Article 1: General Provisions
Section 1: Purpose
At St. Edward's University, learning and meaningful, respectful dialogue creates a vibrant campus culture. The actions and choices of every student at St. Edward’s can strengthen and enrich our community. The Student Code of Conduct explains the university’s expectations for student behavior and provides policies to guide students in making positive contributions to campus life. Students are encouraged to review the code and contact the Dean of Students staff at 512-448-8408 with questions.
St. Edward’s University has a clear responsibility in the area of student conduct to protect and promote the pursuit of the university’s mission. Students are expected to obey federal, state and local laws; must abide by the rules, regulations and policies of the university. The administration of the student conduct process is managed by the Dean of Students Office. Any reference to the dean of students will mean either the Dean of Students or his/her designee.
Section 2: Philosophy
The St. Edward’s University community is committed to fostering a campus environment that is conducive to academic inquiry, productive campus life, and thoughtful study and discourse. A community exists on the basis of shared values and principles. At St. Edward’s University, student members of the community are expected to uphold and abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Student Code of Conduct. These standards are embodied within a set of core values that include integrity, social justice, respect, community and responsibility. When members of the community fail to exemplify these values, campus conduct proceedings are used to assert and uphold the Student Code of Conduct.
The role of educational discipline is foremost in the process of sanctioning. The student conduct process at St. Edward’s University is not intended to punish students. Rather, it exists to protect the interests of the community, and to challenge those whose behavior is not in accordance with university policies. Sanctions are intended to challenge students’ moral and ethical decision-making and to help them bring their behavior into accord with community expectations. When a student is unable to conform his/her behavior to community expectations, the student conduct process may determine that he/she should no longer share in the privilege of participating in this community.
Section 3: Commitment to Diversity
A Statement on Harassment, Discrimination and Community Standards
St. Edward's University is a community of persons from diverse cultural backgrounds (ethnic, racial, creed, religious, gender, sexual orientation, age, disabled and socioeconomic). All parties in this community must strive to understand the individuality and uniqueness of those around us and to value those differences, as well as learn from one another in an atmosphere of positive encouragement and mutual respect.
St. Edward's does not condone any form of conduct that goes beyond the legally defined boundaries of discrimination. We will not tolerate verbal or written abuse, threats, intimidation, violence or other forms of harassment against any member of the St. Edward's community.
St. Edward's will not accept ignorance, humor, anger or substance abuse as an excuse, reason or rationale for harassment. St. Edward's believes that we are individually and collectively responsible for our behavior and should be held accountable for our actions. Individuals who choose not to support this commitment through acts of intolerance jeopardize their continued affiliation with the university.
Any student who believes he/she has been a victim of harassment or discrimination in class or in another campus setting, should bring this matter to the Dean of Students, 512-448-8408, the Director of Human Resources 512-448-8587, or other appropriate administrators. Any official other than the Dean of Students who receives a complaint should notify the Dean of Students to make certain that follow-up action is coordinated.
Confidentiality of all parties will be respected to the greatest extent possible.
Students are strongly encouraged to report the incident(s) and take advantage of the university support services available to them through the Health & Counseling Center, 512-448-8538 or 512-448-8686, Campus Ministry, 512-448-8499, and the University Police Department, 512-448-8444.
Section 4: Student Rights and Responsibilities
In accordance with the university's mission statement, St. Edward's strives to create an environment where freely chosen beliefs can be depened and expressed. Freedom of expression and inquiry are essential elements of the university community. The responsibility to promote and respect conditions conducive to the freedom to learn is shared by all members of the St. Edward's University community. In order to encourage the continuing growth of a free and cooperative community dedicated to learning, St. Edward's puts forward this expression of rights and responsibilities. The protection of the freedom to learn is a trust shared by all members of the St. Edward's community. Students must exercise their freedom with responsibility.
Students have the right to fair process in campus conduct proceedings. Students should be aware that the student conduct process is quite different from criminal and civil court proceedings. Procedures and rights in student conduct proceedings are conducted with fairness to all, but do not include the same protections of due process afforded by the courts. Fair process, within these procedures, assures written notice and a hearing before an objective decision-maker, as described within these procedures. No student will be found in violation of university policy without a determination that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred, and any sanction will be proportionate to the severity of the violation.
Students have the right to freedom from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex, race, age, religion, creed, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. St. Edward's University considers freedom of inquiry and discussion essential to a student's holistic (spiritual, intellectual, personal, physical, volcational and social) development. Thus, the university recognizes the right of all students to engage in discussion, to exchange thoughts and opinions, and to speak respectfully on subject matters appropriate to the mission.
Students have the opportunity to participate in the formulation of policy directly affecting students through membership on appropriate committees as determined by the Student Government Association and other recognized groups within the university.
Students as members of the university community, have the responsibility to participate in any student conduct proceedings and sto testify as witnesses when reasonably notified.
Section 5: Consequences of Inappropriate Behavior On or Off Campus
St. Edward’s University reserves the right, for developmental or other purposes, to address any student behavior for which action is taken by civil authorities and to impose additional sanctions or requirements.
In addition, the university may introduce counseling and place restrictions on the student if the student’s conduct has interfered with the university’s exercise of its educational objectives or responsibilities to its members. Behaviors that place the student or other community members in serious or grave danger may require a consultation and/or evaluation of the student to secure appropriate resources and assistance to decrease risk of harm to the student and other community members.
Under certain circumstances the university may reserve the right to contact parents/guardians consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act if it is deemed necessary for the well-being of the student and/or the university community.
Section 6: Jurisdiction Over Student Conduct
Students at St. Edward’s University are directed to an online copy of the Student Code of Conduct. Students are charged with the responsibility of having read and agreeing to abide by, the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct and the authority of the student conduct process. The Student Code of Conduct and the student conduct process apply to the conduct of individual students. A separate conduct process for university-affiliated student organizations is maintained by the Office of Student Life, and such complaints should be directed to the director of Student Life in The Robert and Pearle Ragsdale Center, Room 304 (individual student complaints may be referred from the director of Student Life to the Dean of Students Office). Because the Student Code of Conduct is based on shared values, it sets a range of expectations for St. Edward’s University students no matter where or when their conduct may take place. Therefore, the Student Code of Conduct will apply to behavior that takes place on the campus and at university- sponsored events both on and off campus, and may also apply off-campus, when the administration determines that the off-campus conduct affects a substantial university interest. A substantial university interest exists in any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests of the university, and:
a. It appears that the student may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of him/herself or others; or
b. Significantly impinges on the rights, property or achievements of self or others.
The Student Code of Conduct may be applied to conduct that takes place during the time a person is enrolled as a student, including during intrasemester breaks and between semesters. Further, the Student Code of Conduct applies to guests of community members, whose hosts may be held accountable for the misconduct of their guests. Visitors to and guests of St. Edward’s University may initiate grievances for violations of the Student Code of Conduct committed by members of the St. Edward’s University community against them. There is no time limit on reporting violations of the Student Code of Conduct as long as the accused is an enrolled student. However, the longer someone waits to report an offense, the harder it may become for St. Edward’s University to obtain information and witness statements, and to make a determination regarding alleged violations. Those who are aware of misconduct are encouraged to report it as quickly as possible to the Dean of Students Office (Main Building, Room 108, 512-448-8408) and/or University Police (Holy Cross Hall, Room G13, 512-448-8444).
Violations of Law
Violations of federal, state and local laws are incorporated as offenses under the Student Code of Conduct. When allegations are made of a violation over which the university has jurisdiction, the student conduct process will usually go forward notwithstanding any criminal charges that may arise from the same incident. When a student is accused, arrested, charged or indicted for a violent, drug-related or other off-campus crime, the university may elect to take action against that student for violation of the code of conduct. Should a student withdraw from the university when criminal charges are made, it is the typical practice of the university to pursue investigation and resolution of student conduct matters, regardless of the fact that the student has withdrawn.
When the university has reasonable cause to separate a student from its community, the university may suspend a student for a reasonable time pending the scheduling of a campus hearing for violation of the code of conduct. The university reserves the right to exercise its authority of interim suspension when notified that a student is facing criminal investigation and/or charges. The university will permit a student who receives an interim suspension to request a meeting with the dean of students to show cause why an interim suspension is not merited. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, the university may still proceed with the scheduling of a campus hearing.
When criminal charges are pending, the university may be delayed or prevented from conducting its own investigation and moving forward with a campus hearing. In such cases, the university may elect to delay its hearing until such time as it can conduct an internal investigation or obtain from law enforcement sufficient information upon which to proceed with the student conduct process.
It may be in the best interests of students accused of crimes to withdraw from the university, without a student conduct penalty, until the criminal charges are resolved. The university has a procedure for voluntary withdrawals, which shall include the following conditions. The accused student may not be present on campus or at university-sponsored events without special permission from the dean of students. The accused student must comply with any and all campus investigations that will not prejudice their defense in the criminal trial, and the accused student must agree that to be reinstated to active student status, he/she must first be subject to and fully cooperative with a student conduct hearing, and must comply with any sanctions that are imposed.
a. Attempted Violations
St. Edward’s University may treat attempts to commit any of the violations listed in the Student Code of Conduct as if those attempts had been completed.
b. University as Complainant
St. Edward’s University may initiate a complaint, serve as complainant and initiate student conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct.
c. False Reports
St. Edward’s University will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents. It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation.
d. Group Violations
When members of groups, individuals acting collusively, act in concert in violation of any policy, they may be held accountable as a group, and a hearing may proceed against the group as jointly accused students. In any such action, individual determinations may also be made as to the responsibility of each member of the group. A separate conduct process for university-affiliated student organizations is maintained by the Office of Student Life and such complaints should be directed to the director of Student Life in The Ragsdale Center, Room 304 (individual student complaints may be referred from the director of Student Life to the dean of students Office). More information regarding student organizations may be found in the Student Organization Manual or by contacting the Office of Student Life (manual provided by contacting the Office of Student Life at 512-448-8422).
e. Immunity for Victims
The St. Edward’s University community encourages the good faith reporting of conduct code violations and crimes by victims. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to university officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to university officials. To encourage reporting, St. Edward’s University pursues a policy of offering victims of crimes immunity from punishment for policy violations related to the incident. The university will provide educational options rather than punishment in these situations.
f. Good Samaritan
The welfare of students in the community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off-campus may need assistance. The university encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others, for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a sexual misconduct victim to the University Police). St. Edward’s University pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer help to others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the university will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need. If the student claiming “Good Samaritan” status does not complete the education that is assigned, the original complaint may proceed without the protections of the “Good Samaritan” policy in place.
g. Parental Notification St. Edward’s University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The university may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under age 21. Where a student is nondependent, St. Edward’s University may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a serious health and/or safety risk. St. Edward’s University also reserves the right to designate which university officials have a need to know about individual conduct complaints pursuant to FERPA.
h. Notification of Outcomes
The outcome of a campus hearing is part of the educational record of the accused student and is protected from release under FERPA. However, St. Edward’s University observes the legal exceptions as follows:
- Complainants in some sexual misconduct incidents (non-consensual sexual contact/intercourse) have an absolute right to be informed in writing of the outcome of the hearing and the sanctions, if any, imposed, without condition or limitation.
- Complainants in sexual exploitation/sexual harassment complaints have a right to be informed of information regarding sanctions that personally identifies and is directly pertinent to them, such as the imposition of a restriction on physical contact between the complainant and the accused student. Otherwise, information on the outcome and sanction cannot be shared.
- Students who bring any sort of sexual misconduct complaint against a faculty or staff member may be informed of the outcome or sanction that personally identifies and is directly pertinent to them.
- The university may release publicly the name, nature of the violation and the sanction for any student who is found in violation of a university policy that is a “crime of violence,” including arson, burglary, robbery, stalking, criminal homicide, sex offenses, assault, destruction/damage/vandalism of property and kidnapping/abduction. The university may release this information to the complainant in any of these offenses regardless of the outcome, but complainants are cautioned that FERPA does not permit them to re-release this information to others.
It has become common for students accused of policy violations to try to defend their actions with excuses, such as prescription drug interactions, self-defense, disabilities, etc. The university’s policy on defenses is clear. Defending your actions is admitting to a policy violation. For example, “Yes, we fought, but he started it” still means you had a fight, which is a violation of university rules. You may have taken someone’s property under the influence of an antidepressant, but you still took someone else’s property. While your defense will not excuse your actions, St. Edward’s University will take the legitimacy of your offense into consideration in addressing the proper sanction. If you were not the aggressor in a fight, you will still be sanctioned, but your sanction may be less than the sanction of the person who started the fight.
j. Misconduct Online
Students are cautioned that behavior conducted online, such as harassment delivered by e-mail, can subject them to university conduct action. Students must also be aware that blogs, web pages, social media devices such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and similar online postings are in the public sphere and are not private. These postings can subject a student to allegations of conduct violations if evidence of policy violations is posted online. The university does not regularly seek to discover this online information but may take action if and when such information is brought to the attention of university officials.
Section 7: Student Conduct Records Policy
The Dean of Students Office maintains a hard copy file and a digital record of a student’s conduct history. Student conduct records are educational records, and are thereby subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) http://think.stedwards.edu/registrar/policiesandprocedures#ferpa. The conduct record is confidential and is only shared internally with University officials in instances when the student grants permission to release the record, or there is what FERPA defines “an educational need to know” basis for the request.
The conduct record is maintained throughout the student’s enrollment and thereafter as indicated below. Upon release, a student’s conduct record will include the following items: adjudication form, sanction letter and incident report. This file is only to be released to a person or party external to the University if the student has granted written permission, where the disclosure of the record is permissible under the provisions of FERPA, or where the University is required to do so by law.
Retention of Hard Copy of Conduct Records
- The hard copy file of a student’s entire conduct history is kept for a minimum of two (2) academic years beyond the academic year in which the student’s tenure at the University has ended.
- The conduct file of a student who has been suspended will be maintained for seven (7) years beyond the academic year in which the student’s tenure at the University has ended.
- The conduct file of a student who has been expelled will be maintained for seven (7) years beyond the academic year in which the student’s tenure at the University has ended.
- The provisions of this policy do not constitute a contract between the University and the student. The University reserves the right to change this policy at any time at its sole discretion.