The University has a responsibility to maintain order within the University community and to discipline those who violate its standards, rules and/or policies. Enrollment requires students to share this responsibility. Students agree to abide by these standards, rules and/or policies set forth in the Code of Student Conduct and other official University publications. Student organizations also agree to follow all of these standards, rules and/or policies.
A University, like any community, must have regulations and/or standards by which its members abide and procedures by which its organizations function. The standards should provide order and an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and personal development.
Student Conduct hears alleged violations of misconduct or conduct that is inconsistent with University policy as it is outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. We receive allegations of misconduct on a referral basis. These referrals can come from the University Police Department, other Law Enforcement agencies, Residence Life Staff, SUNY Oneonta students, Faculty, Staff, or other University community members.
Most likely, the hearing officer who is assigned to your case has contacted you to give you notification of the date and time of your hearing. You should review the information sent to you carefully. If you cannot make the scheduled hearing you have one opportunity to reschedule. You may do this by calling the number indicated in the correspondence. Even if you feel that you are “not responsible” for the allegation, we strongly urge you to attend the hearing.
This means that the Student Conduct or Residence Life has received an incident report and/or a police report alleging that you were possibly involved in something that may constitute a violation of University policy. You will meet with a University hearing officer who will present the allegation against you. At this hearing, you will discuss the incident in question and determine if any University policy was violated.
A student who is alleged to have violated the Code of Student Conduct is entitled to certain procedural guarantees to ensure a fair hearing of information. These guarantees are listed below.
- The student who has been accused of a violation will be informed of the charges in writing or orally at the time of the administrative hearing.
- The student will be informed of the nature of the evidence against him/her.
- The student has the right to make statements and present witnesses on his/her behalf.
- The student may ask that the administrative hearing be postponed for 24 hours in order to have time to call witnesses or to gather witness statements.
- The student who has been accused has the right to remain silent and may not be forced to incriminate himself/herself.
- Decisions about violations of the Student Code will be based on the preponderance of evidence.
If you have class on the day of your hearing, you can wear whatever you wore to class. The appearance you present is entirely up to you. You are not being critiqued for a fashion show. You should be comfortable and inappropriate attire to meet with a University administrator. Rolling out of bed in your pajamas might not be appropriate.
An administrative hearing is a conduct review hearing that occurs with a University hearing officer. It is the less formal of the two types of hearings in that it is a facilitated conversation between the student and the hearing officer regard the incident in question. The other type of hearing is before the Standing Disciplinary Board (see FAQ # 23).
If you've already been to court for the alleged incident, then you have fulfilled your obligation to any violation of LAW. You have met the requirement set forth under New York Law for Otsego County. You have not yet met your obligation to SUNY Oneonta. Even if the courts found you "not guilty" or determined there wasn't sufficient evidence to even "hear" your case in court, you must still meet with a University hearing officer. The SUNY Oneonta judicial process runs separately and concurrently to any process the law requires. University policy is determined by and follows a different standard than the courts must satisfy with regards to reasonable doubt.
Failure to attend your hearing could result in several different things happening. Initially, an administrative flag may be placed on your record. You will be unable to add, drop, or register for classes, and transcripts are not available to you with a hold on your account. Additionally, your case may be heard in your absence. Subsequently, a decision may be rendered with sanction, conditions, and/or restrictions being placed upon you. Failure to attend your hearing does not exempt you from the outcomes determined by the hearing officer. You may also be "charged" with another violation of the Code of Conduct (Failure to Comply), which would in turn result in another allegation against you.
The Director of Student Conduct determines whether you will be heard by a Residence Life Administrator or by the Director. All hearing officer training is facilitated by the Director of Student Conduct and the integrity of the process is implicit to all hearing officers.
At the hearing, your hearing officer will advise you of your rights and responsibilities as a student. The hearing officer will then let you know what allegation is before him/her and how this allegation was brought to their attention. Once the hearing officer has presented the information they have available to them, the student will be asked if they have different information to share, correct, amend, etc. Once the student has given their version of the incident, the hearing officer will ask questions. The purpose of the hearing is to give you an opportunity to be heard, to have an educational discussion about community standards and, if you have violated a policy, give you an opportunity to accept responsibility for your actions.
The hearing officer will advise you that you do not have to make a statement if you feel it is in your best interest to not do so. However, if you choose to make a statement, honesty is the best policy. You may opt to tell him/her your entire version of what you perceive happened or you may simply respond to any questions that you may be asked. Lying is generally a bad idea - or misrepresenting the facts - seldom does a student lie in a hearing and not get "caught" in that lie later. Misrepresentation or being deceptive to the hearing officer can lead to another violation of the code as well.
Each case is heard for its individual merits. Once the hearing officer shares the information available to them, and the student shares their recollections of the events, it is up to the hearing officer to use good ethical practice and judgment as to a fair and just decision and outcome. As the judicial process at SUNY Oneonta is one of educational emphasis, often times hearing officers will need to see that a student understands the concerns of the University and may ask to see that understanding in a variety of different avenues (see FAQ # 9).
There are many factors that can influence the type of sanction(s) that are given; such as, seriousness of the violation, previous judicial history, precedent cases, etc. For example, for a freshman student, with no prior judicial history, who is possessing alcohol on campus the typical sanctions may include Residence Hall probation and referral to our Checkpoint program. Additionally, the student may be referred to all or some of the following: referral to First Year Experience Coordinator, referral to the Director of Career Development, complete one or more modules on Judicial Educator (online course), and/or other educational sanctioning.
The 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act guarantees that your educational records are kept confidential - unless you choose to waive those rights in writing. If you want your parents to become involved in this process - you would have to waive those rights in writing to have a hearing officer speak with them. An exception to this was facilitated by the 1998 Higher Education Amendment - which allows Colleges and Universities to contact parents of students who are under the age of 21 and found responsible for violating the alcohol and/or drug policy.
The College may notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under the age of 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. The College will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a health and/or safety risk. The College also reserves the right to designate which college officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
The SDB hears cases that may result in suspension or expulsion if they find the student(s) responsible for violating the Code of Student Conduct. The Standing Disciplinary Board is a recommending body to the Associate Vice President for Student Life. The Associate Vice President reviews the recommendation and determines the final sanction.
The Standing Disciplinary Board has been utilized mostly in cases where an outcome of suspension or expulsion may result if the Board reaches a decision of "in violation".
The Standing Disciplinary Board is a representative hearing panel, with members from the Student Body and the Faculty. In addition, the Director of Student Conduct or designee serves as a consultant to the Board but is not a voting member.
For the Standing Disciplinary Board, the chair is the primary individual responsible for the order of the hearing. The chair is a faculty member.
- Dismissal implies expulsion from the College for an indefinite length of time. The student who is dismissed from the College may expect that only unusually mitigating circumstances will result in his/ her readmission to the College.
- Suspension means withdrawal from the College for a specified period of time. If the student is suspended for the semester in which he/she is currently enrolled, no academic credit for any of his/her courses may be awarded or refund of tuition issued. Readmission would usually be automatic for the student at the end of the period for which he/she has been suspended.
- Restrictive disciplinary probation is given for a specific period of time. During that probationary period, he/she can not represent the College in no way nor can he/she hold elective or appointive office in any organization related to the College. He/she may not participate in interscholastic or intramural sports. He/ She may not participate in any theatrical performance that is not part of his/her class assignments. He/she may not receive public recognition in any way. The student, however, may remain in any club that he/she prefers. In general, restrictive disciplinary probation is seen as allowing the student to pursue only those activities that enhance academic progress. Restrictive disciplinary probation carries with it the assumption that if the student should violate any other College regulations during the period of his/her probation, he/she may be suspended or expelled.
- General College probation imposes no restriction on the activities of the individual involved but indicates that for the time specified by the Disciplinary Board, the student may be suspended or expelled if he/she has been found guilty of violating any other College regulation.
- A letter of reprimand is a letter indicating the College's displeasure of the behavior demonstrated by the student concerned. This letter of reprimand is kept in the Student Development Office confidential file until the end of a specified period of time unless otherwise directed.
- A letter of admonishment is also a letter indicating the College's displeasure of the student's conduct and a hope that the student will behave more responsibly in the future. However, no record of this letter is kept on file anywhere except in the records of the Standing Disciplinary Board.
- Recommend restitution of property when appropriate.
- The Board may also revoke a residence hall license and assign education programs as they deem necessary.
Students are permitted to have one advisor, of their choosing, at any hearing. The advisor is not permitted to participate in any portion of the hearing process other than to advise the student. The advisor may quietly talk with the student or write notes during the hearing. Students are expected to represent themselves.
In a Standing Disciplinary Board hearing, there is a set script to follow to ensure due process is maintained. If someone you know has direct knowledge of the events in question (not that they heard you tell someone what happened - but actually "saw" what happened, for example) then they would provide testimony at the hearing as to what they saw. If you have a buddy who is willing to say that whatever violation you were allegedly involved with "doesn't sound like something you'd do," would not be a valid witness testimony for a Standing Disciplinary Board Hearing.
The only outcome that appears on transcripts is suspension and expulsion. Any other judicial decision is kept in your judicial file. The exact policy is stated in the Code of Student Conduct as:
Transcript Notation Policy
Because of the seriousness of disciplinary board cases, the College will record the outcome of certain disciplinary action on a student's transcript, in the form of a transcript comment. In disciplinary cases involving withdrawal prior to a disciplinary hearing, Interim Suspension, Suspension, or Expulsion, the student's academic transcript shall be noted as follows:
Withdrawal: Student receives W or W() grades according to established guidelines. Transcript comment reads: "Readmission subject to Student Development Hearing." Comment is removed if a student is readmitted.
Disciplinary Interim Suspension (pending a SDB hearing): Student receives W or W() grades according to established guidelines. Transcript comment reads: "Disciplinarily suspended on (date)."
Disciplinary Suspension: Student receives W or W() grades according to established guidelines. Transcript comment reads: "Disciplinarily suspended until (date)." Comment is removed when the term of suspension expires.
Disciplinary Expulsion: Student receives W or W() grades according to established guidelines. Transcript comment reads: "Disciplinarily expelled on (date)."
After five years from the date of the student leaving the College for withdrawal pending a disciplinary hearing, Disciplinary Interim Suspension, or Disciplinary Expulsion, the student may petition the Vice President for Student Development to have the transcript comment removed. It is the student's responsibility to provide substantial evidence, which supports the petition and provides documentation of their activities (work, education, etc.) since their exit from Oneonta.
Each student has one opportunity to appeal for each case decision. The appeal process is outlined as follows in our Code of Student Conduct:
- A decision and/or a sanction may be appealed. The appeal must be in writing and should be delivered to the Office of Student Development within 5 business days of the notification of the outcome. Failure to submit an appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision final and conclusive.
- For complaints that were originally heard by Residence Hall Directors or Office of Residential and Community Life administrators, the appeal will go to the Director of Student Conduct.
- For complaints that were originally heard by the Director of Student Conduct or the Standing Disciplinary Board, the Vice President for Student Development or his/her designee will review the appeal.
- An appeal will be limited to review of the verbatim record of the initial hearing and supporting documents. The appeal process will not include a new hearing, except as required to explain the basis of new information as follows:
- If new information is brought forward that was not available at the time of the hearing, the student may be called to present and discuss this information.
- If it is found that the student’s due process rights were violated, a new case will be heard by the Vice President’s designee.
Grounds for Appeal
The written appeal must address at least one of the following to be considered:
- A procedural error so substantial that it affected the fundamental fairness of the hearing.
- Significant information, unavailable during the original hearing that could be outcome determinative.
- The sanction imposed was arbitrary or grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offense.
- The decision does not accord with the information or evidence presented.
The appeals officer may support or change a decision, as well as decrease a sanction as appropriate. Sanctions may never be increased. The reviewing body will be deferential to the original decision maker, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if a compelling justification to do so exists. Students are limited to one appeal for each hearing.
Again, from the Code of Student Conduct:
Appeal Process for Cases Adjudicated by Residence Hall Directors and Administrative Hearing Officers
- A decision and/or a sanction may be appealed. The appeal must be in writing and should be delivered to the Director of Student Conduct or designee within 5 class days of the hearing.
- For cases that were heard by residence hall directors, the appeal will go to the Director of Student Conduct.
- For cases that were heard by the Director of Student Conduct or Office of Residential and Community Life administrators, the Vice President for Student Development or his/her designee will review the appeal.
- The appeal process will consist of a review of the records of the administrative hearing and the supporting documents. The appeal process will not include a new hearing. The following exceptions apply:
- If the appeal presents new evidence that was not available at the time of the administrative hearing, the student may be called to discuss the evidence.
- If it is found that the student's due process rights were violated at the administrative hearing, the case will be heard again by an individual appointed by the Vice President or his/her designee.
- The individual who reviewed the appeal will respond to the appeal in writing.
- If the appeal is upheld, the individual who reviewed the appeal may make changes in sanctions or may refer the case for a new administrative hearing.
- If the appeal is upheld, sanctions may be reduced but may not be increased.
- Students are limited to one appeal for each hearing.
Appeal Process for Cases Adjudicated by Standing Disciplinary Board:
A decision and/or a sanction may be appealed. The appeal must be in writing and should be delivered to the Director of Student Conduct or designee within 5 class days of the hearing. The appeal process will consist of a review of the records of the SDB hearing and the supporting documents. The appeal process will not include a new hearing. The following exceptions apply:
If new evidence is brought forward that was not available at the time of the hearing by the SDB, the student may be called to present the evidence.
If it is found that the student's due process rights were found to have been violated, the case will be heard by the Vice President's designee.
Failure to complete a sanction, condition, and/or restriction may result in an administrative flag being placed on your record. It may also result in an additional code of conduct violations (Failure to Comply). If there is an administrative hold on your records, you may not drop or add classes, receive your grade, and in some cases, receive transcripts from the University.
It depends. It will depend on what your previous violation(s) were, your previous outcomes (decision) and if you are currently on General College Probation or Residence Hall Probation. If you have completed any conditions and/or restrictions associated with your sanction, and you are currently in good standing, your previous history may not matter. Generally speaking, each case is heard on an individual basis, and your previous history only comes into play if you "get in trouble" while your behavior is being monitored for additional instances of misconduct.
It could result in an additional violation of the Code of Student Conduct, which could result in additional sanctions, conditions, and/or restrictions, and if you violate a criminal trespass order, you could be arrested on the spot.
This means that the college has received a complaint regarding copyrighted material being offered for download on the SUNY Oneonta computer network. Campus information technology professionals have determined that the computer specified in the complaint is registered to you on the campus network. You should review the letter that was sent to you very carefully. Generally, the letter stated that you should remove any copyrighted material from your computer and then email the computer center at a designated address to let them know you’ve removed it. You only have 24 hours to do this before your internet access will be terminated. For more information on this topic please see the “File Sharing” link on the Student Conduct home page.