What is the Lafayette Student Conduct System?
Lafayette College is a private educational institution that cares about 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 contains the rules and processes Lafayette has developed to achieve these goals and ensure a fair, respectful process.
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. Students participate in the decision-making process and in development of outcomes whenever possible. The criminal process focuses on punishment and rehabilitation.
What is a Student Conduct Hearing?
A student conduct hearing is the opportunity for students whose names have been associated with a possible violation(s) to respond to the reported allegations against them. Students will be asked for their perspectives and to present information in support of their experience of the documented event. There are two types of conduct hearings: Case Administrator Hearings and Board Hearings.
Case Administrator Hearings are meetings with an individual professional staff member who will determine responsibility and, if appropriate, sanctions.
Board Hearings are meetings with representatives from the Student Conduct Board. Those representatives will determine responsibility and, if appropriate, sanctions. Board hearings are more formal in nature and are typically used for charges that could result in more serious outcomes, including but not limited to suspension or expulsion from the College. The assistant dean of students or designee determines which cases are referred to the board.
What can I do to support my student in the conduct process?
Support your student by familiarizing yourself with the Student Code of Conduct. The Conduct process is intended to be educational rather than punitive and provides students an opportunity to learn and grow. Therefore, the best ways to support them are to encourage reflection on the incident (whether or not they feel they are responsible for a violation) and to assist them in preparing for their active and respectful participation in the conduct process.
While the conduct process is designed to be transparent and supportive, it can be stressful. Your student’s case administrator can answer any and all questions about the process in advance of the meeting, and a thorough read of the conduct procedures and FAQs is a good way to lessen anxiety via preparation. Helping your student understand the conduct process, its intent, and empowering them to ask questions can be extremely beneficial to their personal and professional growth.
After the resolution of a case, help your student process by asking questions about their experience. Have a discussion about what they learned from the process and any changes they may make moving forward from the experience.
How do I get information about my student's case?
- Conduct Staff can always talk about conduct procedure and processes. However, specific details relating to a case require students written permission.
- First, talk to your student about their conduct case. Then, if they grant permission in writing to the case administrator, you may contact the case administrator.
- While unintended, the conduct process may induce some anxiety for students. This can lead to leaving out important details when talking with parents or guardians. If you feel your student may not have shared all the details of the situation with you, start by having a calm and open discussion about their experience.
Will my student need a lawyer?
No. The conduct process is not a criminal court. Students are allowed to have advisers during conduct hearings, but their purpose is to advise (not defend nor speak for) the student. An adviser may provide emotional support, help a student prepare, and/or quietly remind a student of something they want to say, but may not speak for the student nor address the case administrator or panelists once a hearing starts. Advisers must be a member of the Lafayette College community (i.e., current faculty, staff, or student).
Is my student automatically guilty?
No. We use the term “responsibility” as the conduct process is not a criminal court. Responsibility is only determined after a conduct hearing and after the student has had the opportunity to present information in support of their case.
What is responsibility?
Students are presumed to be not responsible for the alleged violation(s) unless the student accepts responsibility or the case administrator/panel determines responsibility using the preponderance of evidence standard. The student will then be assigned sanctions for their conduct in line with the Student Code of Conduct.
What is preponderance of evidence?
Preponderance of evidence is defined as being more likely than not that the violation occurred, meaning there is greater than a 50% chance the violation occurred.
What are Sanctions?
Sanctions are the actions taken by the college in response to students violating the code of conduct. Sanctions typically include three to four components: Fines, educational outcomes, probationary statuses, and parent notification. Parents are automatically notified of outcomes when a student is found responsible for underage alcohol consumption, drug use, or when a subsequent violation would likely lead to suspension or expulsion.
Examples of educational outcomes include written reflections, interviews with staff or community members, researching law or policy, etc. Such sanctions never require the student to disclose nor be identified as having been through the conduct process.
Will I be notified if my student is found responsible?
Student 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.
What does it mean if my student is suspended or dismissed?
- Suspension from the College: Suspension is a separation from Lafayette College for a specified period of time. Such a separation prohibits attendance of any classes, social events or other functions, or visiting College grounds or buildings for the duration of the suspension.
- Expulsion from the College: Expulsion is a permanent separation from Lafayette College. Such a separation prohibits attendance of any classes, social events or other functions, or visiting College grounds or buildings unless by written permission from the College.
- Charges that are more likely to result in suspension or dismissal include those that have a significant impact on other community members (e.g., violence, threatening or disruptive behavior) or repeated violations.
Will a conduct case affect my student's financial aid?
In most cases, financial aid is not affected. However, if a student is suspended or expelled from the College there could be financial ramifications. The Office of Financial Aid (610-330-5055) is the best resource for questions about any financial impacts of the conduct process.
Will this affect my student's application to grad school or 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. It is always in the best interest of the applicant to be honest concerning a past conduct record. Good Samaritan cases are not disclosed. Questions about disclosures should be directed to the Office of Academic Advising and Co-Curricular Programming.
Most employers do not require a review of their 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. Questions about disclosures should be directed to the Office of Academic Advising and Co-Curricular Programming.