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General Questions

Who can file charges?
Any member of the university community may file charges against any student for alleged violations of the Code. Charges shall be prepared in writing and directed to the Director of Student Conduct who is responsible for the administration of the university conduct system. In addition, charges may be filed within the Residence Halls by staff; or through the Office of Public Safety; or even from off-campus through various constituent groups.

How is a university conduct hearing different from a criminal court proceeding?
The university conduct system is completely independent of criminal proceedings, although at times they may take place concurrently. The university conduct system is administrative rather than criminal or civil in nature. The standard of evidence used in a conduct hearing is preponderance of evidence, which is "more likely than not" that an incident did, or did not, occur. The intent of a conduct system is to be educational and developmental in nature. The intent of a criminal court proceeding is punitive in nature.

Student Questions

I just received a letter from the Office of Student Conduct. What is it / what should I do?
Your letter outlines your alleged violation and the corresponding charges. The charges match up with the language found in the Code of Student Conduct. The letter requires you schedule an appointment with your Resident Director or Director of Student Conduct within 72 hours.

What happens if I don't make an appointment or skip my appointment?
If an accused student, with notice, does not appear to the initial meeting with the Director of Student Conduct or Resident Director, a conduct hearing will be held without your presence and a decision will be made based on the information on hand and sanction assigned as required.

What will happen at this appointment?
At this meeting, the conduct procedures will be explained to you, and a hearing process will be selected to resolve the allegation(s). The hearing officer will explain the procedure and the different types of hearings which may be chosen to resolve the complaint. The hearing officer will allow you the opportunity to inspect and review any information available in your case and discuss the incident.

What are the hearing options?
Formal hearings occur when a student does not accept responsibility or the alleged offense in considered a major violation as deemed by the Office of Student Conduct. There are three types of formal hearings: University Conduct Board, Administrative, or Sexual Violence Board. The University Conduct Board is comprised of two faculty and/or administrators and one student; the Administrative Hearing is heard by either a Resident Director of the Director of Student Conduct; and the Sexual Violence Board is comprised of three (3) faculty/staff members. A hearing is a chance for you to provide any information you know about the alleged violation. After the incident is discussed, a decision will be made on whether or not a violation occurred. If it has been decided that a violation occurred, then a recommendation for sanctions will be made.

What if I am found in violation for violating the rules?
If you are found in violation for violating the rules, you will be assigned sanctions, which could include educational activities (including classes, reflection or research papers, interviews), restitution, restrictions, community service, punitive sanctions such as suspension or expulsion. Assigned sanctions are based on:

  • The nature of the violation (what you did)
  • Prior violations/previous disciplinary history (what have you done before)
  • Mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation (unusual circumstances)
  • Your motivation for the behavior (why you chose to do what you did)
  • Sanctions involved in cases involving similar violations (precedent)
  • The developmental and educational impact (how is this going to affect you)

What if I disagree with the decision?
See the appeal process on page 27 of the Code.

Click here for the student appeal form.

Are my parents going to find out?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law, protects a student's educational record (which include disciplinary records) from being accessed by others without your permission. However, there are occasions in which the federal act allows the Office of Student Conduct to notify parents of the outcome of a student's disciplinary case. OSC may notify parents of an offense of a student under 21 years of age:

  • following a violation of university policy regarding drugs
  • following the second violation of university policy regarding alcohol.
  • following any incident in which the use of alcohol and/or drugs has resulted in hospitalization.

Because not all offenses result in this level of sanctioning, parents will not automatically be notified when their student becomes involved in the disciplinary process. However, if parents would like information regarding their student's disciplinary history or status at the University from the Office of Student Conduct, they can request that their son/daughter sign a waiver of confidentiality allowing the Office of Student Conduct to release that information. In most cases, FERPA protects students' disciplinary records as confidential educational records.

Is this going to be on my transcript?
If you are suspended from the University, this will be kept on file in the Office of Student Conduct. There are situations in which your disciplinary records may (with your permission) be shared. Other universities frequently make specific requests for disciplinary records when a student applies for graduate school or decides to transfer. In these situations, you will sign a waiver in the admissions process allowing the Office of Student Conduct to release your records.

The records of cases that have been resolved with a sanction will be maintained in the Office of Student Conduct for a period of seven years from the end of the academic year in which the offense occurred. Records in which the discipline sanction was expulsion will be maintained permanently.

Parent & Guardian Questions

Will I be notified if my student is charged with violating the Rules of Conduct?
We may notify parents if their student has an alcohol violation or a drug violation as allowed by the amendments to FERPA. This act governs the release of educational records. We encourage students to speak with their parents and believe that as adults, students should take responsibility for initiating the conversation. We also encourage students to sign releases that allow us to speak with parents about a situation, so that we can all work together to resolve it and help the student. In addition, you may be notified if there is an imminent risk to the student's health, safety, or welfare.

What is my role in the university student conduct process? How can I help my student?
You can help to guide the student through the process and be supportive while holding the student accountable to your expectations and the university's. You can also help identify and provide necessary interventions, such as alcohol or drug evaluations, anger management, and others, so that your student can be successful at Duquesne. Allow and expect the student to set appointments, attend meetings, and fulfill sanctions. It is usually not helpful to the educational development of the student, or resolution of the matter, for you to take over the process from your student.

Can I attend the student conduct meeting and/or hearing with my student?
No, you are not able to attend a hearing due to the privacy of all parties participating in the process. The complainant and the accused student have the right to be assisted by an advisor. The advisor must be a current member of the Duquesne University community and may not function as an attorney. The complainant and/or the accused student is responsible for presenting his or her own information and, therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any hearing. A student should select as an advisor a person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the hearing because delays will not normally be allowed due to scheduling conflicts of the advisor.

Do I need to hire an attorney to represent my student?
No. Some students choose to have an attorney accompany them. An attorney may serve as an advisor but the student may not be represented by counsel. Once again, attorneys like parents/guardians cannot speak on behalf of the student, but can whisper or write notes to the student.

How are sanctions decided?
Sanctions are determined by considering the following factors: nature of the violation, the student's role in the incident, the effect of the incident on others and on the student, the student's developmental and educational needs, and the student's prior disciplinary record. Mitigating and aggravating circumstances are considered.

My student was placed on disciplinary probation? What does that mean?
Disciplinary probation lasts for a specific period of time, and is usually implemented by semesters. It is notice to the student that any violation of the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct or the conditions of probation committed during the probationary period will subject the student to further action, with a likely result of suspension or expulsion.

Can my student appeal a disciplinary decision?

  1. An appeal of a decision reached or sanctions imposed by a Hearing Body may be made by an accused student within seven (7) days of the hearing. For cases involving Sexual Violence or Sexual Harassment, the complainant (if the complainant is the victim of the violation) may also file an appeal within the seven school day timeframe. Such appeals shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Director of Student Conduct. 
  2. Responsible plea waivers have no appeal option.
  3. An accused student may appeal a decision reached and sanction imposed by the Resident Director to the Director of Student Conduct.
  4. An accused student may appeal a decision reached and sanction imposed by the Director of Student Conduct or the University Conduct Board to an appellate body.
  5. An accused student and victim may appeal a decision reached or sanction imposed by the Sexual Violence Conduct Board to an appellate body.
  6. An appeal shall be limited to a review of the record of the initial hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes, except as required to explain the basis of new evidence.
    • To determine whether the original hearing was conducted fairly in light of the charges and evidence presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures giving the accused student (and complainant, if the victim of a violation involving sexual violence and/or sexual harassment) a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present his/her information.
    • To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed was appropriate to the violation.
    • To consider new evidence, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not available at the original hearing because it was not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing. An Appellate Body shall determine the propriety and admissibility of any new evidence.
  7. The sole basis of an appeal is the written statement of appeal. The written statement should be as complete as possible in setting forth the basis for appeal as described above.
  8. Following an Appellate Board decision, the Executive Vice President for Student Life may review the case. The student must request a review from the Executive Vice President for Student Life in writing within forty-eight hours upon receipt of the Appellate Board decision.

Will a disciplinary record keep my student from getting into law school, graduate school, etc.?
A disciplinary record does not automatically exclude a student from further study, jobs, etc. That usually depends on the type or severity of misconduct in which a student is involved. A disciplinary record may lead an admissions office to more closely scrutinize the student's application. We will only release information about a student's disciplinary record to another school or potential employer as allowed by the records policy, or with the permission of the student.

Why is a particular rule or policy in place?
Policies are designed to support the university's educational mission. They are meant to support a safe environment where people can work, study, and live without undue interference. They are also designed to build and support the academic and social community, teach students responsibility and interdependence, as well as promote moral and ethical development.

My student was charged criminally. Why go through Student Conduct too?
The criminal justice system and the Codes of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct are not mutually exclusive. By virtue of being a student, your student is held responsible for upholding the standards of behavior in the Code, as well as public laws.

This incident happened off campus. Why is the university involved?
The university has an interest in maintaining a safe community and appropriate standards of conduct for its students. This includes both on-campus and off-campus behavior, which can have an impact on the university community and its Mission.

I know my student could not have done this; I didn't raise my student that way. So why is my student being charged?
Developmentally, this is a period of exploration, experimentation, and testing for students. They may be in a period of transition from late adolescence to adulthood. They may also be away from home and the daily influence of their parents for the first time. As students are testing the beliefs and values they learned at home, they may make choices that are inconsistent with these values. Such testing is part of the developmental process and is normal. However, students must 1also learn that the choices they make may not be healthy and may have consequences.