I have been charged with an alleged violation of the Code of Student Conduct. What happens now?
This depends partly on who has received the documentation of the incident. If the incident occurred in on-campus housing, you will probably meet with the residence director to resolve the charges. If the incident occurred off campus or if it is a second violation, you will probably meet with the director of student conduct in York Hall. With either process, you will have the opportunity to share your information about the incident and to ask questions about the process. Sometimes a decision about which process will be used is delayed until additional information can be gathered.
How should I prepare for a student conduct meeting?
There are different types of student conduct processes, but the preparation is similar. Students are expected to be sincere and tell the truth. An organized and sequential telling of the story and presenting of evidence or information is most helpful. Formal presentations are not necessary, as a focused and honest conversation is usually sufficient to resolve most incidents. You may want to provide the names of any witnesses who can support your explanation of the events, but these must be provided to the hearing officer prior to your meeting, so that he or she can gather that information before your hearing. You represent yourself at a student conduct hearing and are expected to present yourself respectfully and coherently to the hearing officer.
Should I hire a lawyer?
Attorneys may play a role in the process, but the only person who represents you is you. If the alleged violation of SCAD’s Code of Student Conduct has also resulted in criminal or civil charges, legal counsel may assist you in preparing your comments. They can review materials associated with your file if you sign a release allowing access to your records. However, those records are confidential and will not normally be released in the event of pending criminal or civil charges unless subpoenaed through appropriate legal channels.
As outlined in the Code of Student Conduct in Section V.5.g., parents, guardians, attorneys, or other advisers or representatives are not permitted to attend or participate in the hearing. Admission of any other person to the hearing would be unusual and only at the discretion and with the permission of the hearing officer.
Will my parents be notified of my involvement with the office of student conduct?
In general, student records are protected under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. The exception that was made through an amendment in 1999 and incorporated into SCAD policy affects incidents involving drugs and alcohol. Students who are under the age of 21 may be subject to parental notification for any drug violation or if an alcohol violation required medical or law enforcement intervention, the incident could result in the student’s removal from housing, or indicated repeated behavior. Conditions allowing for parental notification are included in the Code of Student Conduct in Section VI.11.f.
Students may choose to sign a release, giving permission for staff in the office of student conduct to have contact with their parents. This is often helpful when students are facing the possibility of suspension or expulsion from the college and are trying to make plans for their immediate future. Most often it is the student who shares this information with his or her parents. This is a position that we actively encourage. Parental support is a key ingredient in a student’s long-term success, no matter what the student conduct outcome.
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal regulation that guarantees students and/or their parents access to all educational records that pertain to them and protects the privacy of these records. Upon reaching the age of 18 or enrolling in an institute of higher education, the student is the primary owner of the record. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Students have the right to inspect and review their own educational records as well as to request that the school correct records believe to be inaccurate or misleading. Students may waive their rights under FERPA through a signed document and can rescind the waiver of those rights at any time.
I received a citation for county court; why do I have a student conduct referral as well?
The office of student conduct receives reports from a variety of sources, including local law enforcement agencies. Some behaviors are a violation of law as well as a violation of college policy. Proceedings under this Code of Student Conduct may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off campus, as may be determined in the judgment of the dean of students or the vice president for student services.
Why does the Code of Student Conduct apply to my behavior off campus?
The Code of Student Conduct Section IV.1 indicates, “The Code of Student Conduct shall apply to conduct that occurs on college premises, at college-sponsored or supervised activities, and to off-campus conduct or online activity that adversely affects the college community and/or the pursuit of its objectives." This means that the college recognizes that a student does not act in a vacuum. It is reasonable to assume that some behaviors exhibited by students, even off campus, might have a negative impact on the health, safety or welfare of the college community. This section of the Code of Student Conduct affords the college the opportunity to act to protect the broader interests of the students and the college. The Code of Student Conduct applies because of an individual’s status as a student, not because of his or her geographical location.
How will a decision be made regarding whether or not I violated the Code of Student Conduct?
In order for a student to be found responsible for violating the Code of Student Conduct, information must be presented that it is more likely than not that the action occurred. This standard of proof is defined as a preponderance of the evidence.
What are my rights in the student conduct process?
In general, the following is a list of student’s rights in regards to the student conduct process at SCAD:
- 1. The right to be informed of all charges in writing
- 2. The right to be notified of the date, time and location of a hearing
- 3. The right to review all evidence brought against the accused
- 4. The right to reasonable access to the case file
- 5. The right to confidentiality regarding student conduct matters
- 6. The right to provide names of individuals who can provide information regarding the incident in question
- 7. The right to a written statement regarding the outcome of a hearing
- 8. The right to appeal the decision to the appropriate university official, according to established appeal procedures
What happens if I am suspended or expelled?
Suspension means that the student is separated from SCAD for a specific period of time, or until a specific requirement is completed. Expulsion is listed as permanent separation from the college. In either case, when a student is separated for disciplinary reasons from SCAD, they are withdrawn from classes administratively. This usually results in grades of "W" on the transcript. Suspended and expelled students’ records have a disciplinary hold placed on their records for the period of the suspension/expulsion.
While separated for discipline reasons, the student may not register for or attend classes, reside in the residence halls, or be on the property of the college without specific written permission from the office of student conduct. This prohibition includes attendance at SCAD-sponsored events off campus.
Will this have an effect on my financial aid or scholarship?
It is possible that disciplinary procedures could ultimately have an effect on either financial aid or scholarships. In order for students to qualify for financial aid, students must be enrolled and making specific academic progress in a degree-seeking program. Students who are suspended or expelled obviously are not making any academic progress at that time. Many scholarship agencies have expectations regarding the behavior of their recipients. Athletic grant-in-aid and academic achievement scholarships could both be affected by disciplinary action. If you are receiving financial aid or are on scholarship, and you have student conduct action pending, it is important for you to talk with the appropriate representative of the office dispersing the funds.
How do I appeal this decision/sanction?
If you accepted a mutual agreement of responsibility and sanctions with a residence director in regards to allegations of misconduct, you have waived your right to an appeal and the matter is considered closed. Those decisions are final, pending acceptance from the director of student conduct.
At the conclusion of every disciplinary process where the decision regarding responsibility or sanctions was not mutually agreed upon by the accused student and the hearing officer, there will be an explanation of the student's appeal rights. Every initial disciplinary process facilitated by the office of student conduct has one level of appeal. Additional information regarding appeals is also available in Section V.6 of the Code of Student Conduct. Appeals must be filed within a specific period of time and include information specific to the charges and outcomes of that case. They must be made in writing and submitted to the dean of students. Information regarding the submission of your appeal can be found in the letter detailing the outcome of your hearing. Appeals are not re-hearings of the charges, but instead are an examination of the process based on the appeals information provided by the appellant.
Why do I have a hold on my records?
There are a variety of reasons that the office of student conduct may place a hold on a student record. Call the office of student conduct at 912.525.6244 immediately to determine why there is a hold on your specific account. The following is a general list:
- the student has not contacted this office to resolve an alleged violation
- the student was instructed to get additional information or materials to this office and has not complied
- the student has not completed their sanction by the due date for that case
- the student may currently be either suspended or expelled
- the student may be under interim suspension
How does a disciplinary file affect my chances for admission to graduate school or professional school?
That depends on the materials in the file and the educational plans of the student. Contact the office of student conduct to review your file based on your specific academic goals. In general, the more serious the charges and events in the file, and the more intrusive the scrutiny of the graduate program, medical or law schools for example, then the more likely there will be some post-undergraduate effect from the incident(s). Staff members in the office of student conduct have sufficient experience to review your file and describe the possible effects, as well as any opportunities you might have to mitigate those effects.
How does a disciplinary file affect other job and leadership opportunities at SCAD?
Different opportunities have different expectations and restrictions. There are some experiences, such as becoming a residence life staff member or orientation assistant, which prohibit the student from having any active sanction, such as disciplinary probation. In addition, there are prohibitions preventing a student under an active sanction from participating in some programs like the United Student Forum or Student Activities Council. Some programs, such as off-campus programs, ask students to submit to a records check as part of the application process. Having a disciplinary record does not automatically disqualify a student from all activities or opportunities, but does impact some experiences. It is important to check with the office or program coordinator for the specific opportunity before making a commitment.
Do I get a refund if I am suspended or expelled?
A student in this case may qualify for a refund. This is perhaps one of the most complex areas in the student conduct process. Determining if the student qualifies for a refund begins with answering some basic questions such as: Does the student live on campus and participate in the meal plan? Is the student receiving any form of financial aid? Has the student paid the full tuition and fees for the quarter in which he or she is separated? At what point in the quarter did the suspension or expulsion take place? The answers to these questions are as different and as specific as the individual case. It is extremely important that the suspended or expelled student meet with a staff member in the office of student conduct to begin the process of reviewing the timing and specifics of their case to assist in gathering any refund that may be due.
My son/daughter has been documented for a student conduct violation. Can you talk with me about it?
Changes in federal law now make it possible to talk to parents of students who are under 21 years of age if the student’s actions would qualify under SCAD’s policy regarding parental notification (Code of Student Conduct Section VI.11.f). All other records are protected and the office of student conduct will maintain the student’s right of confidentiality unless the student signs a FERPA release allowing a staff member to disclose information. A student who waives his/her right to confidentiality may rescind that permission at any time. It is our hope to work as openly and as often as we can with parents so that we might help the student be successful, but your student will guide us in their level of comfort regarding contact with you.
I can't finish my sanctions by the deadline; what should I do?
Contact the office of student conduct or the residence life staff member who imposed the sanction immediately. There are some circumstances where a student might qualify for an extension. That decision must be made by the office or the person with the authority to do so. Extensions are not granted by persons who supervise community service work or by staff who do not have specific authority to do so. Sanctions that are not completed by the deadline could result in additional charges and/or a hold being place on the student’s records.
Can I attend other schools while I am suspended or expelled from SCAD?
Students should contact the specific school in question to review their policies and practices. A disciplinary hold will be placed on your record that may prevent the release of your transcripts while you are suspended or expelled, so you will need to contact the office of student conduct to discuss the possibility of removing that hold.
Can I get a copy of my file?
Generally, the office of student conduct does not make a copy of the records, although the student is welcome to review his or her file. Contact the office of student conduct to make an appointment to review your file. In complying with FERPA, the office of student conduct has up to 45 days to make copies of files under certain circumstances.
I was the victim of a violation. Do I have to participate in a hearing?
If the case is forwarded to the office of student conduct for a hearing, the victim may be invited to play a role in the process. Most victims serve as the primary complainant in the case. Minimally, the victim would serve as a witness. This is appropriate because the victim will often have the most helpful observations about an incident, and also because an accused student has the right to face their accuser. This opportunity for access to accurate information and the ability to face an accuser are fundamental elements to a fair process. Due to the confidentiality provided by FERPA, the outcome of hearing, including sanctions, are not generally made available to a victim (or others), except as allowable by law.