University clears more judicial records

More student records have been expunged over the last four years, as the University’s judicial policies have shifted to emphasize education over consequences.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities wiped about 79 percent of students’ requests to have their judicial records wiped from 2011-2012 – 6 percent more than the last academic year. Over the last year, GW has also loosened its policies so as to stress educational support following first-time offenses, rather than hand students a disciplinary record, and outlined consequences for common drug and alcohol offenses.

Under the policies implemented last year, students can avoid earning a disciplinary record by completing substance education and training. Students who establish a record can ask the University to wipe non-academic disciplinary violations related to alcohol, drugs, property destruction and theft, Gabriel Slifka, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said.

Students hoping to study abroad or apply to graduate school, for example, may apply to clear their records one year after their last disciplinary conference or University hearing regarding the recorded incident. A judicial records sweep does not affect records kept by outside agencies like the University Police Department or Metropolitan Police Department.

“If a student’s non-academic disciplinary record has been administratively expunged,” Slifka said, his office “would communicate to a third-party conducting a record check that the student does not currently have a non-academic disciplinary record with the University.”

While the University expunged a greater percentage of records at the end of last year compared to the past four years, it also saw the smallest number of students apply to clear their records – just 94 individuals compared to the 128 who petitioned during the 2008-2009 academic year.

The University also cleared more than 700 graduated students’ non-academic disciplinary records following Commencement as part of an annual sweep – a number that remains relatively consistent each year, Slifka said.

Each year, as laid out in the Student Code of Conduct, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities automatically expunges graduating students’ non-academic disciplinary records if they were never suspended or expelled.

Slifka said letters that detail students’ violations also outline the expungement process. Students can apply online, provided that they have not received any other disciplinary marks and completed sanctions.

One senior who asked that her record be expunged because she is applying to graduate school said it was cleared within three weeks of her request.

“I’m really lucky that we do have this policy in place,” the senior, who asked to remain anonymous, said. She added that she went through 10 minutes of questioning about why she deserves of a clear record and what she learned.

GW is more lenient with expunging non-academic disciplinary records than similar schools. Many other schools wait from one to seven years before providing clean slates.

American and Boston universities maintain disciplinary records for seven years after students are formally notified of disciplinary actions. They do not offer exceptions.

Georgetown University offers a similar policy – barring cases of suspension and expulsion, non-academic disciplinary records are purged after graduation.

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