Introduction and purpose
This procedure implements Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code (PDF) and explains the Twin Cities campus process for actions initiated against student groups by the University under Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code. Procedures governing resolution of student-initiated complaints against the University are provided pursuant to Board of Regents Policy: Conflict Resolution Process for Student Academic Complaints (PDF).
This procedure is designed to guide student groups and staff members on the process for resolving student group violations of the Student Conduct Code, student group policy violations, or both. Student group policy violations often are not violations of the Student Conduct Code and can be handled by Student Unions and Activities (SUA). However, matters involving potential violations of the Student Conduct Code often require a more thorough response. All reported incidents will be documented in the student conduct software system. Student group disciplinary records will be managed by the Office for Community Standards (OCS) and SUA. Any release of records will be subject to state and federal privacy laws, including the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act, and will be in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel.
The purpose of the student group disciplinary process is to provide a framework for resolving complaints about violations of Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, so that:
- Informal resolution is encouraged. The student conduct process encourages informal resolution of complaints where appropriate.
- Student development is emphasized. The student conduct process emphasizes the educational purpose in student group discipline, including helping students understand and accept responsibility for their own behavior.
- Community interests are met. While the emphasis of the student conduct process is on responsible student group self-development, the nature of the offense may require the imposition of student conduct outcomes.
- Student groups receive fair treatment. Most student conduct matters are resolved informally, with the agreement of the student group. When the people involved are unable to reach agreement, however, Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code requires that student groups have the opportunity to receive a fundamentally fair hearing and a campus-wide appeal.
Reporting an alleged violation
How to report an alleged student group conduct violation: Any individual who believes that a student group has violated a policy, violated the group’s internal procedures, or otherwise acted inappropriately may submit an Incident Report Form to report the alleged violation to SUA. The Incident Report Form is an online form found on the SUA student group website. The incident report includes the name and contact information of the complainant as the complainant will be contacted during SUA’s review process to learn more about the reported incident. Anonymous reports can be filed through the University’s confidential reporting service, U Report.
Who can make a report? Anyone may file a report on possible student group conduct violations including staff, faculty, students, and individuals external to the University. A report should be filed to make SUA aware of an incident and to initiate the student group conduct process. The Incident Report Form is the primary form of communication regarding student group conduct violations. Depending on the content of the report, an individual student (or individual students) involved in a reported student group activity may be referred to the OCS for an individual student conduct investigation.
How to determine if the incident is individual or student group conduct? The following questions provide a guideline for determining group vs. individual responsibility. The determination regarding whether an alleged policy violation was committed by a student group or by an individual(s) will be made on a case-by-case basis. OCS and SUA will together make this determination. The following factors may include, but are not limited to, considerations when making this determination:
- How many of the members of the student group were involved in the incident?
- Did the incident occur at a sponsored event of the student group?
- Did the group fail to exercise reasonable preventative measures when an incident occurred at an event sponsored by the group or in the course of the group’s affairs?
- Did the student group’s leadership have knowledge or notice that the conduct was going to occur?
- What was the nature of the incident?
Different Processes: Alleged violations of Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code
The offices and administrators that informally resolve student group complaints under Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code are OCS and SUA.
For alleged student group Student Conduct Code violations, the following process is used:
- Report form is filed.
- OCS and SUA staff determine whether alleged violation is considered a potential violation of the Student Conduct Code. SUA and OCS may call together a core group meeting to provide contextual information. The core group may consist of staff members from:
- SUA, OCS, and the Office for Student Affairs (OSA)
- Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), if applicable
- Staff from sponsoring department of student group, if applicable
- Other University stakeholders as appropriate
- SUA and OCS review information, determine if it is a student group incident, and attempt to determine involved party(ies)
- SUA and OCS staff send one or both of the following notification letters to student group leadership:
- Charge letter specifying alleged violations with invitation to student group to meet and gather more information.
- A letter to the student group outlining any interim student conduct measures or restrictions to student group activities, depending upon the urgency and severity of the allegations
- SUA and OCS staff members meet with officers from the accused student group(s) to discuss the alleged violation.
- Student groups can engage in one of the following options:
- Partnership process: The partnership process is an alternative resolution method focused on student development and restorative justice principles. Student groups may work with their national or regional governing body if applicable. The student group’s officers are directed to conduct their own internal investigation and produce a comprehensive, detailed, and truthful report that will be shared with SUA and OCS. The student group’s cooperation and transparency allow the student group to continue in partnership with the University and progress toward co-authoring a student group enhancement plan. It is important to note that ultimately the student group enhancement plan is an administrative outcome. The student group may not agree with every element contained in the enhancement plan and will need to make a choice whether to pursue the traditional process (see below) or agree to accept the enhancement plan. If at any point the partnership breaks down due to dishonesty or lack of cooperation, SUA and OCS may choose to pursue a formal investigation. This formal investigation process may require interviews of members, the collection of documents and communications, and a full hearing. The University at its discretion and based on the severity of the allegations may bypass the partnership process and pursue traditional administrative proceedings.
- University Governing body process (if applicable): If a student group has an internal student conduct process, the alleged violations may be heard by the student group’s governing body with the assistance and guidance of appropriate University staff. The University reserves the right to utilize the University process in addition to the governing body process.
- Traditional process: SUA and OCS will investigate the allegations and propose potential outcomes.
- SUA and OCS notifies group of proposed outcome
- SUA and OCS offer proposed outcome(s) (or an enhancement plan through the partnership process), which can include but are not limited to directed action, a loss of benefits (e.g., room reservations), probation, or suspension of student group status. The student group can accept the proposal or request a formal hearing in front of the Campus Committee on Student Behavior.
If a complaint under Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code is not resolved informally, the student group can request a formal hearing. The hearing procedure varies depending on the circumstances, origination of the complaint, and the nature of the complaint.
In all cases, hearings on violations of Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code must be fundamentally fair. What constitutes fundamental fairness in a University hearing depends on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the potential outcome. However, a fundamentally fair hearing process usually allows for student groups to:
- be notified in writing of the alleged violation and the underlying factual allegations; the time, date, and place of the hearing; and the range of possible outcomes;
- receive a prompt hearing;
- present their case, including witnesses;
- hear all evidence against them;
- question adverse testimony;
- be confronted by their accusers (subject to reasonable procedures to address concerns for safety or well-being);
- be accompanied by an advocate of their choice;
- be found responsible only if the information as a whole shows that it is more likely than not that the conduct violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code;
- receive a written student conduct decision following the hearing; and
- receive notification of the procedure for a campus-wide appeal of the student conduct decision.
A digital recording, or a transcript of the hearing, must be kept for appellate purposes. Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code hearings are not court cases, and court rules of process, procedure, or evidence do not apply.
Complaints will be heard by the:
- Campus Committee on Student Behavior (CCSB)
The CCSB is a campus-wide hearing body comprised of faculty, staff, and students that hears and decides complaints, including those related to student groups, under Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, except for those involving sexual misconduct. See Procedure: CCSB Hearing Procedures: Twin Cities.
Student group sanctions/corrective measures are listed in Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code under Section VI: Outcomes. Specific examples related to student groups include, but are not limited to, the following:
Subd. 2. Warning: Issuance of a written warning to reprimand with an official letter on file.
Subd. 3. Probation. Probation means special status with conditions imposed for a defined period of time and includes the probability of more severe disciplinary sanctions if the student group is found to violate any institutional regulation during the probationary period.
Subd. 4. Required Compliance. Required compliance means satisfying University requirements, work assignments, community service, participating in a restorative justice process, or other discretionary assignments.
Subd. 6. Restitution. Restitution means making compensation for loss, injury, or damage.
Subd. 7. Restriction of Privileges. Restriction of privileges means the denial or restriction of specified privileges, including, but not limited to, building access or service access.
Subd. 10. Suspension. Suspension means separation of the student or student group from the University for a defined period of time, after which the student or student group is eligible to return to the University. Suspension may include conditions for readmission. Any violations of the Student Conduct Code while on suspension may be cause for additional charges and findings that may result in extended suspension or expulsion. A suspension may be deferred when an offense is serious enough to warrant separation from the University, but where specific circumstances of the case justify special consideration.
A student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code is entitled to a campus-wide appeal of student conduct decisions made in the hearing process.
Grounds for Appeal
The following are the grounds for appealing a student conduct decision.
- There was significant procedural error sufficient to affect the outcome (e.g., lack of notice, opportunity to be heard, or opportunity to challenge information). A procedural error is not a basis for sustaining an appeal unless it was significant enough to affect the outcome.
- The rule found to have been violated was misapplied, misinterpreted, or contrary to law.
- New evidence exists that was not previously available to the appealing party and that is sufficient to affect the outcome.
- The outcome was grossly disproportionate to the offense.
- The disciplinary decision was not based on substantial information. Substantial information means relevant information that a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. In making this determination, the appellate officer must respect the credibility determinations of the hearing body and must not substitute their judgment for the hearing body. Rather, the appellate officer must determine whether the hearing body’s disciplinary decision was unreasonable (i.e., arbitrary) in light of the information presented.
Nature of Appellate Review
Appellate review generally is a review of the record to determine whether a serious error occurred in the original proceeding that resulted in unfairness. Appellate review respects the credibility judgments of the hearing body, and respects the hearing body’s determinations as long as there is any evidence to reasonably support them.
The appellate officer makes the final University decision regarding student conduct matters. The Provost serves as the appellate officer, unless the Provost authorizes another administrator who holds a position of campus-wide scope to serve as the appellate officer in the Provost’s place.
Parties and Advocates
In most cases, the parties to an appeal are (1) the appellant, which is the student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, and (2) the respondent, who is either the chair or a representative member of the original hearing panel. In cases involving sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or relationship violence, the complainant may also be the appellant. The appellant may be represented by an advisor (e.g., an attorney, an advocate from the Student Advocate Services, an advocate from The Aurora Center, or other person).
Procedure for Filing an Appeal
To appeal a disciplinary decision, a student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code must submit a notice of appeal to the Provost at [email protected]. A student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code would then be provided with an additional five (5) weekdays for submission to the Provost a written statement specifically identifying the ground(s) for the appeal, explaining why the ground(s) for appeal are met, and providing any supporting documentation.
Review of Information
To decide an appeal, the appellate officer reviews the written appeal submitted by the appellant and may review any or all portions of the record as appropriate to decide the appeal. The appellate officer also has discretion to seek further information to assist in deciding the appeal, including one or more of the following:
- additional written information from the appellant, including citations to key portions of the record;
- a written response from the respondent;
- written responses to questions, from either the appellant or the respondent; and
- oral presentations from the appellant and the respondent (or their advocate/attorney), which will be recorded.
The appellate officer makes the final University decision. The appellate officer may accept, modify, or reject the student conduct decision of the hearing body, or return the matter for further proceedings. The appellate officer will provide a written decision to the appellant and the chair of the hearing body. The appellate officer will strive to issue a final decision within thirty (30) calendar days of the notice of appeal.
Outcomes Pending Appeal
Student conduct outcomes affecting the student group are generally stayed pending appeal. If the appellate officer accepts the student conduct decision of the hearing body on an appeal by the student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, the student conduct outcome will be implemented on the date of the student conduct decision of the hearing body, unless the appellate officer concludes that the student conduct outcome should be implemented at a different date.
Interim student group suspension
In rare circumstances, the provost or their designee may impose an immediate interim suspension on a student group pending a hearing before the appropriate student conduct committee (1) to ensure the safety and well-being of specific University students or the University community generally, or to preserve University property, or (2) if the student group poses an ongoing threat of disrupting or interfering with the operations of the University. During the interim suspension, the student group may be denied access to all University activities or privileges for which the student group might otherwise be eligible, including access to University housing or property. The student group has a right to a prompt hearing before the president or provost on the questions of identification and whether the interim suspension should remain in effect or amended until the full student conduct process is completed. The student group must be informed in writing of the terms of the suspension, the reasons for it, and the opportunity to be heard on the limited questions described above. The underlying Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code case will be heard and decided by the appropriate hearing body, and the case generally will take precedence over other cases pending before that body.
Different Processes: Alleged violations of student group policies or rules
The office that resolves student group policy or rule violations that do not otherwise involve Student Conduct Code violations is SUA.
For alleged student group policy or rule violations, the following process is used:
- Report form is filed.
- SUA reviews information, determines if it is a student group incident, and attempts to determine involved party(ies).
- If report does not indicate a potential violation, SUA sends separate letters to group and the complainant, documenting receipt of the report and that case is being closed.
- If the report indicates a potential violation, SUA directly contacts student group leadership, and the matter proceeds to the next step.
- SUA staff members meet with officers from the accused student group(s) to discuss alleged violation.
- Student groups can engage in one of the following options:
- Partnership process: The partnership process is an alternative resolution method focused on student development and restorative justice principles. Student groups may work with their national or regional governing body if applicable. The student group’s officers are directed to conduct their own internal investigation and produce a comprehensive, detailed, and truthful report that will be shared with SUA. The organization’s cooperation and transparency allow the organization to continue in partnership with the University and progress toward co-authoring an appropriate student group reparation and enhancement plan. It is important to note that ultimately the student group reparation and enhancement plan is an administrative outcome. The student group may not agree with every element contained in the reparation and enhancement plan and will need to make a choice whether to pursue an administrative hearing option or agree to accept the reparation and enhancement plan. If at any point the partnership breaks down due to dishonesty or lack of cooperation, SUA may choose to pursue a formal investigation. This formal investigation may require interviews of members, the collection of documents and communications, and a hearing process.
- University Governing body process (if applicable): If a student group has an internal student conduct process, the alleged violations may be heard by said governing body with the assistance and guidance of appropriate University staff. The University reserves the right to pursue these matters through the University process in addition to the student group process.
- Traditional process: SUA will investigate the allegations and propose potential outcomes.
- SUA notifies group of proposed outcome.
- If a violation is found, a letter offers proposed outcomes, which could include the following: directed action, a loss of benefits (e.g., room reservations), probation, suspension of group, or other appropriate outcomes to be determined by SUA.
- The student group can request an appeal to the Director of Student Unions & Activities or their Designee.
- Student groups can engage in one of the following options: