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Office of Student Conduct

To whom does The Golden Rule apply and when does it apply?

The Golden Rule student handbook applies to all undergraduate students, graduate students, students pursuing professional studies, and student organizations of the university, including those attending its regional campuses and off campus instructional sites. The Rules of Conduct are expectations for student behavior regardless of the location of the alleged offense.

I just received a letter from the Office of Student Conduct. What is it / what should I do?

Your letter outlines your alleged violation and the corresponding charges. The charges match up with the language found in the Rules of Conduct in The Golden Rule. The letter also lists the dates of the alleged offense. Please contact us to confirm your appointment.

What happens if I don't make an appointment or skip my appointment?

A hold will remain on your record. Over time, you may be dropped / withdrawn from your classes and the hold will persist on your record. It is in your best interest to attend your appointment with the OSC staff member.

What will happen at this appointment?

At this meeting, you will sign a Student Rights checklist that outlines your rights throughout the student conduct review process. The conduct procedures will be explained to you, and a hearing process will be selected to resolve the allegation(s). The OSC staff member will explain the procedure and the different types of hearings which may be chosen to resolve the complaint. The OSC staff member will allow you the opportunity to inspect and review any information available in your case and discuss the incident.

What are the hearing options?

A majority of cases are resolved in an informal administrative hearing, though the student has a right to a formal hearing before a hearing officer or panel. In an informal administrative hearing, the student can resolve their case with the OSC staff member by accepting responsibility for violating the Rules of Conduct. The OSC staff member recommends sanctions for the student to the Director of the Office of Student Conduct (OSC).

Formal hearings occur when a student does not accept responsibility or the alleged offense in considered a major violation as deemed by the OSC staff member. There are two types of formal hearings: administrative and panel. Administrative hearings have one faculty/staff member and panel hearings have two (2) students and two (2) faculty/staff members. A hearing is a chance for you to provide any information you know about the alleged violation. After the incident is discussed, a decision will be made on whether or not a violation occurred. If it has been decided that a violation occurred, then a recommendation for sanctions will be made.

Where can I locate an advisor to help me through the hearing process?

The Office of Student Conduct maintains a list of faculty, staff and students who are trained to assist you through the hearing process. Please ask an OSC staff member for the advisor list.

What if I am found in violation for violating the rules?

If you are found in violation for violating the rules, you will be assigned sanctions, which could include educational activities (including classes, reflection or research papers, interviews), restitution, restrictions, community service, etc. Additionally you will be assigned a Disciplinary Warning, Probation, Suspension or Expulsion if you are found in violation. Please see The Golden Rule for further description of these sanctions.

Our sanctions range depending on:

  • The nature of the violation (what you did)
  • Prior violations/previous disciplinary history (what have you done before)
  • Mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation (unusual circumstances)
  • Your motivation for the behavior (why you chose to do what you did)
  • Sanctions involved in cases involving similar violations (precedent)
  • The developmental and educational impact (how is this going to affect you)

What if I disagree with the decision?

You have a right to appeal a decision made by the Director of OSC. Following is the appeal form: Appeal Form. You have seven calendar days to appeal from the day a decision is rendered to you. Follow this link to the Student Conduct Appeals Process: Appeals Within the Student Conduct Review Process

What happens if I get caught for an act of Academic Misconduct?

If you get caught for an act of Academic Misconduct, your instructor has the freedom to apply one or more of the following outcomes. Typical outcomes include:

  • Academic penalty (usually an F) on the assignment
  • Academic penalty for the course (usually an F)
  • Your instructor may send your case to the Office of Student Conduct for informational purposes only. If there are multiple reports, your case will automatically investigated and adjudicated.
  • Your instructor may send your case to the Office of Student Conduct for formal adjudication.
  • If your case goes through the Student Conduct Review Process, you will likely receive a suspension or expulsion from the University.

For further information on academic misconduct, please go to The Golden Rule section on Student Academic Behavior.

What happens to my student records if I am found in violation of the Rules of Conduct in The Golden Rule?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act makes a student's disciplinary record part of the educational record. The University will not release or permit access to educational records and personally identifiable information kept on a student except as otherwise permitted by law and this rule. This record may be accessed by the student, the parent of a minor or dependent student, with the student's authorization, or in response to a court order. This educational record may also be shared with other members of the academic community with a legitimate need to know. Decisions resulting in suspension and/or expulsion will be noted on the student's academic transcript.

Reprinted from the ASJA Law & Policy Report, No. 26 | Copyright: ASJA & Gary Pavela: All rights reserved

How should disruptive behavior in the classroom be defined?

"We define 'classroom disruption' as behavior a reasonable person would view as being likely to substantially or repeatedly interfere with the conduct of a class. Examples include repeated, unauthorized use of cell phones in the classroom; persistent speaking without being recognized; or making physical threats."

How can disruptive behavior be discouraged?

"Classroom disruption is rare. The likelihood of encountering it can be further minimized by stating reasonable expectations in advance. For example, if you want beepers and cell phones turned off in class, say so in your syllabus, and on the first day of class. Explain the reasons for your classroom expectations, and invite student comments and suggestions. You will find that students are often the strongest supporters of classroom decorum. Most students want to help you create a positive and productive learning environment."

How should I respond when classroom disruption occurs?

"Faculty members have broad authority to manage the classroom environment. One court compared teachers to judges, since both teachers and judges focus on relevant issues, set reasonable time limits, assess the quality of ideas and expression, and make sure participants are heard in an orderly manner."

"While their ultimate goals may be different, judges and teachers need to exercise authority with compassion and self-restraint. It's best to correct innocent mistakes and minor first offenses gently."

"Also, if you believe inappropriate behavior is occurring, consider a general word of caution, rather than warning or embarrassing a particular student (e.g., a good approach is to say 'we have too many private conversations going on at the moment; let's all focus on the same topic')."

"If the behavior in question is irritating, but not disruptive, try speaking with the student after class. Most students are unaware of distracting habits or mannerisms, and have no intent to be offensive or disruptive."

"There may be rare circumstances when it is necessary to speak to a student during class about his or her behavior. Correct the student in a courteous manner, indicating that further discussion can occur after class."

"Overall, key factors in responding to apparent disruptive or uncivil behavior are clarity in expectations; courtesy and fairness in responses (making sure students have an opportunity to discuss the incident with you in a timely manner); and progressive discipline, in which students (in less serious cases) are given an opportunity to learn from the consequences of their misbehavior, and to remain in the class."

What should I do in the face of persistent disruption?

Current university policy states that a student who persists in disrupting a class may be directed by the faculty member to leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period and can refer the student to the Office of Student Conduct for judicial action. The student should be told the reason(s) for such action, and be given an opportunity to discuss the matter with the faculty member as soon as practicable. Prompt consultation should also be undertaken with the department chair and the director of the Office of Student Conduct.

When should I call the police?

"You should call the campus police whenever you believe there is any threat of violence or other unlawful behavior-including a student's refusal to leave a class after being told to do so. Any threat of violence should be taken seriously. Err on the side of caution and notify the police as soon as you can."

Should I act immediately or wait for a pattern of misbehavior to occur?

"It's often a mistake to assume disruptive behavior will stop on its own. A fundamental tenet of progressive discipline is to document and respond to "small" incidents sooner rather than later. Early intervention-sometimes in the form of a 'behavioral contract' developed by the director of the Office of Student Conduct or designee and a referring teacher-might help define needed boundaries for a student. Generally, teachers who state reasonable expectations early, and enforce them consistently, help students avoid the harsher consequences that flow from more serious infractions later."

What confidentiality standards should I follow?

"The University will take appropriate disciplinary action in cases of proven classroom disruption. Consequently, you should discuss allegations against named or identifiable students only with individuals who have some role in the disciplinary process. Examples of people who usually have such a role include your department chair and the director of the Office of Student Conduct. A general rule to keep in mind is that you should refrain from sharing any personally identifiable information from student education records (like grades, or reports of misconduct) with any person (including a colleague) who has no educational interest in the information. If in doubt, confer with legal counsel."

Do students have First Amendment rights in the classroom? If so, what are the limits to those rights?

"The Supreme Court has held that students at public institutions do have limited rights to freedom of expression in the classroom. In *Tinker v. Des Moines School District,* 393 U.S. 503 (1969) the court held that the non-disruptive wearing of armbands in a classroom to protest the Vietnam war was protected by the First Amendment: 'First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment,' the Court concluded 'are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'"

"First Amendment rights, however, are not absolute. The Court in *Tinker* also affirmed 'the comprehensive authority of the States and of school officials, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools.'"

"The college classroom isn't a 'public forum' like a city street or a park. Teachers can define the course agenda, set and limit topics for discussion, give grades that reflect a student's knowledge or reasoning, and maintain order in the classroom. They should freely perform these important functions, as long as they refrain from unlawful discrimination, or seek to punish students solely for expressing unpopular viewpoints pertinent to the course."

What if a disruptive student claims the disruptive behavior is the result of a disability?

"The fact that a student may have a disability should not inhibit you from notifying appropriate authorities (including the campus police, as needed) about disruptive behavior. Students with or without disabilities need to know they must adhere to reasonable behavioral standards. Setting and enforcing such standards may encourage students with disabilities to obtain needed therapy, and to take prescribed medications."

"Disability claims and accommodation requests should be discussed with Student Accessibility Services. There is an established procedure students should follow if they have a disability and seek a reasonable accommodation."

"Generally, while different rules apply in the elementary and secondary school setting, pertinent federal agencies and the courts have made it clear that an institution of higher education does not have to tolerate or excuse violent, dangerous, or disruptive behavior, especially when that behavior interferes with the educational opportunities of other students. Colleges and universities may discipline a student with a disability for engaging in misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on a student without a disability."

Will I be liable for defamation if I call the police or refer a student for disciplinary action and it's later determined I made an honest mistake?

"The risk of liability for making such a report is virtually nil. There are strong public policy reasons to support and protect individuals who make good faith reports of wrongdoing to appropriate officials, even if those reports later prove to be mistaken. Common law (or statutes in some states) give people who report misconduct to proper authorities a "qualified privilege." That means they cannot be held liable for defamation unless their report was made in bad faith, with knowledge the information they provided was false, or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity."

Source:
ASJA LAW AND POLICY REPORT
Wednesday July 18, 2001, No. 26

The above suggested "questions and answers on classroom disruption" for faculty members first appeared in *Synfax Weekly Report,* and are revised here.

ASJA Law and Policy Report (LPR) is written by Gary Pavela (gpavela@oz.umd.edu) and published weekly (except mid-December to mid-January, and the month of August). Copyright: ASJA and Gary Pavela: All rights reserved. Further transmission within ASJA member institutions is permitted, if the author and ASJA are credited as the source. Index, archives, and additional source materials will be available to ASJA members at http://asja.tamu.edu. The information and comments provided here are designed to encourage discussion and analysis. They represent the views of the author-not ASJA-and do not constitute legal advice. For legal advice the services of an attorney in your jurisdiction should be sought.

Will I be notified if my student is charged with violating the Rules of Conduct?

We may notify parents if their student has an alcohol violation or a drug violation as allowed by the amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This act governs the release of educational records. We encourage students to speak with their parents and believe that as adults, students should take responsibility for initiating the conversation. We also encourage students to sign releases that allow us to speak with parents about a situation, so that we can all work together to resolve it and help the student. In addition, you may be notified if there is an imminent risk to the student's health, safety, or welfare.

What is my role in the university student conduct process? How can I help my student?

You can help to guide the student through the process and be supportive while holding the student accountable to your expectations and the university's. You can also help identify and provide necessary interventions, such as alcohol or drug evaluations, anger management, and others, so that your student can be successful at UCF. Allow and expect the student to set appointments, attend meetings, and fulfill sanctions. It is usually not helpful to the educational development of the student, or resolution of the matter, for you to take over the process from your student.

Can I attend the student conduct meeting and/or hearing with my student?

The student may have an advisor present, who may be a parent/guardian. The role of the advisor is to support and advise the student but not to speak for or represent the student. You may whisper to the student or write the student notes.

Do I need to hire an attorney to represent my student?

No. Some students choose to have an attorney accompany them. An attorney may serve as an advisor but the student may not be represented by counsel. Once again, attorneys like parents/guardians cannot speak on behalf of the student, but can whisper or write notes to the student.

How are sanctions decided?

Sanctions are determined by considering the following factors: nature of the violation, the student's role in the incident, the effect of the incident on others and on the student, the student's developmental and educational needs, and the student's prior disciplinary record. Mitigating and aggravating circumstances are considered.

My student was placed on disciplinary probation? What does that mean?

Probation lasts for a specific period of time, and is usually implemented by semesters. It is notice to the student that any violation of the Rules of Conduct or the conditions of probation committed during the probationary period will subject the student to further action, with a likely result of suspension or expulsion. A HOLD is placed on the student's account for recording keeping purposes.

Can my student appeal a disciplinary decision?

The university has one level of appeal. The appellate officer is the Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Services. That appeal can then be submitted on three basis: 1) Severity of sanction; 2) Process was not followed; and/or 3) New information available that was not available at the time of the original hearing. For more information, see: goldenrule.sdes.ucf.edu.

Does the outcome go on my student's record?

If a student is suspended from the university, a notation will be placed in the student's academic transcript for the period of the suspension. If the student is expelled, a notation will remain on the transcript permanently. For any student receiving a sanction less serious than suspension or expulsion, notations are not placed on the academic transcripts.

A student's conduct case record will be maintained in the Office of Student Conduct. The case record of students found responsible for charges against them, with sanctions less than suspension or expulsion, will generally be maintained in the Office of Student Conduct for seven years from the calendar year of record, after which they are destroyed. The case record of a student who has been placed on Disciplinary Suspension or Expulsion will be permanently maintained as official records by the Office of Student Conduct.

Will a disciplinary record keep my student from getting into law school, graduate school, etc.?

A disciplinary record does not automatically exclude a student from further study, jobs, etc. That usually depends on the type or severity of misconduct in which a student is involved. A disciplinary record may lead an admissions office to more closely scrutinize the student's application. We will only release information about a student's disciplinary record to another school or potential employer as allowed by the records policy, or with the permission of the student.

Why is a particular rule or policy in place?

Policies are designed to support the university's educational mission. They are meant to support a safe environment where people can work, study, and live without undue interference. They are also designed to build and support the academic and social community, teach students responsibility and interdependence, as well as promote moral and ethical development.

My student was charged criminally. Why go through Student Conduct too?

The criminal justice system and the Rules of Conduct are not mutually exclusive. By virtue of being a student, your student is held responsible for upholding the standards of behavior in the Golden Rule Student Handbook, as well as public laws.

This incident happened off campus. Why is the university involved?

The university has an interest in maintaining a safe community and appropriate standards of conduct for its students. This includes both on-campus and off-campus behavior, which can have an impact on the university community and the university mission.

I know my student could not have done this; I didn't raise my student that way. So why is my student being charged?

Developmentally this is a period of exploration, experimentation, and testing for students. They may be in a period of transition from late adolescence to adulthood. They may also be away from home and the daily influence of their parents for the first time. As students are testing the beliefs and values they learned at home, they may make choices that are inconsistent with these values. Such testing is part of the developmental process and is normal. However, students must also learn that the choices they make may not be healthy and may have consequences.

I have been asked to represent a student facing student conduct review. How do I establish this with the University?

Students are expected to represent themselves in all student conduct matters, whether or not the student is also facing other proceedings related to the same conduct. Students may have an advisor present during all student conduct proceedings, but the advisor is restricted from any participation in the proceedings. This advisor may be an attorney or a friend or another person. In addition, the Office of Student Conduct will correspond at all times directly with the student, and not through any third party.

UCF Golden Rule Student Handbook Section 2J: "The student may have an advisor of the student's choice present at the hearing. The Director of OSC shall maintain a list of impartial advisors and resources available to the student for preparing his/her defense. The advisor shall assist the student in the disciplinary process but shall not speak for or present the case on behalf of the student."

My client is charged with a crime off-campus. Can I get the proceedings delayed until the criminal matter is resolved?

The student conduct process at the University of Central Florida is not attempting to determine whether or not a student has violated the law; the University is trying to determine whether or not a student violated University rules and regulations. As such, the goals and the means of the criminal justice process and the student conduct process are dissimilar. No delays are given to students to accommodate their interests in the criminal process.

Isn't the student conduct process double-jeopardy for someone also facing criminal charges?

No. "Double-jeopardy" is a concept that applies solely to criminal proceedings. Criminal proceedings do not in any way offer exemptions from civil or administrative proceedings.

Why isn't my client being afforded the same protections that he or she would receive in the criminal process?

The student disciplinary system is not judging criminal guilt, but rather whether a student has violated campus rules. The courts have long recognized the differing interests of the University community from that of the criminal justice process. Although there are basic concepts of fairness that apply to student disciplinary proceedings, the student disciplinary system serves administrative and educational functions relating to the mission of the University of Central Florida. Many of the intricate rules and processes found in a court system are not necessary for the campus. The process at UCF is less complex than the court system.

The incident took place off campus. What interest does the University have?

UCF Golden Rule Student Handbook, Section 2B: " The UCF Rules of Conduct shall apply to all undergraduate students, graduate students, students pursuing professional studies, and student organizations of the university, including those attending its regional campuses and off campus instructional sites, and shall be deemed a part of the terms and conditions of admission and enrollment of all students. These rules apply to all students for conduct that occurs on university premises which includes all land, buildings, facilities, and other properties in the possession of or owned, used or controlled by the university."

"These rules also apply for all off-campus conduct when alleged violation(s) of the UCF Rules of Conduct are committed, regardless of location. The university reserves the right to pursue any violation of conduct when that conduct adversely affects the interest(s) of any part of the university community."

It is important to remember that: “Any person who accepts the privilege extended by the laws of this state of attendance at any public postsecondary educational institution shall, by attending such institution, be deemed to have given his or her consent to the policies of that institution, the State Board of Education, and the Board of Governors regarding the State University System, and the laws of this state.” Florida Statutes §1006.61(1).

What is the "burden of proof" in the student conduct process?

Decisions with respect to student responsibility for alleged actions are made based on a preponderance of the evidence; that is, the hearing panel or administrator will determine what is "more likely than not" to have taken place.

What motivation do I have as an attorney to comply with the University's rules and procedures?

As an attorney for the student, it is your responsibility to abide by all expectations established by the Florida Bar Association with respect to the autonomy of administrative processes. Additionally, the University expects that you will behave professionally and cooperate fully with the student disciplinary process; should your actions become disruptive to the process, you will be asked to remove yourself from the process.

What jurisdiction does the university have to conduct student conduct proceedings?

State universities are directed to establish student conduct procedures and student conduct codes, and the University of Central Florida has done just that in establishing its student conduct process. "Any person who accepts the privilege extended by the laws of this state of attendance at any public postsecondary educational institution shall, by attending such institution, be deemed to have given his or her consent to the policies of that institution, the State Board of Education, and the Board of Governors regarding the State University System, and the laws of this state." Florida Statutes 1006.61(1). " Each student in a community college or state university is subject to federal and state law, respective county and municipal ordinances, and all rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, the Board of Governors regarding the State University System, or the board of trustees of the institution." Florida Statutes 1006.62(1). "Violation of these published laws, ordinances, or rules and regulations may subject the violator to appropriate action by the institution's authorities." Florida Statutes 1006.62(2).

Are there resources available for me to learn more about the law as it relates to campus disciplinary proceedings?

In addition to the statutory citations above, we recommend the following resources for attorneys:

  • The Law of Higher Education (4th ed.) by William A. Kaplin and Barbara A. Lee, (2006)
  • "Harnessing the 'Spirit of Insubordination': A Model Student Disciplinary Code, " by E. Stoner and K. Cerminara, 17 J. Coll. & Univ. Law 89 (1990).

In addition, a review of the following significant cases may be useful:

  • Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 95 S. Ct. 729 (1975)
  • Dixon v. Alabama, 294 F. 2d 150 (5th Cir. 1961)
  • Esteban v. Central Missouri State College 415 F2d. 1077 (8th Cir. 1969)
  • Gorman v. Univ. of Rhode Island, 837 F.2d 7 (1st Cir. 1988)
  • Osteen v. Henley, 13 F.3d 221 (7th Cir. 1993)
  • Danso v. University of Connecticut, 919 A.2d 1100 (Conn. Super. 2007)
  • Matar v. Florida Int'l Univ., 944 So.2d 1153 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)
  • Student Alpha ID No. Guja v. Sch. Bd. of Volusia County, 616 So.2d 1011, 1012 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993)

Who can file an incident report?

Any member of the UCF community can submit an incident report: students, faculty, staff and community neighbors. Incident reports can be submitted in regards to violation of Rules of Conduct by an individual student or by a UCF student organization. When completing the incident report, please be sure to fill out the contact information portion, located near the top of the Incident Report Form, as the Office of Student Conduct can not accept anonymous reports.

How do I file an incident report with UCF’s Office of Student Conduct?

If you have witnessed an incident and/or feel that a student may have violated any of UCF’s Rules of Conduct, please fill out an incident report on Office of Student Conduct website. If the incident required you to call the police, please indicate this as we frequently receive reports from local law enforcement. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us.

How will I know if this action or incident is a violation of UCF’s Rules of Conduct?

We recognize that many of our surrounding neighbors may not be familiar with our policies as they are not UCF students or alumni. The Office of Student Conduct website offers full access to the Rules of Conduct for your review. In the event that you are unsure, please submit your referral to the Office of Student Conduct so that it can be reviewed by a staff member. A staff member may contact you for additional details if necessary.

What information should I include in the incident report?

It is important to be as detailed as possible when submitting a report. Include the sequence of events as you witnessed and any relevant background information you have available. Please try to include specific times and dates, names of those involved in the incident (those committing the alleged violation as well as potential witnesses) and detailed descriptions of individuals involved.

What if I do not know the student's full name?

If the situation does not require immediate assistance from emergency response personnel, you should talk to your neighbors / homeowners association. They may be able to provide you with the information you need.

What is a PID?

A PID is a personal identity number assigned to a student by the University for identification purposes. This information is not required to submit an incident report.

What happens after I submit an incident report to the Office of Student Conduct?

All submitted incident reports are reviewed by the Director of the Office of Student Conduct to determine if sufficient information is present to support the claim of a conduct violation. A staff member from the Office of Student Conduct may contact you for more information regarding the incident. The student will then be notified of the referral and asked to attend a meeting with a staff member who will share the incident report with the student.

How long does UCF’s student conduct process take?

Once referrals are received, they are reviewed by the Director and assigned to an OSC Staff Member who will initiate the process. A letter will be sent to the student identifying their charges and a scheduled appointment to meet with the Staff Member, usually within 2-3 weeks. Upon meeting with the Staff Member, students may be forwarded to a formal hearing. The entire process can take from 4-6 weeks, depending upon the availability of the individuals involved.

Am I responsible for presenting the case?

No, you will not be required to present a case, though you may be asked to participate as a witness in regards to the incident during a formal hearing. It will be the responsibility of the Office of Student Conduct to present evidence on behalf of the University in support of the charges. It will be the responsibility of the charged student to present evidence on their own behalf.

What is my role as a witness?

As a witness, you may be asked to answer questions by the Student Conduct Review Board. (The Student Conduct Review Board consists of trained faculty, staff and students who conduct hearings then recommend decisions and sanctions to the Director of OSC.)The charged student will also have an opportunity to ask questions regarding the alleged incident. This portion of the student’s formal hearing process typically lasts 20-30 minutes. We highly encourage you to provide your statements in-person; however, we can conduct this portion of the formal hearing via phone.

When and where will Student Conduct hearings take place?

Most hearings are held Monday-Thursday from 8am-5pm. Hearings typically last 1-2 hours, but witnesses are not required to stay for the entire hearing. All hearings will take place at the Office of Student Conduct.

Will I be notified of the hearing outcome?

You will NOT be notified of the final outcome of a hearing, unless you are the victim of personal abuse [included within Rule of Conduct #4 Harmful Behavior] or sexual assault, as defined in the Clery Act. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA, all prevents us from disclosing information regarding students, unless it has been determined there is an educational need to know.