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Student Conduct FAQ: For Attorneys & Advocates

Can I assist a student going through the student conduct process?     

Yes, but only in the capacity of an advocate. Attorneys may not represent students at a hearing, but they are permitted to advise them. Attorneys are hired at the student's expense. 

What is a student conduct hearing? What is its purpose? 

An assigned hearing authority convenes to address cases in which a policy violation is contested and attempts to find out what happened, figures out whether any policy violations took place and decides what to do regarding the possible policy violation.

What types of policy violations does the KU student conduct process handle?

The University addresses cases involving violations of KU policy only. The court system adjudicates cases involving violations of law. Depending on circumstances, students may have to go through one channel or the other, or in some cases, may be subject to both. Regardless they are separate and distinct from one another. 

Why aren't the terms "guilty" and "not guilty" used?

These terms are synonymous with the legal system and the student conduct process at KU is NOT a part of the legal system. Unnecessary legal terminology or legalese is not relevant to the student conduct process. As a result, the university uses the terms "responsible" and "not responsible" to define the finding in a student conduct case.

Where can I find a listing of KU's conduct policies and procedures? 

The Key contains two very important documents outlining the university's behavioral expectations and student conduct process, namely the Student Code of Conduct and Document on Student Rights and Welfare.  The Student Conduct website also has listing of Policies & Procedures that may be helpful. 

Can I speak at the hearing? 

No. If an advocate or attorney is present at a hearing, he/she is there to serve as an advocate to the student and has no formal role in the hearing. The student is solely responsible for presenting his/her own case but may consult with his/her advocate in private if needed.

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

Students are expected to represent themselves in all student conduct matters, regardless of whether the student is facing concurrent criminal charges for the same set of circumstances. Students may have an attorney present during all student conduct proceedings with the student's written permission. A student may complete a release allowing his or her attorney to be present at student conduct meetings.  The Dean of Students Office will correspond at all times directly with the student, and not through any third party, unless special circumstances exist.  

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

The student conduct process at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania 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.  Generally speaking, no delays are given to students to accommodate their interests in the criminal process. Delays may only be granted when it is established to the satisfaction of the Dean of Students Office that such a delay is in the interest in ensuring a fair process for those involved.

What happens if my client refused to participate in the student conduct process? 

Students have a right not to respond or participate in the process.  However, the process will continue with or without the student's involvement and a decision will be reached based on the information that is provided to the hearing panel or administrator. The student may not use his or his refusal to participate as gounds for appealing a decision.  A student's decision not to participate in the process is not held against him or her; decisions are made based on the presented evidence in relationship to the policy or conduct standards in question.

What if my client chooses to participate in the process? Is he or she granted any immunity in the criminal process? 

No. All student conduct matters are subject to lawful subpoena. This includes audio recordings, written statements and records, and personal recollections.  

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

Kutztown University reserves the right to address off campus behavior for acts that take place off campus as outlined in Article III (Jurisdiction; Off Campus Rights & Responsibilities) of the Student Code of Conduct. The university will determine on a case-by-case basis whether or not an individual's alleged conduct represents a substantial university interest.  Citations issued or arrests made by local law enforcement represent a substantial university interest and are addressed by the university. 

What is the standard of evidence used 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 is FERPA? How does it apply?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education (US Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office). Student disciplinary records are considered educational records governed under FERPA. For information, visit the KU FERPA page.  

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

-Student Conduct Practice: The Complete Guide for Student Affairs Professionals, edited by James M. Lancaster and Diane Waryold (2008).

-Navigating Past the 'Spirit of Insubordination': A Twenty-First Century Model Student Conduct Code" by E. Stoner and J.W. Lowery, J. Coll. & Univ. Law 31 (2004).

-The Law of Higher Education (4th ed.) by William Kaplan and Barbara A. Lee, published by Jossey-Bass Publications, (2006)