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Board of Regents Policy Manual

4.6 Discipline of Students

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4.6.1 Withdrawal of Recognition of Student Organizations

The Board of Regents has determined that the use of marijuana, controlled substances, or other illegal or dangerous drugs constitutes a serious threat to the public health, welfare, and academic achievement of students enrolled in the USG. Therefore, all student organizations, including but not limited to societies, fraternities, sororities, clubs, and similar groups of students which are affiliated with, recognized by, or which use the facilities under the jurisdiction of USG institutions, are hereby charged with the responsibility of enforcing compliance with local, state and federal laws by all persons attending or participating in their respective functions and affairs, social or otherwise.

As provided by the Student Organization Responsibility for Drug Abuse Act, any such student organization which, through its officers, agents, or responsible members, knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession, serving, consumption or use of marijuana, controlled substances, or other illegal or dangerous drugs at any affair, function, or activity of such student organization, social or otherwise, is hereby declared to be in violation of the laws of this state and shall have its recognition as a student organization withdrawn and, after complying with the constitutional requirements of due process, shall be expelled from the campus for a minimum of one (1) calendar year from the date of determination of guilt.

Such organization shall also be prohibited from using any property or facilities of the institution for a period of at least one (1) year. Any lease, rental agreement, or other document between the Board of Regents or the institution and the student organization that relates to the use of the property leased, rented, or occupied shall be terminated for knowingly having permitted or authorized the unlawful actions described above.

All sanctions imposed by this policy shall be subject to review procedures authorized by the Board of Regents Policy 8.6 Application for Discretionary Review. (BoR Minutes, February 2015)

An appeal to the Board of Regents shall not defer the effective date of the adverse action against the student organization pending the Board’s review unless the Board so directs. Any such stay or suspension by the Board shall expire as of the date of the Board’s final decision on the matter. (BoR Minutes, 1989-90, p. 384)

This Policy amendment is intended to implement The Student Organization Responsibility for Drug Abuse Act of 1990.

4.6.2 Violations of State or Federal Law

A student in any USG institution who is charged with, or indicted for, a felony or crime involving moral turpitude may be suspended pending the disposition of the criminal charges against him/her. Upon request, the student shall be accorded a hearing as provided in Section 4.7.1 of this Policy Manual. At such hearing, the student shall have the burden of establishing that his/her continued presence as a member of the student body will not be detrimental to the health, safety, welfare, or property of other students or members of the campus community or to the orderly operation of the institution.

Upon final conviction, the student shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action (BoR Minutes, 1959-60, p. 306; 1983-84, p. 168).

4.6.3 Disruptive Behavior

Any student, acting individually or in concert with others, who clearly obstructs or disrupts or attempts to obstruct or disrupt any teaching, research, administrative, disciplinary, or public service activity, or any other activity authorized to be discharged or held at any USG institution is considered by the Board to have committed an act of gross irresponsibility and shall be subject to disciplinary procedures, possibly resulting in dismissal (BoR Minutes, 1968-69, pp. 166-168; 1970-71, p. 98).

4.6.4 Alcohol and Drugs on Campus

The Board of Regents recognizes and supports Georgia laws with respect to the sale, use, distribution, and possession of alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs, as well as the Drug-free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990 with respect to the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, or use of marijuana, controlled substances or dangerous drugs on college campuses and elsewhere. To this end, the Board has encouraged its institutions to adopt programs designed to increase awareness of the dangers involved in the use of alcoholic beverages, marijuana or other illegal or dangerous drugs by USG students and employees. Such programs shall stress individual responsibility related to the use of alcohol and drugs on and off the campus.

To assist in the implementation of such awareness programs, and to enhance the enforcement of state laws at USG institutions, each institution shall adopt and disseminate comprehensive rules and regulations consistent with local, state and federal laws, concerning the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, or use of alcoholic beverages, marijuana, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs on campus and at institutionally-approved events off campus.

A copy of the rules and regulations adopted by each institution shall be filed with the office of the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Services (BoR Minutes, 1989-90, p. 383).

Disciplinary sanctions for the violation of such rules and regulations shall be included as a part of each institution’s disciplinary code of student conduct. Disciplinary sanctions for students convicted of a felony offense involving the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, or use of marijuana, controlled substances, or other illegal or dangerous drugs shall include the forfeiture of academic credit and the temporary or permanent suspension or expulsion from the institution. All sanctions imposed by the institution shall be subject to review procedures authorized by Board of Regents Policy 8.6 Application for Discretionary Review. (BoR Minutes, February 2015)

The rules and regulations adopted by each institution shall also provide for relief from disciplinary sanctions previously imposed against one whose convictions are subsequently overturned on appeal or otherwise.

This policy amendment is intended to implement The Drug-Free Postsecondary Education Act of 1990.

4.6.5 Standards for Institutional Student Conduct Investigation and Disciplinary Proceedings

(This policy will take effect July 1, 2016)

This policy establishes minimum procedural standards for investigations and resolutions of alleged student conduct violations, which each institution must incorporate into its respective student conduct policies. Each institution must provide a draft of its revised student conduct policy to the University System of Georgia’s Office of Legal Affairs for review and approval no later than April 22, 2016. Each revised policy will become effective at its respective institution on July 1, 2016.

These procedures apply to matters relating to student misconduct, except matters relating to sexual misconduct or academic dishonesty which may be covered under separate institution policies. As part of orientation, institutions shall inform students of their procedures governing student misconduct complaints and investigations. Reports of Student Misconduct

Complaints to the appropriate department and/or person(s) should include as much information as possible – such as: (1) the type of misconduct alleged; (2) the name and contact information of the respondent; (3) the date(s), time(s), and place(s) of the misconduct; (4) the name(s) and contact information of any individual(s) with knowledge of the incident; (5) whether any tangible evidence has been preserved; and (6) whether a criminal complaint has been made.

Information from complaints may be shared as necessary to investigate and to resolve the alleged misconduct. Complaints shall be investigated and resolved as outlined below. The need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Clery Act shall be assessed in compliance with federal law.

Where appropriate, complainants may file a law enforcement report along with an institutional report.

  1. Confidentiality: Where a complainant or alleged victim requests that his or her identity be withheld or the allegation(s) not be investigated, the institutions should consider whether or not such request(s) can be honored while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the institution. The institution should inform the requesting party that the institution generally cannot guarantee confidentiality. Further, honoring the request may limit the institution’s ability to respond fully to the incident and may limit the institution’s ability to discipline the respondent.
  2. Retaliation: Anyone who, in good faith, reports what she or he believes to be student misconduct, participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with an investigation should immediately contact the appropriate department or individual(s) for that institution. Any person found to have engaged in retaliation in violation of the student conduct policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, pursuant to the institution’s policy.
  3. False Complaints: Individuals who intentionally give false statements to an institution official, or who submit false complaints or accusations, including during a hearing, in violation of policy shall be subject to disciplinary action pursuant to the institution’s policy.
  4. Amnesty: Individuals should be encouraged to come forward and to report student misconduct notwithstanding their choice to consume alcohol or to use drugs. Information reported in good faith by an individual during an investigation concerning use of drugs or alcohol will not be used against that individual in a disciplinary proceeding and will not be voluntarily reported to law enforcement; however, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education, as appropriate.

Not all matters covered under this policy will necessarily involve alleged victims; however, where they are involved, it should be noted that a complainant will not always be the alleged victim but instead may be a third-party witness. The institution may also respond to issues raised by third-party complaints (such as referrals by police) or discovered by staff or through its own investigations. Process for Investigating and Resolving Disputed Reports

Jurisdiction: Each institution shall take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of its community. Accordingly, student conduct should be addressed when such acts occur on institution property or at institution-sponsored or affiliated events, or otherwise violate the institution’s student conduct policies at non-institution sponsored events. If the student has admitted responsibility and has voluntarily decided to participate in the informal process, the procedures outlined in this section will not apply.

Access to Advisors: The respondent and alleged victim (where applicable), as parties to these proceedings, shall have the right to use an advisor (including an attorney) of his or her choosing, and at his or her own expense, for the express purpose of providing advice and counsel. The advisor may be present during meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process at which his or her advisee is present. The advisor may advise his or her advisee in any manner, including providing questions, suggestions, and guidance on responses to any questions of the advisee, but shall not participate directly. The institution shall not prohibit family members of a party from attending if the party requests such attendance, but may limit each participant to two family members.

Training: The institution’s individual(s) tasked with investigating allegations of student misconduct shall not be responsible for training student conduct panel/board members or appellate body members.

Initial Evaluation of Student Conduct Reports: Regardless of how an institution becomes aware of misconduct, it shall ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial review and resolution of complaints alleging student misconduct. Where a report of student misconduct has been made to the appropriate department and/or person, the institution shall review the complaint to determine whether the allegation(s) describes conduct in violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct. If the reported conduct would not be a violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct then the report should be dismissed. Otherwise, a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and review shall be conducted into each complaint received to determine whether charges against the respondent should be brought.

Throughout any investigation and resolution proceedings, a respondent shall receive notice of the alleged misconduct, shall be provided an opportunity to respond, and shall be allowed to remain silent during the investigation and resolution process, without an adverse inference resulting. If the respondent chooses to remain silent, the investigation may still proceed and policy violation charges may still result, and may be resolved against the respondent. Further, unrelated charges and cases shall be investigated separately, unless the respondent consents to having them aggregated.

Where the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions were to be held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion) the institution’s investigation and resolution procedures must provide these additional, minimum safeguards:

  1. The respondent shall be provided with written notice of the complaint/allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, possible sanctions, and available support services. The notice should also include the identity of any investigator(s) involved. Notice should be provided via institution email to the address on file. Where applicable, a copy shall also be provided to the alleged victim via the same means.
  2. Upon receipt of the written notice, the respondent shall be given at least three (3) business days to respond in writing. In that response, the respondent shall have the right to admit or to deny the allegations, and to set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct.
  3. Based on this response, the investigation shall consist of interviews of the respondent, the alleged victim (where applicable) and witnesses, and the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other steps as appropriate. The investigator should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator shall also keep a record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation.
  4. The investigation shall be summarized in writing in an initial investigation report and provided to the respondent and the alleged victim (where applicable) in person or via email. This summary should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions.
  5. To the extent the respondent is ultimately charged with any violation, he or she shall also have the opportunity to respond in writing. The respondent’s written response to the charge(s) shall be due no earlier than three (3) business days following the date of the initial investigation report. The respondent’s written response should outline his or her plea in response to the charge(s), and where applicable, his or her defense(s), and the facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A nonresponse to the charge(s) by the respondent will be interpreted as a denial of the charge(s).
  6. The investigator shall conduct further investigation and update the investigative report as warranted by the respondent’s response.
  7. The final investigative report should be provided to the student misconduct panel or hearing officer for consideration in adjudicating the charges brought against the respondent. A copy shall also be provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) before any hearing. The investigator may testify as a witness regarding the investigation and findings, but shall otherwise have no part in the hearing process and shall not attempt to otherwise influence the proceedings outside of providing testimony during the hearing.

Interim Suspensions
Interim suspensions – that is, suspensions while the investigation and adjudication process are proceeding – should only occur where necessary to maintain safety, and should be limited to those situations where the respondent poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property. In making such an assessment, the institution should consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the campus community; the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability of potential injury; and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk.

Before an interim suspension is issued, the institution must make all reasonable efforts to give the respondent the opportunity to be heard on whether his or her presence on campus poses a danger. If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension shall take effect immediately. When requested by the respondent, a hearing to determine whether the intermediate suspension should continue will be held within three (3) business days of the request.

In no case shall a hearing to resolve charge(s) of student misconduct take place before the investigative report has been finalized or before the respondent has had an opportunity to respond in writing, unless the respondent has chosen to go through an informal process or otherwise provided a written waiver of rights to these procedures. Further, unrelated charges and/or cases shall be heard separately unless the respondent voluntarily consents to the charges/cases being heard jointly.

Where the respondent indicates that he or she contests the charges, and once the investigative report has been finalized and copies provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable,) the case shall be set for hearing; however, the alleged victim (where applicable) and respondent may have the option of selecting mediation as a possible resolution in certain student misconduct cases where they mutually agree, except where deemed inappropriate by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or his/her designee.

Where a case is not resolved through mediation, the respondent shall have the option of having the charges heard either by an administrator (hearing officer) or a student conduct panel. Notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing, shall be provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. Notice shall be provided via institution email or alternative method, if necessary. Additionally, the following standards will apply to any such hearing:

  1. The respondent shall have the right to present witnesses and evidence to the hearing officer or panel, as well as to ask questions to any witnesses. At the determination of the hearing officer or panel, this questioning may take place through the submission of written questions to the panel or hearing officer for consideration; however, the parties’ advisors may still actively advise and assist in drafting those questions. The hearing officer or panel shall ask the questions as written, and will limit questions only if they are unrelated to determining the veracity of the charge leveled against the respondent(s). In any event, the hearing officer or panel shall err on the side of asking all submitted questions, and must document the reason for not asking any particular questions.
  2. Where the hearing officer or panel determines that a party or witness is unavailable and unable to be present due to extenuating circumstances, the hearing officer or panel may establish special procedures for providing testimony from a separate location. In doing so, the hearing officer or panel must determine there is a valid basis for the unavailability, ensure proper sequestration in a manner that ensures testimony has not been tainted, and make a determination that such an arrangement will not unfairly disadvantage any party. Should it be reasonably believed that a party or witness who is not physically present has presented tainted testimony, the hearing officer or panel will disregard or discount the testimony.
  3. Formal civil rules of evidence do not apply to the investigatory or resolution process.
  4. The standard of review shall be a preponderance of the evidence; however, any decision to suspend or to expel a student must also be supported by substantial evidence at the hearing.
  5. Institutions should maintain documentation of the proceedings, which may include written findings of fact, transcripts, audio recordings and/or video recordings.
  6. Following a hearing, both the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) shall be provided a written decision via institution email of the outcome and any resulting sanctions. The decision should include details on how to appeal, as outlined below. Additionally, the written decision must summarize the evidence in support of the sanction. The same form will be completed, regardless of whether the student opts for a student panel or an administrative hearing.

Possible Sanctions
In determining the severity of sanctions or corrective actions the following should be considered: the frequency, severity, and/or nature of the offense, history of past conduct, an offender’s willingness to accept responsibility, previous institutional response to similar conduct, and the institution’s interests. The student conduct panel or hearing officer will determine sanctions and issue notice of the same, as outlined above.

The broad range of sanctions includes: expulsion; suspension for an identified time frame or until satisfaction of certain conditions, or both; temporary or permanent separation of the parties (e.g., change in classes, reassignment of residence, no contact orders, limiting geography of where parties can go on campus) with additional sanctions for violating orders; required participation in sensitivity training/awareness education programs; required participation in alcohol and other drug awareness and abuse prevention programs; counseling or mentoring; volunteering/community service; loss of institutional privileges; delays in obtaining administrative services and benefits from the institution (e.g., holding transcripts, delaying registration, graduation, diplomas); additional academic requirements relating to scholarly work or research; financial restitution; or any other discretionary sanctions directly related to the violation or conduct. Appeals

Where the sanction imposed includes a suspension or expulsion (even for one held in abeyance), the following appellate procedures must be provided to the respondent. The alleged offender shall have the right to appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds: (1) to consider new information, sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the hearing; (2) to allege a procedural error within the hearing process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the hearing, including but not limited to whether any hearing questions were improperly excluded or whether the decision was tainted by bias; or (3) to allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information. Appeals may be made by the alleged offender for the above reasons in any case where sanctions are issued – even those in which such sanctions are held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion.

The appeal must be made in writing, and must set forth one or more of the bases outlined above, and must be submitted within five (5) business days of the date of the final written decision.

The appeal should be made to the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee. The appeal shall be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with the respondent or any alleged victim will be held. The Vice President, or his/her designee, may affirm the original finding and sanction; affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction lesser severity; remand the case back to the decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. The Vice President or his/her designee shall then issue a decision in writing to both the respondent within a reasonable time period.

The decision of the Vice President or his/her designee may be appealed in writing within five (5) business days (as determined by the date of the decision letter) to the President of the institution solely on the four grounds set forth above.

The President may affirm the original finding and sanction; affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of greater or lesser severity, remand the case back to the decision maker to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. The President’s decision shall be issued in writing to both the respondent within a reasonable time period. The President’s decision shall be the final decision of the institution.

Should the respondent wish to appeal the President’s decision, he or she may appeal to the Board of Regents in accordance with the Board of Regents Policy 8.6. Recusal/Challenge for Bias

Any party may challenge the participation of any institution official, employee or student panel member in the process on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the institution’s designee setting forth the basis for the challenge. The designee may not be the same individual responsible for investigating or adjudicating the conduct allegation. The written challenge should be submitted within a reasonable time after the individual reasonably should have known of the existence of the bias. The institution’s designee will determine whether to sustain or deny the challenge, and if sustained, the replacement to be appointed.

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