Disciplinary File Release Procedures
Frequently Asked Questions
- I just received an email from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity requesting that I come in for a meeting. What should I do?
- How does the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity obtain its incident reports?
- What jurisdiction does the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity have?
- What happens if I choose to not respond to the requests from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity to meet, choose to not appear for a scheduled meeting, or choose to not comply with a sanction?
- Do I need a lawyer?
- Can I bring someone with me to my meeting?
- Can my parents sit in on my meeting with Student Accountability?
- What will happen in my meeting with a member of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity?
- But I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that! How can you charge me for something I didn’t know about?
- Can I be held in violation for something that is posted online, such as on Facebook?
- Why am I facing criminal charges as well as charges through Vanderbilt University?
- If I am found responsible for misconduct, what is the outcome?
- What is the “Immunity Rule,” and does my case apply?
- What happens if I am placed on disciplinary probation?
- Will my parents, professors, and/or friends find out about my conduct sanction?
- Can I appeal the decision?
- If my charges have been dropped by the court, will Vanderbilt drop them as well?
- Can my conduct record be expunged?
- How long are records maintained?
- What disciplinary action shows on my transcript?
- How will a disciplinary sanction affect my official record?
As instructed in the email, please call (615) 322-7868 in order to schedule your meeting. Often students (and parents) are anxious about the accountability process. One way to help is to become informed about how our process works. You can review our website to learn about our expectations as well as how our conduct process works. Learning to take responsibility for one’s actions and to develop self-confidence and self-reliance happens best when a student takes a principal role in representing him or herself in the conduct process.
The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity receives reports from many different sources. The most common are members of the Residential Education staff, Vanderbilt University Police Department, and Nashville Metro Police Department.
What jurisdiction does the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity have?
As a member of the Vanderbilt University community, the Student Code follows you wherever you are, both on or off-campus.
What happens if I choose to not respond to the requests from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity to meet, choose to not appear for a scheduled meeting, or choose to not comply with a sanction?
If you choose not to respond to the requests from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity and/or choose not to attend your scheduled meeting, your case will be heard in absentia. If you choose not to comply with the sanction(s), you are subject to further sanctioning.
Because of the educational nature of the conduct process, we do not allow lawyers to participate in our process. Our office has worked with students’ attorneys in the past to provide information about our process or specifics about a student’s case (with an appropriate release of information), but attorneys are often directed to contact the Office of General Counsel at 615-322-5155. There office is located at 2100 West End Avenue, Suite 750, Nashville, TN 37203.
A student (or student group) can bring an adviser to a meeting. The adviser must be a Vanderbilt faculty, staff, or student who is not related to the accused and who has not had formal legal training (except in cases concerning students in the Law School). The adviser may not address the judicial body, but may consult with the accused student during the meeting. No person who has a substantial interest in the case, or in a related case as an accused student or adviser to an accused student, may serve as an adviser.
Initially, the accountability officer will review the overall accountability process and present the charges to you. Then you will be given the opportunity to decide who will hear your case (the accountability officer or the Accountability Council). During the meeting, you will disclose information regarding the alleged incident. Once the accountability officer or the Accountability Council receive and review the information given, a decision will be rendered. Once the decision is rendered, you will have the option to appeal (when filed within the 10-day period). To receive additional information on the student accountability process, please click on the link below:
By enrolling at Vanderbilt University, students bear the responsibility to become aware of university policies and regulations available in the Student Handbook http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook). As stated in the Handbook, “Ignorance of a policy or regulation will not be considered an excuse for failure to observe it.”
While it is not Vanderbilt policy to actively seek out information on websites such as Facebook, if evidence of a violation is brought to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity’s attention (e.g.: threats, harassment, etc.), it may serve as the basis of disciplinary actions.
Vanderbilt students may be accountable both to criminal or civil authorities as well as to the University for acts that constitute violations of law and of University policies and regulations. The processes are separate. Students accused of violations of these policies and regulations are subject to the University accountability proceedings delineated in the Student Handbook while criminal or civil proceedings regarding the same conduct are pending. Accused students may not challenge University conduct proceedings on the grounds that criminal charges or civil actions regarding the same incident are pending, may be initiated, or have been terminated, dismissed, reduced, or not yet adjudicated. When appropriate, the University may refer matters to federal, state, and local authorities for prosecution.
Sanctions range from educational conference to expulsion. The most common sanctions are educational conference, deferred probation, and disciplinary probation, often accompanied by various educational enhancements delineated in an accountability action plan. The student accountability process allows for flexibility in determining the outcome of a case based on factors such as the circumstances and seriousness of the incident and the disciplinary history of the student. Sanctions are primarily intended to be educational in nature.
In serious cases, University suspension or expulsion are potential outcomes of the accountability process. Since these sanctions hold significant implications both financially and in terms of a student’s academic progress we strongly encourage students to involve their parents or those responsible for assisting the student with financing his or her education in situations where these outcomes are a possibility.
The “Immunity Rule,” formally known as the “Emergency Treatment Exception,” is a narrowly tailored policy that can only be applied by a Student Accountability officer or the Student Accountability Council. The rule exists to encourage students to seek help for themselves and others for the misuse of alcohol or drugs without fear of disciplinary sanction. Help must be sought from residential education staff, the police, or health care professionals. For more information on the Immunity Rule, see: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/alcohol-and-controlled-substances#emergencytreatment.
Students on disciplinary probation may not hold leadership positions in any student organization. They may be prohibited from participating in Study Abroad programs. In addition, the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, and Pan-Hellenic Council may prohibit participation in recruitment and the joining a fraternity or sorority for students on probation. Furthermore, although conduct records are confidential and protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), students should be aware that applications to graduate and professional schools, governmental agencies, and licensing and professional agencies often require that students release their conduct records, including disciplinary probation. Parents, academic deans, and other appropriate University staff members will be notified when conduct action is taken.
If asked, students should disclose disciplinary actions of probation, suspension and expulsion to graduate and professional schools, governmental agencies, and licensing and professional agencies, as withholding may prevent acceptance.
Below is a list of sanctions along with a list of those typically copied on the sanction letter:
Educational Conference – Copy placed in student’s disciplinary file. For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s Faculty Head of House, the Dean of Commons, and the Dean of Students.
Deferred Probation – Copy placed in student’s disciplinary file. For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s Faculty Head of House, the Dean of Commons, and the Dean of Students. The Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s parents.
Disciplinary Probation – Copy placed in student’s disciplinary file. The Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s parents and college dean. For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s Faculty Head of House, the Dean of Commons, and the Dean of Students. Based on circumstances, other campus authorities such as Residential Education, Greek Life, Student Athletics, etc., may also be notified.
Suspension – Same as Disciplinary Probation as well as officials in the Registrar’s office, Financial Aid office, Residential Education and the Dean of Students.
Expulsion – Same as Suspension.
Yes. Students may appeal all disciplinary sanctions on any of the following grounds:
- Insufficient evidence to support the decision
- Harshness of sanction sufficient to show an abuse of discretion by the original hearing authority
- Procedural irregularity sufficient to affect the decision
- New evidence that was not reasonably available to be presented to the original hearing authority, the introduction of which may reasonably be expected to affect the decision.
Detailed procedures for appealing a decision may be found in the Student Handbook at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/chapter-3-student-conduct#appellate
No. Vanderbilt’s conduct process is educational in nature and is separate from criminal and/or civil proceedings because it relies on violations of the Student Code, which are more encompassing than criminal and civil laws. Additionally, Vanderbilt uses a different evidentiary standard and very different procedures than criminal courts. Accordingly, a case’s disposition in court may have no impact on the disposition of a student’s conduct matter through Vanderbilt University.
No, Vanderbilt University does not have a policy of expunging conduct records. In any case, medical schools and a number of graduate and professional schools as well as licensing boards now ask applicants to disclose expunged conduct actions, so expungement is often a moot action leading to greater confusion.
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Conduct records are maintained for seven years following graduation or withdrawal from the University. Records of suspension and expulsion may be maintained indefinitely.
- Expulsion – Permanent notation on student’s transcript
- Suspension – Notation on student’s transcript only during the period of suspension. Once the period of suspension is complete, the notation is removed from the transcript.
- Disciplinary Probation – No notation on student’s transcript
- Deferred Probation – No notation on student’s transcript
- Educational Conference – No notation on student’s transcript
- Immunity Rule – No notation on student’s transcript
Sanctions of an educational conference and deferred probation are treated as educational counseling, rather than as disciplinary sanctions for purposes of reporting to agencies outside the University. This means that the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity does not report educational conferences or deferred probations to graduate and professional schools, prospective employers, or external entities, unless requested to do so by the student.
Disciplinary probation places a student in a probationary status that takes away the privilege of holding office and may also include social restrictions. Probations are entered upon the student’s permanent conduct record. Probation may, but does not always, restrict a student’s activities on campus. Violation of probation may lead to further restrictions or Suspension.