The Conduct System: a Brief Overview
The Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) is responsible for administering the student disciplinary system at UC Davis. As members of an academic community and of society at large, students have both rights and responsibilities. Students are expected to be aware of and follow University policies and law.
Suspected student violations of University policies or campus rules are referred to OSSJA, including academic and social misconduct, occurring on- or off-campus. Centralized reporting and handling of student discipline cases maintains consistency and fairness in treatment of cases, and centralized records ensure that repeat offenders are disciplined accordingly.
Academic honestly is very important at UC Davis. The Code of Academic Conduct is part of a long-standing honor code tradition at our campus. Students who violate the Code may be removed from school, even for a first-time violation; admitting the violation and accepting responsibility, including sanctions, may reduce the severity of the penalty. Students who admit or are found in violation of the Code normally receive a grade of "F" or zero on the work in question.
Students are also subject to discipline for social misconduct, which can range from violations of noise, alcohol, or drug policies, to disruption of class, to theft, fraud, misuse of computers, or conduct that threatens health and safety. The more serious the violation, and the higher the risk of harm to the campus community, the more severe the sanctions.
Where possible, informal procedures are used to resolve disciplinary matters, emphasizing education, personal growth and ethical behavior -- upholding standards of academic integrity and responsible conduct to protect the quality of education and the welfare of our UC Davis community. In the few cases in which formal fact-finding procedures are used, the system is designed to provide a prompt, fair, and impartial hearing and resolution of the matter. A student may consult an advisor at any stage in the informal or formal process.
Notice of Report
When a report is received, OSSJA notifies the student by email of the suspected misconduct, and directs the student to meet with an OSSJA officer. For reports of incidents occurring in Student Housing, students receive notice of an OSSJA referral from their area Conduct Coordinator.
The First Meeting
At the first meeting, the student is advised of his/her rights and informed of the evidence supporting the charges. The student has an opportunity to respond and to discuss possible ways of resolving the case. Residence Hall violations are subject to remedies under the student's housing contract (e.g., involuntary move/contract termination) as well as student disciplinary action (e.g., Probation or Suspension from school).
Students do not have to say anything at the informal meeting, but if they choose to do so, they are expected to tell the truth. Providing false information in the discipline process is a serious violation which can result in removal from the University.
Informal disposition means resolution without a formal hearing, usually by agreement between the student and OSSJA, including the sanction to be imposed, if any. Most cases (more than 95%) are resolved by mutual agreement under Informal Disposition procedures, no penalty can be imposed informally without the student's consent, unless he/she fails to participate in the disciplinary process.
If the student does not participate in this process, unilateral action can be taken or the case may be referred for formal adjudication. Unilateral action may include administrative holds on registration, transcripts, graduation, and/or diploma, or may include disciplinary Probation or even removal from the University. This means that the student needs to schedule an appointment promptly and participate in the process. A student may appeal unilateral action, but must show reasonable grounds for failing to cooperate.
If a case cannot be resolved informally by agreement, it may be referred
to a student-faculty panel (the Campus Judicial Board, or CJB) or a Hearing Officer for a formal
The Formal Hearing Process
A formal fact-finding hearing is an educational proceeding, not a trial or court hearing. The goal is to find the truth through a fair, prompt, and effective process, respecting and preserving the rights of the accused student, the University community, the reporting party, and any witnesses.
Hearing Officers or Hearing panel members should have no prior involvement in the case, and must be able to render a fair decision; they may be challenged and removed if found to be biased.
The purpose of the fact-finding process is to find the truth of what happened through a fair hearing before neutral decision-makers. In keeping with the University's educational goals, the accused student and the reporting party each speak on their own behalf, except in unusual circumstances. They may each be accompanied by an advisor, but attorneys may not represent parties in the formal hearing process.
The student and reporting party receive prior written notice by email of the specific charges at issue and the date, time, and location of the hearing. The notice also summarizes the hearing procedures, including the right to an advisor, and the parties' responsibility to exchange evidence and witness lists before the hearing.
Hearings are closed except to the hearing panel or hearing officer, the accused student, the reporting party, and the witnesses (who are present only at the time they testify), unless otherwise approved by the hearing chair or OSSJA. The accused student may be present at the hearing or absent. Both the reporting party and the accused student may provide evidence and question witnesses. Hearing Panel members or a Hearing Officer may also question witnesses. If they testify, witnesses can be questioned and must tell the truth. The accused student may remain silent. Formal rules of evidence do not apply. An audio recording of the hearing is kept.
After the hearing ends, a written report is prepared containing findings of fact (what happened, and was it more likely than not that the student violated University standards). If appropriate, sanctions may be recommended. Any findings and recommendations must be based only upon evidence received at the hearing. The student receives written notice of the decision.
A student who is found in violation has ten days to file a written appeal of the decision, on the grounds that:
1. there is no substantial basis in fact to support the findings;
2. the sanction is inconsistent with the findings;
3. there was unfairness in the proceedings; or4. there is newly discovered important evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing.
The appeal may be denied, granted in whole or part, or other relief may be directed where appropriate.
This information is excerpted from the UC Davis Policy on Student Conduct & Discipline. The policy may be found online.