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Chapter 6: The Student Conduct Code

Violation of University Policy / Sexual Misconduct / Threat, Harassment, Stalking, or Intimidation: Directives to Desist / Hazing / Conduct at Athletic Events / Conduct in the Libraries / Damage to Property / Use of University Computers and Data Networks / Use of University Telephone System / Fireworks, Firearms, and Explosives

Violation of University Policy

Students and student organizations are expected to comply with all University rules of conduct. Standards of conduct are derived from tradition and evolve with contemporary practice. Grounds for discipline cannot always be the subject of precise statement; however, when commonly held standards of conduct are broken, discipline must be taken if the University community is to be sustained.

Students are subject to disciplinary action when, individually or as members of a group, they violate University policy, rules, or regulations, including but not limited to the following:

* Obstruction or disruption of teaching, administration, University procedures and activities, or other authorized activities on University premises

* Physical abuse of any person, including assault and other unwanted physical contact

* Sexual Misconduct (see below)

* Conduct that may endanger the health or safety of members of the University community

* Unauthorized entry or use of University facilities or unauthorized possession or use of University property or property of others

* Damage to University property or property of others, including, but not limited to, vandalism (see below)

* Disorderly conduct or obscene conduct or expression

* Threats of violence against another person or harassment (see also, University policy on harassment based on bias set forth in Chapter 5), stalking, or intimidation that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another person (see below)

* Hazing (see below)

* Forgery, alteration, or misuse of University documents, records, or identification, furnishing false information to the University, or possession of any false identification or identification belonging to another person

* The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of alcohol, illicit drugs, or unlawful drug paraphernalia (including possession of prescription medication belonging to another person and sharing of prescription medication; see also "Alcohol and Controlled Substances" in Chapter 9 for a more detailed statement of drug policies.)

* The operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs

* Intoxication (See also "Alcohol and Controlled Substances" in Chapter 9 for a more detailed statement of alcohol policies.)

* Failure to comply with authorized directives of, or furnishing false information to, University officials or representatives of student judicial bodies acting in performance of their duties.

* Violations of policies governing conduct at athletic events and in libraries and other University facilities (see below)

* Violations of University computer or telephone system policies (see below)

* Possession of fireworks, firearms, or explosives (see below)

Violations of regulations of the residence halls, libraries, resource centers, and other areas of University life may result in disciplinary action. For further regulations pertaining to conduct within the residence halls, see Chapter 8, "Residential Life".

The officers of organizations or individual hosts are responsible for the conduct of their members and guests. This responsibility includes compliance with federal, state, and local law and University policies. Those who fail in this responsibility will be subject to disciplinary action and/or referral for prosecution by government authorities.

The Vice Chancellor for Student Life or his designee may reprimand, institute restrictions on, or withdraw registration from organizations that violate University policy and regulations. The Office of Student Activities may impose restrictions or require conditions be met by organizations that are found to be in violation of policy.

Students are expected to observe the standards of the University for activities that occur off campus. In cases of misconduct that occur off campus in which the University determines that it has an interest, a group may be disciplined and/or lose its registration or an individual may be disciplined.

An appropriate hearing officer or judicial body will decide whether the University has sufficient interest in an off-campus matter to exercise its jurisdiction, and the decision may be reviewed by the Appellate Review Board. Factors in the decision may be whether Vanderbilt University property or property of members of the University community is involved; whether the parties in a dispute are members of the University community; whether the misconduct occurred at an event sponsored by a Vanderbilt group or by a University department; and whether such misconduct may affect the welfare of the University community.

Students or groups charged with violations of conduct have full right to the guarantees of fairness as described below in The Student Conduct System.

Sexual Misconduct

Vanderbilt University desires to establish and maintain a safe and healthy environment for all members of the University community. The University, by providing resources for prevention, education, support, and a fair disciplinary process, seeks to eliminate all forms of sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct of any kind represents socially irresponsible behavior and will not be tolerated by the University community.

It is a serious violation of University policy to engage in sexual conduct or activity without the consent of the other person. Consent may be withdrawn at any time, without regard to the activity that preceded the withdrawal of consent. Sexual misconduct includes, but is not limited to, actual or attempted rape and sexual battery. A student who violates this policy can be prosecuted in the courts of this state and, in addition, may be suspended or expelled from the University for the first offense.

Rape is defined as sexual penetration, no matter how slight, of the genital, anal, and/or oral openings of the person by any part of the student's body or by the use of an object, without the person's consent or against the person's will where the person

a. is forced or has reasonable fear that the accuser or another will be injured if the accuser does not submit to the act;

b. is incapable of giving consent or is prevented from resisting due to physical or mental incapacity, which includes, but is not limited to, the influence of drugs including alcohol; or

c. suffers from a mental or physical disability.

Sexual battery is defined as intentionally touching the person's intimate parts (primary genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock, or breast) without or against the person's consent. This touching is either directly on the body part or on the clothing covering that body part. It is also sexual battery if the person is forced to touch the intimate areas of another individual.

Information and resources regarding issues of sexual misconduct can be found at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/ProjectSafe.*

For procedures that apply to sexual misconduct cases, see "Guidelines for Cases of Sexual Misconduct" in Chapter 7.

Threat, Harassment, Stalking, or Intimidation: Directives to Desist

Vanderbilt University expects students to refrain from conduct that threatens or through intimidation unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another member of the University community. Such conduct is a violation of University policy and may result in disciplinary action.

A student who feels that she or he is the subject of such conduct may request from the Chair of the Conduct Councils or the Chair's designee an order to the offending student to desist from the conduct in question. When a request is filed, the Chair or the Chair's designee will determine whether the alleged conduct warrants the issuance of an order prohibiting the continuation of the conduct. The student whose conduct is the subject of the request will be notified of the request and any disciplinary charges.

If the Chair determines that the conduct complained of may constitute harassment, stalking, intimidation or threat that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another member of the University community, the Chair shall issue an order prohibiting the offending student from engaging in that conduct. The Chair may also impose other appropriate restrictions. Any student against whom such an order is issued may appeal the issuance of the order in the same manner that any other action by the Chair may be appealed. Any disciplinary charges brought at the time the order is requested will be resolved in the same manner as any other violation of policy.

Violation of an order by the student who is subject to the order will result in the filing of a disciplinary charge against that student. This charge will be adjudicated according to the usual disciplinary procedures. The hearing will be conducted by the hearing authority that issued the order. If the disciplinary procedures result in a finding that the charged student is guilty of violating the order, a disciplinary penalty will be imposed. This may include suspension or expulsion.

The determination of whether an order should be issued and any order that may be issued shall not be considered a disciplinary proceeding or discipline for purposes of the student's record unless separate charges were brought and adjudicated. A subsequent proceeding to adjudicate a charge that the student has violated the terms of an order shall constitute a disciplinary proceeding in the ordinary sense of that term and shall become a part of the student's record to the same extent that any other disciplinary action would become part of the record.


State law requires each college and university in Tennessee to adopt a policy prohibiting hazing. Hazing is defined in the law as "any intentional or reckless act in Tennessee on or off the property of any [college or university] by one (1) student acting alone or with others which is directed against any other student, that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student, or which induces or coerces a student to endanger his or her mental or physical health or safety. `Hazing' does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions, and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization."

While keeping with the statutory limitations of hazing above (i.e., student acts directed at students on or off campus), the University expands its definition of hazing to include any act that may produce, or is intended to produce, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such acts include--but are not limited to--inducement of excessive fatigue, or physical or psychological shocks; personal servitude; implementing or participation in treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, or road trips; publicly wearing apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; drinking games, or, other organized activities, late work sessions, and other obligations which interfere with scholastic purposes of the organization; and any other activity inconsistent with the purposes of the organization's constitution, by-laws, standing rules and policies, or University policy. Students are subject to federal, state and local laws, and policies and regulations of the University.

Conduct at Athletic Events

The University prohibits the throwing of objects from the stands and abusive language or gestures. Student spectators who throw objects at athletic events will be ejected from the contest and may be subject to further disciplinary action. Other spectators will be similarly treated by local authorities. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted at athletic events.

Fan Access Policy

The Southeastern Conference Fan Access Policy states as follows: "In all sports, access to the competition area shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals, at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area." Students violating this policy will be subject to University discipline. In addition, individuals who improperly enter the competition area may be expelled from the facility, arrested for trespassing, or lose future ticket privileges.

Signs & Banners

Students may paint their faces including the common names for our team (e.g., Dores, Vandy, VU). Students and/ or recognized student organizations may submit banners to be displayed at the game to the appropriate Athletic Department official, prior to the game. Banners with obscene or derogatory messages will not be displayed. Efforts will be made to display all banners submitted. Students are permitted to bring hand-held signs to athletic events provided that the signs meet the following guidelines:

1. The signs must be no larger than one piece of standard size poster board (22" x 28");

2. Signs may not display abusive or obscene words or drawings; and

3. Names of commercial products other than the official broadcast networks of the contest may not be mentioned on the sign.

Event staff has the discretionary authority to determine if a sign does not meet the guidelines. Signs that do not meet these guidelines may be confiscated at any time during the event. Students in possession of a sign that does not meet the guidelines may be ejected from the contest if they refuse to comply with the policy stated above.

Conduct in the Libraries

Eating, drinking, and use of tobacco all endanger library materials. For that reason, these activities are either allowed only in certain designated areas of the University library system or prohibited entirely. In some locations, covered beverages are permitted. For clarification of the policy in the individual libraries, patrons may inquire at the respective service desks. Failure to observe these restrictions may result in disciplinary action.

Many libraries offer group study space, but a significant portion of each library is intended for quiet study. Users are expected to be considerate of others, particularly when using cellular phones or having conversations.

Mutilating or defacing library materials is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action. Defacing includes highlighting, underlining, and writing in or on library materials. Mutilation includes removing pages; removing library ownership marks, including labels, bookplates, and property stamps; or otherwise damaging library materials.

Removal of library materials from the premises without authorization is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action.

Damage to Property

Damage, vandalism, littering, or theft of University property or property of a University community member or campus visitor by a student or student groups may result in disciplinary action as well as the offender's being held financially responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.

For example, a student may leave a window open during cold weather causing burst pipes and the flooding of student rooms and common areas. Or, a student may cause a fire triggering the building's sprinkler system causing both water and smoke damage to student rooms and common areas. In these cases, the perpetrators may be held responsible not only for disciplinary purposes, but also for the financial losses suffered by other students and the University resulting from these incidents.

Students may be held financially responsible for damages or losses resulting from accidents or negligence. Students who suffer losses under such circumstances must take their claims to their own homeowners or renters insurance carriers. These companies may subrogate the claims to the carrier of the responsible student's insurance.

Use of University Computers and Data Networks

Students, faculty, and staff are expected to comply with The Computer Privileges and Responsibilities policy (http://www.vanderbilt.edu/HomePage/aup.html*). Among other things, this policy prohibits violation of copyright laws, including illegal file sharing. In addition to disciplinary sanctions, computer privileges may be revoked in appropriate circumstances.

Telephone System

Students should identify themselves to the persons called on the telephone and may not use the telephone system to intentionally harass another by threats, obscenities, or repeated calls in which they fail to identify themselves. Examples of improper use of the telephone are: calling repeatedly and breathing or not speaking into the telephone receiver; describing sexual activity without identifying oneself; and anonymously subjecting the listener to obscene names. Harassment by telephone is a violation of state law and will subject the caller to criminal prosecution as well as discipline by the University. Students who experience such calls should report the matter to an assistant director of Housing and Residential Education, and/or, to the University Police Department.

Unauthorized use of the University telephone system with the intent to avoid payment of long distance charges is unlawful and may result in disciplinary action. Misuse includes: the unauthorized acceptance of long distance collect calls, third party calls charged against the University, and use of a long distance authorization (V-Net) number not issued to the student.

Resident students must provide their own, FCC approved, telephone instruments. Because they interfere with wireless access to data networks, 2.4 GHz cordless phones are prohibited.

Fireworks, Firearms, and Explosives

The use or possession of fireworks, firearms, or other weapons on University premises is prohibited. (Student use or possession of these materials is prohibited off campus, as well, when such use or possession is illegal or may endanger the health or safety of members of the University community.)

Sports weapons must be kept in the custody of the Department of Police and Security, which is open twenty-four hours a day. It is a felony in the state of Tennessee to carry a weapon on a campus for the purpose of going armed. Air rifles and "BB" guns are considered to be firearms, the use and possession of which are prohibited on campus.

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Foreword | A Statement of Principles | The Honor System | Community Life | Services for Students | University Policies and Regulations | Student Conduct Code | Student Conduct System | Residential Life | Alcohol and Controlled Substances

Copyright © 2005 Vanderbilt University. Last modified 16 September 2005. For more information, please email studentlifetech@vanderbilt.edu.