The Code of Student Conduct
The Code of Student Conduct is intended to provide guidelines and to outline community expectations as our means of enforcing our commitment to those goals and values outlined in the University Mission Statement.The Code of Student Conduct outlines the standards of behavior that students are expected to follow at St. Mary’s University.
Incident Reviews: The Judicial Advisor/Officer reviews all reports and information received from University departments, staff, officials or community members to determine if there is sufficient information to indicate the Code of Student Conduct has been violated. If the Judicial Advisor/Officer concludes that this standard has been met, the student will then receive a notice from the Office of Judicial Affairs containing the university rules that are alleged to have been violated during the documented incident.
The Charge Letter: The charge letter outlines the alleged violations in a brief narrative and behavioral description of the incident and summons the student to a meeting with the Judicial Advisor or Judicial Officer.
The Conduct Decision: The conduct decision determines whether the student is “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” instead of “Guilty” or “Innocent.”
Types of Conduct Meetings
There are two types of conduct meetings available to the student to resolve judicial matters:
- For students who choose to accept responsibility for alleged charge(s)
- Not recorded or transcripted
- Written decision serves as the official record of the informal meeting and will be sent to the student within 15 days from the conclusion of the Judicial Officer’s deliberation
Formal Student Conduct Meetings
- For students who choose not to accept responsibility for alleged charge(s)
- Witnesses may be called and questioned by the charged student
- Charged student is notified within 5 business days but not more than 15 days in advance of the hearing
- Charged student can request an advisor
- Tape-recorded, which serves as the verbatim record of the conduct meeting
- Heard by a University Judicial Board comprised of faculty, staff and students
- Formal decision letter from the Dean of Students will be sent to the student within 15 days from the conclusion of the Judicial Board’s deliberation
Conduct Meeting Forums
Students and student organizations (including fraternities and sororities, student-athletes, and other leadership organizations) charged through the Office of Judicial Affairs may choose from the following conduct review forums:
The Information Session is informal and is conducted by the Judicial Advisor or the Judicial Officer. This session is an opportunity for the Judicial Advisor and/or the Judicial Officer to meet with the student to discuss the incident as a means of gathering the student perspective on information contained in the incident report.
Administrative Conduct Meeting
This informal meeting is conducted by the Judicial Advisor or Judicial Officer. The student accepts responsibility for his/her actions and is notified of their sanctions during this meeting.
University Student Judicial Board
This is a formal conduct meeting held in front of a University Student Judicial Board panel composed of faculty, staff and students who have been trained to review student conduct issues. The Board examines all available information about the specific conduct incident and them provides their finding of responsibility and recommended sanctions to the Dean of Students for review and enforcement.
Conduct Meeting Procedures
If the student or organization rejects an informal conduct meeting and disputes the investigative findings that any violations have been committed, the incident shall be reviewed through the University Student Judicial Board. A complete guide to the Judicial Board review procedures can be found in the Student Handbook and Code of Student Conduct, Article V: Judicial Charges and Hearings.
If a student or organization is found to be responsible through either informal or formal conduct meeting forums, educational sanctions may be imposed for violations of the Code of Student Conduct (non-academic). These sanctions may include reprimands, service work hours, educational activities, counseling and behavioral assessments, residence hall restrictions, restitution, fines, loss of privileges, suspension, and/or expulsion. (Note: Expulsion is the only sanction noted on the student’s academic transcript).
The accused student may request an appeal of the decision(s) reached by the University Student Judicial Board or of the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Advisor within five (5) business days of the receipt of the decision. Such request for an appeal shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Judicial Advisor or his or her designee. A complete guide to the Appeal Process can be found in the Student Handbook and Code of Student Conduct, Article VII: Sanctioning Procedures.
Conduct Records and Files: All disciplinary cases are maintained in the Student Life Office. The release of student disciplinary records will be governed by the applicable federal and state laws regarding privacy of educational records. Students can arrange to review their conduct file by contacting the Student Life Office.
You have the right to due process as described in the University Student Handbook.
Every student who has reportedly violated the University Code of Student Conduct has the basic right to be informed of their alleged conduct violations and then provided with an opportunity to address these violations through the St. Mary’s University conduct process. Additional due process rights for St. Mary’s University students include:
- The right to have an advisor within the St. Mary’s community or to have a non-St. Mary’s advisor accompany you to your meeting
- The right to hear testimony and/or review all available written statements concerning your misconduct allegations
- The right to present witnesses on your behalf
- The right to refute oral and/or written statements made by other witnesses
- The right to be present throughout your conduct meeting but not during any deliberations
- The right to be advised of the appeals process
You have the right to appeal any finding of responsibility or any sanction assigned to you for violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
A student found responsible for University misconduct may submit a written request to the Dean of Students for an appeal of the decision or of the sanctions imposed by the University within five (5) business days of the student’s receipt of the decision. The Office of Student Life will not accept student appeal requests submitted after the end of this five-day window.
A survivor of sexual assault in a misconduct case which has been adjudicated through the University’s judicial process also reserves the right to appeal any findings of responsibility or sanctions assigned to the reported student aggressor in the incident. A complete guide to the Appeal Process can be found in the Student Handbook and Code of Student Conduct, Article VII: Sanctioning Procedures.
Laws and Statutes
FERPA — Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
- Students have educational records at the University that are kept confidential.
- This information can only be shared on a “need to know” basis.
- Students have a right to see what is in their educational records.
- Parents have a right to see what is in their child’s educational record if the child is under 18 years old and is considered a dependent for income tax purposes.
- Others may have access to educational records if they have obtained a release form from the student.
Campus Security and Right to Know Act—The Clery Act
- The University is required to report certain crime statistics that are available through University Police.
- The University is also required to alert the campus community of potential criminal threats. This is done through Crime Watch notices.
- The University also provides victims assistance that can be obtained through the Office of Student Life.
- The University is also required to provide graduation rates that are available through the Registrar’s Office.
Violence Against Women Act
- Congress has passed a law that deals with violent acts against women. These would include violent situations, sexual assault, and murder.
- This law is tied in closely with FERPA because it allows certain criminal information to be released without a student’s consent.
Schools-Hazing Offense Chapter 1041 S.B. No.24.
- The Texas anti-hazing statute took effect on September 1, 1987. The Act covers offenses related to hazing at, or in connection with, educational institutions.
- The term “hazing” under the statue includes, but is not limited to, offenses that subject the student to an unreasonable risk or harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health and safety of the student.
- Some examples of hazing: physical brutality such as whipping, beating, striking, paddling, and branding; forced consumption of substances such as food, alcoholic beverages, drugs or other substances that may affect mental or physical health.
Policy and Law Violations
If my incident involves a violation of law, can I be prosecuted criminally and also be referred to Judicial Affairs?
Yes. Violations of federal, state, or local laws are adjudicated in an appropriate court of law using a legal procedure run by sworn officers of the court. Violations of university policy are reviewed on campus using an administrative procedure run by appointed University officials. While a student who violates University Student Rules may have also broken federal, state, or local laws at the same time, the fundamentally different aspects of these two systems allow each of them to independently review the same conduct through their respective adjudication processes.
If my attorney has my case delayed in the courts, isn’t the University obligated to wait and see what happens before starting their case review?
No, St. Mary’s University has no obligation to wait for the outcome of a governmental prosecution before initiating its own administrative conduct review on behalf of the University community.
If my attorney gets my case dismissed in the courts, will St. Mary’s University automatically dismiss my university conduct charges as well?
Not necessarily. The Beyond a Reasonable Doubt standard of proof used in the courts is different from the Preponderance of The Evidence standard of proof used by the University. Therefore, it is possible for the two processes to come to different conclusions about whether a student’s actions violated University Rules as well as federal, state of local laws.
The Appeals Process
The accused student may request an appeal of the decision(s) reached by the University Student Judicial Board or of the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Advisor within five (5) business days of the receipt of the decision.
Such request for an appeal shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Dean of Students or his or her designee. A complete guide to the Appeal Process can be found in the Student Handbook and Code of Student Conduct, Article VII: Sanctioning Procedures.
Are there any legal resources available for students through The Office of Student Life?
No. The Office of Student Life does not provide legal representation for students facing civil or criminal charges and cannot provide legal advice to students regarding their pending civil or criminal case.
Complaints Against Faculty or Staff
I have a problem with a faculty, staff or another member of the University community. Do I file a complaint with Judicial Affairs?
The primary function of the St. Mary’s University judicial process is to address issues of student misconduct within the University community. A student who believes that a University decision, act or condition affecting him or her is illegal, unjust, or creates an unnecessary hardship is encouraged to contact the Dean of Students office at 210-436-3714 to learn more about the University process for addressing their concerns.
The Dean of Students can assist students with issues such as academic problems; mistreatment by any university employee; wrongful assessment of fees; records and registration errors; student employment; and discrimination because of race, national origin, sex, marital status, religion, age, or disability.