Frequently Asked Questions For Parents:
What happens if my student gets an e-mail from the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) that s/he was named in an incident report?When a student’s name appears on an incident report, the OSC wants to inform the student so that s/he can come to a meeting to explain the incident. An incident report is simply the document that alleges a student's involvement is allegedly in violation of university policy. Having an incident report written does not mean you are "in trouble." A hearing is held to determine whether a policy violation occurred. Incident reports can be written by any member of the campus community or anyone outside of the community.
How can I help my student?You can help your student by being supportive while holding him or her accountable to your expectations and the university's. You can also help by supporting necessary interventions, such as alcohol or drug education, anger management, and other forms of education, so that your student can be successful at USC. Allow and expect the student to set appointments, attend meetings, and fulfill sanctions. It is usually not helpful to the educational development of the student for parents to take over the process for their students. Please ask your student three questions (in this order):
- "Have you read the initial appointment letter for the appointment time and details?"
- "What are you going to do about this?"
- "How can I support you?"
My student was charged criminally. Why go through student conduct too?The criminal justice system and USC’s Student Code of Conduct are not mutually exclusive. By virtue of being enrolled at USC, each student is held responsible for upholding the standards of behavior in the university policies for student life, as well as local and state laws. The university conduct process does not constitute "double jeopardy" for situations in which a student is facing concurrent criminal proceedings. The constitutional right regarding double jeopardy is solely a criminal law concept and is not applicable to the university conduct process, nor are most other criminal/civil procedures.
This incident happened off campus. Why is the university involved?The university has an interest in maintaining a safe community and appropriate standards of conduct for its students. Each student is accountable to USC regardless of whether an alleged misconduct took place on the campus, across the street from campus, or across town. USC is particularly concerned about high-risk drinking, drug use, and violent behavior, which compromise student health, safety, and academic success. This includes both on-campus and off-campus behavior that can have an adverse impact on the university community and its mission.
Does my student need a lawyer for his or her conduct hearing?No. Since this is not a criminal proceeding, lawyers are not necessary. Since this is an educational process we expect students to speak on their own behalf during a conduct hearing. Both referral agents and charged students, however, may elect to have a single advisor accompany them to the hearing. Advisors are a student's choice and can be faculty/staff members, peers, parents, or lawyers. The role of the advisor is limited to conferring with their student. Advisors may be present at the hearing, but may not participate in the proceedings. The advisor's role is specifically limited to conferring with her or his advisee. Advisors are not permitted to speak on behalf of the student or question any potential witnesses. If you need to request a break in the hearing so that you can confer with your student privately, you may do so.
Can I be in a conduct hearing with my student?We expect students to speak on their own behalf during a conduct hearing. Parents are permitted to serve as advisors in a conduct hearing with the permission of the student. Advisors may be present at the hearing, but may not participate in the proceedings. The advisor's role is specifically limited to conferring with her or his advisee.
Will we, as parents, find out?In most cases, no. For many years, student disciplinary records were considered confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This legislation, better known as the Buckley Amendment, sealed disciplinary conduct and other types of student records and limited access to the student and those other individuals at the university with a legitimate and compelling need to know. Students with conduct records must sign a consent form before this information can be released to other individuals. However, under the recent amendments to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974), parents of students under age 21 can be informed if their son or daughter is found responsible for a violation of the alcohol or drug policies. Parents of students under age 21 will be notified in writing if their son or daughter is found responsible for a violation of the alcohol or drug policies. Notification takes place via letter after the case is decided. It is recommended that students inform their parents of all incidents that result in sanctions. Keeping this type of information from parents can make matters worse if additional violations occur. Records on violations involving student organizations are not confidential and may be released. A student will always be provided copies of the decision letter via e-mail, which can be electronically shared with parents. When they speak with you, it's encouraged that you ask them to send you copies of the information they've been provided.
What burden of proof is used during a conduct hearing?
Preponderance of the evidence is the standard of proof used in conduct hearings. For a student to be found responsible for a violation, the evidence must indicate that it is more likely than not that the violation occurred. This is different from the criminal court system.