Information for Parents


Student Conduct Process

What if my daughter or son is documented? How does the student conduct process work?

When a student is documented, an incident report is submitted to the Student Conduct Office. The Student Conduct Office is responsible for reviewing and handling all reports of alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct. When a report is received, a conduct officer determines how the case will be processed based upon the allegation and evidence presented. The alleged violation can be handled through one of the following:

  1. Residence Hall Director Meeting or Hearing
  2. Disciplinary Conference
  3. Student Conduct Hearing

What is a Residence Hall Director (RHD) Meeting?

RHDs will adjudicate some cases of alleged student misconduct. The residence hall director will notify the students in writing of alleged charges. If a student accepts responsibility, the decision is considered final and there is no appeal. However, if the student does not accept responsibility, the RHD will explain his/her option for requesting a Residence Hall Director (RHD) Hearing.

What is a Disciplinary Conference?

A disciplinary conference is a meeting between students who are charged with alleged violations of the Code and a conduct officer. During this time, students are given the opportunity to discuss the situation. The student may choose to take responsibility for his or her actions and signs an administrative conduct agreement to resolve the case or the student may request a hearing.

What is involved with a hearing?

A hearing involves student and faculty/staff justices who listen to cases of alleged violations of Cortland's Code of Student Conduct, and determine whether a student is in violation or not in violation of the charges. The respondent will have the opportunity to tell the board what occurred during the incident in question and will answer questions by the panel. Witnesses will also be involved in this process and will be asked questions by the panel; a respondent is also given the opportunity to present witness on his/her behalf and to question all witnesses. The board uses "preponderance of the evidence" as its standard of proof and will determine any sanction(s) if the respondent is found in violation of any charges. If a student has a prior student conduct record, that information is not available to the board unless a student is found in violation of a charge. If the "in violation" finding is determined, a board then needs to have information on a student's past record. Students are notified in writing of the board's decision within 10 school days. Typically, if more than one student is involved in an incident and the case goes to a hearing, one hearing is held for all students who were allegedly involved.

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Who is on the Student Conduct Board (SCB) and College Hearing Panel (CHP)?

Both the SCB and CHP consist of students and faculty/staff justices who are selected and trained by the Student Conduct Office. Typically Student Conduct selects and trains a pool of 15-25 student justices and 40-50 faculty/staff justices and they are assigned to boards/ panels based upon scheduling availability. The SCB is composed of one student justice, two faculty and/or staff members and a student conduct advisor. The CHP is composed of three student justices, two faculty and/or staff members and a student conduct advisor. Occasionally the student conduct officer at his/her discretion will assign a hearing at an administrative hearing level with one faculty or staff member serving as the hearing officer.

Can I attend the hearing with my student?

Respondents are entitled to have one advisor with them throughout the hearing process. If a student opts to have an advisor, typically the student will choose a parent, coach, academic advisor, professor or, upon request, a student advisor, as available through the Student Conduct Office.

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Does my student need a lawyer?

No, the student conduct process is not the same as a criminal process, and lawyers are not necessary. However, a student is entitled to have one advisor for their student conduct process. Anyone, including an attorney, parent, coach, faculty/staff member, or in some cases, a student advisor may serve as an advisor at a hearing. Advisors are NOT permitted to speak during a hearing. Respondents must represent themselves. Keep in mind that if a student is facing both college student conduct charges and criminal charges for the same incident, a student may wish to consult an attorney regarding any concurrent or subsequent criminal case.

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Does being found responsible for a college violation give you a criminal record?

No, violations of the Code of Student Conduct do not result in a criminal record. However, if a student is going through the criminal process, as well as the SUNY Cortland student conduct process for the same incident and is found guilty in the criminal process, it may result in a criminal record. A student's college disciplinary record is considered part of the education record and a separate disciplinary file is maintained in the Student Conduct Office. Education records are protected by privacy laws as outlined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

How long does it take to resolve a case?

The Student Conduct Office will try to resolve a case as quickly as possible. However, we are required per the Code of Student Conduct to give students at least 3 days notice for a Disciplinary Conference and at least 4 days notice for a hearing. A student may choose to sign a waiver of notice days if they wish to try to resolve the case earlier. However, resolving cases earlier will depend on schedules of individuals involved in the case and any pending cases involving that student.

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How is a respondent found responsible in the student conduct system?

The standard of proof used within the SUNY Cortland student conduct system is the preponderance of evidence, or it is more likely than not (51% or greater probability) based on evidence presented that a respondent violated the policy.

Can a student appeal a student conduct decision?

There are different appeals processes, depending on the nature of the proceeding and/or sanction. Two bodies, the Level One Appeals Committee and the Level Two Appeals Committee handle the majority of appeals. The Level One Appeals Committee hears all appeals of student conduct hearings, except those involving recommendations for suspension or permanent dismissal. Decisions of the Appeals Committee are final. The Level Two Appeals Committee hears all cases involving the recommendation for suspension or permanent dismissal of a student.  Decisions of the Level Two Appeals Committee are final. The director of student conduct hears appeals of residence hall director hearings. 

A student may appeal based on the any of following:

  1. Procedural Error
  2. Unsupported Conclusion
  3. Disproportionate Sanction
  4. New Evidence

Students found in violation may appeal decision per the Code, Section Fourteen, Appeals. In cases where a victim is a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and/or sexual violence only, the victim has the right to appeal the finding or sanction as described in Section Fourteen: Appeals. For more information regarding the appeals process, please refer to the Code of Student Conduct.

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What are sanctions?

Anyone may make a bad decision here or there. We want students to learn from any poor choices. Therefore, sanctions assigned to a student are educational in nature. Our goal is for each student to learn from a bad decision and equip themselves with the skills to make better decisions in the future. While some sanctions may be perceived as punitive, the student conduct process seeks to assign sanctions with educational purpose, and sanctions are intended to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the college community. Sanctions may range from assignments like periods of probation, educational programs or reflection papers, community service, to suspension or dismissal. There are a variety of sanctions outlined in the Code of Student Conduct.

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How are sanctions determined?

Each student and each student conduct situation is looked at on a case-by-case basis. Many factors go into reaching a decision regarding sanctions. For example, Student Conduct takes into consideration the nature of the alleged violation and whether or not a student has a prior student conduct record. Precedent and consistency are important factors in the sanctioning process. We have developed typical sanctions for alcohol and drug violations in order to be as consistent as possible, however some situations may warrant departures from the typical sanctions.

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I remember hearing about the "3 strikes" policy at Orientation, what does that mean again?

A "strike" is simply a metaphor for a violation of the alcohol or drug policy. We sometimes use this analogy to convey that repeated violations (on and/or off campus) in this category can result in a "three strikes and you're out" student conduct situation -- a separation from the College in the form of a disciplinary suspension. Other Code violations are not considered to be "strikes." Please refer to the "Did You Know?" page on the Student Conduct Web site.

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Parental Notification

How will I find out my son/daughter has an appointment with Student Conduct?

Communicate with your student. Student Conduct will notify a student of when their meeting will take place. Parents of dependent students are notified once the assigned sanctions are final, at the expiration of any appeals process.

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How will I be notified?

Parental notification will consist of a copy of the decision letter sent to the student, and a cover letter to the parents from the vice president for student affairs.

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Student Conduct Records

My child is an education major, how will a violation of the Code affect his/her status?

Students in education majors will have student conduct background checks prior to being admitted to a teacher education major and prior to doing fieldwork. Certain offenses may have consequences with education program enrollment. If a student is concerned about their status as an education major, he/she should meet with the associate dean for the student's specific academic program to discuss their status. Education majors are asked to disclose student conduct violations to the associate dean.

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Will employers find out about a students conduct record?

Per FERPA, a student conduct record is part of their education record, which means it is confidential information and will not be shared without consent of the student. Employers are not informed of a student's prior student conduct record unless a student gives the employer permission. Typically, a student will sign a written consent form indicating that the College may release information to the employer or agency. Often, the employers interested in student conduct files include government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NYPD, etc.

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What happens to a student's conduct file after graduation?

Student disciplinary records are retained in accordance with SUNY Records Retention Policy (Document Number 6609). Student records for major Code of Student Conduct violations and drug and alcohol policy violations are retained for a minimum of 7 years after the end of the academic year of said violation(s) to comply with federal recordkeeping requirements. Records of minor Code of Student Conduct violations will be retained for a minimum of three years after the end of the academic year of said violation(s). Cases involving Disciplinary Suspension will be retained permanently, and may only be expunged upon successful application to the vice president of student affairs. Files for suspension for hazing or other serious violations will be be expunged. Case files involving Permanent Dismissal will be retained permanently. Back to Top

Other Important Information for Parents

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