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Section VI: Outline of the Student Conduct Process

This outline is to provide the general idea of how the University’s student conduct proceedings work, but it should be noted that not all situations are of the same severity or complexity.  Thus, these procedures are flexible and are not exactly the same in every situation, though consistency in similar situations is a priority.  The student conduct process and all applicable timelines commence with notice to an administrator of a potential violation of University rules.

Once notice is received from any source (victim, complainant, third-party, Resident Assistant, online, etc.), the University may proceed with a preliminary investigation and/or may schedule an initial educational meeting/conference with the responding student to explain the conduct process and gather information.

A. Step 1: Preliminary Inquiry and/or Educational Conference

The University, via the Dean of Students or designee, conducts a preliminary inquiry into the nature of the incident, complaint or notice, the evidence available, and the parties involved. The preliminary inquiry may lead to:

  1. A determination that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation, because the behavior alleged, even if proven, would not violate the Code of Student Conduct, (e.g.: for reasons such as mistaken identity or allegations of behavior that falls outside the code);
  2. A more comprehensive investigation, when it is clear more information must be gathered (see detailed procedures); or
  3. A formal complaint of a violation and/or an educational conference with the responding student. 

When an initial educational meeting/conference is held, the possible outcomes include:

  • A decision not to pursue the allegation based on a lack of or insufficient evidence. The matter should be closed and records should so indicate;
  • A decision on the allegation, also known as an “informal” or “administrative” resolution to an uncontested allegation (see immediately below); or
  • A decision to proceed with additional investigation and/or referral for a “formal” resolution. 

If a decision on the allegation is made and the finding is that the responding student is not responsible for violating the Code, the process will end.  The party bringing the complaint may request that the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator (in matters of sex/gender discrimination) reopen the investigation and/or grant a hearing. This decision shall be in the sole discretion of the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator (in matters of sex/gender discrimination) and will only be granted for extraordinary cause. 

If the allegation is uncontested, meaning the students acknowledges that the alleged behavior occurred and accepts responsibility for those actions, the administrator conducting the initial educational conference will then determine the sanction(s) appropriate for the misconduct.  Only the sanction portion of this process is eligible for appeal in an uncontested allegation and appeal options are described in Section VIII

If the administrator conducting the educational conference determines that it is more likely than not that the responding student is in violation, and the responding student rejects that finding in whole or in part, then it is considered a contested allegation and the process moves to Step 2.

B. Step 2: Formal Hearing

In a contested allegation, additional investigation may then be commenced and/or a hearing may be held when there is reasonable cause to believe that a rule or rules have been violated. A formal notice of the complaint will be issued, and a hearing will be held by a student conduct officer (or in special cases, the Student Conduct Panel).   A finding will be determined and is final except in cases that involve Title IX or other discrimination allegations.  If the finding is that the responding student is not responsible, the process ends. Applicable appeals options are described below in Section VIII.

In cases that involve Title IX or other discrimination allegations, the hearing results serve as a recommendation to the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator, who review and finalize the finding.  If the finding is that the responding student is not responsible, the process ends. Applicable appeals options are described in the Unified Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

C. Step 3: Sanction(s)

If the student is found responsible for violation(s), sanction(s) will be assigned by the student conduct administrator (or the Student Conduct Panel) and is subject to the University appeals process in Section VIII.

In cases that involve Title IX or other discrimination allegations, the student conduct administrator recommends sanctions.  The Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator then review the recommended sanctions and finalize all sanctions which are then subject to the Unified Harassment and Discrimination Policy appeals process by any party to the complaint.