Susquehanna University governs its student body through the use of its Code of Student Conduct. The Code itself is located in the University's student handbook. Students who are suspected of committing acts that violate the code will face the University's Student Conduct System. If a student is held responsible for a violation, they will be subject to having sanctions imposed on them by the University.
The Student Conduct System process begins when a case referred to the Dean of Students & Campus Life. The case will be reviewed for merit, and if necessary, the case will be pursued.
Susquehanna University Student Conduct System
The Student Conduct System offers several methods used to resolve offenses. When participating in the Student Conduct System the person who initiated the charges will be known as the "complainant," while the student facing charges will be known as the "respondent."
Informal Resolution or Conduct Conference
Informal Resolution or a Conduct Conference will be used for offenses with penalties less severe than expulsion or suspension. The respondent will meet with a Conduct Officer to discuss allegations. The respondent can prepare a case and witnesses to present, and the Conduct Officer will attempt to reach an agreement with the respondent. If the respondent does not agree, a formal hearing can be requested.
University Conduct Board Hearings
There are two University Conduct Boards that can preside over a hearing. The first consists of 5 members (3 students and 2 faculty/staff), and the second is 3 members (all faculty/staff) and 1 non voting chair. The second board is used for the most serious violations.
Hearings will be led by a Conduct Officer. The Conduct Officer will also try to retain procedural integrity and direct the way the hearing proceeds, instead of having a set formula for how to proceed. Typically, a University official will present the facts of the case to start. The respondent and complainant are able present their own supporting evidence and witnesses. Both parties are also able to cross-examine one another's witnesses. The board members can question all witnesses and parties of the hearing for clarification on issues. After all the information has been heard, the board will go into deliberations. Decisions will be made using a majority vote and the standard of a "preponderance of evidence." If a student is found responsible for a violation, only then will the board consider the student's prior disciplinary record for the purpose of determining sanctions. If a student pleads responsible at the start of the hearing, then the hearing will be used solely to determine proper sanctions.
Students, although entitled to a support person, have restrictions on who their support person may be. Unfortunately both parents and attorneys may not accompany students into the hearing, however, an attorney working from behind the scenes can still be a great help. An attorney can offer counsel to a student, and help them to utilize courtroom-proven techniques to argue their case at a hearing. Armed with knowledge of methods for evidence presentation and cross-examination, students who have gotten help from an attorney will have a much better chance at securing a favorable outcome.
Susquehanna University Appeals
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students have 5 business days to make an appeal of their hearing. The grounds for appeal are an error in due process, new evidence, or excessive penalties.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Susquehanna University, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.