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Accountability FAQs

Students, you may find information that pertains to the Student Accountability process of the university in this section.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I just received an email from the Office of Student Accountability requesting I come in for a meeting? / How does the Office of Student Accountability obtain its incident reports? / What jurisdiction does the Office of Student Accountability have? / What happens if I choose to not respond to the requests from the Office of Student Accountability? / Do I need a lawyer? / Can I bring someone to my meeting? / Can my parents sit in on my meeting with the Office of Student Accountability? / What will happen in my meeting? / How can you charge me for something I didn't know about? / Can I be held in violation for something that is posted on social media? / Why am I facing criminal charges as well as charges through Vanderbilt? / If my charges have been dropped by the court, will Vanderbilt drop them as well? / If I am found responsible for misconduct, what is the outcome? / What is the "Immunity Rule" and does my case apply? / What is the "Preponderance of the Evidence" standard? / 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? / Can my conduct record be expunged? / How long are my records maintained? / What disciplinary action shows on my transcript? / How will a disciplinary sanction affect my official record?


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?

As instructed in the email, please call (615) 322-7868 to schedule your appointment at our office in Sarratt Student Center/Rand Hall, Suite 301. For more information about the student accountability process, you may contact our office or refer to the Student Handbook by going to https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/student-conduct/.

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How does the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity obtain its incident reports?

The Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity receives incident reports from a range of campus partners and community members.  Reports are most commonly referred from the Residential Education staff and the Vanderbilt University Police Department.

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What jurisdiction does the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity have?

All persons enrolled in or taking courses at the University, or participating in programs and activities of the University as students, even if not registered primarily at Vanderbilt, as well as students on official leaves from the University (medical, personal, disciplinary, or otherwise), fall under the jurisdiction of the accountability system. This includes those taking part-time courses of study; participants in summer programs such as PAVE, Governor’s School, etc.; participants in programs of the English Language Center; transients during the summer or other sessions; and students cross-registered from a neighboring institution.

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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 my assigned accountability action plan?

Failure to respond to notifications from the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity may be considered a waiver of the right to appear, and an accountability meeting may be held in your absence. Failure to comply with an assigned accountability action plan will be considered a violation of University policy and you may be subject to further disciplinary action.

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Do I need a lawyer?

Because of the educational nature of the accountability process, Vanderbilt does not allow persons with formal legal training (except in cases concerning students in the Law School) to participate in the accountability process. Any party serving as a legal representative for a student should contact the Vanderbilt’s Office of the General Counsel directly at 615-322-5155. Their office is located at 2100 West End Avenue, Suite 750, Nashville, TN 37203.

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Can I bring someone with me to my meeting?

You may choose a Vanderbilt faculty, staff, or student adviser to whom you are not related, and who has not had formal legal training (except in cases concerning students in the Law School), to accompany you to your accountability meeting. The adviser may not address the staff member, but may consult with you during the meeting. No person who has a substantial interest in the case, or in a related case as a student facing potential corrective action, or as an adviser to such a student, may serve as an adviser. Persons not convened or summoned (e.g., the student, the student’s adviser, witnesses), by the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, are prohibited from attending an accountability meeting, and from being present at interviews during the course of an investigation.

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Can my parents sit in on my meeting with Student Accountability?

Parents are not permitted in Student Accountability meetings.

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What will happen in my meeting with a member of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity?

Initially, the accountability officer will provide you with information about the overall accountability process and notify you of the specific violations of University policy of which you have been accused. You will then be given the opportunity to decide whether you would like to move forward with an accountability meeting immediately or if you would like to take a three-day wait period. During your accountability meeting, you will have the opportunity to review the information that has been gathered surrounding the alleged incident and to give your account of what happened.  You can also ask the accountability officer to speak to material witnesses and/or one character witness. Once the accountability officer has all of the provided information, a decision will be made as to whether you are responsible for the alleged violation(s) using the preponderance of the evidence standard.

To receive additional information on the student accountability process, please click on the link below:

https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/student-conduct/#accountability-procedures

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But I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that. How can you charge me for something I didn’t know about?

By accepting admission to Vanderbilt University, you agree to abide by Vanderbilt’s community standards. The Student Handbook (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/) is designed to acquaint you with the specifics of our community standards. It is your responsibility as a student to become aware of its contents. Ignorance of a policy is not a valid excuse for violating it.

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Can I be held in violation for something that is posted on social media?

While it is not Vanderbilt policy to actively seek out information on the internet, if evidence of a violation is reported to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity (e.g.: threats, harassment, etc.), it will be addressed using the student accountability process.

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Why am I facing criminal charges as well as charges through Vanderbilt University?

Students may be accountable to criminal and/or civil authorities as well as to the University for acts that constitute violations of law and of University policies and regulations. Students investigated for alleged violations of these policies and regulations are subject to University accountability proceedings delineated in the Student Handbook while criminal or civil proceedings regarding the same conduct are pending. Students in these circumstances may not challenge the University’s accountability process 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.

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If my charges have been dropped by the court, will Vanderbilt drop them as well?

Vanderbilt’s accountability process is educational in nature and is separate from criminal and/or civil proceedings because it relies on violations of University policy, which are more encompassing than criminal and civil laws. Additionally, Vanderbilt uses a different evidentiary standard and different procedures than the criminal court system. Accordingly, a case’s disposition in court may have no impact on the disposition of a student’s accountability matter through Vanderbilt University.

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If I am found responsible for misconduct, what is the outcome?

Students found responsible are given an accountability action plan that includes relevant sanctions and educational enhancements. Sanctions are awarded on a graduated scale and include an educational conference, deferred probation, disciplinary probation, suspension, and 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, the disciplinary history of the student, and the level of cooperation and honesty throughout the accountability process. Sanctions are primarily intended to be educational in nature. In serious cases, University suspension or expulsion are potential outcomes of the accountability process.

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What is the “Immunity Rule” and does my case apply?

It is in the best interest of students welfare that persons who overdose or become intoxicated be brought to the attention of medical personnel. For that reason, it is University policy that a student seeking medical attention for intoxication or overdose may be eligible for immunity for the use or underage possession of alcohol or other drugs and the resulting overdose or intoxication, provided that the sole reason the student s intoxication or overdose was discovered by University officials was through the seeking of medical care by the affected student or by another student (excluding a student who serves as a resident adviser or is serving in another official role on behalf of the University at the time of the incident).

Immunity for alcohol violations extends to individuals seeking help for the intoxicated student. Students granted immunity will be required to complete a course of evaluation, counseling and, where indicated, treatment. Failure to complete the prescribed course and/or treatment can result in the revocation of immunity.

Seeking emergency treatment for one who has overdosed or become intoxicated does not relieve a group or organization of responsibility for a violation of policy, such as providing alcohol to an underage person resulting in the intoxication for which emergency treatment is sought. However, the fact that an organization sought help for an intoxicated student will be considered favorably in determining any sanction for policy violations.

For more information on the Immunity Rule, see: https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/alcoholic-beverage-and-controlled-substances-policies/#alcoholic-beverage-and-controlled-substances-policies

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What is the “Preponderance of the Evidence” Standard?

Vanderbilt uses the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. This standard looks at whether it is “more likely than not” that the policy was violated.

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What happens if I am placed on disciplinary probation?

Disciplinary probation places a student in a probationary status that takes away the privilege of holding certain offices or leadership positions in student organizations, and may also include social or other restrictions on participation in organizations, programs, activities, and events. Probations are entered upon the student’s permanent disciplinary record, and are reported to agencies beyond the University, as needed. Probation may, but does not always, restrict a student’s activities on campus.  Violation of probation may lead to further restrictions or suspension.

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Will my parents, professors, and/or friends find out about my conduct sanction?

If a student is found to be in violation of University policy, the findings of the case, including any sanction, may be made known to appropriate persons, including, but not limited to, the complainant (only where applicable and as required by law), the appropriate academic dean, the faculty adviser, appropriate staff members, and/or the responsible student’s parents or guardian. Below is a list of sanctions along with a list of those typically copied on the sanction letter:

Educational Conference – For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will notify the student’s Faculty Head of House.

Deferred Probation – The Office of Student Accountability will notify the student’s parents. For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s Faculty Head of House, the Dean of the Ingram Commons, and the Dean of Students.

Disciplinary Probation –The Office of Student Accountability will notify the student’s parents, the Dean of Students, and the Dean of the student’s college or school. For first-year students, the Office of Student Accountability will also notify the student’s Faculty Head of House and the Dean of the Ingram Commons.

Suspension – Same as Disciplinary Probation. In addition, officials in the Registrar’s office, Financial Aid office, and Residential Education will be notified.

Expulsion – Same as Suspension.

Based on a student’s activities on campus, additional advisers may be notified. Additional information, can be found in the Student Handbook at https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/student-conduct/#sanctions.

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Can I appeal the decision?

Yes. Students may appeal all disciplinary sanctions on any of the following grounds:

  • Procedural irregularities sufficient to affect the finding of the original authority.
  • Insufficient information to support the finding of the original authority.
  • New information that was not reasonably available for presentation to the original authority, the introduction of which could reasonably be expected to affect the finding of the original authority.
  • Harshness of the penalty/sanction imposed by the original authority sufficient to show an abuse of discretion by that authority.

A petition for appeal must be submitted by the petitioning student or appropriate officer of a petitioning organization using the online Petition for Appeal form by no later than 5pm on the tenth (10th) calendar day following the date that the student or organization is formally notified of the determination of the administrative officer or hearing body.

Detailed procedures for appealing a decision may be found in the Student Handbook at https://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/student-conduct/#appeals-and-the-appellate-review-board

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Can my conduct record be expunged?

Vanderbilt University does not have a policy of expunging conduct records prior to the date established in the document retention policy.  The document retention policy states that upon graduation or withdrawal from the University, student records in the Office of Housing and Residential Education and the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity are maintained for a period of seven years, after which time they are destroyed. Records of students who are suspended or expelled from the University may be maintained indefinitely.

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How long are records maintained?

Upon graduation or withdrawal from the University, student records in the Office of Housing and Residential Education and the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity are maintained for a period of seven years, after which time they are destroyed. Records of students who are suspended or expelled from the University may be maintained indefinitely.

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What disciplinary action shows on my transcript?

Expulsion – Permanent notation on student’s academic record

Suspension –A temporary notation is placed on the student’s academic record for the period of the suspension

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

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How will a disciplinary sanction affect my official record?

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, suspension, and expulsion, however, are included on a student’s official disciplinary record and may be reported out to graduate and professional schools, prospective employers, or external entities upon request.

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