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I received a letter charging me with a student conduct violation at ISU - what do I do now?

The letter states the charges and the summary for why you are being charged. The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) received a report alleging that you violated the ISU Student Conduct Code, and/or the Criminal Code of Iowa. The letter will state whether it is a Level 1 or Level 2 case, by the ISU student disciplinary case classifications. You can find more details about the charges and the Student Conduct Code by reviewing the Student Disciplinary Regulations, which is also available in 1010 Student Services Building.

The letter also gives the name of the OSC staff handling your case and provides a date deadline for you to schedule your hearing by calling the Office of Student Conduct (515-294-1021).

If the letter states that the charges constitute a Level 1 case, and you do not wish to have your case resolved at the University level, you can request to have your case heard by an administrative law judge (under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Chapter 17A of the Iowa Code). This APA hearing request must occur within five business days of receiving the charge letter.

What is an administrative hearing?

An administrative hearing is a meeting with a Student Conduct Hearing Officer from the Office of Student Conduct. During the meeting, the staff will discuss the incident with you, and you will have an opportunity to provide an explanation, ask questions, and receive information about the student disciplinary process. You will also have an opportunity to state whether or not you take responsibility for the incident. If you are found responsible, based on the information in the file and the information you provide during your hearing, there are various sanctions that could be imposed. Information on sanctions can be found here. Sanctions are impacted by the seriousness of the incident and if there are prior student disciplinary considerations. All students have the right to appeal any decision by a student conduct representative.

What happens if I refuse to schedule a hearing appointment prior to the deadline given in the letter?

Refusing to schedule a meeting or neglecting to attend a previously scheduled meeting means that your voice is not heard in the matter. Also, the case may be decided in your absence. In some cases, failure to respond may result in an Administrative Hold being placed on your university account, preventing you from changing your course schedule, obtaining transcripts, etc.

What types of issues or cases does the Office of Student Conduct have responsibility for resolving?

The Office of Student Conduct resolves complaints regarding academic misconduct and various other behaviors, including violation of Department of Residence Regulations, and violation of various state and local laws.

What are my rights in the student disciplinary process?

As members of the Iowa State University community, students have both rights and responsibilities which are described in the Student Disciplinary Regulations. Your rights in the student disciplinary process are included in the Administrative Hearing Notice.

What is the burden of proof in the student disciplinary process?

For all disciplinary cases, the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence.

Preponderance of the evidence means "the greater weight of the evidence, not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to a fact but by evidence that has the most convincing force; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other." [Bryan A. Garner, Editor, “Black’s Law Dictionary,” Second Edition, St. Paul, MN: West Group: 2001.]

In student disciplinary matters, this concept means both accounts of an incident are perceived evenly/equitably. Both students carry the burden of persuading the fact-finder that their claim is valid. This differs from a criminal case where the burden of persuasion always rests with the prosecution.

Why is there a hold on my transcripts and/or course registration?

There are two primary reasons you may have a transcript and/or registration hold on your account from the Dean of Students Office: (1) failure to schedule a meeting or respond to a letter from the Office of Student Conduct and (2) failure to complete sanctions as a result of a previous student disciplinary decision. To address the hold and make arrangements for it to be released, please contact our office at (515) 294-1021. You may be asked to schedule a meeting for a later date.

What is the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 case?
The main distinction between a Level 1 and Level 2 case is the potential sanctions resulting from the hearing. Level 1 cases can result in Suspension or Expulsion, while Level 2 cases do not typically result in the option of removal from the university, unless additional violations occur while the case is pending.

If my case is a Level 1 case, will it be resolved in the initial meeting with a student conduct representative?
For a Level 1 case, the default process for resolving a case is an Student Conduct Hearing Board (SCHB) hearing. When the student initially comes in to meet with a Student Conduct Hearing Officer (SCHO), this option will be discussed. The student/campus organization may decide to waive the SCHB hearing, and instead request an administrative hearing. Based on the circumstances of the case, the Student Conduct Hearing Officer may grant this request or refer it to a SCHB hearing.

If an Administrative Hearing is held, and the student is found responsible, the result for a major case is typically an Agreed Resolution. These must be signed by the Dean of Students, the SCHO, and the student/org. The possible sanctions from an administrative hearing in major cases include any sanctions that may have been imposed in a SCHB hearing.

Will I be dismissed from ISU for this incident?
According to the Student Disciplinary Regulations, only cases determined to be Level 1 could result in a separation between you and the institution.

What types of sanctions can be imposed in my case?There is a range of sanctions used by the Office of Student Conduct from a Disciplinary Reprimand to Expulsion from ISU. Many times, other educational sanctions may be imposed, such as educational referrals for an alcohol assessment or referral to the Academic Success Center. If damage to property is involved, restitution may be required as a part of the sanction. This list is not inclusive of all sanctions. Specific questions can be answered by calling our office at (515) 294-1021.

Will anything appear on my transcripts due to this incident?
Unless a student is suspended or expelled, individual student disciplinary records are kept confidential, and nothing from them appears on a student's academic transcript. If a student is suspended or expelled, a notation will be placed on the transcript that the student was dropped due to disciplinary action and is not eligible to enroll at Iowa State.

Can I have an advisor present at the hearing?
Respondents, complainants, and witnesses are each permitted to have up to two (2) advisors with them during the hearing. This person may be from within the University community (faculty, staff, student) or outside the University community. However, this person may not speak for you or on your behalf. Rather, the purpose of an advisor is to assist you in preparing for the initial hearing and for any appeal procedure.

What is the purpose of sanctioning students who have violated the Student Conduct Code?
Included among the purposes of the conduct process are promoting civility, respect, and integrity; providing a safe environment for members of the University and Ames communities; and addressing behaviors that contradict expectations of an Iowa State University student. Sanctions are the outcomes resulting from a violation in which a student is found responsible for violating the Conduct Code. The purpose of sanctions are to provide students with an opportunity to learn from experience and bring greater awareness of the impact of choices on themselves, others, and the communities of Ames and ISU.

Do you notify my parents/guardians about this?
Disciplinary files are protected under a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Iowa State University does not generally disclose information regarding disciplinary hearings/situations with parents/guardians without your written permission to do so.

Will the hearing officer or SCHB be aware of any prior violations?
Prior violations are only considered in sanctions if a student is found in violation of university policy for the present incident. It is not considered when making determinations regarding students' responsibility for a violation.

What should I do if I have also been charged criminally? Isn't this double jeopardy?
The ISU student disciplinary process is separate from the criminal court proceedings. If you've already been to court for the alleged incident, then you have fulfilled your obligation to any violation of Iowa Law. You have not, however, met your obligation for Iowa State University policy. Even if the courts found you "not guilty" or determined there was not sufficient evidence to hear your case in court, you must still meet with an Office of Student Conduct staff member to resolve the matter with the university.

Can ISU take disciplinary action if the incident took place off-campus?

Conduct off-campus which violates conduct regulations and presents a clear and distinct interest of the University is subject to disciplinary sanctions. Section 4.1.3 of the Student Disciplinary Regulations provides further explanation.

What can I do if I do not like the conduct decision made at the end of my hearing?
The appeals process is clearly outlined in the Student Disciplinary Regulations in Section 6. There are specific criteria upon which an appeal may be filed. Depending on the type of hearing in your case, the appeals process will be different.

How long are student disciplinary records kept in the Dean of Students Office?
Student Disciplinary records are considered "educational records" and are normally maintained in the Dean of Students Office for a period of seven (7) years, after which the file records may be purged.

My internet connection has been blocked, what do I do?If your internet has been blocked, there is a good possibility that you have not responded to an email sent to you by the Office of Student Conduct to address an allegation that you have shared or downloaded copyrighted material without permission. To resolve this issue, contact a member of the Student Conduct staff at (515) 294-1021.

Parents and Family Members

How will I know if my student is facing University disciplinary action?
Generally, the only way you will know if your student is facing disciplinary action will be if your student shares that information with you. Communicating with your student about how they are doing academically and socially is a helpful method of showing your student that you are supportive and concerned with their progress and adjustment to college life.

What records does FERPA cover?
With few exceptions, FERPA protects the privacy of all students' "education records." Education records are defined as any records which are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution. Common examples of student records protected by FERPA include grade reports and disciplinary files.

Can I be present during my student's hearing process?
Any two persons can serve as an advisor for students in the student disciplinary process. Parents, family members, academic advisors, and friends are the most typical individuals asked by students to serve as advisors.

How can I best support my student in this process?
The most important way you can help your student is by being supportive while holding them accountable for their decisions if they were involved in the alleged incident. You can also help identify and encourage them to seek resources on campus for intervention opportunities regarding alcohol or drug use and abuse, anger management, and others so that your student can be successful at Iowa State. Finally, allow and expect your student to make the necessary arrangements to have this matter resolved. This includes setting appointments, attending meetings, and completing sanctions. When family members intervene and "take over" it is not generally educationally beneficial for the student or for effectively resolving the matter.


What does my advisee expect of me?
Your student or advisee may simply ask you to help them better understand the student disciplinary process. If you have questions or do not fully understand the process, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Conduct at (515) 294-1021. Although the process is not intended to be stressful or surprising, the reality is that it may cause concern for some students. Listening to their story, providing support to them, and seeking information may be the best way to assist in this process.

What is my role in the disciplinary process?
Any two persons from within the university community (faculty, staff, or student) or outside the university community may advise the accused student or student/campus organization. University hearings are not court proceedings. The advisor may:

Advise the student/org. on the preparation and presentation of the case;

Accompany student/org. to all student conduct hearings; and

Advise the student/org. in preparation and presentation of any appeal.

The advisor may not:

Present any part of the case for the student/org. However, a student with a disability affecting communication or a student who cannot effectively communicate in the English language may seek a reasonable accommodation from the OSC to allow an advisor or interpreter to present or translate the case for the student;

Directly examine or cross examine witnesses; or

Disrupt or delay the proceedings.

Advisors not complying with university hearing procedures may be removed from the student disciplinary proceedings.


Student Organizations

Are student organizations held to the same Conduct Code?
All registered student organizations are expected to follow the policies outlined in the Student Disciplinary Regulations. Records for student organizations are not treated the same as individual students and are not subject to FERPA protections or disclosure restrictions. 

What are possible sanctions for student organizations?
Sanctions for student organizations do not necessarily differ from those imposed on individual students. It will primarily depend on whether it is a Level 1 or Level 2 case.