Understanding the Student Conduct Process
If you just received notice of a Student Conduct case, it is natural to be a little nervous. We hope the following pages will answer your questions about what to expect from the Student Conduct process.
Frequently Asked Questions
I received a letter in the mail, an email, or a phone call asking me to contact Student Conduct to set up an appointment. What does this mean?
It most likely means that an incident report ("complaint") containing your name has been filed with Student Conduct. That report may contain information suggesting you might have violated the Code of Student Conduct. You should follow the instructions in the message and set up a meeting with the hearing officer assigned to your case as soon as possible. If the communication contains a specific date and time for a meeting, you are required to appear for that meeting or call our office to reschedule if you have a conflict.
We might have contacted you because you are a complainant (the term we use to describe a potential victim or a reporting party) or a witness in a case we are investigating. Please follow the directions to set your appointment. Even if you do not want to pursue a complaint or participate as a witness, we encourage you to nonetheless schedule a meeting so that we can explain the student conduct process and answer any questions you might have. This allows you to make an informed decision on whether to participate.
What is FERPA and how does it relate to incidents in Student Conduct?
FERPA is The Family Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that provides for the confidentiality of student education records. We won't disclose information about our students' cases to parties outside the university, nor permit inspection of their records without their permission. Students who want us to share information with another person or institution should complete the “Authorization to Disclose Information” (PDF) form and return it to their hearing officer.
FERPA provides certain exceptions that permit our office to disclose information without a student's permission. Your hearing officer can offer examples and explain this further.
What if I am off campus when I violate the Code of Student Conduct?
What happens if I choose not to respond to the requests from Student Conduct to meet, choose not to appear for a scheduled meeting, or choose not to comply with a sanction?
When a student who has allegedly violated the Code of Student fails to set an appointment within a reasonable period of time or fails to appear for a scheduled appointment, Student Conduct will place a hold on the student’s records and registration, and an additional violation of failure to comply could result. If you fail to appear for a scheduled hearing or meeting after formal charges have been issued, a decision may be made in your absence without your involvement. If you fail to comply with the terms of an assigned sanction, you can be charged with Failure to Comply and/or a hold may be placed on your records and registration. The results of such a charge will most likely be more severe than the original sanction.
When a witness or complainant fails to set or keep an appointment, we will reach out again to the student to meet with us. We encourage all participants to meet with us to at least learn about the student conduct process before making a decision not to pursue a complaint or participate as a witness.
How do you determine sanctions?
Sanctions are determined using a variety of factors including the nature and severity of the violation, related circumstances, impact on the campus/community, past history, precedent, and educational value of the sanction.
Will disciplinary sanctions appear on my academic transcript?
The only sanctions that appear on transcripts are suspensions and dismissals. Disciplinary probation, educational sanctions and other outcomes do not appear on academic transcripts.
Will my parents find out?
We encourage you to discuss the situation with your parents. However, we will not discuss your case with your parents unless you either provide us with a written release or the situation falls under one of the exceptions to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
I want to go to graduate/law/medical school. Will potential schools find out about my disciplinary history?
More than likely, yes. Many graduate, medical, and law schools request information about a student's disciplinary history. Students who are sanctioned with any form of separation from the University will have a permanent disciplinary file at the University. Keep in mind that your disciplinary history may or may not affect your admission. You may discuss your history with the admissions staff of the potential schools if you are concerned.
Can I appeal the outcome of my case? If so, who hears the appeal?
A student found to have violated the Code of Student Conduct has the right to appeal the original decision. In cases involving charges involving sexual misconduct as defined by applicable university policy, the complainant may also appeal the original decision. For more detailed information, see the Appeals section.
What is the University Conduct Board?
The University Conduct Board is a University-wide committee consisting of graduate and undergraduate students, members of the faculty, and University administrators. Board members serve as hearing officers for allegations of misconduct.
If my case goes to a University Conduct Board hearing or a hearing conducted by a Hearing Officer, may I have someone present with me?
Yes, you may have an Advisor present with you during the hearing process. You have the primary responsibility for presenting your side of the case with the Advisor involved in an advisory and supportive capacity. The advisor may support you (i.e., whisper or write notes to you), but they may not speak for you or represent you. (See, Advisor Information)
Can I withdraw from school in order to resolve this?
No. The student disciplinary process will continue, even if you withdraw from school. In addition, there may be a hold on your records and registration that will keep you from withdrawing and obtaining transcripts. Resolving allegations of misconduct through the student disciplinary process is an obligation you have as a student.
How is this process different from the criminal process?
A student may be arrested and charged for a crime AND required to go through our process for the same alleged conduct. More often, though, a student proceeds solely through the conduct process.
There are significant differences between the criminal justice system and the work we do with students.
- To find a violation, we use the "preponderance of evidence" standard, which is not as high as the standard used in criminal justice proceedings.
- When deciding what evidence to use to reach a decision, we do not follow rules of evidence that one would find in a civil or criminal court. Rather we ask only that the evidence be relevant to the allegations at issue.
- While students can have an attorney as an advisor, the student always represents him or herself.
- Overall, students should find our process to be less formal, more engaging and more individually tailored than the criminal justice system.
- In some cases, students risk separation from the university as a result of a student conduct investigation and hearing. Even though our process is not as formal as a criminal justice proceeding, students should nonetheless take it seriously and conduct themselves in a respectful and professional manner.