How Accountability Works - Conduct Process
Student Conduct Process vs. Criminal or Civil Systems
The student conduct process is not a criminal or civil court system. The two systems are independent, have different purposes, processes, and standards used to determine responsibility and consequences. The criminal/constitutional defense of double jeopardy does not apply. While some procedural elements may seem similar, Sewanee’s system is founded on educational philosophies and fundamental fairness rather than criminal or civil court systems. As a private institution, the University’s conduct process seeks fundamental fairness by establishing these rights and procedures. Accordingly, Sewanee Constitutional Due Process does not apply to Sewanee’s.
Student Conduct Process and Honor Council
Students should understand that in some circumstances, an offense might lead to action by both the Honor Council and the Dean of Students: for example, a student who is found to be drinking underage and in possession of a fake ID has violated both the student code of conduct and the Honor Code. Also, in addition to being handled through the University, violations of Federal and/or Tennessee law may also be referred to the appropriate legal authorities for adjudication: students may face sanctions from both the legal system and the University.
Preponderance of the Evidence
The prevailing evidentiary standard in criminal matters for determining guilt, “beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply in the student conduct process. The University uses a preponderance of the evidence standard to determine responsibility which states that if it is more likely than not that the student violated a policy, the student will be found responsible.
The conduct process is designed to be a part of the educational mission of the University, one that focuses on upholding the commitments inherent in the Sewanee community. The conduct process teaches students in the College of Arts and Sciences appropriate and acceptable behavior within a community. The College provides a conduct process in which members of the Sewanee community may resolve violations of the Code of Conduct with mutual respect for one another while fostering relationships. These relationships help to create an environment where members of the community are held responsible for their actions with the ultimate goal of encouraging and fostering the personal growth and development of each student.
When there are violations of the Code of Conduct, the conduct process will be governed by:
Fairness. The process should strive to be consistent, clear, comprehensive and, when possible, efficient.
Education. The process, including potential consequences, should strive to be educational. Students are responsible for the consequences of their actions and are expected to make wise choices.
Respect. The process should strive to be characterized by respect for all individuals as well as the community as a whole.
The University reserves the right to address student behavior or student organization activity on-campus, off-campus, and online when such behavior or activity is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct or has an adverse impact on the Sewanee community, its members, or the pursuit of its objectives. The University also has the authority to address behavior that occurs during sponsored off-campus events and programs (including the University’s international programs) when it is determined that the behavior conflicts with the University’s policies and/or educational mission. Any incident involving an individual student’s behavior or a student organization’s activity that is believed to be inconsistent with federal, state, and local laws may be referred to the appropriate authority.
The University’s Code of Conduct applies to student behavior occurring from the time of admission until the actual awarding of a degree or other separation from the institution. More specifically, each student is responsible for his/her conduct from their admission to the university through the actual awarding of a degree, even though the conduct may occur before classes begin or after classes end, as well as during the academic year and during periods between terms of actual enrollment. For entering students, a student’s violation of the Code of Conduct occurring prior to the opening of residence halls for the admitted semester may be addressed through re-evaluation of the offer of admission. After the opening of residence halls for the admitted semester, a student’s behavior will be addressed in accordance with the process published in this guide. For graduating students, violations of policy just prior to, during or after final exams will likely result in the inability to participate in Commencement exercises and stipulations that must be met to receive a diploma at a later date.
The University Ordinances give the Dean of Students responsibility for establishing and implementing a student disciplinary system. The system addresses student conduct matters not addressed by the Honor Council. Under the direction of the Dean of Students, professional staff members from the Division of Student Life and the Student Conduct Board are responsible for implementing the conduct process for students.
Decisions regarding conduct matters are confidential and become a part of the student’s educational record, and are, therefore, subject to federal regulations set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1972. Those involved in inquiries should not comment on any aspect of the case or outcome with anyone other than the involved student(s) unless allowed to do so in accordance with FERPA, Title IX, Clery Act, or other federal provision related to student privacy.
Should an employee of the University involved in the conduct process be asked for public comment, he or she should be aware of his or her duty to refuse comment and instead should refer the question to the Dean of Students or his or her designee for an official statement.
Persons found to be in violation of this confidentiality provision will be subject to University conduct action. Such disclosure of information is not only in violation of university policy but also of federal law.
Upon request, the University will disclose the results of any conduct proceeding conducted by the institution against a student who is the alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense to the alleged victim or his/her next of kin if the alleged victim is deceased.
The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status, or conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The University may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. When a student is not dependent, the University will also contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk involving their student. The University also reserves the right to designate which college officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.