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Student Conduct

    MS. ALICE AGNEW, 327 EGAN HALL – 824-2422

Mercyhurst Universityis a community of learning dedicated to the lifelong development of the whole person where students gather knowledge, insight, skills, and vision necessary to attain the goals they have set for themselves.

Every member of the Mercyhurst community is encouraged and aided to meet the standards of behavior set by the University. These standards establish a foundation upon which the student builds a quality of life reflecting good citizenship, vigilance, and the safety and wellness of the campus community.

While understanding of errors in judgment, the Conduct Code is intended to maintain the integrity of the University Mission and Core Values while fostering the ethical maturation of the student.  The focus of the Conduct Code is good judgment, responsible social stewardship, and concern for an improved quality of life for the whole community. Excessive regulation, tedious debate, and contentious challenges are not the aim of this Conduct Code.

STUDENT CONDUCT RECORDS

A student’s housing and student conduct records are protected as educational records. In most cases, a student’s housing and student conduct record will be retained for seven years after the student graduates, withdraws, or transfers from the University. Certain student conduct records, including ones involving sexual misconduct or other serious violations, are retained indefinitely at the discretion of the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct.

Students may request to have their student conduct record expunged by submitting a written request to the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct. A request for expungement may be initiated only upon completion of all degree requirements and attainment of a degree. Record expungement, whether in whole or in part, shall be at the sole discretion of the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct. Expungement may occur only for students who have sanctions other than suspension or expulsion and whose violations were determined to have not threatened or endangered the health or safety of any person.

All records maintained by the Student Conduct Office, including incident reports and sanction information, are protected as educational records by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

CONDUCT CONSEQUENCES

DISCIPLINARY LEVELS

WARNING

A warning is a notice that the student’s behavior is unacceptable to the Mercyhurst University community and that further misconduct may result in more severe outcomes. Warnings are taken into account in the event of future violations.

WRITTEN REPRIMAND

A written reprimand is an official censure for violating University regulations and is taken into account in the event of further violations. Written reprimands result in the loss of one housing point.

SOCIAL PROBATION

Social probation is meant to monitor and address student behavior to assess their adjustment to the demands of academic life. Involvement in another incident during this probationary period may result in more serious disciplinary sanctions. Social probation results in the loss of two housing points.

DISCIPLINARY PROBATION

Disciplinary probation is the next level of probation. A student is on disciplinary probation for a specified period of time.  A student may be denied participation in certain activities and/or face facility restrictions. Involvement in another incident during this probationary period may result in more serious disciplinary sanctions. Disciplinary probation results in the loss of three housing points.

SUSPENSION

Suspension is a temporary separation from the University and requires that a student ceases attendance at class and participation in university activities, and vacates the University premises for a specified period of time. There shall be no refund of tuition, room, or other fees due or payable for the period of the suspension.  While on suspension, a defiant trespass notice will be issued.  Suspension (including abated suspension) results in the loss of four housing points in the academic year during which the student returns.

INTERIM SUSPENSION

In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to impose a suspension immediately. This interim suspension is used when there is substantial reason to fear harm to persons or property, to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community, or when there is a threat of or actual disruption or interference with the normal operation of the University.  During the period of interim suspension, a defiant trespass notice will be issued.

With the safety and welfare of the University community in mind, it may be necessary for a student who significantly disrupts student life, or is a danger to others, to be required to leave campus immediately for a designated period of time, determined by the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct or designee in consultation with appropriate University personnel. University authorities must approve an acceptable statement of the student’s ability to return to campus without continuing to pose behavior that is disruptive to the campus community, or threatening towards the safety and well-being of members of the University community, before determining whether the student will be permitted to return to campus.  Further behaviors that disrupts the institution or interfere with the mission of the institution may result in additional disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion.

EXPULSION

Expulsion is a permanent separation from the University. The University reserves the right at any time to expel any student engaging in any conduct that, in the opinion of the University, is detrimental to the welfare of the University community. There shall be no refund of tuition, room, or other fees due or payable. Upon expulsion, a defiant trespass notice will be issued.

DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS

MONETARY FINES

Monetary fines may be required of a student who violates the Conduct Code.  The student may be permitted to satisfy these fines through community restitution.

COMMUNITY RESTITUTION

Community restitution may be required of a student who violates the Conduct Code. The adjudicating authority will assign the number of hours required, the work location, and the name of the community restitution supervisor. The student is entirely responsible for contacting, coordinating, completing community restitution hours with the supervisor, and submitting verification to the Student Conduct Office by the specified date.

MONETARY RESTITUTION

When deemed appropriate, the student may be required to pay for damages or other expenses incurred as a result of the student’s actions. Monetary restitution may be required to the University.

EDUCATIONAL SANCTION

When deemed appropriate, educational sanctions such as mediation, attendance at Alcohol and Drug Education classes, a formal apology (in person or in writing), a public presentation, a research paper, etc. may be assigned.

REASSIGNMENT OF UNIVERSITY HOUSING

Any student incapable of cooperative community living may be moved from a room or apartment to another location on campus. Should this occur, the original group of students who signed-up to live together may be split up and assigned to available open spaces on campus.  The student may also be restricted from visiting specified campus areas or activities.  There shall be no refund of room or other fees due or payable.

LOSS OF OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING PRIVILEGE

A student living off-campus may lose that privilege if behaviors disturb or disrupt neighbors or the neighborhood, or bring disrepute to the University.

FACILITY RESTRICTIONS

A student who has been assigned facility restrictions may not be permitted to visit campus housing or to be in the outside areas adjacent to these residences.  The student may also be restricted from additional campus facilities and activities.

COUNSELING ASSESSMENT

A student who has been assigned a counseling assessment is required to schedule a session (or sessions) with the University’s Counseling Center or a counselor approved by the Counseling Center. The student will be required to follow any suggestions/recommendations made by the counselor and ensure verification of attendance and compliance with recommendations is provided to the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct.

With the safety and welfare of the University community in mind, it may be necessary for a student who significantly disrupts student life, or is a danger to others, to be required to leave campus immediately for a designated period of time, determined by the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct or designee in consultation with appropriate University personnel. University authorities must approve an acceptable statement of the student’s ability to return to campus without continuing t pose behavior that is disruptive to the campus community, or threatening towards the safety and well-being of members of the University community, before determining whether the student will be permitted to return to campus.  Further behaviors that disrupts the institution or interfere with the mission of the institution may result in additional disciplinary action up to and including suspension or expulsion

PARENT/GUARDIAN NOTIFICATION

The University recognizes the vital interest and supportive role of parents and/or guardians. As such, the University reserves the right, to the extent allowed by law, to notify parents and/or guardians when the University believes it is in the best interest of the student, parents and/or guardians, and/or University to do so. Such notification is intended to help the student, parents and/or guardians, and University cope appropriately with such situations. When possible and appropriate, the student will have the opportunity and will be encouraged to initiate contact with the parents and/or guardians.  In many instances, State and Federal regulations restrict the University’s ability to provide information without a signed FERPA release from the student.  Students may complete and sign the release by visiting the Student Conduct Office.

APPEAL PROCESS

The purpose of the appeal process is to ensure that the policies and procedures of Mercyhurst University are administered in a fair and consistent manner. An appeal is a request to a higher adjudicating authority to review a conduct decision or action. When an appeal is heard, the issue in question is not the student’s original action or incident; rather it is a request for reconsideration of the original conduct decision.

REQUESTING AN APPEAL

A student may request an appeal of conduct decisions for review.

The student must submit a written request for appeal to the Student Conduct Office.  Typically, a student is allotted seven calendar days after receiving the initial conduct decision to submit a request. The Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct reserves the right to shorten or lengthen this time based upon individual circumstances.

The aim of the appeal request is to convince an adjudicating appeal authority that reason exists for a hearing of the original decision or action. The responsibility of showing such reason rests with the individual making the request. A student should have no expectation that an appeal request will be heard simply because the student is unhappy with or disagrees with the original decision or action. The student needs to do more than simply claim grounds for an appeal hearing; the student must demonstrate that such grounds exist.

In general, one or more of the following criteria must be demonstrated for a request to be successful:

1.     During the student conduct process, deviation from written procedures occurred which impacted the fairness of the process. The deviation must be demonstrated in the appeal request and must clearly impact the fairness of the process.

2.     Information unavailable to the original adjudicating authority is now available that could have impacted the original outcome. The relevant information must be presented in the appeal request.

3.     The decision (violations and sanctions) reached was not based on substantive information. A reasonable challenge to the information must be provided in the appeal request.

4.     The sanction issued as a result of the original decision was disproportionate for the violation. The unwarranted or excessive nature of the sanction must be evidenced in the appeal request.

5.     Bias on the part of the adjudicating authority that deprived the student conduct process of impartiality.  Allegations of bias must reference the adjudicating authority only. The alleged bias must be evidenced in the appeal request.

Depending on the severity of the initial incident and/or the resulting sanctions, the appeal request is assigned to one of three adjudicating appeal authorities: an Administrative Hearing, a Student Conduct Panel, or the Conduct Board.

The adjudicating appeal authority that reviews the request will determine if the request merits an appeal hearing.

Typically, the student will be informed of the decision on whether or not the adjudicating appeal authority will grant an appeal hearing within 14 calendar days of the date that the office received the appeal request.

For requests meriting an appeal hearing, the hearing will be conducted in a timely manner.

Typically, the adjudicating authority will provide the student with a written decision within seven calendar days after the appeal hearing is completed.

APPEAL HEARING INFORMATION

Normally, appeal hearings shall be conducted in private. However, admission of any other person to the hearing shall be at the discretion of the adjudicating appeal authority.

In instances involving more than one student, individual appeal hearings may be provided.

The student has the right to be assisted by an advisor of the student’s choice and at the student’s own expense. The student is responsible for presenting his or her own information and argument and, therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any appeal hearing.

The student has the right to present the information from witnesses during the appeal hearing. If the appealing student requests witnesses be permitted to present their statements at the hearing, the appealing student must demonstrate the relevancy of the witness’s information prior to their admission to the hearing. If such relevancy cannot be demonstrated, the adjudicating appeal authority may refuse to hear the information.

Permanent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration at the discretion of the adjudicating authority.

All procedural questions are decided by the adjudicating authority.

The hearings may be taped by the adjudicating authority.

The adjudicating appeal authority may recommend to rescind, decrease, increase, modify, or uphold the conduct decision.

ADMINISTRATION OF APPEALS

Appeals are conducted by adjudicating appeal authorities. These authorities include, but are not limited to, a Student Conduct Panel, the Conduct Board, and an Administrative Hearing. The severity of the imposed sanction and the severity of the initial violation will determine which authority hears the appeal.

STUDENT CONDUCT PANEL

The Student Conduct Panel tends to review those appeal requests in which the original incident involved conduct of a less serious nature than those requests reviewed by the Conduct Board.  The panel is composed of three Student Conduct staff members, or their designees, who were not involved in the original incident or decision.

CONDUCT BOARD

The Conduct Board reviews appeal requests in which the original decision involved severe sanctions, such as expulsion, suspension, removal from University Housing, etc.  The Conduct Board is directed by a permanent chairperson and is typically composed of two students, two faculty members, and two administrators each selected from a pool of appointees. Students on the Conduct Board may not be members of the Residence Life staff.  The chairperson is appointed by the President and does not vote except to break a tie.

ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING

Administrative Hearings are conducted by the Director of Residence Life & Student Conduct or designee. Administrative Hearings review appeal requests in which the original incident involved conduct that is of an extremely sensitive nature, such as those involving sexual misconduct, drug offenses, bias-based offenses.

 

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