General Information : Criminal Process vs. Student Conduct Process
Criminal Process vs. Student Conduct Process
- There are significant differences between the campus conduct process and the criminal justice procedures. The processes are not mutually exclusive. A student may be arrested and charged in the criminal justice system as well as under the Code of Student Conduct. Alternatively, charges can occur for alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct, which may not be violations of the law.
- The campus conduct process is not comparable to a trial. Rather a university hearing is educational in nature. Students and their advisor should expect a supportive and non-adversarial environment during the hearing process.
- Students are entitled to one advisor throughout the process, which may be a friend, parent, attorney, or any person of their choosing excluding witnesses. However, the advisor may not represent that student. Students are expected to speak for themselves at all times during the process. Any advisors disregarding these rules will be asked to leave any meeting or hearing.
- The standard of evidence in determining whether a student is in violation is not as high as that of the criminal process. At Ohio State, we use a level of “preponderance of evidence,” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Legal rules of evidence do not apply in campus conduct cases. The hearing officers will gather and utilize any information that is relevant, including hearsay or third party testimony.
- Campus conduct cases are confidential, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law. Conversely, criminal records are public records, and information may be shared with the community at large. Findings of “in violation” in the campus conduct process will not result in any criminal record. Additionally, findings of “guilty” or “not guilty” in the criminal system often have no bearing on the outcome of campus conduct proceedings.
- The campus conduct process is intended to be educational, not punitive. Our goal is to help the student to better understand the impact of his or her actions and to help him or her take steps towards repairing the harm done to the university community. Sanctions are not predetermined, but rather are developed with consideration given to the individual circumstances of the case and any previous disciplinary history. Overall, the campus conduct process is much less formal than criminal proceedings.
Parts adapted from the ASCA (formerly ASJA) publication, THE STUDENT CONDUCT PROCESS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, copyright 2006.