No one goes to college intending to break the rules, but what happens if you do? At Texas Tech, the Office of Student Conduct is designed to uphold the policies of the university and keep students accountable for their actions. Like most universities, students at TTU must adhere to a code of conduct that outlines behavioral standards and procedures for addressing misconduct.

The student conduct process is dissimilar to that of a civil or criminal court proceeding; thus, if you find yourself up against this disciplinary authority, it is imperative you know the system as well as your rights.

This article is the first of a two-part series where we dive head first into the student conduct process. For further information regarding the actual Disciplinary Hearing and the rights that you have, see Part II.

University Misconduct

At the beginning of each year, students at the university are provided an electronic copy of the Code of Student Conduct. It is each student’s responsibility to read and abide by the Code’s provisions—though we know this isn’t always the case. Below are a few of the provisions that set forth acts constituting university misconduct.

1. Academic Misconduct. This includes cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, misrepresenting facts, violations of published professional ethics/standards, and any act or attempted act designed to give unfair academic advantage to oneself or another student.

2. Actions against Members of the University Community. Any act, or attempted act perpetrated against another person or persons including, but not limited to: disruptive conduct; harmful, threatening or endangering conduct; intimidation; bullying; dating violence; bullying or cyber bullying; stalking; sexual misconduct; hazing; harassment; and complicity.

3. Alcoholic Beverages. Any unlawful or unauthorized possession, use distribution, delivery or sale of alcohol as well as public intoxication and driving while intoxicated.

4. Narcotics or Drugs. Possession, use, sharing, furnishing or distribution of illegal drugs. This includes cannabis and any of its derivatives.

5. Violation of Federal, State, Local Law and/or University Policy. This is a “catchall” violation; meaning, that if misconduct does not fit into any of the other provisions, it will likely fall here. Any violation of federal, state or local law will be considered a violation of this policy. A lack of conviction will not serve as evidence in the University conduct proceeding. So, just because your case was dismissed in court, does not mean that the school will drop their case against you.

Conduct Investigation

If you have violated any of the policies contained within the Code of Student Conduct, you will first be provided with written notice of such. Notice is deemed to have been properly provided when the notification is sent to your student email, delivered via Certified Mail, or personally delivered. You will be given a reasonable amount of time to respond to University officials. Once the notice has been provided, the investigator can proceed with the conduct process.

It is the investigator’s job to inquire, gather and review information about any reported misconduct. The investigator assigned to your case will evaluate the accuracy, credibility and sufficiency of the information. During the course of the investigation, the Dean of Students or Managing Director may choose to institute interim actions to eliminate hostile environments, prevent reoccurrence, and ameliorate effects on the complainant and community. These include, but are not limited to:

Note that these actions are temporary until the resolution of your case; however, you can request review of these actions from the Managing Director who has discretion to make modifications.

During the course of the investigation, the investigator will most likely conduct an interview with complainants, respondents and any witnesses. Both complainants and respondents must provide information or evidence that they believe should be considered.

Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will compile all relevant information and evidence into an Investigative report. You will have an opportunity to review the completed report. While you may identify errors in your own statements, the investigator cannot add additional information to the Investigation Report unless that information was unavailable during the investigative process and is pertinent to the consideration of the case.

Informal Resolution

If you choose to accept responsibility for the allegations contained within the Investigation Report, you have the ability to resolve the issue informally. This is the Informal Resolution Process, whereby the investigator will inform you of the appropriate sanctions for the misconduct. If you accept the sanctions, the process ends, the finding is final, and there is no appeal.

Pre-Hearing

If there is no informal resolution to your case, the pre-hearing process will be followed. During this process, you will have the opportunity to review the Investigation Report, relevant evidence, and other documents to be used in the administrative or panel hearing.

At the pre-hearing meeting, you will be assigned a hearing officer. The hearing officer should outline how the hearing works and advise you of your rights. The officer will also provide you with a list of the panel members that will hear your case and ultimately decide your fate. Finally, you will be provided with a date and time in which your hearing will occur.   

Next week, we will go over the hearing itself in addition to the rights that you have as a respondent throughout this process.

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