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How many students find themselves in the Office of Student Conduct each year?
The Office of Student Conduct processes approximately 2,000 cases each year. This represents less than 10% of the total student population. First-year students make up the largest portion of this total. Our recidivism is very low; only about 15% of the cases constitute a second or third violation.
My student has talked about receiving sanctions? What are sanctions?
Sanctions are the consequences applied in a conduct cases. In each incident where a student accepts responsibility or is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct, that student will receive sanctions for that case. Sanctions are primarily educational, but may also have some disciplinary focus. Multiple violations of University policies may ultimately result in suspension from the University. One significant, serious incident may also result in suspension from the University. A record of all cases resulting in an outcome of responsible remains in a student’s file even after the term of the sanction has expired, and is considered when sanctioning subsequent cases of Code of Conduct violations.
How do you decide what sanctions will be applied in a case?
While each case is looked at individually, there are some sanctions that are usually applied for in certain circumstances. For example, a violation of the Alcohol Policy will typically include an educational intervention regarding alcohol use, (coordinated by Student Wellness and Health Promotion, the University’s wellness office). Similarly, a violation of the Academic Honesty Policy will result in an academic penalty and an educational intervention regarding academic standards and expectations. In addition, a fee is charged for most case and notice to the student’s parents or legal guardians may also occur.
Can a student receive more than one sanction for an incident?
While there are no absolute sanctions applied in every instance, sanctions are reflective of the nature and severity of an incident. Generally, most cases include both educational and administrative sanctions. Factors taken into consideration when deciding the appropriate sanctions for a specific case include the number of charges applied in an incident, the severity of each policy violation and the impact of the student’s behavior on the University community.
Also taken into consideration are the nature and timing of any prior cases. For example, a student who has had two alcohol violations within the same semester would receive different sanctions for the second case than a student who has two cases (one alcohol-related, one not) two years apart.
In all cases, education is the primary goal of any sanction applied. It is hoped that students will reflect upon the choices and decisions made in the situation, realize the impact these impacts had on both themselves and the community and determine changes that will ensure subsequent violations do not occur.
Do sanctions ever go away?
Student conduct records are cumulative over the course of their academic career and are maintained only until they graduate. In the case of an expulsion, the file is kept indefinitely. In certain circumstances, a student with only one conduct case may request that information regarding that incident not be disclosed outside the University of Delaware. For more information, please see the Limited Release of Records page.
If sanctions never really go away, why do some sanctions have a specific ending date?
The ending date of a disciplinary sanction indicates the length of the “active” period of that sanction. While a sanction is active, it is most important that a student is aware of all the policies and follows them, as another violation while a current sanction is active will result in more severe sanctions for the subsequent case. However, if a significant amount of time has passed since the ending date of f a sanction, that would be taken into consideration when deciding the sanctions for any subsequent violations.
For example, if a student is on active Deferred Suspension from the University and has another case, the student can expect to be suspended. However, if the student’s period of Deferred Suspension has been over for two years when another case happens, the student might be placed back on Deferred Suspension.
Sanction end dates are also important for certain University offices, who consider the students’ conduct record and status of sanctions when determining if the student is eligible for employment or participation in programs sponsored by the office.
What’s the difference between a suspension and an expulsion?
A suspension is a temporary removal (minimally one semester) from the University. Once the period of suspension is over, the student is eligible to re-apply to the University. An expulsion, on the other hand, is a permanent removal from the University. An expelled student is never eligible to re-apply to the University.
Are student conduct records included on my student’s transcript?
Most conduct records are NOT included on a student’s transcript, with a few exceptions.
A suspension or expulsion will be reflected with the specific dates that action is in place. If a suspended student re-enrolls following the suspension, the notation regarding the suspension will be removed. If a suspended student does not re-enroll, that notation will be remain. A notation of an expulsion will always remain in the transcript.
A serious academic honesty violation, which results in a failure in the course, will be reflected with a course grade of “X” with the “X” noting that failure was due to academic dishonesty. The “X” may be removed from the official transcript (and replaced with a grade of “F”) by the student completing the Academic Integrity Seminar offered by the Office of Student Conduct, which must be done prior to the student’s graduation.
How does a conduct record affect my student’s scholarships?
Generally speaking, a student conduct record does not affect scholarships, nor is conduct information on every student forwarded to the Student Financial Services. However, there may be some scholarships that do include a “conduct clause” which states that students will lose a scholarship if there are any disciplinary infractions. If your student currently has a scholarship or is applying for one, be sure to read all the information carefully. Finally, the academic penalty associated with cases of violation of the Academic Honesty Policy may result in the student’s GPA falling below the minimum needed to receive or maintain a scholarship.
When a student is suspended or expelled, this information is forwarded to the Office of Student Financial Services for their review.
How does a student conduct record affect my student’s application to graduate school?
While a student conduct record does not prohibit a student from applying to graduate school, it may be a factor considered when the school is deciding if the student will be accepted. Most graduate school applications ask about the student’s criminal or disciplinary history. Some schools request more information than others, so students should read each application carefully. Obviously, the student should be honest and accurate about any conduct history. Occasionally, a representative from a graduate school (most often law or medical schools) will contact the Office of Student Conduct to verify information included on an application or ask for more details. This information can divulged only if the student has waived their right to privacy. Most applications include this waiver in the “fine print” and by signing the application, the student waives their right to privacy.
When looking at the disciplinary record of a graduate school applicant, the admissions officer will typically consider the type of violation, time of the event and the outcome. A simple alcohol violation during the first two weeks of freshman year would be viewed much differently than an academic honesty violation in a senior-level major class. The more competitive the school to which the student is applying the more likely a conduct record might affect acceptance to that school.
Will my student’s faculty, dean’s office or academic advisor be informed of any student conduct proceedings?
Conduct information is not regularly forwarded to deans, advisors or faculty members (except in cases of academic honesty; in these situations, outcomes will be shared only with the reporting faculty member, so the appropriate academic penalty can be applied.) However, there are times when a dean, advisor or faculty member will contact the Office of Student Conduct inquiring about a student. When this occurs, information will be shared on a “need-to-know” basis. In most of these cases, the person is concerned about the student health or well-being and is trying to get a complete picture of the student’s behavior and participation on campus so as to best help the student.
Why weren’t we notified earlier, such as when the incident happened or before the pre-hearing?
We believe college is an opportunity for students to grow, not just academically, but personally as well. College gives students the opportunity to begin to learn how to live in “the real world” with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that. Ideally your student will confide in you when a situation involving conduct violations arises, and perhaps ask you for advice and support as they go through the student conduct process. If, however, your student decides to resolve the case without your assistance, thus increasing their independence and ability to resolve situations, that’s their choice.
As permitted by the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974, when a final outcome of responsible is reached in cases regarding alcohol, drugs or violence, or when students have placed their on-campus housing or education in jeopardy if they are found responsible for subsequent violations of the Code of Conduct, you will be notified with a letter from the Office of Student Conduct. This letter will include the charge(s) your student was responsible for violating, and a general discussion regarding the sanctions applied. If you have not already spoken to your student about the incident prior to receiving the letter, you can raise the issue with your student and offer support, advice and/or feedback.
Occasionally parents may be contacted before a case is resolved when it is believed the student is a danger to themself or others. In these rare circumstances, the combined efforts of you, the Office of Student Conduct staff and other University officials will benefit your student in addressing the situation.
What options are available to my student during a period of suspension?
While a student is suspended, they may continue educational pursuits at another college or university. Depending in which courses are taken, they may be transferred to the University of Delaware and be counted towards the student’s graduation total. Before taking any classes at another college or university, the student should consult an academic advisor at UD to be sure these courses will be accepted.
To re-apply to the University after a suspension, the student must contact the Office of Student Conduct and inform us of the intention to re-apply. The Office of Student Conduct staff will provide the student with information about the re-application process. The student should contact the Office approximately three weeks before the start of the semester the student wishes to re-enroll.
If my student participates in a hearing, can we accompany them?
If you have factual information regarding the incident, then you will be permitted to participate as a direct witness. Otherwise, you will not be allowed into the hearing. If you wish to come to campus to offer moral support, you may certainly do so.
Can our family lawyer be involved?
The student conduct process is an administrative one, rather than a legal one, so lawyers are generally not permitted. Legal procedures are different from the administrative student conduct process, and advice you receive from your attorney is likely to be inaccurate or not applicable. A student may consult an advisor if he or she has questions or concerns about the disciplinary process. A student conduct advisor is a member of the University community (typically a faculty or staff member). A list of our current, trained student conduct advisors is available here.
In the rare instance when a student is facing both conduct charges and felony-level criminal charges, an attorney may accompany the student to any meetings regarding the conduct process, but the attorney’s participation will be limited to instructing the student to answer questions or not.
My student was arrested in Newark and received Probation Before Judgment from the city court. How does that work and can it be removed?
Probation Before Judgment is a program that allows a first-time offender to avoid a permanent record. Provided a student is not arrested again during the period of PBJ, the conviction record may be expunged. Specific questions regarding eligibility for this program and the expunging of the record should be referred to Alderman’s Court #40 or a Delaware attorney. Further information regarding the PBJ program may be found at the Delaware State Court’s website.
If a situation is being handled through the courts as well as the University, isn’t that double jeopardy?
This is not a situation of double jeopardy, which prohibits a person from being tried twice in a court of law for the same crime, for two reasons: 1) an alleged violation of the Code of Conduct (the Violations of Law Policy) is not a crime; and 2) the student is being held accountable for their behavior through an administrative hearing process, not a criminal trial. While both the criminal charges and the Code of Conduct violation both ultimately have stemmed from one incident, the jurisdiction, procedures, and penalties for each are distinct and separate.
What if my student is not satisfied with the outcome of the case?
If a student accepts responsibility for violating the Code of Conduct during the pre-hearing, the case is closed and no further options are available. If a student is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct in an administrative hearing, the student may exercise the right of appeal. The appeal process is handled by the Appellate Board, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff. The Appellate Board meets regularly throughout the semester to review all written information available in a case. The Appellate Board may support the outcome and sanctions determined by hearing officer, may lessen the sanctions applied by a hearing officer (but may not increase them) or may recommend the case be re-opened. In all situations, the decision made by the Appellate Board is final and no further appeal is available.
What can we as family members do to help?
The most important thing you can do is talk with your student. Be very clear with your student about what you expect regarding learning from the experience and what you hope will happen in the future. It’s also a good idea to check in regularly with your student about all things college-related – classwork, study habits, roommates, social activities. A well-rounded and academically-focused student is less likely to get into trouble. Resist the urge to jump in your car and drive to campus to “fix” every problem that arises. As was stated earlier, college is an opportunity for students to spread their wings, learn about independence and problem-solving and mature into an adult citizen. Offer support and suggestions, so your student learns how to solve and resolve situations independently.