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Student Conduct FAQ: For Respondents

Who is a Respondent?  

The Respondent refers to the individual student who is accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct and/or other university policies. 

Who is a Complainant? 

The Complainant refers to the individual student, faculty member, staff member, department, or university entity that is bringing charges against a student for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Who can be accused of a Student Code of Conduct violation?

Any student attending on a part-time or full-time basis is expected to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the university and is subject to disciplinary action in the event that a policy violation occurs.  This also may include a student who is not currently enrolled but is maintaining his or her enrollment status with the university (e.g. summer break, semester off, etc.).  Both students living on and off campus are expected to abide by KU's policies.

What is a preliminary briefing?

A preliminary briefing is a meeting between a Respondent and the student's assigned case officer. At a preliminary briefing the Respondent is informed of the charges against him/her as well as his/her student conduct rights and is given an opportunity to respond to the allegation of misconduct. Students may either accept responsibility for a violation and be sanctioned accordingly, deny responsibility and request a hearing with the appropriate hearing authority or waive their right to participate in the student conduct process.

Can I appeal a decision made in the student conduct process?

Yes. After being informed of a decision by a hearing authority, Respondents (as well as Complainants) have the option of filing an appeal challenging the outcome of their case.  Appellants have five (5) days to request an appeal and all appeals must follow the appeal procedure defined in Document on Student Rights & Welfare, as found in the student handbook The Key.  

What's going to happen to me if I am found responsible for a conduct violation?

If the Respondent is found responsible for a violation, a hearing authority determines the sanction for him/her based upon a review of the incident and the student's disciplinary record. Factors that help to determine the level of sanctioning include severity of the violation, previous violations (if any) and the discussion between the hearing authority and the student.  For information, go to Sanctions

Who can serve as an advocate or counsel?

The Respondent may have one advocate with him or her at a hearing.  An advocate can be a non-involved student, faculty member or administrative staff member. The Respondent may also bring an attorney at his/her own expense to serve as an advocate.

Should I hire a lawyer to represent me?

Although it is not necessary or required, a Respondent does have the right to bring an advocate, who can be an attorney, to a student conduct meeting or hearing. Advocates, including attorneys, may not represent or speak on behalf of a student at a conduct proceeding. The Respondent has the responsibility to speak on his/her behalf if he/she chooses to present a defense or enter testimony at a hearing.

What is the University Conduct Board? What is its purpose?

The University Conduct Board (UCB) is a three-person panel consisting of one representative from each of the following groups: student body, faculty and administration. For each UCB hearing, one representative from each of those three groups serves on the board for each case. The UCB convenes to adjudicate most 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 is the Student Faculty Review Board? What is its purpose?

The Student Faculty Review Board (SFRB) is comprised of five faculty members, four student representatives and the Dean of Students.  The SFRB serves as the appeals committee for the student conduct process and is also the hearing authority responsible for academic dishonesty hearings. 

Isn't going through the local court and going through the student conduct process the same thing?  What if I am being accused of violating local, state or federal law? 

No. The University addresses cases involving violations of KU policy. The court system adjudicates cases involving violations of law. Depending on circumstances, students may have to go through one channel or the other. In some cases, they may be subject to both.  Regardless, both systems are separate and distinct form one another; an outcome in one process does not equate to the same outcome in the other process.

But I was off-campus when the incident occurred. Why am I still in trouble with the University?

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. 

I was involved in a situation that was documented in an Incident Report. What happens next?

If sufficient information is presented in the Incident Report a letter citing the alleged violations and basic details of the incident will be emailed to your official university email account. This letter will provide instructions on how to set up a meeting, known as a Preliminary Briefing, where you will be informed of your student rights and your options for resolution.

If I am charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, will I have a chance to prove that I am not responsible? Or am I automatically assumed to be responsible for the charges brought against me?

At your Preliminary Briefing, you will have the opportunity to dispute the allegation of misconduct by pleading "not responsible" to the charge in question. By denying responsibility you are requesting to have your case decided by the appropriate hearing authority. If students wish to accept responsibility they will be given the opportunity to make a statement about their involvement in an incident. In all cases students are assumed "not responsible" until proven otherwise.

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.

What is the standard of evidence 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 authority will determine what is "more likely than not" to have taken place.

What if I didn't know I was breaking the rules?

Students are expected to educate themselves on all of KU's policies and procedures. Reasonable efforts are made to educate students about the Student Code of Conduct through the CONNECTIONS program, Residence Life program, an annual student handbook notification, and various other educational efforts.  Further, students are expected to have a fundamental understanding of the criminal laws particularly law governing alcohol and other drugs.  Students are responsible for knowing the rules and are held accountable for violations despite a lack of awareness of a particular policy.  

Is there a dress code I need to follow if I am going through the hearing process?

No, but it is important to maintain a sense of professionalism at a hearing or student conduct meeting. It is recommended that you refrain from wearing ripped jeans, t-shirts with logos, athletic apparel, sleepwear, etc. Hats or bandanas should not be worn in the hearing.

What happens if I refuse to participate in the student conduct process?

Respondents (accused 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 a later ground 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.

Are there any repercussions if I do not complete my sanction by the appointed deadline?

If you fail to complete a sanction, a restriction will be placed your student account in MyKU and you will be unable to register for classes or conduct any other university business until all sanction conditions are satisfied. Depending on the terms of your sanction, you may also be subject to other penalties or additional conduct charges. If you need to register for classes but are restricted from doing so because of an overdue sanction, you may turn in a Request to Unseal a Student Account to have your records temporarily unsealed; this form is optional and students must agree to terms and conditions.  If you fail to complete the sanction after the temporary unseal period has passed, you will be charged with another violation for failing to comply. 

Will my parents be notified if I am involved in an incident or am found to be responsible for a violation?

Following a second infraction and finding of responsibility for violations of conduct standards on substance use and/or abuse the Student Conduct Office will inform parents or legal guardians of students that are under the age of 21. At the time of a first incident, students will be strongly advised to consult with their parents or guardians regarding their behavior. For additional information on parental notification refer to Article V of the Student Code of Conduct.

If I am found responsible for a conduct violation, how long will the incident remain on my record?

Student conduct records are kept on file for a period of two (2) years from the date a student graduates or leaves the university. Conduct records involving a suspension or dismissal will be kept on file for at least six (6) years from the date a student withdraws or graduates from the university. Some records may be held for up to seven (7) years for compliance with mandatory federal reporting of certain violations.

Will being responsible for a conduct violation affect my involvement in Intercollegiate Athletics, Club Sports or other extracurricular activities?

Students that are placed on disciplinary probation as a result of a conduct violation are considered not in good standing with the university and are ineligible to participate in any type of intercollegiate competition (including intercollegiate athletics and club sports) or hold any position of leadership within a club or student organization. Please note that disciplinary probation does not prohibit a student from being on or practicing with a team.

Is there anyone available to assist me with preparing for a conduct hearing?

The Student Conduct Advocate can assist students navigate the student conduct process.  The Student Conduct Advocate can help educate students about the conduct process, review hearing and appeal procedures, and assist students with general hearing preparation.  Most importantly, the Student Advocate will help students feel comfortable and confident going into a hearing.  For more information refer to the Student Advocate website.  

If I am suspended or dismissed from KU, may I attend another institution of higher education before returning to Kutztown University?

At this time there are no prohibitions against students attending other institutions while they are on suspension. 

Do I have to be present at my conduct hearing?

You have the right not to appear at your conduct hearing. However, your case will still be heard by the appropriate hearing authority at the appointed date and time even if you do not show up for the hearing. It is recommended that you attend your hearing even if you choose not to present testimony or present a defense.

Do I have to speak at the hearing?

No. As the Respondent you have the right to not to testify or call witnesses at your hearing.  If you decide to not call yourself as a witness you will not be questioned by the hearing authority or the Complainant. At the same time you will not be permitted to enter testimony unless you make yourself available to answer questions.  In all cases the burden of proof is with the Complainant.

Do I present my own case at the hearing?

Yes. You are responsible for presenting your own case at a hearing. Although you may have a member of the university community or an attorney serve as an advocate at your hearing they cannot represent you or speak on your behalf at hearing.

If a court of law finds me not-guilty or ALL criminal charges are withdrawn, am I still subject to student conduct charges?

If you are cleared of charges brought against you in a court of law, you will most likely still go through the student conduct process at KU if you are being accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct.  Remember that university policy is being applied during the conduct process, not the law.   

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

The student disciplinary process at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania does not attempt to determine whether a student has violated the law; the university is trying to determine whether 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 Student Conduct Office that such a delay is in the interest in ensuring a fair process for those involved. 

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.