Student Accountability for Upholding the Columbia Compact – What You Need to Know

August 28, 2020

Dear Students,

I write with important information about your responsibility for keeping the Columbia Community Health Compact. Even if you are not on campus, we are all part of one University community, and this Compact, and your commitment to it, will help keep you, our neighbors, and the Columbia community across the globe stay healthy.

Here’s what you need to know: All students who are on campus, or off campus and interacting in person with other Columbia community members are accountable for wearing a face covering indoors and outdoors, keeping physical distance and following the other Compact provisions. See below for more on the Dean’s Discipline process for violations.

We have confidence in you – we know you care about yourselves, each other, and our neighbors. Many of you have volunteered to be student ambassadors and some of you are even starring in your own Compact commitment videos – look out for these on social media starting next week.

I want to be sure you know how the University will handle Compact violations, and what to do if you have a concern about someone who is not keeping the Compact. The Student Accountability Plan has full details. Here are some key points:  

  • Parties and other gatherings on and off campus where students are not wearing face coverings and keeping physical distance are considered “violations of greater impact.” These violations will go directly into the Dean’s Discipline process.
  • Other violations – such as being on campus without your face covering over your nose and mouth – are considered “low level” violations. A first-time low-level violation will be addressed with an educational conversation. Repeat low-level violations will go into the Dean's Discipline process.
  • Students who are found to have violated the Compact through the Dean’s Discipline process will be sanctioned. Sanctions include, for example, disciplinary warning for a low-level violation to a restriction or removal from campus, including from Columbia housing and suspension. 

And if you see a friend or classmate not wearing their face covering or not keeping physical distance,  

  • Use the “stepping in” tips on the University’s COVID-19 website. You can find serious – and funny – tips there for you to choose from. We welcome your suggestions – please send them to us at [email protected].
  • If you’re not comfortable stepping in, you can always speak with anyone on Columbia’s faculty or staff. Student affairs staff members and Public Safety are always available to provide assistance.
  • You can use the “report an incident” button at the top of University Life’s website at any time, and someone from Student Conduct and Community Standards or your school’s student affairs staff will follow up.

If you would like to get more involved and volunteer to become a Keep Our Community Healthy Ambassador, please complete this short sign-up form. If you have questions about your quarantining responsibilitieslearn more here. We’re also here to help you find other ways to connect – you can find virtual activities to do now here, check out Columbia Welcome events and follow University Life’s social media for sneak peeks at student videos next week and to learn how to submit your own.

Thank you for all that you are doing to care for yourself and our entire community. I realize that putting these new habits into place may require some initial effort but they will become second nature to all of us in no time.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions at [email protected].

Take care,


Joseph Defraine Greenwell, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Office of University Life
Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His