Student Group Conduct Code Procedure: Twin Cities
Table of Contents
- Alleged violations of Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code
- Alleged violations of student group policies or rules
Introduction and purpose
This procedure implements Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code 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.
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 FERPA, 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 disciplinary process encourages informal resolution of complaints where appropriate.
- Student development is emphasized. The disciplinary 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 disciplinary process is on responsible student group self-development, the nature of the offense may require, in fairness to the community, the imposition of disciplinary sanctions.
- Student groups receive fair treatment. Most disciplinary 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 website. The incident report must include 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 disciplinary 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 will be considered 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 a member(s) of the student group violate University policy at an event sponsored by the group or in the course of the group’s affairs, and did the group fail to exercise reasonable preventive measures?
- 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 disciplinary 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 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. 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 will 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. If the allegations are severe and involve life-threatening behavior, the University at its discretion and based on the severity of the allegations may bypass the partnership process and pursue traditional administrative proceedings.
- Governing body process (if applicable): If a student group has an articulated internal disciplinary 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 pursue discipline through the University process in addition to the governing body process.
- Traditional process: SUA and OCS will investigate the allegations and propose outcome and potential sanctions.
- SUA and OCS notifies group of proposed outcome
- SUA and OCS offer proposed sanctions (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 or the Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee, as appropriate.
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 sanction. 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 sanctions;
- 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 disciplinary decision following the hearing; and
- receive notification of the procedure for a campus-wide appeal of the disciplinary decision.
A formal record, a tape 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.
The hearing bodies on the Twin Cities campus are 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 the Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, except for those involving sexual misconduct. See Appendix: CCSB Hearing Procedures: Twin Cities.
- Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee (SSMS)
The Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee (SSMS) is a campus-wide hearing body comprised of faculty, staff, and students that hears and decides sexual misconduct complaints under the Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code. See Appendix: SSMS Hearing Procedures: Twin Cities. The SSMS has authority to hear all sexual misconduct complaints under Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and relationship violence and those related to student groups.
Student group sanctions/corrective measures are listed in the Student Conduct Code under Section V: Sanctions. 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, community service, participating in a restorative justice process, developmental workshops, and/or educational programs for group officers and/or members, referral of the matter to the Student Services Fees Committee for issues regarding the possible revocation of fees, referral of the matter to a different office within the University, 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, access to room reservations, grants, or other benefits for a defined period of time.
Subd. 10. Suspension. Suspension means separation of the student group from registered status with the University for a defined period of time, after which the student group is eligible to return to registered status. Suspension may include conditions for readmission.
Interim student group suspension
The provost or their designee may impose an immediate interim suspension on a student group pending a hearing before the appropriate disciplinary 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 until the full hearing 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.
A student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code is entitled to a campus-wide appeal of disciplinary decisions made in the hearing process. The complainant in a sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or relationship violence case also has the right to a campus-wide appeal.
Grounds for Appeal
The following are the grounds for appealing a disciplinary 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 sanction 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 his or her 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 discipline. 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 or the complainant in a matter heard by the SSMS must submit a notice of appeal to the Provost’s Appeal Secretary within five (5) weekdays of receipt of the original disciplinary decision. [Address: Provost’s Appeal Secretary, 234 Morrill Hall, 100 Church Street, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.] A student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code or the complainant in a matter heard by the SSMS would then be provided with an additional five (5) weekdays for submission to the Provost’s Appeal Secretary of 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.
In appeals from SSMS hearings, if the student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code is asked to submit written information or to appear for an oral presentation, the complainant will be offered the same opportunity. If the complainant in a SSMS matter is asked to submit written information or to appear for an oral presentation, the student group that was accused will be offered the same opportunity. At any oral presentation related to an SSMS matter, the respondent student group representative(s) and the reporting student each may be accompanied by two advisors.
The appellate officer makes the final University decision. The appellate officer may accept, modify, or reject the disciplinary 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. In cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or relationship violence, the appellate officer will provide simultaneous written notice to the respondent student group, the complainant, 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.
Sanctions Pending Appeal
Disciplinary sanctions affecting the student group are generally stayed pending appeal. If the appellate officer accepts the disciplinary decision of the hearing body on an appeal by the student group found to have violated Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code, the disciplinary sanction will be implemented on the date of the disciplinary decision of the hearing body, unless the appellate officer concludes that the disciplinary sanction should be implemented at a different date.
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 letter 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. 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 will 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.
- Governing body process (if applicable): If a student group has an articulated internal disciplinary 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 discipline through the University process in addition to the student group process.
- Traditional process: SUA will investigate the allegations and propose outcome and potential sanctions.
- Student groups can engage in one of the following options:
- SUA notifies group of proposed outcome.
- If a violation is found, a letter offers proposed sanctions, which could include the following: directed action, a loss of benefits (e.g., room reservations), probation, suspension of group, or other appropriate sanctions to be determined by SUA.
- The student group can request an appeal to the Director of Student Unions & Activities or their Designee.