Although this guide is designed to assist individuals through the University Student Conduct System, all students are required to read and know the Student Code of Conduct (available online here) for complete details of the process as well as your rights and responsibilities and assurances of fundamental fairness.
What is the University Student Conduct System?
Lehigh University is a private educational institution that has a vested interest in maintaining community standards, educating students about their behavior, and providing a safe and educationally sound environment for all community members. The University Student Conduct System are the rules and processes put in place by Lehigh University to achieve these goals.
What are the major differences between the University Student Conduct System and criminal justice systems.
The University Student Conduct System is focused on educating the student with emphasis on student development and accountability, while the goal of the criminal justice system is primarily focused on punishment and rehabilitation. Therefore, the University works with students who have been accused of violating the rules and regulations of Lehigh University (found primarily in the Student Code of Conduct) and finding a meaningful resolution of those accusations.
Why does Lehigh University get involved with my behavior off campus?
As a Lehigh University Student, certain rules and regulations apply to your behavior. Lehigh has stated that, “Jurisdiction of the Lehigh University Code of Conduct shall not be limited to conduct that occurs on Lehigh University premises. It will be applicable to any conduct which affects the Lehigh University community as a whole, its individual members, or the pursuit of its objectives.” In other words, your behavior reflects on your Alma Mater, therefore the University will consider taking internal action when that behavior reflects on Lehigh in a negative manner.
Why is the University charging me with a policy violation if I am going through the local/state/federal courts? Isn't that double jeopardy?
Students may be accountable to both civil authorities and to the University for acts that violate local, state, or federal laws. (students are encouraged to seek advice of legal counsel when they face criminal charges.) Disciplinary action through University processes concurrent with criminal action does not subject a student to “double jeopardy” as this is a legal term referring to criminal court actions. Lehigh University is not a state or federal agency and operates under completely different policies, procedures, and standards to ensure compliance with community standards.
I have been “written up” by a Gryphon, or RLC; or I have been cited by the police in regards to my behavior, who do I have to meet with?
When a report of an alleged violation of the Lehigh University Code of Conduct is reported to the Office of Student Conduct the case is assigned to a member of the staff for resolution. You will be notified via our secure electronic system of the accusations and how to schedule a meeting with the case officer for your case. You should contact the case officer or the Office of Student Conduct immediately upon receipt of the email to make an appointment. Failure to do so may limit your options in resolving the case
It is equally important that if you were also cited by the Lehigh University Police or another local police department that you respond to that citation in the time frame indicated on the citation. The criminal process is separate from the University Conduct System and it is important that you meet your obligations in regards to both systems.
I received a letter indicating that I have been charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Doesn't this "charge" mean that you've already found me guilty?
No. The notification refers to the incident as an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The purpose of the University Student Conduct System is to provide a fundamentally fair process for resolving alleged violations.
What is the difference between "responsible" / "not responsible" and "guilty" / "not guilty"?
The Lehigh University Student Conduct Process is not a criminal or civil court. It is an administrative process for handling alleged violations of the Lehigh University Code of Conduct. The “burden of proof” or the standard we use to determine whether or not students have violated the Code of Conduct is “a preponderance of evidence.” This means that when all of the information and evidence is examined, if it is more likely that the student acted in a manner that violates the code, they will be held accountable for that violation.
I didn't know I was doing anything in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, how can you charge me for that?
All students are required to review and understand the Lehigh University Student Code of Conduct (Article II, I.H). . The official and most updated version of the Student Handbook, which contains the Lehigh University Student Code of Conduct can be found online at: http://lehigh.edu/go/codeofconduct.
How long does the Judicial Process take?
Lehigh University treats every incident on a case by case basis. Due to the varying nature of investigations, scheduling and other circumstances, the process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks.
What is the process that my case will follow?
The process used for resolving allegations of violations of the Student Code of Conduct can be found in their entirety in Article VIII of the Lehigh University Student Code of Conduct. In brief, the process is below:
After an initial report is received by the Office of Student Conduct and reviewed, any students who have allegedly violated the Code of Conduct, will be contacted by the Office of Student Conduct via our secure electronic system and asked to set up an appointment with a case officer.
At that initial meeting, a student may, at the discretion of the case officer be given an opportunity to resolve the charges by taking responsibility for the charges, if a student does this, sanctions will be assigned by the case officer and the matter will be concluded.
If a student does not accept responsibility for the charges, or is not given an opportunity to do so, the case will be resolved via a disciplinary conference or a disciplinary hearing. A disciplinary conference is an informal process in which a case officer reviews the evidence in question, talks with the accused student (and in some cases witnesses), and makes a decision as to both the student’s responsibility and if applicable, sanctions that are to be imposed. A disciplinary hearing is a formal process before the University Committee on Discipline in which the panel reviews all relevant information and makes a determination regarding responsibility and sanctions
What happens if I chose not to set up a meeting with the Office of Student Conduct?
If you fail to set up an appointment when asked to do so, you will likely be charged with additional violations of the Lehigh University Code of Conduct (specifically: Failure to comply with the reasonable requests of a University Official) and the matter will be referred to either a disciplinary conference or a disciplinary hearing for resolution.
What happens if I chose not to attend a disciplinary conference or disciplinary hearing?
You are not required to attend a disciplinary conference or a disciplinary hearing. Even if you choose to attend, you are not required to participate in any way except for identifying yourself for a recording device. If however you choose not to attend or to attend and not participate, the Case Officer, or Hearing Panel will make their decisions on both responsibility and sanctions based on the information that is available to them. If you have an academically related issue with the scheduled hearing time, please contact the Office of Student Conduct to discuss the situation.
What is the University Committee on Discipline?
The University Committee on Discipline is the University’s primary hearing organization. It is made up of faculty members, staff, and students. This organization is charged with reviewing and deciding conduct cases that are brought before it by the Office of Student Conduct. The students are selected in the spring of each year through an application and interview process. The script that is used for hearings before the University Committee on Discipline is available on the Office of Student Conduct’s website.
Can someone attend my meetings with me like a parent or lawyer?
Accused students are entitled to advisory assistance by any member of the university community (current students, faculty, and staff, provided he/she is not an attorney). The advisor's role is to assist, support, and advise students at any stage of the conduct process. The advisor may not, however, ask or answer questions for students or make summation statements on their behalf. This person is an observer and will not be a participant in the hearing. Generally, legal counsel shall not be permitted to attend the hearing to represent the student. However, in cases where there are pending criminal charges, the accused student may have legal counsel present as an advisor. If the case involves sexual misconduct, either party may have an advisor of their choosing, which could be an attorney. If present, the counsel may not participate in the hearing in any way except in advising the accused student. In these cases, the Conduct Officer may request that university counsel be present in a non-participatory role. Parents are not permitted to attend hearings.
What should I wear?
There is no formal dress requirement for meeting with the Conduct Officer or hearing panels. Everyday clothes are acceptable attire, however it is advisable to consider the impression you may give when deciding what to wear to meetings/hearings.
My case has been referred to a U.C.O.D. hearing, what should I do?
You will be notified via our electronic system of the time, date, and location of your hearing. You will also receive a packet of materials. You will at that time be asked to schedule a pre-hearing interview with a member of the staff. At that meeting the process as well as your rights and responsibilities will be explained in detail.
What should I do if I do not agree that the sanctions assigned are appropriate or if I believe that the process was unfair?
These kinds of issues are addressed through the appeals process (covered in Article XI of the Student Code of Conduct) The appeals process is a chance for an independent group to review decisions made by the Conduct system. An appeal may be filed for any or all of the following reasons: (1) information was not available at the time of the hearing, is now available, and could reasonably be expected to have altered the outcome of the case; (2) the university disciplinary procedures were violated in a way that probably adversely affected the outcome of the case; or (3) the sanction was unduly harsh and not justifiable. You will have three business days from the date of your “outcome letter” to submit a written appeal. The written letter should describe the details regarding your appeal request and refer to one (or more) of the three situations listed above.
The letter should be submitted to the Conduct Officer, who may help you prepare your appeal. The chairperson of your hearing panel, the case officer of your hearing, or the Hearing Officer of your disciplinary conference will write a response to your appeal. Those documents as well as the documents and recording of the hearing will be submitted to the Disciplinary Appeals Committee. That committee will review this material and determine if your claims have merit. If your appeal is granted, a new hearing will be scheduled.
What kinds of punishment can I expect if found responsible?
Generally speaking, Lehigh University's goal is to educate students through the use of sanctions. The following is a list of primary sanctions that can be imposed by the University:
- Disciplinary Warning. A disciplinary warning is a written statement of a student’s responsibility
- Disciplinary Probation. Disciplinary probation is the imposition of a trial period in which students must show that they are willing to live up to the expectations in this Code of Conduct.
- Disciplinary Deferred Suspension. The sanction of disciplinary suspension may be placed in deferred status for a limited period of time. During this period of time, any further violations of the Code of Conduct will result in an immediate suspension. Additionally it means that the student is not permitted to represent the University in any official way off campus (i.e. athletics, musical performance groups, etc.)
- Disciplinary Suspension. Disciplinary suspension is the temporary separation of the student from the Lehigh University Community.
- Expulsion. Expulsion is the permanent removal of a student from the university.
Other sanctions may be imposed in an effort to curb behavior, educate the student, and protect the community. Additional information can be found in Article VII of the Code of Conduct.
What happens if I don't complete my sanctions?
Any student who fails to complete his or her sanctions can be charged with additional violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Specifically, you can be charged with being in violation of Article IV: Respect for the Lehigh University Community. Additionally, your sanctions can be increased, which may lead to suspension or expulsion.
What if I am unable to complete my sanctions by the deadline given?
The Lehigh University Community is comprised of reasonable people making reasonable decisions. If there are circumstances that require an extension on your deadline contact the Office of Student Conduct prior to the date your sanctions are due to explain your situation and request an extension. Extensions will be given on a case by case basis.
If I am found responsible for a violation of the Lehigh University Student Code of Conduct, will my parents be informed?
Your disciplinary records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and will be kept confidential except for those members of the University community who have an “educational need to know” or as provided for by law. However, if your violations involve drugs or underage alcohol possession/consumption a letter will be sent to your parents from the Office of Student Conduct notifying them of your violation(s)/sanction(s). This action is in accordance with changes made to FERPA in 1999.
How will this affect me while applying to grad school or getting a job?
Beginning with students who enroll in classes for the first time after August 1, 2013, Lehigh University will maintain disciplinary records indefinitely. Students taking classes prior to August 1, 2013 will have their records maintained for five years after their graduation except in cases of suspension and expulsion which will be kept indefinitely.
Graduate School Admissions
When a student applies to graduate school, most institutions of higher education will require what is known as a Dean’s Recommendation. This is a document that Lehigh University will complete for the student and it will outline the charges and primary sanctions (expulsion, suspension, deferred suspension, probation, or warning) imposed for any violations of the Code of Conduct that a student has been found responsible for. It is recommended that if a student has one or more violations of the Code of Conduct on their record that they provide a written statement along with a graduate school application outlining the incident and the actions they took to correct your behavior. It is always in the best interest of the applicant to be honest concerning a past conduct record.
Most employers do not require a review of your conduct record, but others especially those involving security clearances may. Again it is in a student's best interest to be honest about conduct violations when asked.
Can a student’s disciplinary record be expunged?
No, Lehigh does not expunge or wipe clean student disciplinary records.
I am a student athlete, is my coach going to find out that I violated the Code of Conduct?
Yes. Your coach has an educational need to know the outcome of your conduct cases.
If I am found responsible, will it affect my financial aid?
In most cases, financial aid is unaffected unless you are suspended or expelled from the University. You should contact the Office of Financial Aid at 610 758 3181 for more information.
If I am found responsible of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct but the police were not involved, will the police be notified to cite me for violations of the law?
Possibly. Because the university has an interest in inappropriate behavior separate from that of the civil authorities, it has the right and responsibility to exercise its jurisdiction and take such action as is appropriate to protect this interest. When the university has jurisdiction in a matter subject to this code, it has the right to report the matter, whenever appropriate, to civil authorities.
For More Information
For additional Information contact the Office of Student Conduct