How can I avoid being charged with misconduct?
The best way to avoid being charged with misconduct is to understand the university’s expectations for your personal and academic behavior while enrolled at the University of West Georgia. The best way to do this is by familiarizing yourself with the Code of Conduct. Remember, ignorance of the code is not an excuse.
To whom does the student code of conduct apply and when does it apply?
The Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in the University of West Georgia. This includes all undergraduate and graduate, part-time and full-time, on-campus and off-campus students. The Code of Conduct outlines expectations for student behavior regardless of the location of the alleged offense. People with an educational interest in the institution (have applied to the institution) or who are between semesters (taking a semester leave) are also under the provisions of the Code of Conduct.
Who can submit an Incident Report or information about a violation fo the Code of Conduct?
Anyone can submit information about an alleged violation, including University staff, faculty, students, Carrollton Police, University Police, and family members. Persons making such referrals are required to provide information pertinent to the incident and may be expected to participate in proceedings conducted to resolve the case. All reports of alleged violations committed by students should be made in writing and contain a statement of facts outlining each alleged act of misconduct through our private and secure online reporting form.
Those wishing to submit information about an alleged violation can do so at http://www.westga.edu/uwgcares/
Why does the Office of Community Standards enforce University policies off campus?
You are a West Georgia Wolf regardless of whether the alleged misconduct takes place on the campus, at off-campus housing, or in another part of town. UWG is particularly concerned about high-risk drinking and drug use by students due to the threat these behaviors pose to student health, safety, and academic success. Since anyone can submit an incident report, students should remember their status as a proud Wolf where ever they are.
I received a letter from the Office of Community Standards, what does that mean?
It could be a variety of things. Receiving a letter from the Office of Community Standards might mean that your name was listed in a Carrollton Police Department report or a University of West Georgia Police Department report. It could mean that the Office of Community Standards has received information regarding an incident involving possible violations of University regulations and needs to talk with you about the incident. Generally, your letter will contain the date and location of any incident of concern and will list sections of the student conduct code that might have been violated. Remember that this charge is only an allegation, and when you meet with the Office of Community Standards, you will be given the opportunity to respond to the charges and present your version of the reported incident.
What happens if I do not show up for my meeting?
Deciding not to attend a previously scheduled meeting means that you miss the opportunity to have your voice heard on the issue. It also means that the Office of Community Standards will decide your case in your absence, without the benefit of your participation. A letter outlining the decision and, if you're found responsible, a listing of your sanctions will be e-mailed to you. Again, conduct administrators would prefer to be able to talk to you about the incident and have your input in the process. Attending your conduct meeting gives you the opportunity to present your perspective and have a voice in the hearing process.
What will happen during my meeting with the Conduct Officer?
During the meeting, the conduct officer will review the Code of Conduct, discuss the conduct process including how we receive reports and resolution options, and provide an opportunity to share additional information regarding the incident. If the conduct officer has enough information to move forward with the case, the student has the option of resolving through the informal or formal resolution process.
Will I be suspended from the University?
There are many violations for which, if you are found responsible, suspension from the University is a possible outcome. These include:
- Violation of any university policy while already on conduct probation
- Violation of the Drug Policy
- Violation of the Sexual Assault Policy
- Possession of firearm or other weapon
- Harm to Persons
While the examples above are some of the most serious and thus the most likely to result in suspension from the University, any violation (depending on severity, number of repeat offenses, etc.) can result in suspension.
What if I am found responsible for a violation?
If you are found “Responsible” for violating the rules, you will be assigned sanctions, which could include educational activities (including classes, reflection or research papers, interviews), restitution, restrictions, community service, probation, suspension, etc. For a complete list of possible sanctions and further information, please see Section 6 of the Student Code of Conduct.
Sanctions range depending on:
- The nature of the violation (what you were found responsible for)
- Prior violations/previous disciplinary history (what have you been found responsible for before)
- Mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation (unusual circumstances)
- Your motivation for the behavior (the reason for the behavior resulting in a violation)
- Sanctions involved in cases involving similar violations (precedent)
- The developmental and educational impact (how is this going to affect you)
What if I disagree with a decision?
If student is found responsible for misconduct of a discriminatory or sexual nature, both the respondent and the complainant have the right to appeal only the sanction on the following grounds:
- The sanction imposed is inadequate or too severe for the violation
If a student is found responsible for misconduct that is not of a discriminatory or sexual nature, but results in a sanction of removal from university housing, suspension or expulsion, only the respondent may appeal the finding and/or the sanction on the following grounds:
A violation of due process
- The evidence does not support a finding of responsible
- Prejudicial treatment by the original hearing body
- The sanction imposed is too severe for the violation
- New evidence has become available which was not available at the time of the hearing
All cases of student conduct violations follow the same appeal process stated below.
Requests for appeals must be submitted in writing (email is permissible) to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management within three (3) business days of the date of the letter notifying the appealing party of the original decision. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision final and conclusive.
Written requests for appeals must be specific and detailed as to the nature and substance of the complaint and must clearly indicate what action is requested. The written request should specify the grounds for appeal.
The Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management shall consider the appeal and give a decision within five (5) business days.
I've already been arrested and have a court date, isn't this double jeopardy?
No. A student conduct hearing is not connected, in any way, to the criminal justice system. It just happens that most criminal violations are conduct code violations as well and will be handled as such by the University in a process separate from the criminal justice system.
Are my parents going to find out?
Federal laws (FERPA) protect your educational records (which include disciplinary records) from being accessed by others without your permission. However, there are occasions in which the federal act allows the Office of Community Standards to notify parents of the outcome of a student’s disciplinary case. OSC may notify parents of an offense of a student under 21 years of age:
- following a violation of university policy regarding alcohol or other drugs that places the student on housing or conduct probation (official notice that any additional offense may affect the student's ability to live on campus or attend the university), or that results in removal from University Housing or the institution (e.g. housing removal/relocation, suspension, or expulsion).
- following the second violation of university policy regarding alcohol.
- following any incident in which the use of alcohol has resulted in hospitalization. Notification will come from the Behavioral Intervention Team Chair or designee.
- Because not all offenses result in this level of sanctioning, parents will not automatically be notified when their student becomes involved in the disciplinary process. However, if parents would like information regarding their student’s disciplinary history or status at the University from the OSC, they can request that their son/daughter sign a waiver of confidentiality allowing the OSC to release that information. In most cases, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects students’ conduct records as confidential educational records.
Will this go on my transcript?
If you are suspended from the University, a notation will appear on your transcript for the length of the term of your suspension. If you are expelled, it will be a permanent notation.
There are other situations, however, in which your disciplinary records may (with your permission) be given to other institutions. Other universities frequently make specific requests for disciplinary records when a student applies for graduate school or decides to transfer. In these situations, you will sign a waiver in the admissions process allowing the Office of Community Standards to release your records.
Will I lose my scholarship because of this?
It depends. Financial aid is most commonly in jeopardy when a student is cited by the police for alcohol or drugs and the outcome is a conviction. If a student’s individual scholarship provider requires a conduct clearance, you will sign a waiver permitting us to release the information and the individual scholarship provider will determine whether it affects your eligibility.
Can I bring someone to my hearing?
Yes. A student (or student group) can bring an advisor to a conduct hearing. An advisor may be a family member, friend, another student, faculty, staff member, an attorney, or another person of his or her choosing. The student must inform his or her Student Conduct Officer two days in advance if he or she wishes to have an advisor present.
The role of an advisor is three-fold:
- Sit next to the student during the hearing to provide moral support
- May help the student formulate questions for all of the witnesses in the hearing
- May suggest points for the student to address during the hearing
The advisor may not address the conduct officer or panel or otherwise speak on behalf of the student (i.e. the advisor does not present the student’s case). The advisor is to speak directly to the student in a quiet manner to suggest questions or point to vocalize. The conduct officer reserves the right to remove an advisor at any time during the hearing if these standards are not met.
Advisors not complying with university hearing procedures may be removed from the conduct proceedings. Please note that any advisor requires that the charged student signs a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) release form allowing them access to their confidential case.
I am applying for a job or a graduate/professional school, and the application asks whether I have ever been subject to disciplinary action. What should I say? What if my file was expunged or I was found not responsible? What should I say then?
The best policy is to be honest on any application. Most applications will specify that they want to know about any disciplinary actions, even those where your file has been expunged or you have been found not responsible. Failure to disclose this information is often viewed as much worse than having been found responsible for a code of conduct violation.