The purpose of the University Student Conduct System is to promote student growth and to preserve the atmosphere of learning necessary to the well being of all students. The Office of Student Life is responsible for administering all aspects of the University Student Conduct System. Conduct action may be implemented only through referral of violations to the Offices of Student Life, Office of Student Affairs or Housing and Residential Life. Complaints and reports of violations may be submitted to the Office of Student Life or the Department of Housing and Residential Life from the campus police or local police departments, from other students, and from faculty and staff.
As members of both the University community and the outside community, students may be held responsible for incidents in more than one arena. Thus, if the campus police receive a complaint, as a fully empowered police department, they may bring criminal charges against you. If the same incident is also a violation of the University's community standards and falls within jurisdiction of the student conduct system, campus proceedings may proceed independently, concurrently, and according to the University's timetable. Any questions about concurrent charges should be addressed to the Office of Student Life.
Cases of academic dishonesty that receive grade sanctions but not conduct action are governed by Student Handbook Sections 1.
The University Student Conduct System applies primarily to individual students. Fraternity and sorority cases are adjudicated by the Office of Student Life and occasionally by the Office of Student Affairs using these same general guidelines with an option for using Fraternity and Sorority Hearing Panels as described in Section 22.
Both alleged victims and charged students have rights that the University is committed to maintaining and protecting. All policies, procedures, and practices of the University Student Conduct System will therefore be administered in a manner that reflects and preserves a balance, and does not favor the rights of one side to the detriment of the other. Errors in charge letters, decision letters, or other official communication should be brought to the attention of the charging official within 3 business days of receipt. Substantive errors may necessitate extension of the student's deadlines. Questions about the conduct system should be addressed to the Office of Student Life, 330 Memorial Union, 874-2098.
University Community includes staff and faculty and students and visitors to the University of Rhode Island campuses, including the University Police Department.
Conduct Administrators are staff members from the following departments charged with conduct responsibilities: Office of Student Life, Housing and Residential Life, Office of Student Affairs.
Academic Cases are those which involve cheating, plagiarism or falsification of course requirements.
Non-academic Cases involve all other alleged violations of university policies and regulations, and of state or federal law when university jurisdiction applies.
Student means all persons accepted to the University of Rhode Island for matriculation and/or all individuals registered in or auditing any course or program at the University of Rhode Island. Individuals not currently enrolled but intending to return are also considered students (e.g., those on leave of absence).
Character Witnesses are those who are not speaking about the facts of the case but about the reputation and character of the charged student.
Off-campus conduct can be subject to jurisdiction of the Student Conduct System if one of the following conditions is met: 1) an infraction of a community standard of behavior as listed in the student handbook occurs at: an official University event, such as a field trip; at a University-sanctioned event as defined in Section 8.51.12 of the University Manual; or at an event sponsored by a recognized student organization, fraternity or sorority; or 2) an off-campus action, performed by a person while he or she is a student, is of such a nature that it would be subject to the Student Conduct System had it occurred on-campus, and the nature and circumstances of the infraction provides reasonable grounds for believing that the alleged offender poses a threat to the safety of self or others or if the alleged offender is repeatedly arrested or cited for violating local, state or federal laws. The decision to apply jurisdiction to off-campus conduct shall be made by the Dean of Students.
The following are examples of conduct in which the University may apply jurisdiction:
Action causing injury to self or others, including harassment (see 2.1)
Riotous behavior and/or inciting violence toward people or property
12.1 Appeal on the Issue of Off-Campus Jurisdiction
If a student is accused of an off-campus offense, and if the conduct administrator determines that there is cause for referring the matter to the University Student Conduct System, the student shall have the right to dispute the jurisdiction of the University Student Conduct System. Such an appeal must be filed in writing with the Office of Student Life not later than three days after notice of the Office of Student Life decision to charge the student. The appeal shall be presented to the Vice President for Student Affairs for disposition of the issue of jurisdiction. The decision on jurisdiction arrived at by the Vice President for Student Affairs shall be final.Back to Top
The available facts shall be gathered from the complainant or the reporting agency and a careful evaluation of these facts, as well as the reliability of information shall be made. If corroboration of the information presented is deemed necessary, further inquiry and investigation shall be undertaken. If, at this point, in the judgment of the conduct administrator, there is insufficient information of a violation, or the case lacks merit, a decision not to refer the matter to the student conduct system may be made. Generally, a complaint or incident report is acted on within 30 business days after the information is known. In unusual cases, conduct action may occur after a longer period of time.Back to Top
The University student conduct system is not an adversarial process, but an impartial inquiry into student conduct and the facts of the case. Students involved in the process as complainants, victims or charged parties are entitled to request advice from anyone they wish, including attorneys. However, the presence of anyone with a law degree or a licensed attorney in a hearing will not be permitted except in rare cases.
A student may have present at his/her hearing an advisor who is a student, staff, or faculty member of the University and who is not a licensed attorney and who does not have a law degree. The advisor's participation, even where an attorney is allowed, is passive; i.e. the advisor may consult with the charged student, but may not ask questions of witnesses or make arguments to the hearing panel or administrative hearing officer. The advisor may not serve as a witness or be a party to the case.
The Office of Student Life may defer action at any stage of the process for a period not to exceed 90 calendar days when school is in session. Pending charges may be discontinued thereafter, depending upon the good conduct of the charged student.Back to Top
When there is an apparent violation of community standards, the incident may be adjudicated through a formal mediation process if formal mediation is the unanimous choice of three parties: (1) the individual(s) allegedly responsible for the violation, (2) the student, staff, or department reporting or referring the violation, and (3) the Office of Student Life. Mediation may be initiated at any point in the process when the three parties agree to mediate. Trained University mediators approved by the Office of Student Life conduct the mediation. Mediation requires the cooperation of all parties to work out a resolution to the problem. The mediation process results in a written document agreed to by all parties. The written agreement is kept on file in the Office of Student Life. Should mediation not be completed or should a party fail to abide by the written agreement, formal conduct charges may be initiated.Back to Top
When the conduct administrator decides that there is information of a violation that warrants referral to the conduct system, the student shall be notified in writing of the charges. This written notification will include the date, location, description of the alleged violation, reference to the handbook section allegedly violated, and a potential sanction will be given. If a student withdraws or is academically dismissed while charges are pending, conduct procedures may continue or be delayed upon the student's return to the University at the discretion of the Dean of Students. If a student completing degree requirements is accused of a suspendable or dismissible offense, his or her diploma may be held pending resolution of student conduct action. A student has 3 business days to point out errors in charge letters and when a corrected letter is issued, a student will have at minimum an additional 3 business days to choose action.Back to Top
Formally charged students may admit or deny responsibility for the charges. Students will have a minimum of three business days upon receipt to respond to a charge letter.
If the student accepts responsibility for the charges and the recommended sanction, the case is resolved and a decision letter will confirm the resolution.
The purpose of a hearing is to evaluate information relevant to the responsibility of the charged student, and to evaluate information relevant to appropriate sanctioning. Concerns, challenges, or objections regarding the prehearing process are not part of the hearing but must be raised with the Office of Student Life no later than 3 business days in advance of the hearing. Because the University believes in the value of peer review, hearings are before a hearing panel, except where described in Section 22. All hearings follow procedures outlined in Sections 24 and 25 whether they are before a conduct administrator or before a hearing panel; whether they are academic or non-academic.Back to Top
The conduct board consists of six or more student members and six faculty or staff members. Every effort will be made to have Board representation from the following groups: graduate students, fraternities and sororities, residence hall students, and commuters. Every effort will be made to recruit and select students from diverse backgrounds. Only full-time students who do not have current conduct sanctions are allowed to serve. Following a community-wide nomination process, selection of new board members will be conducted by a committee of at minimum one Office of Student Life staff member, one student board member, and one Student Senate representative.Back to Top
A hearing panel selected from the current conduct board hears cases of alleged violations of community standards or University policies as referred to it by the Office of Student Life. Past board members may serve if current board members are not available. In non-academic cases, the hearing panel consists of four students and one faculty selected from the board as described in Section 20. The panel chairperson shall be selected from the student board members.Back to Top
Administrative Hearings. Administrative hearings are those heard before a conduct administrator other than the person who conducted the investigation.
The appeals boardhears appeals of decisions made by administrative action, administrative hearing, or by hearing panels. The appeals board consists of one full-time student appointed by the president of the Student Senate, one member of the teaching faculty appointed by the chairperson of the Faculty Senate, and a chairperson holding the rank of assistant professor or above, appointed by the President of the University. For a graduate student's appeal, the Graduate Student Association shall appoint the student member. Students appointed to the Appeals Board cannot have current conduct sanctions. Past board members who are conversant with the current system may serve if current members are not available.Back to Top
24.1 Every effort will be made to hold a hearing within 20 class days from the date the student completes the Choice of Action form.
24.2 If a student withdraws or is academically dismissed while charges are pending, conduct procedures may continue at the discretion of the Dean of Students. If a student completing degree requirements is accused of a suspendable or dismissible offense, his or her diploma may be held pending resolution of student conduct action or as a result of such action.
24.3 Notice in writing of the hearing will be delivered to the charged student at least 3 business days in advance of the hearing.
24.4 Hearings are closed.
24.5 The charged student is furnished the names of the board members in the hearing notification letter. The charged student may challenge the participation of a particular board member or hearing officer for good cause. The challenge must be delivered in writing to the Office of Student Life at least 3 business days in advance of the hearing. Each hearing panel member will be informed of the charged student's name and the charges at the time of the hearing. Any panel member may disqualify himself or herself, and either party to the case may be permitted to disqualify a member if he or she can satisfy the remaining members of the panel that there is "good cause" for disqualification. If alternates for disqualified panel members are available, these alternates take the place of the disqualified members. If it is not possible to replace a sufficient number of disqualified members to maintain a panel composition, the hearing may proceed only with the agreement of the charged student.
24.6 A student has the right to one rescheduled hearing if the scheduled time causes undue hardship. The request should be made to the advisor of the board at least 3 business days prior to the hearing and the student may be asked for documentation. A student is required to appear for a scheduled hearing; failure to do so normally results in the case being heard in the student's absence.
24.7 No oaths are requested or allowed, and the technical rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases shall not apply. The charging official and the chair of the panel will work to eliminate prejudicial and irrelevant information. If the charged student feels that this has not been done, he/she can add a written complaint or correction to the materials that are given to the hearing panel or officer.
24.8 During hearings, information supporting charges is presented through witness testimony. In instances where policy or regulations set or monitored by a particular department are allegedly violated, staff from that department may appear as witnesses. In particularly sensitive cases, a counselor or support person may accompany a witness and/or a witness may participate in the hearing via videotape from another room. This can be arranged in consultation with the conduct administrator handling the case.
24.9 Except for character witnesses (see Section 11f), witnesses for the charged individual(s) may not be permitted to appear at a hearing unless they have already provided the investigating administrator with the substance of their contribution of the facts of the case, either in person or in writing, at least two working days prior to the hearing.
24.10 Except when written testimony is allowed (see Section 24.11) the charged student has the right to question all witnesses. The hearing officer or chair has the right to rule on admissibility or manner of questioning.
24.11 Written testimony from absentee witnesses must be certified by a notary public. Written statements from character witnesses are generally approved for use but only in the sanction part of the hearing. The hearing officer or the hearing panel advisor and its chair determine the appropriateness of the use of written statements regarding the facts of the case. If the statements are admitted and prove to be pivotal to the case, the hearing should be adjourned until the absent witness can be present or further questioned.
24.12 When the student denies the allegation, the burden of proof rests on the information and witnesses brought forward by the investigating administrator.
24.13 All hearing panels have an advisor appointed by the Dean of Students who is present during all stages of the process including hearings and deliberations except during the closed board deliberation on responsibility. Responsibilities of the conduct board advisor shall include: (1) advising the hearing panel regarding the requirements and provisions of due process, (2) providing the hearing panel with the past conduct history of a responsible student during the sanction part of the hearing, (3) providing continuity in board operations and procedures, (4) facilitating the implementation of conduct procedures at all levels of the student conduct system, (5) acting as a liaison between boards and the University community, (6) assisting the board in fulfilling its educational responsibility, and (7) preparing a written record of each hearing which includes a summary of the statements and information and the decision reached. The individual who serves as advisor to the board shall not be the person who conducted the original investigation.
24.14 The hearing panel or hearing officer makes one of the following decisions upon completion of the hearing: (1) a finding of not responsible, (2) a finding of responsible based on preponderance of information and a determination of the sanctions, (3) dismissal of the charges due to lack of information or (4) continuance of the case for the purpose of obtaining additional information or for further consideration. Decisions are based only upon information introduced at the hearing. All decisions shall be made by a majority vote, except deliberations on responsibility, which shall require unanimity. The chairperson has the right to vote in all matters.
24.15 Students who obtain information at the hearing which might lead to new information must ask for a continuance of the case at the time rather than wait to raise the matter for the first time as the basis for an appeal request.
24.16 When information comes up in a hearing indicating the charged student or witnesses may be responsible for violations not yet charged but related to the same incident, with the agreement of the charged student, the board may consider these additional violations against the student(s) when making sanction recommendations at the hearing. Without this agreement, the board may recommend that additional charges be brought against the student later. The board may recommend to the advisor that charges be brought against a witness when information about violations related to the same incident comes up in a hearing.Back to Top
25.1 The panel/hearing officer examines documents prepared by the charging official (e.g., summaries of incident, chronology, charge letter, witness statements, police reports, etc.). Charged student is brought into the hearing room. A complaining witness who wants to be present throughout the hearing enters the hearing room. A digital voice recording of the hearing will be made to help in the preparation of a hearing report and appeal.
Introduction of panel members and advisor or hearing officer.
Explanation of confidentiality.
Statement of student's rights to fairness and due process:
To be assisted by one advisor who is not a party in the case and who does not have legal training.
To present witnesses appearing in his or her behalf.
To question witnesses appearing against him or her.
To submit oral or written statements.
To remain silent and not testify against himself or herself.
Students should remember that if they remain silent, the board is compelled to hear the case and render a decision based upon the information presented.
25.2 Statement of charges by the chairperson of the board/hearing officer.
Charged student is asked if he or she understands the charges.
Charged student accepts or denies responsibility for the charges.
25.3 Charged student gives his or her description of the incident.
25.4 At the request of the panel/hearing officer, the charging official may appear at the hearing to answer questions about case materials. The panel/hearing officer asks questions, then the charged and complaining student(s) asks questions.
25.5 Character witnesses participate in hearings only after a decision regarding responsibility and only in regard to sanctions. Witnesses speaking to the facts of the incident are escorted to the hearing room one at a time. The panel/hearing officer determines order of appearance.
Witness describes his/her knowledge of the incident.
Panel members ask questions.
Charged student may pose questions for witnesses.
25.6 Charged student, complaining student, and panel members/hearing officer may recall witnesses or re-question participants.
25.7 Final discussion between panel/hearing officer, charged student, and complaining student prior to deliberation.
25.8 Charged student, complaining student, and advisor(s) leave the hearing room.
25.9 Panel/hearing officer deliberate and make a decision as described in Section 24.13.
25.10 Advisor and charged student reconvene with the panel/hearing officer to hear the decision. Proceed with sanction portion of the hearing if the board finds the student responsible.
Past student conduct system involvement described.
Recommended sanctions from charging official are read.
Charged student responds to recommended sanctions.
Panel/hearing officer may question the charged student.
25.11 Panel/hearing officer discusses sanctions and impact with the charged student.
25.12 Hearing is concluded. Charged student and advisor leave the room. Panel discusses whether they wish to forward input or suggestions regarding the sanction to the charging official.
25.13 The panel advisor/hearing officer consults with the charging official regarding any sanction recommendations resulting from the hearing. The charging official decides whether or not to alter the original sanction recommendation. The panel advisor/hearing officer gives the decision letter and the final decision regarding sanction to the student as soon as reasonably possible after the decision is reached. At this time the appeal process is explained.Back to Top
26.1 Following a hearing, a charged student has the right to submit an appeal request to the University Appeals Board on Student Conduct. Such appeal requests are based on specific information, presented in writing, of one or more of the four grounds: fraud, denial of rights, procedural error, or new information that was previously unavailable. The written appeal must explain how any of these four appeal grounds would have materially affected the decision of the hearing panel or officer. Following a hearing, a complainant has the right to submit an appeal within one week to the University Appeals Board based on new information. Appeal requests must be filed within one week of receipt of the decision letter. The Dean of Students may grant extensions to the deadline for filing appeal requests for good and sufficient reason.
26.2 Upon receipt of a written request for appeal, a meeting of the University Appeals Board on Student Conduct will be scheduled. The board will be provided with a report of the hearing or administrative action, the appeal request, and an administrative response (from either the panel advisor or the hearing officer) to the appeal request. A copy of the report of the hearing or administrative action and the administrative response may be obtained by the student from the Office of Student Life. If the appellant wants the Appeals Board to have his or her reactions to the administrative response, it must be put in writing and delivered to the Office of Student Life at least one hour before the Appeals Board meets. To help prepare the appeal, the charged student may listen to any available recording of the hearing in the Office of Student Life.
26.3 The student (and advisor) and hearing officer or panel advisor may be invited to appear before the Appeals Board for the sole purpose of responding to questions from the board members about the written appeal material. This meeting is not a hearing and will remain closed to the public.
26.4 If the University Appeals Board on Student Conduct determines that a written request for an appeal demonstrates one or more appeal ground(s), and that the written appeal demonstrates that the ground(s) has materially affected the hearing outcome, it refers the case back to the original hearing panel or to a new hearing panel. The new hearing panel is composed of three board members including at least one student and one faculty member all of whom are new to the case. The new hearing panel may either uphold the original decision and sanction imposed, or adjust the original decision and/or sanction.
26.5 Approval of the sanction by the University President or Vice President for Student Affairs (for cases of suspension or dismissal) or Dean of Students (for all other cases) shall take place after the appeal process is completed. If the President or the Dean does not approve the sanction, they have the authority to change it.Back to Top
All conduct records, such as complaint reports, correspondence, charge letters, decision letters, hearing summaries, are maintained by the Office of Student Life for six years after the date of action. Records of an unresolved behavioral situation (as when a student withdraws prior to charging or disposition) shall be reviewed annually starting with the six-year anniversary to determine if they should be kept. Records of permanent dismissal shall be retained permanently. These records are confidential and educational in nature and are kept separate from the academic record. Access to such records is governed by the University Policies for the Release and Disclosure of Information from Student Records (see Sections 9.6 - 9.8).Back to Top
The actions that may be taken as a consequence of violating the community standards of behavior range from the traditional sanctions of no further action to dismissal. In addition, situational conditions can be attached depending upon, and appropriate to the severity of the violation, the degree to which the individual has participated or been involved, his or her motivations and intent in connection with the infraction, and any record of past violations as well as a consideration of all facets of the specific individual situation. Sanctions may be more severe when the charging official determines the violations can be considered "hate crimes" (see Section 2.10).
28.1 Situational Conditions. These include, but are not limited to:
Restitution to the University or an individual for any damage committed or cost incurred
Contribution to a University department to use for unmet student needs
Prohibition from all or from a specific location
Suspension of a student's right to represent the University at University-sponsored or related events
No-contact orders regarding specific University community members
A move from one on-campus residence location to another on-campus residence location or removal from on-campus residence
Specific hours of unpaid work service
Referral to the Counseling Center
Referral to the Judicial Alcohol and Drug Education program (JADE)
Fines for alcohol/drug violations
Random drug testing (to be used only if students are held responsible for drug violations)
Grade sanction imposed by faculty in cases of academic dishonesty (see sections 1.4 - 1.6)
For those conditions which suspend privileges, a specific time period will be set, indicating when the student may regain the privilege(s), if at all.
28.2 No Further Action. In cases where the discussion with the administrative officer or the hearing before the appropriate student conduct board has been sufficient, the student will be notified that there is no further action necessary.
28.3 Warning. In instances of minor violations the student may be warned in writing of the possible consequences of continuing such behavior. Additional conditions may be applied as appropriate.
28.4 Residence Probation. A student who is placed on residence probation is not in good standing with his or her living unit for a specified period of time and conditions may be placed on his or her actions. The status of residence probation reminds the student that his or her infraction has become part of his or her record and that repetition of similar or other unacceptable behavior may be cause for removal from the living unit.
28.5 Removal from Living Unit. This action precludes either the student's continued residence in a particular living unit or in any campus living unit. Such action would normally be taken after one serious violation or repeated violations related to the living unit environment.
28.6 Disciplinary Probation. The probation usually extends over a stated period, during which it is clearly understood that the student is subject to further conduct action, including suspension or dismissal, if he or she violates the terms of the probation or abide by community standards as described in this handbook.
28.7 Suspension. is an involuntary separation of the student from the institution. Suspension differs from dismissal because it implies and states a time limit when return will be possible. Suspension may extend for a semester, for a specified period, until a specifically designated date, or until a stated condition is met. Such action does not take effect until approved by the University President or the Vice President for Student Affairs.
28.8 Dismissal. is the permanent, involuntary enforced separation of the student from the institution. Such action does not take effect until approved by the University President or the Vice President for Student Affairs.Back to Top
Pending formal action on a violation of University regulations, the status of a student shall not be altered or the right to be present on the campus and to attend classes suspended, except for reasons of imminent danger to his or her physical or emotional safety or well-being or for reasons of imminent danger to the safety or well-being of the University community. The decisions to separate a student from the campus under these conditions shall be made only with the approval of the University President or the Vice President for Student Affairs. If a student is separated from the campus by this authority, the procedures outlined in Sections 24-25 shall be implemented only if requested in writing by the separated student. If requested, every effort will be made to offer a hearing within 15 class days after the separation. A student separated from campus by this authority must remain separated until the hearing is held. If more than one semester elapses from the time of the Emergency Suspension to the time the student requests a hearing, the hearing will always be an administrative hearing.Back to Top
30.1 Rights and Responsibilities of an individual with a Complaint
An individual from the University community with a complaint against another student should bring the issue to a conduct administrator within 30 days of the incident. In extenuating and serious circumstances, time extensions may be made by the Dean of Students.
A student has the right to request mediation but the charged student and the University must agree to this resolution.
A student with a complaint who is a victim of violence has the right to know the outcome of the case.
A student with a complaint or a witness has the right to have the hearing process explained by a conduct administrator.
In cases of a particularly sensitive nature, a student or student with a complaint may have an advisor or counselor with him/her when in the hearing room. The advisor must be a member of the University community and is there to give personal support but does not participate in the hearing.
A student with a complaint has the right to submit a victim impact statement, verbally or in writing, to the hearing panel or hearing officer determining the sanction.
A student with a complaint has the right to submit a victim impact statement, verbally or in writing, to the hearing panel or hearing officer determining the sanction.
The student with a complaint has the right to request a change of on-campus residence, if needed.
The student with a complaint has the right to present witnesses to the hearing panel or hearing officer.
A student with a complaint has the responsibility to be cooperative, polite and truthful in all interactions with hearing panel or hearing officer.
A student with a complaint has the responsibility to provide the hearing officer or board advisor with the names of witnesses and any documentation necessary to the case.
A student with a complaint has the right to request to participate in a hearing from another room via live video feed.
30.2 Rights and Responsibilities of a Charged Student.
Charged students have the right to have complaints brought against them within 30 days of the incident. Time extensions may be made by the Dean of Students.
Charged students have the right to procedural due process; that is the procedures outlined in the Student Handbook must be followed.
A charged student has the right to request mediation but the student with a complaint and the University must agree to this resolution.
A student has the right to be notified in writing of all charges.
A charged student has the right to accept or deny responsibility.
A charged student has the right to request a hearing option according to the student handbook guidelines.
A charged student has the right to present witnesses as described in the preceding handbook sections.
A charged student has the right to submit oral or written statements on his/her behalf.
A charged student has the right to question witnesses except when written statements are permitted (see Section 24.11).
A student who is or may be facing conduct charges has the right to have an advisor present at any stage of the conduct process (see Section 14).
A charged student has the right to have the hearing process explained by a conduct administrator.
A charged student has the responsibility to get a list of witnesses to the hearing advisor at least 48 hours before the hearing (24 hours for character witnesses).
A charged student has the responsibility to be cooperative, polite and truthful in all interactions with the hearing officer or the hearing panel.
A charged student has the right to appeal the decision of the hearing panel or hearing officer as explained in the student handbook.