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Conduct Questions and Answers
What is the Student Conduct Process?
The Student Conduct process, coordinated through the Office of Student Development, deals with violations of the Standards of Conduct. We respond to possible violations reported by the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Residence Life, students, faculty and other members of the Marquette University and Milwaukee communities.
The process is very much a reflection of the educational mission of the university, dedicated to the formation of ethical and informed leaders. Our primary goal is to help form students of character and integrity, able to understand the consequences of their behavior for themselves and others.
When an Incident Report is received in the Office of Student Development, it is reviewed for possible violations of the Standards of Conduct. In cases where it appears violation(s) may have occurred, the students involved will be sent a notification letter, delineating specific charge(s). Each charge is related to a particular Standard of Conduct. The notification letter will also stipulate a date, time and location for a Student Conduct Hearing to clarify the situation.
Doesn’t this ”charge” mean that you’ve already found me guilty?
No. The notification refers to the incident as an “alleged violation of the Standards of Conduct.” The purpose of the hearing is to clarify the situation: to allow each member of the community to share his/her own version of the incident(s). After a hearing, if students are not found responsible for a violation of the Standards of Conduct, the file is deleted from their records.
Also, as an educational system, we strive to determine one’s responsibility for actions and choices—not guilt or innocence.
What are my rights?
The student rights are located in full in the Student Handbook. In sum, they are: 1) to be present throughout the hearing, but not during the deliberation of the Student Conduct Administrator or Student Conduct Review Board; 2) to remain silent (i.e., not to testify against yourself); 3) to object to a member of a Student Conduct Review Board for reasons of official or personal conflict of interest; 4) to know all evidence and testimony presented and to view pertinent materials supporting the case; 5) to present evidence and the testimony of witnesses to substantiate your case and to comment upon and respond to the charges; 6) to make a written appeal of the disciplinary decision.
With whom am I meeting?
Your notification letter indicates that you will have a Student Conduct Review Board hearing. Your hearing will be with a board of your peers. The student conduct boards consist of between five and eight students, with a student chair and an administrative advisor. As noted in your rights, if there is a conflict of interest between you and a Board member, you may object to that person.
What happens at the hearing?
All student conduct hearings are tape-recorded, to maintain an accurate record of the proceedings. After turning on the recorder, the Board members will introduce themselves and briefly review process. They will explain your rights in the process, as well as what you have been charged with, and ask you to sign a document indicating you understand your rights. The incident report and any other supporting documents or statements will then be read. Then it is your opportunity to tell us what happened: If you have any witnesses, you may bring them in and let them speak with us. We may present witnesses as well. After all the information on the case has been reviewed, including the written documents and everything that has been said, you will be given the opportunity to tell us anything else we need to know before making a decision. The timeline for the decision and appeals process will then be explained to you and you may leave. You will be informed of the outcome of the hearing in writing.
How is a decision made about whether or not I am responsible?
We consider all the testimony presented at the hearing (the incident report, your statements, statements of witnesses) and then look at each charge individually. A student is found responsible for violating policies if he or she admits it or the evidence indicates that a person is responsible. A Student Conduct Hearing is an educational meeting—not a legal proceeding: when evidence is considered, it is not for purposes of making a decision “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The standard of evidence used at Marquette, and at most other colleges and universities, is a “preponderance of evidence.” This standard of evidence essentially asks “Is it more likely than not that a policy was violated?”
How will I be punished?
The Student Conduct Process is an educational process: as such, we do not operate from a “punishment perspective.” In cases where a student is found responsible for a violation of the Standards of Conduct, we assign educational outcomes. There are no standard outcomes for violations of the Standards of Conduct. Infractions have led to actions ranging from positive actions and university warnings to expulsion. Even in the most challenging situations, however, the university seeks first and foremost to educate its students and make decisions regarding disciplinary actions from an educational perspective. Decisions regarding educational outcomes take the following factors into account:
- the nature and gravity of the incident (what you did)
- the motivation underlying the behavior (why you chose to do what you did)
- your disciplinary history (what you have done before)
- precedent in similar cases
- the developmental and educational impact of this incident and any hoped for lessons from an assigned outcome (what you can learn from this situation to positively impact your future choices and the Marquette community).
If the violation also involves an alleged crime, can I be prosecuted criminally & also be addressed through the Student Conduct Process?
Yes. The Marquette University Student Conduct process is separate from the legal system and has different goals and outcomes. Without your permission or a court order, we generally cannot inform external agencies of the outcome of our process and our decisions are not influenced by any civil or criminal proceeding.
What if I did not do anything wrong?
The hearing provides you with the opportunity to explain the situation from your perspective. If you did not do anything wrong, simply tell the truth. The Board will listen to your testimony, ask questions, consider all the information and make a decision. After a full and fair hearing, we believe those responsible will make the correct decision and find the truth.
Is it just my word against someone else’s?
Where possible, we try to gather additional information (witness statements, physical evidence) to avoid the possible contentiousness of two students simply “squaring off.” Likewise, you have the opportunity to provide witness statements or other information. Again, in making a decision, the guideline used is a “preponderance of the evidence.”
What if I did do it?
While it may not be the easiest thing to do, the Student Conduct process offers you the opportunity to admit you made a mistake and take responsibility for your decisions and behavior. Experience has shown that most students have the courage to admit their mistakes and are committed to learning from poor decisions. We are committed to helping students explore their decisions and consider how they reflect their own values and the persons they hope to become. The Conduct Boards are committed to the education and integrity of each student we work with in the Conduct process: this commitment begins with accepting each student where he or she is and respecting their struggles as they mature.
Admitting a violation will ruin my life! Will this violation be on my transcripts and keep me from going to graduate or professional school or getting a good job?
First of all, a single violation will not ruin your life. As an educational institution, a primary goal of the Conduct process is to help students learn from their mistakes. Student conduct records are considered part of your educational record at Marquette and in general cannot be released to others without your consent. In all but the most serious cases, a student conduct record will not prevent your being accepted into graduate or professional school or bar you from employment.
Will my parents find out?
If your parents claim you as a dependent, they will be informed of the results of a student conduct hearing in the following situations: students who are placed on Residence Life or University Probation, and students who are suspended and expelled from the university. Additionally, if you are found responsible for serious or repeated violations of the university Alcohol and Drug Policies, your parents will be informed. In all cases, we are informing your parents in order to enlist their support in our joint educational mission—not to “get you in more trouble.”
I didn’t know my actions were a violation of university policy-I didn’t mean to do anything wrong! How can you charge me for that?
Every student at Marquette is responsible for knowing the Standards of Conduct: ignorance is not an excuse. The Standards of Conduct are fully delineated in the Student Handbook, At Marquette; rules pertaining specifically to residence halls and university-owned apartments are in Living at Marquette.
Can someone come with me to the hearing?
Most students do not choose to bring someone with them to the hearing, but if you wish to have an advisor present, you must notify the Student Conduct Board chair in writing at least two working days before the hearing. An advisor may be a friend or family member, an RA, faculty or staff member. The advisor serves as a support person and is intended to be of assistance to you before and during the hearing. The advisor may not speak for you nor address the Conduct Board.
Can I talk to the person who made the complaint or wrote up the incident report about me?
This depends on the nature of the incident. In some instances, you will be specifically directed to avoid contact with another person. Some hearings will afford you the chance to talk to the person and some will not. In any situation, you may want to be careful about your interactions with the person who may have made the complaint or written up the report: your contact may be interpreted as a threat or as interference with the Student Conduct process.
Can I be kicked out of school?
Yes, however, suspension (temporary removal) and expulsion (permanent removal) are reserved for the most serious violations. Such cases are generally heard by Student Conduct Administrators, not Conduct Boards. When behavior is harmful to a member of the university community, severely interrupts the educational process or repeats past violations, suspension or expulsion may be a necessary outcome.
How about just not showing up for the hearing?
Even if you aren’t there, a decision regarding your responsibility will be made based on the incident report and witness testimony (where pertinent). Actions can also be assigned in your absence. It is in your best interest to participate in the hearing.
What if I don’t like the decision?
You have the right to appeal the decision, using an appeal form available in the Office of Student Development. The appeal is written—it is not a re-hearing.
There are three grounds for appeal:
- There was a denial of a fair hearing.
- There was insufficient evidence to establish responsibility.
- There is new information available that was not available at the time of the hearing which effects the disciplinary decision.
What happens if I don’t complete the assigned outcomes?
If you don’t file an appeal, it is assumed that you accept the decision: you are responsible for completing the action(s) assigned. If you do not, you will be subject to additional charges and additional outcomes.