4.1.5.3 Student Conduct Procedures & Student Rights

The purpose of this policy is to establish student conduct procedures to guide the fair and uniform enforcement of the Responsibilities listed in 4.1.5.2. These procedures are applicable to any student or student organization when charged with a violation of the Responsibilities. These procedures allow for fact finding and decision making in the context of an educational community and encourage students to accept responsibility for their own actions. The intent is to provide adequate procedural safeguards to protect the rights of the individual student and the legitimate interests of the University.

 JURISDICTION

All students are members of the University community. The University reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community and will address all violations of the Student Code of Conduct that occur on University premises. Students, faculty, staff and individuals not associated with the University may submit complaints regarding alleged violations that may have occurred on campus or off campus for review and action by the University. All complaints of alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct shall be made in writing to the Student Conduct Officer.

 The University may initiate student conduct proceedings for off-campus incidents when:

  1. Hazing is involved. (See #5, under Responsibilities).
  2. The violation is committed while:
    1. Participating in a University-sanctioned or sponsored activity; or
    2. The victim of the violation is a member of the University community; or
    3. The violation constitutes a felony under state or federal law; or
    4. The violation adversely affects the educational, research, or service function of the University.

 FAILURE TO COMPLY

Failure to comply/respond as directed by the Student Conduct Board, a Student Conduct Officer, or the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs on any matter including, but not limited to, a request to meet concerning an issue or a notice concerning or alleging a violation of the Student Code of Conduct may result in the immediate placement of a hold on the involved student’s records.

Further, sanctions up to and including suspension or expulsion may be imposed in the student’s absence should the student fail or refuse to comply/respond. Failure to comply with sanctions imposed by the Student Conduct Board, a Student Conduct Officer, or the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs will be a further violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND MEDIATION (CR)

The purpose of Middle Georgia State University’s Conflict Resolution (CR) process is to assist in the resolution of disputes at their lowest level whenever possible. Conflict in an academic environment is a natural phenomenon, but constructive (i.e. less adversarial, more collaborative) methods of conflict resolution are sometimes difficult.

Campus Mediation Process

If students believe that they have a dispute which remains unresolved after their own attempts to resolve the matter, they might consider contacting the Office of Student Affairs. The Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs or designee will screen your issue to determine if mediation is the proper course of action.

If mediation might help remedy the situation, then the Office of Student Affairs will refer the conflicting parties to a designated mediator/facilitator on campus.

The mediator/facilitator will meet with the conflicting parties to discuss the dispute and facilitate the discussion. The mediator helps people examine their situation in terms of personal needs and interests. Disputants reach their own resolution (a fair, equitable, and workable agreement that satisfies everyone); it is not one mandated by the mediator.

Should the mediation fail to reach an acceptable resolution, either party may next proceed to utilize one of the existing complaint, grievance, or legal procedures for redress.

Campus Mediation is not appropriate for grade disputes and most disputes involving sexual harassmen, sexual misconduct, or acts of physical assault.

Additional information about the University’s Conflict Resolution Program is available online.

 

INITIATION AND EVALUATION OF COMPLAINT OF ALLEGED VIOLATION

Regardless of how an institution becomes aware of misconduct, it shall ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial review and resolution of complaints alleging student misconduct. Where a report of student misconduct has been made to the appropriate department and/or person, the institution shall review the complaint to determine whether the allegation(s) describes conduct in violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct. If the reported conduct would not be a violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct then the report should be dismissed. Otherwise, a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and review shall be conducted into each complaint received to determine whether charges against a student should be brought.

Throughout any investigation and resolution proceedings, the respondent shall receive notice of the alleged misconduct, shall be provided an opportunity to respond, and shall be allowed to remain silent during the investigation and resolution process, without an adverse inference resulting. If the respondent chooses to remain silent, the investigation may still proceed and policy violation charges may still result, and may be resolved against the respondent. Further, unrelated charges and cases shall be investigated separately, unless the respondent consents to having them aggregated.

The following policies and procedures are aligned with University System of Georgia policies as outlined in the Board of Regents Policy Manual 4.6 

  1. Complaint of alleged violations shall be submitted in writing to the Office of Student Affairs and should include as much of the following information as possible:
    1. Type of alleged violation.
    2. Name and ID number of the person alleged with the violation.
    3. Date(s), Time(s), and Location(s) of the alleged violation.
    4. Name(s) and contact information of any individual(s) with knowledge of the incident.
    5. Whether any supporting evidence or documentation of the violation has been preserved.
    6. Whether a criminal complaint has been made in relation to the incident.
  2. Complaints must be submitted within fifteen (15) University business days after detection of an alleged violation unless special conditions for delay can be documented.
  3. In instances where the charges are disputed, the Student Conduct Officer or Student Conduct Investigator will make an initial determination as to whether there is sufficient basis to believe that a violation of the Code of Conduct may have occurred. The Student Conduct Officer or Investigator will interview the complainant and/or witnesses or to request additional information from the complainant.
    1. The need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Clery Act shall be assessed, in conjunction with appropriate University offices, in compliance with federal law.
  4. Where the complaint is related to academic misconduct, Procedures for Adjudication of Academic Misconduct will be followed.
  5. Where the complaint is related to alleged sexual and/or Title IX violations (including but not limited to items 3b through 3f under Part II: Responsibilities), the University’s Sexual Misconduct policy will be followed.
  6. Where the alleged misconduct is related to discrimination or harassment, the Student Conduct Officer will consult with the Affirmative Action Officer to determine whether an affirmative action investigation is warranted.
  7. In cases of non-academic infractions and when it is determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant charges of a violation, the Student Conduct Officer will arrange a meeting (preliminary conference) with the student charged with an alleged violation.
    1. At this preliminary conference, the student will be provided with the following:
      1. A written explanation of the charges.
      2. Review of the evidence on which charges are based and names of all witnesses.
      3. A review of all due process rights and student conduct procedures.
      4. An opportunity to review charges, evidence and proposed sanction, to respond to the charges and to select from Adjudication Options.
    2. A request for a Student Conduct Board hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) University business days of the request.
      1. In cases where the potential sanction may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions are to be held “in abeyance” (temporary halt or inactivity), the University shall follow the guidelines for “Procedures for Alleged Violations Involving Suspension or Expulsion” as noted below.
    3. The student charged with the alleged violation shall have a minimum of one (1) University business day (Monday-Friday) after the preliminary conference to advise the Student Conduct Officer of his/her plea and choice of adjudication options, if applicable.
  8. Confidentiality – Where a complainant or alleged victim requests that his or her identity be withheld or the allegation(s) not be investigated, the Student Conduct Officer (in coordination with other institutional offices) will consider whether or not such a request can be honored while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory institutional environment. The University generally cannot guarantee confidentiality.   Further, by honoring a request for confidentiality, both the University’s ability to respond fully to the complaint and the University’s ability to appropriately adjudicate the respondent may be limited.
  9. Retaliation - Anyone who, in good faith, reports what he or she believes to be a violation of the Code of Conduct, or who participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any student conduct investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation.   Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with a student conduct investigation should immediately contact the Vice President of Student Affairs.   Any person found to be engaged in retaliation in violation of the student conduct policy shall be subject to student conduct action.
  10. False Complaints/Statement - Individuals are prohibited from intentionally giving false statements to an institution official.  Any person found to have intentionally submitted false complaints, accusations, or statements, including during a hearing, in violation of this Policy shall be subject to appropriate conduct action (up to and including suspension or expulsion) and adjudicated through the student conduct policy.
  11. Amnesty – Students should be encouraged to come forward and repot violations of the law and/or student code of conduct notwithstanding their own improper use of alcohol or drugs.  Any student(s) who voluntarily and in good faith reports information to college or university faculty or staff prior to an investigation concerning use of drugs or alcohol will not be voluntarily reported to law enforcement; nor will information that the individual provides be used against the individual for purposes of conduct violations.  Nevertheless, these students may be required to meet with staff members in regard to the incident and may be required to participate in appropriate educational programs.  The required participation in an educational program under this amnesty procedure will not be considered a sanction.  Nothing in this amnesty procedure shall prevent a university staff member who is otherwise obligated by law (the Clery Act) to report information or statistical data as required.
  12. Not all matters covered under this policy will necessarily involve alleged victims; however, where they are involved, it should be noted that a complainant will not always be the alleged victim but instead may be a third-party witness.   The University may respond to issued raised by third-party complainants (such as referrals by police) or discovered by staff or through its own investigation.

ADDITIONAL PROCEDURES FOR ALLEGED VIOLATIONS INVOLVING SUSPENSION OR EXPULSION

Where the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions were to be held “in abeyance”, such as probationary suspension or expulsion) the institution’s investigation and resolution procedures must provide these additional, minimum safeguards:

  1. The charged student shall be provided with written notice of the complaint/allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, possible sanctions, and available support services. The notice shall also include the identity of any investigator(s) involved. Notice shall be provided via University email.   Where applicable, a copy shall also be provided to any and all alleged victims via the same means.
  2. Upon receipt of the written notice, the charged student shall have three (3) University business days to respond in writing. In that response, the charged student shall have the right to admit or deny the allegations, and to set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and documents – either written or electronic – in support. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct.
  3. Based on this response, the investigation shall consist of interviews of the charged student, any alleged victims (where applicable) and witnesses, and the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other steps as appropriate. The investigator should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator shall also keep a record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation.
  4. The investigation shall be summarized in writing in an initial investigation report and provided to the charged student and any alleged victims (where applicable) in person or via email. This summary should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions.
  5. To the extent the student is ultimately charged with any violation, he or she shall also have the opportunity to respond in writing.   The charged student’s written response to the charge(s) shall be due within three (3) University business days from the date of the initial investigation report.   The charged student’s written response should outline his or her acceptance or denial in response to the charge(s), and where applicable, his or her defense(s), and the facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A nonresponse to the charge(s) by the charged student will be interpreted as a denial of the charge(s).
  6. The investigator shall conduct further investigation and update the investigative report as warranted by the charged student’s response.
  7. A copy of the final investigative report will be provided to charged student and any alleged victims before any hearing.   The final investigative report will be provided to the Student Conduct Board panel or hearing officer during the hearing. The investigator may testify as a witness regarding the investigation and findings, but shall otherwise have no part in the hearing process and shall not attempt to otherwise influence the proceedings outside of providing testimony during the hearing.

PROCEDURES FOR ADJUDICATING CASES OF ACADEMIC Misconduct

Academic misconduct strikes at the heart of the educational process. Faculty members have the right and responsibility to demand honesty in all academic pursuits and to report all cases of academic misconduct to the Student Conduct Officer. This process protects the academic integrity of the institution and guarantees that the due process rights of all students are protected. Students accused of academic misconduct have the right to have their case heard in a fair and impartial manner with all the safeguards available within the documented and approved student conduct processes. The following procedures are designed to adjudicate situations involving alleged academic misconduct, recognizing the interest of each of the parties involved:

  1. When an instructor suspects that a case for academic misconduct might be made, he or she should immediately contact the Office of Student Affairs, who will advise the instructor of the appropriate next course of action.
  1. If there is evidence sufficient to warrant a charge, the following steps will occur:
    1. The instructor will be the first to attempt to adjudicate the case by presenting the evidence (Student Infraction Form and all supporting documents) to the student. When presented with charges by the instructor, the student will:
      1. accept responsibility for the charge(s) and allow the instructor to levy a sanction (consistent with the course syllabus), or
      2. deny the charge(s) and request a meeting with a Student Conduct Officer, who will discuss options related to a formal investigation and hearing, as explained later in this section.
    2. After the above steps have been completed, the instructor will forward all materials to the Office of Student Affairs for further adjudication of the case. Student conduct proceedings in accordance with the Hearing Process as defined later in this section will apply, if the student denies the charges and requests a formal hearing.
    3. In cases adjudicated by an instructor when the student admits responsibility, all materials will be forwarded to the Office of Student Affairs for inclusion in the student’s conduct file and the student conduct database. 
  1. Upon a finding or acceptance of responsibility, the following sanction will be imposed:
    1. If the instructor has published a minimum academic sanction for academic dishonesty in the course or in a written syllabus or other document distributed to members of the class, this minimum sanction will be followed.
    2. In the absence of a published minimum sanction, the student will receive, at a minimum, a grade of zero for the work involved. 
  1. In addition to the sanction of the instructor or hearing body, for a first offense, a period of “Student Conduct Probation” (see Sanctions) may be imposed by the Student Conduct Officer. 
  1. If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct as a second offense, the minimum sanction will be:
    1. A minimum grade of “F” in the course
    2. Student Conduct Probation for a defined period of time, by the Student Conduct Officer. 
  1. If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct after a second offense, the minimum sanction will be:
    1. A minimum grade of “F” in the course
    2. Suspension from the University for a defined period of time, not to exceed two (2) full academic semesters, may be added at the discretion of the Student Conduct Officer and/or the hearing body.
    3. Other sanctions greater than those listed may be recommended to the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, or his/her designee, for further actions. 
  1. If a student is found not responsible of academic misconduct, the hearing body will refer the paper, assignment, or test to the appropriate department head/school dean who will facilitate a resolution concerning a fair grade for the work in question.

 

PROCEDURES FOR ADJUDICATING CASES INVOLVING RECOGNIZED STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS (RSOs)

Should a complaint be filed against an RSO, a Student Conduct Officer will conduct an investigation, a hearing, if necessary, and the Vice President of Student Affairs, may impose the following sanctions, if necessary:

  • Cancellation of recognized status.
  • Imposition of monetary fines, withholding or withdrawal of allocated COA funds and or Dues Account funds.
  • Imposition of restitution for damages.
  • Removal of any of the RSO’s officers or members from the RSO or its activities.
  • Restriction of any of the privileges or rights enjoyed by the RSO.

An RSO may appeal any finding and/or sanction imposed provided relevant grounds for appeal are cited. See Appeal Procedures, 2b. Written notification of the decision to appeal and the grounds for appeal must be received by the Student Conduct Officer within two (2) University business days after the original decision is communicated to the RSO. The Student Conduct Officer will convene an Appeals Board not involved with the original hearing. Appeal proceedings will begin within five University business days of the receipt of the written notification from the student. The Student Conduct Officer will be responsible for notifying the RSO of the outcome of the appeal within two (2) University business days of the conclusion of the appeal proceedings. This is the final appeal at the institutional level.

The right of provisional organizations to operate may be revoked upon an adverse finding by the Student Conduct Officer, in conjunction with the Director of Student Engagement. In cases of revocation of provisional status, there is no institutional appeal of the decision.

 

DUE PROCESS AND STUDENT RIGHTS

When a student is charged with violating the rules and regulations of the University, disposition of the case will be according to the Constitutional requirements of due process. These rights include entitlement to: 

  1. A written copy of the charge(s). 
  1. A fair and impartial hearing. 
  1. Know the nature of the evidence against them and names of witnesses scheduled to appear. 
  1. Present evidence and witnesses in their behalf. Statements from character witnesses will be accepted only in instances in which the individual(s) providing the information was present during the event(s) in question and/or has direct knowledge of the event(s) in question. 
  1. Be accompanied at a hearing by an advisor. The accused student shall have the right to use an advisor (including an attorney) of his or her choosing, and at his or her own expense, for the express purpose of providing advice and counsel. The advisor may be present during meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process at which his or her advisee is present. The advisor may advise his or her advisee in any manner, including providing questions, suggestions, or guidance on responses to any questions of the advisee, but the advisor shall not participate directly. The advisor cannot actively participate in the hearing or ask questions of the witnesses or the hearing body. The advisor's role is to advise the student and observe the proceedings. 

In addition to an advisor, the accused student may request the presence of up to two (2) family members during the investigatory and/or resolution process.   Family members shall be expected to behave in the same manner as the advisor, as noted above.

Similarly, the complainant may also be accompanied by an advisor, who shall also be expected to behave in the manner outlined above. 

  1. Be present at the hearing during the presentation of any evidence or material on which a decision will be made. If the student fails to attend the hearing, the hearing will be held in the student's absence. 
  1. Remain silent and refrain from answering questions without inference of guilt. 
  1. Submit questions for witnesses to the Student Conduct Officer, who, in cases involving adjudication by the Student Conduct Board hearing panel serves as Chairperson of the panel. The Chairperson will determine if the charged student’s questions are appropriate and if the charged student’s questions will be posed verbally or in writing. 
  1. An audio recording of the hearing will be made by the Chairperson of the hearing panel. The deliberation/sanctioning phase of the proceeding will not be taped. The charged student will be provided, upon request, a copy of the hearing recording. Written transcripts of the hearing will not be available. 
  1. A decision based solely on the evidence presented. 
  1. A written notice of the results of the hearing and an explanation of the decision and sanction assessment. If a student is found not to be in violation of the charge(s), all related documents and records will be destroyed. 
  1. Appeal the finding and/or sanction. 

 

ADJUDICATION OPTIONS

The Student Conduct Officer will present the student charged with violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct with a written document describing the charges filed against him/her. The student will respond in one of the following ways to each charge: 

  1. Admission of responsibility for the violation(s) and waive the right to a hearing and an appeal. The Student Conduct Officer will determine appropriate sanction(s). 
  1. Denial of responsibility for the charge(s) and request a hearing. 

METHODS OF ADJUDICATION

  1. Student Conduct Board panel hearing.
    1. Members of the Board will serve as a panel for resolving alleged Student Code of Conduct infractions involving students. Each Student Conduct Board panel will be composed of three (3) voting members: one (1) faculty member, one (1) staff member, and one (1) student member.
    2. The Student Conduct Officer serves as non-voting Chairperson of the hearing panel. It is the responsibility of the Student Conduct Officer to provide orientation and support for the hearing body.
      1. Per BOR Policy 4.6.5.2, the individual(s) tasked with investigating allegations of student misconduct shall not be directly responsible for training student conduct panel/board members of appellate body members. Training shall follow BOR recommendations and may be conducted with an approved trainer from outside the University community.
    3. Administrative Hearing
      1. Academic Misconduct - The Vice President of Student Affairs, an ex officio member of the Student Conduct Board, shall serve as the hearing body for all academic misconduct cases when the accused student has not requested a hearing by a panel in a timely manner and/or has not responded to attempts to adjudicate.
      2. Behavioral Misconduct – The Vice President of Student Affairs shall serve as the hearing body for all behavioral misconduct cases in which the possible sanctions of suspension or expulsion are not involved or for cases involving suspension or expulsion when the charged student does not request a hearing by a panel of the Student Conduct Board in a timely manner.
        1. Prior to imposition of any sanction involving a student grade, the Vice President of Student Affairs, or his/her duly appointed designee, shall consult with the Provost or his/her duly appointed designee. 

 

ABSENCE OF ACCUSED OR LACK OF COOPERATION

If the student is absent from the University community while a student conduct case is pending or if a student declines to participate in the student conduct process, the student is not absolved of responsibility. 

Students who have been properly notified of a scheduled hearing, and who fail to appear at the hearing after proper notice has been given, will have their cases adjudicated in absentia at the scheduled hearing time and will be bound by the findings. 

NOTIFICATION

In all cases relative to written notification of students, such notification will be considered complete once a message has been sent to the student’s University e-mail address contained in the Banner Student Information System. Notification may be sent to the student’s mailing address, upon request. 

THE HEARING PROCESS/RESOLUTION

In no case shall a hearing to resolve charge(s) of student misconduct take place before the investigative report has been finalized or before the charged student has had an opportunity to respond in writing, unless the charged student has chosen to go through an informal process or otherwise provided a written waiver of rights to these procedures. Further, unrelated charges and/or cases shall be heard separately unless the charged student voluntarily consents to the charges/cases being heard jointly. 

Where the charged student indicates that he or she contests the charges, and once the investigative report has been finalized and copies provided to the charged student and any alleged victim (where applicable), the case shall be set for hearing; however, the alleged victim (where applicable) and charged student may have the option of selecting mediation as a possible resolution in certain student conduct cases where they mutually agree, except where deemed inappropriate by the Vice President of Student Affairs, or his/her designee. 

The focus of the Hearing Process in student conduct proceedings shall be determining the responsibility of those accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct. Hearings are not open to observers. Decisions shall be based upon the preponderance of all available evidence in each case. This means the evidence does not have to be enough to free the mind from a reasonable doubt but must be sufficient to incline a reasonable and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than to the other.   However, any decision to suspend or expel a student must also be supported by substantial evidence during the hearing. Student Conduct Board hearings are not legalistic proceedings and formal rules of evidence do not apply to the investigatory or hearing/resolution process. 

Additionally, the following standards will apply to any such hearing: 

  1. If an accused student denies responsibility for alleged violation(s), and where a case is not or cannot be resolved through mediation, the charged student shall have the option of having the charge(s) heard either by an administrator (hearing officer) or a student conduct panel. The hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) University business days after the accused student requests it and a written notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing, shall be provided to the charged student and any alleged victim (where applicable) at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. Notice of the hearing shall be provided via institutional email, and/or alternative method, as necessary. Hearings will be held during normal University business hours on the Cochran or Macon campuses. The charged student may request, in writing, a continuance from the Student Conduct Officer if circumstances are such that a delay is warranted. The charged student will be notified, in writing, of the date, time, and location of the rescheduled hearing.   

The Student Conduct Officer will serve as nonvoting Chairperson of the Student Conduct Board hearing panels and members of the Student Conduct Board hearing panel will selected based on availability. All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Student Conduct Officer. 

  1. The Complainant or alleged victim(s) has the right to be informed of these hearing procedures and the right to be present throughout the presentation of witnesses and evidence. The Student Conduct Officer will inform the Complainant of these rights prior to the hearing. 

The records of the student conduct process and of the sanctions imposed, if any, shall be considered to be the education records of both the Complainant and the accused student(s) because the educational career and chances of success in the academic community of each may be impacted. 

  1. The accused student will enter a plea to the charge(s) before the hearing body. 
  1. The Student Conduct Officer will remind the accused student and each witness present of the importance of providing truthful and accurate information during the hearing process. If a witness fails to tell the truth during student conduct proceedings, additional student conduct action may result. 
  1. At the hearing, the Student Conduct Officer will present the evidence and facts of the case to the hearing body. The Student Conduct Officer will present witnesses in support of the case against the accused student. 
  1. The hearing body may question all witnesses or ask for clarification from the Student Conduct Officer or any witness. 
  1. The accused student may submit questions for witnesses to the Student Conduct Officer. The Student Conduct Officer will direct appropriate questions to the witnesses.   The Student Conduct Officer will determine if the accused student’s questions are appropriate and if the accused student’s questions will be posed verbally or in writing. 
  1. When the case against the accused student has been presented, opportunity will be given for the accused student to make a statement regarding the alleged violations. The hearing body or the Student Conduct Officer may question the accused student if he or she chooses to make a statement. 
  1. The charged student shall have the right to present witnesses and evidence to the hearing officer or panel, as well as to ask questions of any witnesses. At the determination of the hearing officer or panel, this questioning may take place through the submission of written questions to the hearing officer or panel for consideration; however, the parties’ advisors may still actively advise and assist in drafting those questions.   The hearing officer or panel shall ask the questions as written, and will limit questions only if they are unrelated to determining the veracity of the charge leveled against the charged student. In any event, the hearing officer or panel shall err on the side of asking all submitted questions, and must document the reason for not asking any particular question(s). 

Statements from character witnesses will be accepted only in instances in which the individual(s) providing the information was present during the event(s) in question and/or has direct knowledge of the event(s) in question. 

  1. Where the hearing officer or panel determines that a party or witness is unavailable and unable to be present due to extenuating circumstances, the hearing officer or panel may establish special procedures for providing testimony from a separate location.   In doing so, the hearing office or panel must determine there is a valid basis for the unavailability, ensure proper sequestration in a manner that ensures testimony has not been tainted, and make a determination that such an arrangement will not unfairly disadvantage any party. Should it be reasonably believed that a party or witness who is not physically present has presented tainted testimony, the hearing officer or panel will disregard or discount said testimony. 
  1. The accused student will have an opportunity to make a statement at the conclusion of the hearing process. This closing statement by the accused student will precede the closing statement of the Student Conduct Officer. 
  1. The hearing body may recall any witness after testimony, if clarification is needed. 
  1. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Student Conduct Officer will call for adjournment. 
  1. Concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the Complainant, the accused student, and/or other witness during the hearing may be accommodated by providing separate facilities, by using a visual screen, and/or by permitting participation by telephone, videophone, closed circuit television, video conferencing, videotape, audio tape, written statement, or other means, where and as determined in the sole judgment of Student Conduct Officer to be appropriate. 

FINDINGS OF THE HEARING BODY

After hearing both sides of the case, the hearing body will, in a closed session, deliberate and reach a decision regarding the responsibility of the accused student for violation of the Student Code of Conduct. 

In cases heard by a Student Conduct Board panel, a majority vote is necessary to reach a decision regardless of the quorum. 

ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

  1. Upon finding a student responsible for an academic violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the following sanction shall be imposed:
    1. If the instructor has published a minimum sanction for academic dishonesty in the course or in a written syllabus or other document distributed to members of the class, this minimum sanction shall be followed.
    2. In the absence of a published minimum sanction, the student shall receive, at a minimum, a grade of zero for the work involved.
    3. A higher sanction, not limited to the grade of “F” for the course, may be entered at the discretion of the hearing body.
    4. In addition to the sanction of the instructor or hearing body, the additional sanction of Student Conduct Probation may also be imposed.
  2. If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct as a second offense, the minimum sanction will be:
    1. A minimum grade of “F” in the course.
    2. Student Conduct Probation for a defined period of time, by the Student Conduct Officer.
  3. If a student is found responsible for academic misconduct after a second offense, the minimum sanction will be:
    1. A minimum grade of “F” in the course.
    2. Suspension from the University for a defined period of time, not to exceed two (2) full academic semesters, may be added at the discretion of the Student Conduct Officer and/or the hearing body.
    3. Other sanctions greater than those listed may be recommended to the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs, or his/her designee, for further actions. 
  1. If the hearing body finds the charged student responsible for the violation, the Student Conduct Officer will read the finding and the sanctions into the audio recording and will forward the finding to the instructor and his/her Dean/Chair.
  2. Additionally, the Student Conduct Officer will communicate the finding to the adjudicated student in writing within two University business days (Monday-Friday) of the conclusion of the hearing.
  3. Information related to the student and the case will be kept on file in the Office of Student Affairs and/or in a secure Student Conduct Database.
  4. If a student is found not responsible for a violation of academic misconduct, the hearing body shall refer the paper, assignment, or test to the appropriate Dean. In consultation with the instructor, the Dean shall facilitate a resolution concerning a fair grade for the work in question. In such cases, no record of academic misconduct will remain on file. 

BEHAVIORAL MISCONDUCT

  1. If the hearing body finds the charged student responsible for the violation, the Student Conduct Officer will read the finding and the sanctions into the audio recording and will forward the finding to the complainant.
  2. Copies of the finding and sanction may also be forwarded to other relevant offices (i.e. Campus Police, Residence Life, and Bursar’s Office).
  3. The Student Conduct Officer will read the sanction into the audio recording and will be responsible for notifying the adjudicated student of the finding and the sanction in writing within two (2) University business days (Monday-Friday) of the conclusion of the hearing.
  4. Information related to the student and the case will be kept on file in the Office of Student Affairs and/or in a secure Student Conduct Database.
  5. If a student is found not responsible for a violation of behavioral misconduct, the hearing is adjourned and no official records will be kept in the Office of Student Affairs.   Notations of the charge and outcome may be kept in a Student Conduct Database for reference purposes only. 

Following a hearing, both the charged student and the complainant/alleged victim (where applicable) shall be provided a written decision via institution email of the outcome and any resulting sanctions. The decision should include details as to how to appeal (as noted below). Additionally, the written decision must summarize the evidence in support of the sanction.   The same form will be completed, regardless of whether the student opts for a student conduct panel or an administrative hearing. 

At the request of the adjudicated student, the Student Conduct Officer will meet with the student and provide clarification of the finding and sanction. At this time and at the student’s request, information on and assistance with the appeal procedures as outlined in the Student Handbook will be provided. Adjudicated students are advised not to contact or communicate with members of the panel about the hearing or its outcome. 

The finding and sanctions are considered final unless appealed by the adjudicated student. 

In cases where no decision can be reached, the Student Conduct Officer may appoint another hearing panel or drop the charges. 

SANCTIONS

In determining the severity of sanctions or corrective actions the following should be considered: the frequency, severity, and/or nature of the offense, history of past conduct, an offender’s willingness to accept responsibility, previous institutional response to similar conduct, and the institution’s interests. The student conduct panel or hearing officer will determine sanctions and issue notice of the same, as outlined above. 

The following are student conduct sanctions that may be imposed upon the student. This list is not exhaustive and the University reserves the right to modify or enlarge the list at any time depending on the nature of the violation(s). 

Upon imposition of a sanction, the student is notified by email to his/her student email account (and by postal mail to the address listed in the Banner Student Identification System, upon request). In cases of suspension or expulsion, the student (and his or her parents, if the student is a minor) will be notified by certified mail. 

  1. Student Conduct Warning 

A Student Conduct Warning is an official written reprimand. 

  1. Student Conduct Probation
  2. Student Conduct Probation is a period of time during which further violations of the rules and regulations of the University may result in suspension or expulsion. Probation may be imposed for a period of time ranging from the remainder of the semester in which the violation occurred to the remainder of the student's matriculation at the University. Restrictions may be imposed in conjunction with probation and may include:
    • Community Service Hours – Students may be required to complete work at a designated location for a specified number of hours and provide documentation of completed hours.
    • Educational Programs – Students may be required to attend programs on special topics related to the offense. This does not include academic courses for credit.
    • Restricted presence on campus – Students may be restricted on campus except to attend classes or complete coursework.
    • Special Projects – Students may be required to write papers and/or present programs on topics related to the offense.
    • Substance Abuse Assessment – Students may be required to submit to an assessment for substance abuse. Periodic drug testing, not to exceed two random tests per semester for a minimum of three semesters, may be required.
    • Restitution – Students may be required to reimburse the University or other persons, groups, or organizations for damages incurred as a result of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
    • Confiscation – The University reserves the right to confiscate goods used or possessed in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Items confiscated by Campus Police will not be returned as those items may be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings.
    • Fines – Students may be required to pay a Student Conduct fine in relation to violations of alcohol and marijuana violations, or damage to property.
    • Delays in obtaining administrative services and benefits from the institution – The University may place administrative holds on student records which may prevent release of transcripts, delay registration, and prevent graduation or receipt of diploma. 
  1. Loss of Student Office/Leadership Position

Students in elected/appointed positions may lose the position as a result of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. 

  1. Forced Withdrawal

Students may be withdrawn from the academic course(s) within which the violation of the Student Code of Conduct occurred or from the institution as a whole without receiving academic credit for course(s), fees, or refund. 

  1. Change of Grade

Students found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct may receive a change in grade for the course, test, paper, or work in which an academic irregularity occurred. 

  1. Removal from the Residence Life Program

Students found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct may be removed from the Residence Life Program with no refund of fees. Additionally, these students may be responsible for payment of any remaining costs associated with the housing contract. Removal from the Residence Life program does not necessarily equal suspension or expulsion from the University. 

  1. Temporary or Permanent separation of the Parties

Students may receive a change in classes, reassignment of residence, no contact orders (issued either by the court system or by the Student Conduct Officer), limiting geography of where parties can go on campus.   If a student is temporarily suspended from a particular course, not to exceed two (2) class meetings, the student is still responsible for any material covered during the temporary suspension. 

  1. Interim Suspension

Interim suspensions – that is, suspensions while the investigation and adjudication process are proceeding – should only occur where necessary to maintain safety, and should be limited to those situations where the charged student poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property.   In making such an assessment, the institution should consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the campus community; the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability of potential injury; and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk. 

Before an interim suspension is issued, the institution must make all reasonable efforts to give the charged student the opportunity to be heard on whether his or her presence on campus poses a danger. If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension shall take effect immediately.   When requested by the charged student, a hearing to determine whether the immediate suspension should continue will be held within three (3) business days of the request. 

Where the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions were to be held “in abeyance”, such as probationary suspension or expulsion) the institution’s investigation and resolution procedures must provide these additional, minimum safeguards: 

  1. The charged student shall be provided with written notice of the complaint/allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, possible sanctions, and available support services. The notice shall also include the identity of any investigator(s) involved. Notice shall be provided via University email.   Where applicable, a copy shall also be provided to any and all alleged victims via the same means.
  2. Upon receipt of the written notice, the charged student shall have three (3) University business days to respond in writing. In that response, the charged student shall have the right to admit or deny the allegations, and to set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and documents – either written or electronic – in support. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct.
  3. Based on this response, the investigation shall consist of interviews of the charged student, any alleged victims (where applicable) and witnesses, and the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other steps as appropriate. The investigator should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator shall also keep a record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation.
  4. The investigation shall be summarized in writing in an initial investigation report and provided to the charged student and any alleged victims (where applicable) in person or via email. This summary should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions.
  5. To the extent the student is ultimately charged with any violation, he or she shall also have the opportunity to respond in writing.   The charged student’s written response to the charge(s) shall be due within three (3) University business days from the date of the initial investigation report.   The charged student’s written response should outline his or her acceptance or denial in response to the charge(s), and where applicable, his or her defense(s), and the facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A nonresponse to the charge(s) by the charged student will be interpreted as a denial of the charge(s).
  6. The investigator shall conduct further investigation and update the investigative report as warranted by the charged student’s response.
  7. A copy of the final investigative report will be provided to charged student and any alleged victims before any hearing.   The final investigative report will be provided to the Student Conduct Board panel or hearing officer during the hearing. The investigator may testify as a witness regarding the investigation and findings, but shall otherwise have no part in the hearing process and shall not attempt to otherwise influence the proceedings outside of providing testimony during the hearing. 
  1. Suspension

A decision of suspension terminates the student's status as an enrolled student for a specific period of time and prohibits the student from attending classes. A suspended student may not participate in University sponsored activities or be present on campus without specific authorization from the Student Conduct Officer. The Student Conduct Officer may further impose a summary suspension in cases where a suspended student chooses to violate the terms of his/her suspension. Suspended students may not receive academic credit of any kind from another institution if earned during their period of suspension from the University. Students may not receive a refund of fees. 

  1. Expulsion

A decision of expulsion constitutes a permanent severance of the student’s relationship with the University. An expelled student may not enter any part of the campus without specific authorization from the Student Conduct Officer and/or Campus Police. Students shall not receive a refund of fees. Students shall receive the grade of “F” in any classes that he or she is enrolled. 

  1. Revocation of Admission and/or Degree

Admission to or a degree awarded by the University may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of University standards in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation. 

  1. Withholding Degree

The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Code, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any. 

A student responsible for any type of violation of the Student Code of Conduct will not be permitted to avoid sanction by withdrawing from a class or the University. An administrative hold may be placed on any student who does not respond to requests to adjudicate alleged violations. Students who withdraw from a class before adjudication occurs may be added back to the class and the appropriate sanction applied. 

Other than expulsion or revocation or withholding of a degree, sanctions shall not be made part of the student’s permanent academic record, but shall become part of the student’s conduct record. 

Students expelled or suspended for any behavioral reason will be entered into the University System of Georgia’s Student Disciplinary Actions Reporting System (SDARS) and are subject to review by other institutions within the University System. 

Students who are suspended or expelled from the University for any length of time should be aware of the impact this action may have on the following:

  1. Tuition, Residence Hall costs and fees (suspension does not forgive financial obligations).
  2. Student financial aid including HOPE scholarship and institutional scholarships.
  3. Athletic participation and eligibility.
  4. Health insurance.
  5. Participation in the Residence Life program.
  6. Meal plans.
  7. Use of University resources and access to University facilities/campuses.
  8. Immigration status for international students.
  9. Veterans and dependents of veterans.
  10. Internships, co-ops, and study aboard opportunities.
  11. Class withdrawal. 

This is not an exhaustive list. 

ADMINISTRATIVE WITHDRAWALS
Students may be administratively withdrawn from classes and/or the University, after consultation with appropriate University personnel, when it is determined that because of physical, mental, emotional, or psychological health conditions, the student:

  1. poses a significant danger or threat of physical harm to the student or to the person or property of others, or;
  2. interferes with the rights of other members of the University community or with the exercise of any proper activities or functions of the University or its personnel, or;
  3. is unable to meet institutional requirements for continued enrollment as defined in this Student Code of Conduct or other policies and/or publications of this University.

Students may make a request in writing for an appropriate hearing prior to the final decision concerning continued enrollment. 

 

APPEALS

Students adjudicated under the Student Code of Conduct have the right to appeal decisions of the Student Conduct Officer and Student Conduct Board panel, and the Vice President for Student Affairs provided specific relevant grounds for appeal are cited.  

APPEAL PROCEDURES

Where the sanction imposed includes a suspension or expulsion (even for one held in abeyance), the following appellate procedures will be provided to the charged student. The charged student shall have the right to appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds:

  1. To consider new information, sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the original hearing.
  2. To allege a procedural error within the hearing process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the hearing, including, but not limited to, whether any hearing questions were improperly excluded, whether the decision was tainted by bias, or whether there was a violation of the student’s due process.
  3. To allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information. 

Appeals may be made by the charged student for the above reasons in any case where sanctions are issued by a hearing panel or administrative officer – even those in which such sanctions are held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion. 

The appeal must be made in writing, and must set forth one or more of the bases outlined above, and must be submitted within five (5) University business days of the date of the final written decision. 

The appeal should be made to the Chief Student Conduct Officer, as designated by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The appeal shall be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with the charged student or any alleged victim(s) will be held. 

The Chief Student Conduct Officer will convene an Appeals Panel comprised of three members (one faculty, one staff, and one student) of the Student Conduct Board, who were not involved in the original hearing. Appeal proceedings will be held within five (5) University business days of the receipt of the written notification from the charged student. 

The Appeals Panel will make one of the following decisions: 

  1. Affirm the original finding and sanction.
  2. Affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of lesser severity.
  3. Remand the case back to the original decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect.
  4. Reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. 

The Chief Student Conduct Officer shall then issue a decision in writing to the charged student and any alleged victim(s) within five (5) University business days of the Appeal Panel’s decision. 

The Appeal Panel’s decision may be appealed in writing within five (5) University business days (as determined by the date of the decision letter) to the President of the institution solely on the grounds set forth above. 

The President will make one of the following decisions: 

  1. Affirm the original finding and sanction.
  2. Affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of greater or lesser severity.
  3. Remand the case back to the original decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect.
  4. Reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. 

The President’s decision shall be issued in writing to the charged student and any alleged victim(s) within (5) University business days.   The President’s decision shall be the final decision of the institution. 

Should the charged student wish to appeal the President’s decision, he or she may appeal to the Board of Regents in accordance with the Board of Regents Policy 4.7 and Board of Regents Policy 6.26

RECUSAL/CHALLENGE FOR BIAS

Any party may challenge the participation of any institution official, employee, or student panel member in the process on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the Vice President for Student Affairs, the institution’s designee setting forth the basis for the challenge, as the Vice President for Student Affairs is not responsible for the investigation or adjudication of any alleged violation. The written challenge should be submitted within a reasonable time after the individual reasonably should have known of the existence of the bias. The Vice President for Student Affairs will determine whether to sustain or deny the challenge, and if sustained, appoint a replacement. 

RECORDS MANAGEMENT

Student conduct records (including, but not limited to written findings of fact, transcripts, audio recordings, and/or video recordings), except those pertaining to suspension or expulsion, will be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years after the student’s date of graduation or last date of attendance. Records involving suspension or expulsion will be retained permanently. 

INTERPRETATION AND REVISION

Any question of interpretation or application of the Student Code shall be referred to the Student Conduct Officer or his or her designee for final determination, unless otherwise determined by the President. 

The Student Code shall be reviewed at least every three (3) years under the direction of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Any revisions shall be subject to the approval of the President.