use, and/or threatening the use of any device for listening to, observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, transmitting, or broadcasting sounds or events in any place where the individual(s) involved has a reasonable expectation of being free from unwanted surveillance, eavesdropping, recording, or observation, without the consent of all persons involved, is prohibited.

Taking or possessing the property of the University or that of another person without permission is prohibited. This may include, but is not limited to, the unauthorized taking, misappropriation, possession, retention or disposing of any property owned or maintained by the University or any person.

Any violation of published University policies is prohibited and may be adjudicated through Dean’s Discipline. Policies include, but are not limited, to the Essential Policies, the Undergraduate International Travel Policy, and the Guide to Living.[1] Community members may find other University policies at: http://studentconduct.columbia.edu/.

 


[1] The Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Procedures for Students and Rules of University Conduct are adjudicated through separate policies and procedures. However, behavior listed in this section that occurs in conjunction with violations of those respective policies may be adjudicated through Dean’s Discipline.

Knowingly or recklessly damaging, vandalizing, destroying, defacing, or tampering with University, public, or private property of another person, is prohibited.

The unauthorized possession, use, or distribution of weapons on University property or during the course of any University sanctioned travel, is prohibited. Weapons include, but are not limited to:

  • explosives (e.g., fireworks and ammunition);
  • guns (e.g., air, BB, paintball, facsimile weapons and pellet guns); and/or
  • other weapons or dangerous objects (e.g., arrows, axes, machetes, nunchucks, throwing stars, brass knuckles, or knives with a blade longer than 3 inches).

Additionally, the storage of these items in a vehicle parked on University property is prohibited.

Gender-Based Misconduct

Columbia University, Barnard College, and Teachers College are committed to fostering an environment that is free from gender-based discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and all other forms of gender-based misconduct.

The University recognizes its responsibility to increase awareness of and diligently investigate reports of such misconduct, prevent its occurrence, support students and others who experience gender-based misconduct, and respond fairly and firmly when students who violate University policy.

Any form of vaginal, anal, or oral penetration, however slight, by a penis, object, tongue, or finger without a person’s affirmative consent.

Any sexual contact, including sexual touching for the purpose of sexual gratification of either party, without a person’s affirmative consent. Sexual touching includes contact under or over clothing with the breasts, buttocks, genitals, groin or inner thigh, or touching another with any of these body parts; making another person touch any of these body parts under or over clothing; or the emission of ejaculate on the clothing or body of another person without that person’s consent.

The use or threat of physical violence or sexual assault that is directed toward (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner; (2) a person with whom one shares a child; or (3) anyone who is protected from the Respondent’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of New York. This violation includes behavior that seeks to establish power and control over another person by causing fear of physical or sexual violence.  Domestic violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior, depending on the frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct.

Examples of this type of violence include hitting, kicking, punching, strangling, or other violent acts, including violence or threats of violence to oneself under certain circumstances, violence or threats of violence to one’s partner, or the family members, friends, pets, or personal property of the partner.

The use or threat of physical violence or sexual assault that is directed toward a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or sexually intimate nature with the Respondent. This violation includes behavior that seeks to establish power and control over another person by causing fear of physical violence or sexual assault. Dating violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior, depending on the frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct.

Examples of this type of violence include hitting, kicking, punching, strangling, or other violent acts, including violence or threats of violence to oneself under certain circumstances, violence or threats of violence to one’s partner, or the family members, friends, pets, or personal property of the partner.

Non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person’s sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other illicit purpose. Acts of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to:

  • Non-consensual streaming, sharing, or distribution of images, photography, video, or audio recording of sexual conduct, nudity, or state of undress when and where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the knowledge and affirmative consent of all participants;
  • Explicitly threatening to stream, share, or distribute images, photography, video or audio recording of sexual conduct, nudity, or state of undress when and where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the affirmative consent of all participants, for the purpose of inducing or compelling someone to engage in sexual conduct against their will;
  • Observing, photographing, videotaping, or making any other visual or audio recording of sexual conduct or nudity or state of undress when and where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the knowledge and affirmative consent of all participants;
  • Exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; or
  • Inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to gender-based misconduct.

A course of unwanted attention that is repeated or obsessive, directed toward an individual or a group and that is reasonably likely to cause alarm, fear or substantial emotional distress. Stalking may take many forms, including but not limited to lying in wait for, monitoring, or pursuing contact. Stalking may occur in person or through telephone calls, text messages, unwanted gifts, letters, e-mails, surveillance, or other types of observation and communication.

Gender-based harassment can occur if a person is harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic of their gender or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity, and that harassing conduct unreasonably interferes with a person’s education or participation in educational programs or activities, or creates an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive academic, campus, or living environment.

The following describes some conduct that may be gender-based harassment:

  • Acts of aggression, intimidation, stalking, or hostility based on gender or gender stereotyping; or
  • Threats or non-consensual disclosure of a person’s gender identity (i.e. “outing”).

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual contact, and other verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s academic, co-curricular, or student life activities;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic evaluation, grades, advancement or participation/status in student life activities (i.e. “quid pro quo”). Quid pro quo sexual harassment can occur whether a person resists and suffers the threatened harm, or a person submits and avoids the threatened harm, and can occur even if the person delays in reporting the harm;
  • Such conduct is intentional, serves no legitimate purpose, and involves contact with parts of another individual’s body that may cause that person to feel degraded or abused;
  • When such conduct is for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire; or
  • Such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with a student’s education or participation in educational programs or activities or such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive academic, campus, work or living environment.

The following describes some of the acts that may be sexual harassment:

  • Conduct of a sexual nature, such as intentional and non-consensual physical contact which is sexual in nature, including touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, poking, or brushing against another person’s intimate body parts;
  • Unwanted sexual advances, propositions or other sexual comments, such as: (1) subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities; or (2) sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes or comments or questions about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience which are sufficient to create a hostile environment;
  • Threats or non-consensual disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation (i.e. “outing”); or
  • Displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials, or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic in nature and which are sufficient to create a hostile environment.

A hostile environment may arise when unwelcome conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature unreasonably interferes with a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, demeaning, or offensive academic, campus, work or living environment.

In evaluating whether there is evidence of a hostile environment, the University will consider the totality of the known circumstances from the point of view of a reasonable person, including but not limited to:

  • The frequency, nature and severity of the conduct;
  • Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
  • The effect of the conduct on the Complainant’s mental or emotional state;
  • Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
  • Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct; and
  • Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the Complainant’s educational or work performance and/or University programs or activities.

A single, isolated incident of sexual or gender-based harassment may, based on the facts and circumstances, create a hostile environment. The more serious the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to demonstrate a hostile environment. 

Any adverse action or threatened action, taken or made, personally or through a third-party, against someone who has reported a gender-based misconduct complaint (a Complainant) or has been the subject of a gender-based misconduct complaint (a Respondent) or any other individual (a Witness, Third-Party Reporter or Advisor, etc.) because the individual engages with the Office and/or the disciplinary process.

  • All individuals and groups of individuals, not just a Respondent or Complainant, are prohibited from engaging in retaliation. Retaliation can refer to actions or threatened actions by any individual, including students and others who are not engaged with the Office. 
  • Retaliation includes threatening, intimidating, harassing, or any other conduct that would discourage a reasonable person from seeking services; receiving measures and accommodations; reporting gender-based misconduct; or participating in the disciplinary process as a Complainant, Respondent, Witness, Third-Party Reporter or Advisor.
  • Retaliation includes maliciously or purposefully interfering with, threatening, or damaging the academic or professional career of another individual, before, during or after the resolution of a report of gender-based misconduct under this Policy.
  •  Nothing in the Policy prevents an individual from discussing their experience from their perspective.  
  • Reports of gender-based misconduct made in good faith, even if the allegations are ultimately determined to be inaccurate, are not considered retaliation. 

Reports that are intentionally false or found to have been made frivolously or in bad faith may constitute retaliation and/or may be considered by the Sanctioning Officer if an individual is otherwise found responsible for a violation of the Policy. For example, retaliation could include a threat of falsely reporting the complainant or witnesses of gender-based misconduct to deter them from participating in an imminent or pending gender-based misconduct process.

Retaliation may also include violations of a no-contact directive and/or other interim measures, in conjunction with any of the behavior described above, during the course of an investigation.

  • If the alleged retaliation occurs between the Complainant and the Respondent while a matter is pending, these allegations may be investigated separately through the Dean’s Discipline process and/or folded into the pending investigation, based on the circumstances of the allegations.
  • Allegations of retaliation by other parties, i.e., not between the Complainant and the Respondent, will be investigated separately when the allegations involve gender-based misconduct. Any other allegations of retaliation will be investigated and adjudicated through the Dean’s Discipline process.