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Student Conduct FAQs

Student Questions

Faculty Staff Questions

Victim Questions

Parent Questions

I received a letter from Student Conduct. What do I do now?

There are a variety of reasons why Student Conduct may be contacting a student. You may have been identified as a witness, or may have been involved in a conduct matter. Please read the letter that was sent to you. If you still have questions, please contact the sender or Student Conduct.

What happens at a conduct meeting?

For non-academic hearings, most conduct meetings are a discussion between you and the hearing officer. This is an opportunity to present your case and be heard. The hearing process is outlined in the Code of Conduct.

How do I prepare for a meeting?

You are encouraged to request a copy of the report beforehand and consult with a student conduct advisor. We recommend being honest and forthcoming with the hearing officer.

Why do I have a hold on my account?

There are several different reasons why we may put a hold on a student’s account. Please refer to our holds section.

Will my parents find out?

In general, parents of a student who is younger than 21 years of age will be notified in writing when the student has violated the drug or alcohol policy. Please refer to our records and confidentiality section for more information.

I have to go to court. Why is Student Conduct also involved?

There are some behaviors that might be a violation of the law as well as a violation of university policy. Violations of the Code of Conduct are addressed through the student conduct process. The student conduct process is focused on educating students with emphasis on development and accountability, while the criminal justice system is focused on punishment and rehabilitation. On campus, disciplinary proceedings may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off campus at the discretion of the dean of student and academic life or designee. Double Jeopardy does not apply. Student Conduct is not a criminal court or legal process. It is an administrative office of the University and educational process.

Do I need an attorney?

Our simple answer will always be that if you think you need an attorney, you should have one. Attorneys are not permitted to directly participate in the hearing process, nor address the board, unless they have received permission from the hearing officer. An attorney might be advisable where there are criminal charges that have arisen or may be reasonably expected to arise.

What rights do I have?

A list of rights may be found in the Code of Conduct and on our website.

How do I appeal the decision/sanction?

Appellate procedures are outlined in the Code of Conduct and on our website.

How does a disciplinary file affect graduate school, jobs, or leadership opportunities?

It depends on the material contained in the file, the educational plans of the student, and the expectations or restrictions of the school, job, or leadership position. In general, the more egregious the violation, the more serious the incident, and the more intrusive the scrutiny of the person conducting the check, the more the potential affect could be. It has been our practice that medical schools and law schools have stricter requirements. Similarly, you should know that some programs, like study abroad, may have specific requirements.

The Student Conduct staff have sufficient experience to review your file and describe the potential affects an incident might have.

I can’t finish my sanction by the deadline. What should I do?

You should contact Student Conduct or your hearing officer immediately. Describe the situation. Under certain circumstances you might qualify for an extension. It is more difficult to obtain an extension after the deadline has passed.

Can I attend other schools while I am suspended or dismissed from Fitchburg State?

Other public and private schools have different entrance requirements. You should contact the specific institution to discuss what can be done. If you intend to transfer the credits back to Fitchburg State, you should also contact the Registrar’s Office to discuss transferability prior to taking the class.

Can I get a copy of my file?

Yes. Please contact the Student Conduct office in person or online and complete a records request form.

Do I have to report an academic integrity violation to Student Conduct?

Faculty are not required to report academic integrity violations to Student Conduct. If the faculty member decides to make a formal accusation, they should follow the procedures outlined in the Code of Conduct. Student Conduct encourages faculty to report these incidents for record keeping purposes and institutional statistics. We are happy to discuss with you the matter prior to pursuing any action.

How much time will it take to resolve a case of academic misconduct?

It depends on whether the student agrees or disagrees with the finding. If the student agrees, there is little to no additional work required on your part. If the student disagrees, you will be afforded the opportunity to present your version of the case to the conduct board. We highly encourage faculty members to attend the board hearing and will work with you and the student on scheduling. Preparation time usually takes less than an hour and conduct board hearings typically last between one and two hours. Final determination by the Dean is usually issued approximately three to five business days later.

What grade should I submit if the case is not resolved yet but grades are due?

You are encouraged to submit an incomplete while the matter is under review. We communicate with the Dean and the registrar and will know that there is a current academic integrity violation in process.

What are the sanction options for an academic integrity violation?

Sanctions are at the discretion of the faculty member. Typically, faculty have assigned the student a 0 for the assignment or a 0 for the course, depending on departmental practices, nature of the violation, and other relevant factors. We also encourage faculty to have the student complete an educational module on academic integrity.

Where can I find out more information about academic integrity?

More information about the academic integrity policy is available in the Student Handbook, Code of Conduct, and our website.

How should I respond if a student’s parent contacts me?

You are not obligated to discuss your concerns or a case with the student’s parent(s). In fact, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits this type of contact without first securing a release from the student. You may, after securing a release, engage the student’s parent(s) in a conversation. If you do not want to engage in such a conversation, you are encouraged to refer the student’s parent(s) to our office for information about the process.

Are there any risks for faculty to use the student conduct process?

Since the adoption of the current code of conduct and academic integrity policy, there have been no cases of students bringing suit against a faculty member for using the student conduct process. In addition, there have been no reported incidents of students making threats against faculty for engaging in this process. In all likelihood, there are greater risks when a faculty penalizes a student without going through the student conduct process.

What should I do about classroom disruption?

The University adopted a statement on classroom decorum, which can be found on page 39 of the Student Handbook, in the Academic Policies section. We recommend that faculty establish clear expectations for classroom behavior up front, which is the most effective means of preventing disruptions. Faculty are encouraged to first address the matter directly with the student. Faculty may also want to consult their department chair or Student Conduct.

If the disruption is egregious or continues, you may wish to pursue the student conduct process.

I was the victim; do I have to participate in a hearing?

The victim need not directly participate in the hearing if they choose not to. However, the victim may be called as a witness in the matter. Rights of parties are outlined in the Code of Conduct. It may be difficult to prove a case without cooperation of the victim. In some cases, the office will not proceed without the cooperation of the victim.

What resources are available for victims of misconduct?

There are a number of resources available on-campus and off-campus for victims. Student Conduct works closely with many of these offices and can help in guiding victims to get the support they need.

Can I submit an incident report anonymously?

We are extremely limited in our ability to act upon and pursue anonymous reports. Often we need to verify the information that was submitted to our office. This requires us to speak directly with the person submitting the report to get additional information and inform them of their rights in the conduct process. Further, our student conduct process provides the alleged student (respondent) the right to know who or what office is accusing them.

Our office works diligently to make sure that reporters know their rights as outlined in the Code of Conduct.

My student has a disciplinary case; can you talk to me about it?

Staff in Student Conduct are always willing to share information regarding the Code of Conduct and the student conduct process. A student may sign a release permitting Student Conduct and the Office of Student Affairs to discuss specifics of their case. The release must be made voluntarily and is relevant to a given point in time. We do not have blanket releases.

It is our hope to work as openly and as often as possible with parents to help their student be successful.

Can a parent be present during student conduct meeting or hearing?

Yes, as long as the student signs a release allowing you to be present.

Can a parent speak for their student at the meeting or hearing?

No. Students are responsible for presenting their perspective of what happened and representing themselves during the hearing. While parents may aid the student, only the student may present their information. Parents may only address the hearing officer with their permission.

In general, parents are considered observers in the hearing process. This role allows them to be present but not participate directly in the hearing.

Should I hire an attorney?

Our simple answer will always be that if you think you need an attorney, you should have one. Attorneys are not permitted to directly participate in the hearing process or address the board unless they have received permission from the hearing officer. An attorney might be advisable where there are criminal charges that have arisen or may be reasonably expected to arise.

How will this incident affect the student’s future?

It depends on the material contained in the file, the educational plans of the student, and the expectations or restrictions of the school, job, or leadership position. In general, the more egregious the violation, the more serious the incident, and the more intrusive the scrutiny of the person conducting the check, the more the potential affect could be. It has been our practice that medical schools and law schools have stricter requirements. Similarly, you should know that some programs, like study abroad, may have specific requirements.

Student Conduct staff have sufficient experience to review your file and describe the potential affects an incident might have.