Any member of the University community who observes a violation is expected to report the behavior. They may report an alleged violation of University policies or the Code of Student Conduct & Community Standards if that member observed the violation or had personal knowledge of it through means other than hearsay. Most often within the residence halls, the hall staff, Residence Hall Director (RHD's) or Resident Success Assistants (RSA's) will be the individuals who address student behavior along with members of the University‘s Department of Public Safety. Each RSA will document alleged violations through an incident report system and submit to the RHD. Upon receipt of the report, the appropriate RHD will begin the process of meeting with the student. Students should pay attention to their University e-mail address, as this is the official means for notification of the alleged charges and hearing. In the process of resolving the violation(s), the RHD attempts to educate the student's involved about proper student conduct and behavioral community standards. The RHD will assess and determine how to proceed. The RHD may determine that (1) the student has learned from the situation, the behavior need not be addressed further, (2) the RHD needs to meet with the student to discuss behavior in greater detail, or (3) the student is to be addressed about the behavior through the formal student conduct process and have a student conduct hearing with an assigned Student Conduct Hearing Officer.If warranted, a conduct officer will assess educational sanctions to students for situations that they review. A complete list of available sanctions can be found in the Code of Student Conduct.
After meeting with a student about behavior once, in cases when a sanctioned student failed to complete their sanction or for situations that may be subject to expulsion, the appropriate administrative hearing officer will submit incident reports to the Dean of Students for a formal hearing. For violations occurring outside the residence halls or instances that they are contacted, a Public Safety Officer(s) may/or may not resolve the violation and document the incident as necessary. A copy of all incident reports involving students, filed by Public Safety, will be forwarded to the Director of Student Conduct & Community Standards for review and when necessary, forwarded to the appropriate conduct for a formal hearing. Students are expected to model behavior consistent with the University's mission and expectations outlined in the core values of the Code of Student Conduct at all times. Behaviors that diverge from these set expectations, whether occurring on or off campus, are subject to the University's student disciplinary process which operates independently of any criminal proceedings.
Any violation of University's behavioral guidelines forwarded to a conduct officer will be handled in a manner which ensures due process in accordance with the standards outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. Final determination shall be made on the basis of whether it is more likely than not (or preponderance of the evidence) that the alleged student violated the Code.
The University reserves the right to involve parents and guardians in disciplinary consideration. Students under the age of 23 are considered to be financially dependent upon parents/guardians unless the Dean of Students is otherwise notified.
Criminal Process vs. Student Conduct Process
- There are significant differences between the campus conduct process and the criminal justice procedures. The processes are not mutually exclusive. A student may be arrested and charged in the criminal justice system as well as under the Code of Student Conduct & Community Standards (Code). Alternatively, charges can occur for alleged violations of the Code, which may not be violations of the law.
- The student conduct process is not comparable to a trial. Rather a university hearing is educational in nature. Students and their adviser should expect a supportive and non-adversarial environment during the hearing process.
- Students are entitled to one adviser throughout the process, which may be a SHU administrator, faculty member or student of their choice provided that individual is not legal counsel/attorneys, parents/family members. This individual may not address the conduct hearing Officer, but may consult freely with the student. Students are expected to speak for themselves at all times during the process. Any advisers disregarding these rules will be asked to leave any meeting or hearing.
- The standard of evidence in determining whether a student is in violation is not as high as that of the criminal process. At Sacred Heart University, we use a standard of “preponderance of evidence,” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Legal rules of evidence do not apply in campus conduct cases. The hearing officers will gather and utilize any information that is relevant, including hearsay or third party testimony.
- Student conduct cases are confidential, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law. Conversely, criminal records are public records, and information may be shared with the community at large. Findings of “responsible” in the campus conduct process will not result in any criminal record. Additionally, findings of “guilty” or “not guilty” in the criminal system often have no bearing on the outcome of student conduct proceedings.
- The student conduct process is intended to be educational, not punitive. Our goal is to help the student to better understand the impact of his or her actions and to help him or her take steps towards repairing the harm done to the university community. Sanctions are not predetermined, but rather are developed with consideration given to the individual circumstances of the case and any previous disciplinary history. Overall, the student conduct process is much less formal than criminal proceedings.
Parts adapted from the ASCA (formerly ASJA) publication, THE STUDENT CONDUCT PROCESS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, copyright 2006.