What is the Lafayette Student Conduct System?
Lafayette College is a private educational institution that cares about its students and maintaining a safe, healthy environment where all students can thrive. As such, Lafayette has a vested interest in providing space for students to think through their decisions, including the impact of their decisions on others, and in maintaining community standards. The Office of Student Conduct aims to provide guidance, support, and accountability as students explore their independence and vibrant new community. The Code of Conduct is the written rules and processes Lafayette has developed to achieve these goals and ensure a fair, respectful process.
How is the College's conduct process different from criminal court?
The College’s conduct process, which is an administrative process rather than a court of law, is founded on three principles: personal growth through accountability, respect for the individual, and safety for all members of our community. In the conduct process, students participate in the decision-making process and in development of outcomes whenever possible. The criminal process focuses on punishment and rehabilitation.
Some of the most significant differences in the two processes include the language used, which stems from the differing philosophies of the criminal and College systems. In the College process, the student alleged to have violated a policy is referred to as the “respondent” rather than the accused or the defendant. The case administrator will discuss with the student whether or not they are “responsible,” rather than guilty. 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. In a criminal court, the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Why does the College get involved with my behavior off campus?
Lafayette College has high expectations of our students. Student behavior off-campus reflects on our community of scholars, alumni, faculty and staff. Lafayette’s Code of Conduct states, “students are accountable to the code from the time they are notified of their acceptance to the College until they receive their degree, resign, or are expelled from the College… The College may hold students and organizations accountable to the Code of Conduct and additional policies above for behavior that occurs off campus.”
I was present for a situation documented by an RA, Public Safety, or other staff member; or I have been cited by the police. With whom will I meet?
When a report of an alleged violation of the Lafayette College Code of Conduct is submitted to the Office of Student Conduct, the case is assigned to a member of the Campus Life staff for resolution. You will be notified via our secure electronic system of the potential policy violations and the date, time, and location of your meeting with the assigned case administrator.
It is equally important that if you were also cited by Lafayette Public Safety, Easton 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 College Conduct System and it is important that you meet your obligations in regards to both systems.
Why is the Conduct Office charging me with a policy violation if I am also going through the local/state/federal courts? Isn't that double jeopardy?
Students may be accountable to both civil authorities and to the College for acts that violate local, state, or federal laws (students are encouraged to seek the advice of legal counsel when they are facing criminal charges). “Double jeopardy” does not apply because it is a legal term referring to the actions of a criminal court. The College process is not a state or federal agency and operates under completely different policies, procedures, and standards to ensure compliance with community standards.
The letter I received says 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 an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct, stemming from a report received by the Office of Student Conduct. The purpose of the College Student Conduct System is to provide a fundamentally fair process for resolving alleged violations. The meeting with a case administrator will include ample opportunity for students to share their understanding of the situation.
I did not know what I was doing was against the rules, how can you charge me for that?
All students are required to review and understand the Lafayette College Student Code of Conduct (which begins on page 8 of the Student Handbook). The official and most up-to-date version of the Student Handbook can be found online here: Student Code of Conduct.
What is the College's Good Samaritan Policy?
The Good Samaritan policy applies to students who receive medical help for intoxication or drug use, and is also applicable to those who call for help. You can read about the policy here.
How long does the Conduct process take?
The Office of Student Conduct seeks a fair, equitable, and timely resolution of all cases. 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?
The process used for resolving allegations of violations of the Student Code of Conduct can be found within the Student Code of Conduct. A general overview of the process is below:
Once a report is submitted to the Office of Student Conduct it is reviewed and any students who have allegedly violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted by the Office of Student Conduct via our secure electronic system. This initial contact will include the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as reflection questions to consider ahead of time and paperwork to review.
At their meeting with a case administrator, a student may take responsibility for the charges and work with the case administrator to identify harms and determine what sanctions (outcomes) are most appropriate. While students are encouraged to participate in the sanctioning process, the authority for assigning sanctions lies with the case administrator.
If a student does not accept responsibility for the charges, the case administrator will describe options for moving forward with the case. In most cases, the student may choose to proceed with the case administrator, who will discuss the situation with the student and make a decision as to responsibility and sanctioning. Some cases may be eligible for referral to the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct.
I have a disability and need an accommodation to participate in the conduct process. What should I do?
If you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate in the student conduct process, contact the Office of Disability Services at 610-330-5098. Please make the request as soon as possible to allow sufficient time to arrange the accommodation.
What does it mean if I accept responsibility or do not accept responsibility?
Your respectful participation, regardless of acceptance or denial of responsibility, will be to your benefit. Case administrators and committee members want to have an open discussion about what happened, what led to the events in question, what your role was, and what you learned from the situation. The more forthcoming you are, the better your case administrator or hearing panelists can assist you in processing the event(s) in question and planning for the future.
Accepting responsibility means you agree that your conduct was not in alignment with the College’s expectations. Not accepting means that you disagree, and feel you do not hold responsibility for violations of the Student Code of Conduct. If, after denying responsibility, the case administrator or Faculty Committee on Student Conduct finds you responsible, your denial of responsibility will not, on its own, affect sanctioning.
What happens if I choose not to attend the meeting?
If you choose not to attend, or to attend and not participate, the case administrator or panel will make their decisions on both responsibility and sanctions based on the information that is available to them. If you have an academic conflict with the scheduled hearing time, please contact your case administrator; or, in the case of a committee hearing, the Office of Student Conduct, to discuss the situation.
What is the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct?
The Faculty Committee on Student Conduct is a group of faculty, staff, and students who are trained to hear high-level, complex conduct cases. Cases may be referred to this committee by the assistant dean of students, or students whose sanctions are likely to result in a probationary status of Disciplinary Probation I or higher are eligible to choose to appear before the committee. Faculty members of the committee are appointed by the faculty, and student members are appointed by SGA. A case administrator from the Campus Life staff is chosen on a case-by-case basis to participate in individual hearings.
Can my parents attend my meetings? What about a lawyer?
Respondents in the conduct process may bring an adviser with them, who must be selected from within the College community (students, faculty, and staff), and must not be a lawyer*. Hearings at an educational institution do not follow the same procedures used in courtrooms, nor employ the same language or standard of evidence. Rather, the Office of Student Conduct seeks to resolve charges in an atmosphere of candor, truthfulness, and respect for students’ well-being.
The adviser’s role in the conduct process is to support the respondent throughout the process. The adviser may speak quietly and briefly to the respondent, but may not address the case administrator or panel, nor speak on the student’s behalf. The adviser is not a participant in the hearing.
*In cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, complainants and respondents may have an adviser of their choice, with no restrictions. If present, counsel may not participate in the hearing in any way except in advising the student. In these cases, the assistant dean of students may request that college counsel and/or the Title IX Coordinator be present in a non-participatory role.
What should I wear?
There is no formal dress requirement for meeting with a case administrator or the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct. Everyday clothes are acceptable; however, you may want to consider the impression you will make with your appearance.
I am going before the Faculty Committee on Student Conduct. What should I do?
You will be notified via our electronic system of the time, date, and location of a meeting with the assistant dean of students. During that meeting, the assistant dean will explain the process, your rights and responsibilities, and what to expect. You will be able to ask any and all questions. To view a checklist for preparing for the hearing, click here.
What should I do if I think the sanctions assigned are inappropriate or if I believe the process was unfair?
Cases resulting in a probationary status of Disciplinary Probation I, Disciplinary Probation II, Suspension, or Expulsion are eligible for appeal. Cases resulting in a residence life warning, formal warning, or warning probation are not eligible for appeal. If you have concerns within a case that is not eligible for appeal, you may meet with the assistant dean of students; or, if your case administrator was the assistant dean, with the vice president of campus life/dean of students.
There are three grounds upon which a student can submit an appeal:
- New information is available that was unavailable at the time of the original conduct meeting or hearing and that would have substantively impacted the outcome of the conduct meeting or hearing.
- A procedural error occurred that can be shown to have meaningfully impacted the outcome of the conduct meeting or hearing.
- The sanction(s) imposed in the case can be shown to be substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
If you have questions about the type of appeal you should file, you may contact the assistant dean of students to discuss your options.
Appeals are considered by a two-person panel to determine if they meet one or more of the above criteria. Students are not generally present for this step, so be sure to craft your written appeal accordingly. The panel will receive the original case file, the appeal form, and a written response to the appeal by the original case administrator or committee chair.
If the panel finds the appeal has merit based on one or more of the above criteria, the case will be sent to a five-person appeals committee, inclusive of the two panel members who evaluated the case review, which will determine whether or not an appeal is granted. Successful appeals may result in a lessening of sanctions, a strengthening of sanctions, or in the case being sent back to the case administrator or original hearing committee with recommendations for reconsideration.
If the panel finds the appeal does not have merit, the request for appeal will be denied.
Neither members of the three-person panel nor the appeal panel will have served on the original hearing panel.
Additional information on appeal procedures can be found in the Conduct Process section of the Student Handbook
The form to submit an appeal can be found in the letter you received from your case administrator.
What are the possible outcomes if I am found responsible?
The Office of Student Conduct seeks to implement educational and restorative sanctions that promote student learning and student safety. The following is a non-exhaustive list of primary sanctions that can be imposed by the College:
A formal warning is a written statement of a student’s responsibility.
Warning 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 Probation I (DPI)
For the duration of this probationary status, a student is on notice that any further violation of the Code of Conduct may result in significant sanctioning and/or suspension. Additionally, students may not study abroad or apply to live in off-campus housing while they are on DPI.
Disciplinary Probation II (DPII)
While on DPII, a student is not permitted to represent the College (e.g. participate in athletics, musical performance groups, etc.).
Suspension is the temporary separation of the student from the Lafayette College community. Students may not live on campus nor use campus resources without permission during this time.
Expulsion is the permanent removal of a student from the College.
Additional sanctions are often selected (with the student’s input where possible) to encourage reflection on repairing harms, education on relevant issues, and/or providing alternate ways of engaging with the campus community. Lafayette College does use monetary fines in its sanctioning structure, and will notify parents when there is a drug or underage alcohol violation, when a student is suspended or expelled, or if the outcome of a subsequent case is likely to be suspension or expulsion. In cases where a fine would cause undue hardship, the Office of Student Conduct will work with students to determine if an adjustment is necessary.
What happens if I don't complete my sanctions?
A student who does not complete their sanctions on time can be charged with additional violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Specifically, they can be charged with “Failure to Comply.” A responsible finding for Failure to Comply could result in an increase of sanctions, eventually leading to suspension.
What if I am unable to complete my sanctions by the deadline given?
Case administrators are reasonable people striving to make reasonable decisions. If there are circumstances that require an extension on your deadline contact your case administrator prior to the due date to explain your situation and request an extension. Extensions will be given on a case by case basis, and are not guaranteed.
If I am found responsible for a violation of Student Code of Conduct, will my parents be notified?
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 College community who have an “educational need to know” or as provided for by law. Under the latter exception, the Office of Student Conduct will notify parents when there is a drug or underage alcohol violation, when a student is suspended or expelled, or if the outcome of a subsequent case would likely be suspension or expulsion.
How will this affect my application to grad school or future employment?
Graduate School Admissions
As a part of the application process for most institutions of higher education, applicants will be required to authorize Lafayette College to share the applicant’s conduct record. This authorization will be sent to the Office of Academic Advising and Co-Curricular Programming, which will disclose any charges for which an applicant was found responsible and primary sanctions (expulsion, suspension, DPII, DPI, warning probation, or formal warning). 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.
If you would like assistance in writing a statement about your record, you may contact your academic adviser, class dean, or the assistant dean of students.
Most employers do not require a review of your conduct record. Some, 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, Lafayette does not expunge student disciplinary records.
I am a student athlete. Is my coach going to find out that I violated the Code of Conduct?
Yes. Coaches have an educational need to know the outcome of conduct cases, as athletes represent the College as participants in the Athletics program, and coaches can partner with students to make better choices.
Will my conduct case affect my financial aid?
In most cases, financial aid is not affected. However, if you are suspended or expelled from the College there could be financial ramifications. You should contact the Office of Financial Aid at 610-330-5055 for more information.