Purpose of the Student Conduct System
As an educational institution, Susquehanna University seeks to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of its students as scholars and citizens.
Therefore, Susquehanna is committed to student engagement in achievement, leadership and service both in and out of the classroom. Choosing to join the Susquehanna University community requires each member to recognize and adhere to a Code of Student Conduct emphasizing personal responsibility, awareness of how one’s actions affect the community, and one’s personal growth both inside and outside the classroom. As positive community relations and personal responsibility continue to be valued off campus, the university campus should not be viewed as a sanctuary where its citizens avoid responsibility to observe civil law.
This Code of Student Conduct seeks to promote these qualities, both as a means to individual fulfillment and to guide Susquehanna students in productive, creative, and reflective lives of achievement, leadership, and service in a diverse and interconnected world. Thus, students are expected to exhibit high standards of behavior and concern for others. The university has established a Code of Student Conduct, as well as other rules and regulations, which individuals, groups of students, and student teams or organizations are expected to observe.
I was just documented. What happens next?
- A documentation means that someone believes a violation of the code of conduct has occurred.
- The documentation will be reviewed by the Dean of Students & Campus Life office. If there is a preponderance of evidence to support a violation, it will proceed to a conduct process.
I just received a letter notification saying I have a conduct process. What does that mean?
- This means that you were named as a respondent in a documentation.
- To view the letter you will need to log in with your student ID number.
- The letter will state if you are going to a Conduct Conference or a Hearing Board process. It will also note whom you can contact with any questions.
- The letter could also be an informal resolution that notes a violation occurred and that if you are documented again that a conduct process will take place.
- Make note of the day and time of your process. If you will not be able to meet at that time, it is important to reach out to the contact person to notify them of the conflict.
What if I don’t show up to my conduct process?
A conduct conference or University Conduct Board Hearing can be held in your absence and a determination made based on the reports and statements collected. You can be held accountable. Please contact the Dean’s Office to reschedule if the need arises. We want you to be engaged in the process and will work with your schedule.
What could possibly happen to me as a result of the conduct process?
- It is hard for a specific result to be given. Each case and meeting is different and depends on many different factors. Conduct is not an A + B =C process.
- When going through a conduct process there are many different sanctions possible and each case is weighed individually.
- A sanction can also be affected by past conduct history.
- The list of possible sanctions are found here.
Can someone come with me to my conduct meetings?
- Yes, we welcome you to bring someone that will help you through this process.
- We define this role as a Silent Support Person.
- Please note the only process that this person can be a parent/guardian or a lawyer is in our Sexual Misconduct and Gender Based Violence Hearing Board Process.
Will you tell my parents?
- FERPA is a law that directs us not to speak with parents about your student status unless you permit us or if there is a separation (interim or permanent) between you and the university.
- We do have a Parental Notification Policy that does tell you as a student when we would notify your parents.
Is this separate from a criminal process?
- Student Conduct processes should not be compared to a criminal process.
- While the University does uphold Federal, State, and Local laws our processes are separate.
- Our process is based on preponderance of evidence and not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The conduct process can move forward while a criminal process also is taking place.
Student conduct standards at Susquehanna University should not be equated to state or federal criminal Codes. Even in cases involving suspension or expulsion, our aims include education and student development as well as a just consequence. Our processes are focused on disciplined and courteous truth-seeking, not adversarial procedures. We conduct investigatory proceedings, conferences and hearings, not trials.
Students accused of Code of Student Conduct violations are entitled to the following:
- to be informed of the charge and alleged misconduct upon which the charge is based;
- an opportunity to offer a relevant response;
- an opportunity to call and pose questions for relevant witnesses;
- privacy, to the extent permitted by, and consistent with, applicable federal and state laws;
- to request that any person conducting a conduct conference or serving as a hearing board member or conduct officer be disqualified on the ground of personal conflict;
- to be considered not responsible of the charge(s) until determined responsible by a preponderance of the evidence; and
- to be supported throughout the Code of Student Conduct process.
Authority for Student Conduct
Ultimate authority for the administration of student conduct policies is vested in the Board of Trustees of Susquehanna University. Conduct authority may be delegated to University administrators, faculty members, committees and organizations as set forth in this Code of Student Conduct, or in other appropriate policies, rules or regulations adopted by the board.
Standard of Proof
The burden of proof that the University will utilize to determine outcomes for conduct cases is the preponderance of evidence (more likely than not). It is important to note that the burden of proof in the criminal justice system is different than that in the University’s conduct system, and outcomes may be different if a student participates in both processes.
How to Report
Any person may report a student, or a group of students, student team, or an organization suspected of violating this Code of Student Conduct to the Community Standards Officer or designee. The university utilizes a secure online reporting system that all campus community members can access via mySU. Reporting links can be found on the Student Life mySU site. Students may also report in person to a student or professional Residence Life staff member or to Campus Safety.
Those reporting cases are generally expected to serve as the complainant and to present relevant evidence in hearings or conferences. In cases that involve sexual misconduct or other egregious behavior that threatens safety of the community, the University may pursue the conduct process as the complainant.
If You Need to Report:
- Incident Reporting Form
- Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Reporting Form
- Bias Incident Reporting Form
- Hazing Concern Reporting Form
- CARE Reporting Form
Resources for Conduct Processes
The complainant and the respondent in a University Conduct Board may utilize resources such as pre-hearing meetings with a case manager; an advisor of their choice; or limited printed copies of the handbook. The Conduct Conference process and the Medical Amnesty Policy process do not necessarily utilize advisor roles.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Reasonable accommodations will be provided to students with disabilities in accordance with the applicable law. Students with disabilities who desire an accommodation in order to fully participate in the conduct process should contact the Director of Disabilities Services.
Interpretation of Regulations
The purpose of publishing student conduct regulations is to give students general notice of prohibited behavior. This Code of Student Conduct is not written with the specificity of a criminal statute.
The University reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety, educational objectives and well-being of the campus community and its individual community members. Information that leads the
Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students (hereafter may be referred to as the Vice President) or the Vice President’s designee to the determination that a student is a risk to harm others will be considered when determining future action. Such action may include pursuing disciplinary action through the Student Conduct System for any student, student organization, student team, or group of students’ violation of local, state or federal law — on- or off-campus, including university-sponsored activities or study away opportunities — that affects the university’s educational interests. These include upholding the University’s initiatives to maintain positive town/gown relations with the local community and educate students on the importance of assuming the consequences of one’s own actions. This can include taking action after a student has graduated or withdrawn from the University based on actions committed while the individual was a student at the University.
Investigations by Campus Safety
Campus Safety may conduct an investigation of a reported incident in order to secure more information prior to an incident being referred to the conduct process. The investigation will be conducted by Safety Specialists under the direction of the Safety Director or by the Investigator when appropriate. It is expected that all students comply with requests for interviews during an investigation and that all information provided is truthful and honest. Students documented in the initial report will be informed when the investigation begins and ends. The full investigation report will then be referred to the Office of Community Standards for review pending any conduct action.
Disciplinary Action while Criminal Charges Are Pending
Students may be accountable in criminal, civil, and university jurisdictions for acts that constitute violations of the law and of the Code of Student Conduct. Disciplinary action at the University will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident are ongoing, have been dismissed, or have been reduced.
In consultation with university officials, the Community Standards Office or designee may suspend a student from the university for an interim period or restrict participation in academic activities or other specific events. The interim measures shall become immediately effective without prior notice whenever there is evidence that the continued presence of the student at the university poses a substantial and immediate threat to self, to others or to the stability and continuance of normal university functions. Behavior that is egregious enough to negatively impact the larger community may also result in Interim Measures. Examples of Interim Measures include, but are not limited to, Interim Suspension from campus; relocation within or removal from the residential community; No Contact Orders; restriction from participation in events or activities; or restriction from attending courses. The university is not responsible for providing off-campus housing arrangements for students who are removed from campus.
Appeal of an Interim Measure
A student suspended on an interim basis may request that the interim measure be lifted by addressing the Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students or designee within forty-eight (48) business hours from the effective date of suspension in writing. In cases where a student is charged with violating the Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Policy, the complainant shall be informed of, and have an opportunity to respond to, any such request by the respondent. Every effort will be made to expedite the process to minimize any possible negative impacts on all involved parties. To lift an interim measure based upon a student’s request, the Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students must determine either that:
- there is a legitimate concern with the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, including the matter of their identity; or
- the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the continued presence of the student on university premises does not pose a substantial threat to others or the stability and continuance of normal university functions.
Standards of Classroom Behavior
The primary responsibility for managing the classroom environment rests with the faculty. Students who engage in any prohibited or unlawful acts that result in disruption of a class may be directed by the faculty member to leave the class for the remainder of the class period. Longer suspensions from a class or dismissal on disciplinary grounds must be proceeded by a University Conduct Board hearing.
The University reserves the right to notify parents and/or guardians of a student’s conduct in cases where there are violations of the Code of Student Conduct, if there is a severe and/or concerning incident, if the student’s status at the University is at risk (separation), if the student is placed on an interim suspension, or in cases where a student has been separated from the University due to conduct proceedings.
Advisor of Choice: Both complainants and respondents may be assisted during the conduct process by an Advisor of Choice. The choice whether to or not to invite an advisor of choice is the student’s decision. An Advisor of Choice can be any member of the university community (faculty, staff, students). Advisors of Choice cannot be an attorney, a parent, or legal guardian. An Advisor of Choice can help in preparation before the hearing. Additionally, advisors are able to communicate quietly and through written notes during the hearing; however, they are not permitted to speak formally during the hearing. Even if accompanied by an advisor of choice, the parties, and not the advisor of choice, must respond to inquiries from the presiding conduct officer and the hearing board. The University may remove or dismiss an advisor of choice who becomes disruptive or who does not abide by the restrictions on their participation, as determined by the university official conducting the hearing.
Case Manager: The professional staff member assigned to hold pre-hearing meetings with participants in a University Conduct Board hearing (complainant/respondent/witness) and who may be a resource for procedural questions to the participants prior to the hearing. The case manager does not advise the participants in decisions but provides information regarding procedures and helps the participants understand the process.
Conduct Conference: The process in which the allegations regarding a purported violation of the Code of Student Conduct are presented to the conduct officer (typically a designee of the Community Standards Officer) to determine if a violation(s) took place, the student accepts responsibility or is found responsible or not responsible for the violation, and, if responsible, what sanctions are appropriate. This meeting is between the conduct officer and the charged student(s).
Conduct officer: The individual conducting a Conduct Conference or chairing/facilitating a University Conduct Board hearing.
Complainant: The person(s) affected by a policy violation. There may be circumstances when the University will act as the complainant or in conjunction with another person as a co-complainant.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): Federal law passed in 1974 that defines education records and indicates who, and under what circumstances, an individual may have access to educational records.
Group of Students: A number of persons who are associated with each other, but who have not complied with University requirements for registration as an organization or do not have a specific membership or team identity.
No Contact Order: A directive issued to a student and signed by a university official restricting specified contact with another student or a member of the faculty or staff. The terms of the order are provided in writing and served on the student either electronically or in-person. It does not directly represent a finding of fault by any specific party rather is issued due to a concern for safety or a need to stop on-going or prevent future concerning behavior. It may be expanded, extended, or rescinded by the Title IX Coordinator, Community Standards Officer or designee.
Organization/Team: A number of persons who have complied with university requirements for registration or participate in a recognized university team or organization.
Personal property: An individual’s physical property or electronic property including electronic data or storage devices.
Pre-hearing Meeting: The meeting scheduled by the case manager with the respondent and/or complainant prior to the University Conduct Board hearing. The goal of this meeting is to review the University Conduct Board hearing process, the case file, the charges, and ensure that the respondent/ complainant is fully informed of the procedures leading up to the hearing; during the hearing; and appeal process.
Preponderance of evidence: The level of proof used to determine the outcome of an Informal Resolution Conference, Conduct Conference, or a University Conduct Board Hearing. This standard indicates that the evidence presented is 50.1% likely to be true. (This standard is lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”)
Respondent: The student charged with violating one or more of the University’s policies or state, federal or local law.
Sanction: An outcome imposed for accepting responsibility or being found responsible for one or more violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
Student: Any person enrolled or auditing classes at the university (on- or off-campus) or is matriculated in any university program, even if on break or off-campus at the time.
University: Susquehanna University and all of its schools, divisions, and programs (including programs for study away).
University Conduct Board Hearing: More structured process in which allegations of violations of the Code of Student Conduct are presented to a University Conduct Board to determine if violation(s) took place; a student accepts responsibility or is found responsible or not responsible for the violation; and, if responsible, what sanctions are appropriate. The Board determines responsibility and makes sanction recommendation to the Dean of Students who makes a final decision. The Board members may be faculty, staff or when appropriate students.
University Official: Any individual who is employed by Susquehanna University as a professional administrator, faculty member or staff member, which may include designated student employees.
University premises: Buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled or supervised by the university.
University sponsored activity: Any activity on or off university premises that is initiated or supervised by the university.
Witness: Either party may present witnesses who have relevant information to the outcome of the hearing. The investigator may meet with these witnesses to gather information and statements. Witnesses will only be present in the hearing at the beginning of the process and during their own statements.