12.00 Non-academic Conduct Review
Procedural and advisory matters, as well as the integrity of the student conduct system, are the responsibility of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. However, sexual misconduct and discrimination matters are handled by the Title IX Coordinator and a specially trained Title IX Investigator as described in Section 17. There are separate review processes in certain schools, see Section 12.14.
Generally, student misconduct cases will be divided into three categories: non-academic violations (process summarized in Section 10.21), academic integrity violations (process summarized in Section 10.32), and sexual misconduct and discrimination violations (process set out in Section 17).
Any member of the university community (faculty, staff and/or student) may initiate a complaint against a student or student organization for an alleged non-academic violation of the Student Conduct Code by submitting a report to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
12.02 Complaint through Other Channels
When an alleged violation is indicated in a USC Department of Public Safety or police report, or a referral by the Center for Women and Men, Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee may initiate a review of the alleged violation on behalf of the university. Such an action may be taken when the circumstances of the alleged violation affect the well-being of the campus or the personal safety or well-being of any member of the university community.
12.03 Contents of a Complaint
A report of an alleged violation should consist of a clear, concise written statement that contains the following information:
A. A list of any and all parties against whom the complaint is being filed.
B. A description of the alleged misconduct, the date or period of time during which it occurred and the location where the incident(s) allegedly occurred.
C. The name, address and phone number of the person making the report.
D. All complaints are considered to have been made in good faith. Any information to the contrary may be grounds for university action against the initiating party.
12.04 Timing of Complaints
Any report and request for a review must be made as soon as possible (preferably within 15 days but not later than one year from the date of discovery of the incident) (see section 10.10 II.C). Cases involving academic or sexual misconduct or discrimination may be reported at any time.
12.05 Intake and Initial Fact-finding
Upon receiving a report that a student has allegedly violated university standards, the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee will review the report to determine whether there is good cause to proceed with the student conduct process. The director or designee may conduct such fact-finding as they see fit in order to determine whether a particular complaint has merit, and such fact-finding shall not disqualify them from also conducting the Administrative Review with the student.
Students who fail to respond to initial notification from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards within five business days of the email notification or who cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts remain subject to Summary Administrative Review and consequent sanctioning. If the student fails to respond to the email notice to schedule an appointment with the designated member of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, an administrative hold will be placed on the student’s record prohibiting the student from performing registration transactions until an appointment is scheduled and completed. In addition, a Summary Administrative Review may be conducted in absentia when a student fails to respond to initial notification.
12.06 Summary of Initial Reviews
In complaints where there is good cause, the director or designee will meet with the accused student to conduct an Administrative Review, either Voluntary or Summary (unless the director or designee has determined there should be a Peer Review, a University Review, or a Residential Education Review.) . At this Administrative Review meeting with the Judicial Affairs officer the accused student has the opportunity to present any information regarding the incident. The decision as to whether the matter should be resolved by Administrative Review or be referred to a Review Panel is at the sole discretion of the director or designee.
12.10 Administrative Reviews
An Administrative Review consists of a meeting between the director or designee (finder-of-fact) and the named student
A. In a Voluntary Administrative Review, the student does not dispute the facts upon which the allegations are based, waives his or her right to further review and accepts the decision by signing an Administrative Review form. Students accepting the Administrative Review form retain the right to appeal to the appropriate appeal body only as to the appropriateness of the sanction (see section 15.02 B).
B. In a Summary Administrative Review, the student may deny some or all of the facts upon which the allegations are based, or the student may dispute the appropriateness of the recommended sanction(s). The director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designated review officer, may determine the student is responsible for the alleged violation(s) or dismiss the case, based on the preponderance of the evidence. Students found responsible for violations under the Summary Administrative Review process retain the right to appeal to the appropriate appeal body on all grounds (see section 15.02).As an alternative to making a determination on the case, the review officer may refer the case to an appropriate review panel (Peer Review section 12.11, University Review section 12.12, or Residential Education Review section 12.13.)
12.11 Peer Review Panels
In the event that the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, determines that a hearing before a review panel is warranted under the circumstances of a particular allegation, the matter may be referred to a Review Panel. Peer Review Panels hear non-academic cases arising out of university housing, the university fraternity and sorority system and the non-residential student population, but do not hear sexual misconduct cases. Whether the facts of a particular incident warrant referral to a Peer Review Panel is at the sole discretion of the director or designee. Each of these panels is advised by the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee, who shall be a non-voting member of every review panel.
These panels are composed of three to five students. Students are selected for membership after an application and interview process. Members serve at the discretion of the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
Both the accused student and the complainant may have an adviser of his/her choice present at the Peer Review. The adviser cannot be a licensed or practicing attorney. Advisers must request and review the guidelines for advisers prior to the review. (See 12.50 G). A different provision on advisers applies to cases of sexual misconduct. (See Section 17).
12.12 University Review Panels
University Review Panels are composed of three members including two faculty or staff members and a student chairperson. Members are drawn from lists supplied annually by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (staff) and the academic deans (faculty). Lists may be supplemented as necessary during the year.
In the event that the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards determines that a Review Panel is warranted, the University Review Panels may review cases involving the following issues:
A. Academic integrity violations.
B. Cases in which expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission are recommended for non-academic violations.
C. Cases occurring when the appropriate Peer Review Panel is unable to convene in a reasonable time.
All University Review Panels are advised by the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee, who shall be a non-voting member of every hearing panel.
Both the accused student and complainant may have an adviser of his/her choice present at the review. The adviser may be a licensed or practicing attorney only for cases in which criminal charges are pending and the recommended sanctions include expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission. Advisers must request and review the guidelines for advisers prior to the review. In all reviews, whether or not an adviser or attorney is present, the primary conversation will be with the student. (See 12.50 G). A different provision on advisers applies to cases of sexual misconduct. (See Section 17).
12.13 Residential Education Review
In specified cases involving violations of behavioral standards outlined in the Student Conduct Code or the University Housing/Hospitality Service Contract by student residents in university housing, a Residential Education Review may be conducted by a Residential Education staff member. A Residential Education Review is an informal process which utilizes procedures in lieu of the procedures contained in this guidebook (documentation on the Residential Education review process may be obtained from the Office for Residential Education). Sexual misconduct cases are not handled through Residential Education Review.
12.14 Other Review Systems
The Vice Provost for Student Affairs has granted to several graduate and professional schools the authority to conduct independent reviews, render decisions and recommend appropriate sanctions in cases of alleged violations. Granting this authority does not preclude the university from adjudicating matters concerning the behavior of students from these schools. These graduate/professional school panels are subject to basic due process requirements and general procedural fairness. Separate review bodies and/or procedures for reviews exist in the following professional degree programs: Keck School of Medicine, Gould School of Law, Ostrow School of Dentistry, School of Pharmacy and the Leventhal School of Accounting. Sexual misconduct and discrimination cases are handled under Section 17 rather than through school processes, but the findings of the investigation may lead to additional sanctions imposed by those schools as appropriate to the professional discipline.
12.30 Student Procedural Protections
The university is committed to the timely and fair resolution of disciplinary problems in an adjudicatory process. Although the Student Conduct Code affords significant procedural protections in the adjudicatory process, this does not include the right to confront accusers or be represented by counsel. Both students accused of violating the Student Conduct Code and reporting students are granted the following procedural protections:
A. Written notice via email of the incident report that specifies the nature of the alleged violation and the basis for the charge including the date or period of time and location regarding the alleged incident.
B. Written notice of the location of copies of the Student Conduct Code and Conduct Review System.
C. Written notice of the requirement that the accused student must meet with a staff member in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. The university reserves the right to conduct reviews in absentia when an accused student fails to respond after proper notice has been given or after the university has exercised reasonable effort to notify the student of the allegations.
D. A fair and impartial review of the incident.
E. Prior to a review, a summary of rights, review procedures and avenue of appeal.
F. The right to inspect documents and/or relevant information on file prior to the review. A request to inspect documentation or evidence should be directed to the staff member in charge of the review at any time during the process. Requests must be presented in writing at least one working day in advance.
G. The opportunity to be present at the review; to inspect all evidence presented; and to present witnesses and evidence.
H. If the accused student declines to present information on his/her own behalf, this will not be construed as an admission of guilt.
I. A written decision outlining the results of the review. In Summary Administrative Reviews and panel reviews this includes the factual basis for the conclusions drawn.
Student conduct records are maintained as a confidential student disciplinary file. As a primary document in such files, distribution of written decisions is limited to accused students and to USC personnel charged with responsibility for implementation of sanctions. Complainants will be notified by separate letter of the outcome of the review. (For an explanation of university policy concerning student records, see C.5 Student Education Records.)
J. The opportunity to appeal the initial review within 10 business days of receipt of the written decision. Both the accused student and the complainant will be notified in writing of the outcome of any appeal. Notice may be either mailed or hand delivered. If a notice is mailed, it is deemed to be received three days after it is mailed to the student’s last known address.
K. A timely initial review conducted as soon as possible after the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards has received all pertinent documents of the case. Due to the nature of the university’s academic calendar, the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards may not be able to conduct a review at any specified date or time.
L. At all steps of the initial review and in preparing an appeal, the accused student and complainant may have an adviser of his/her choice present. The adviser may be a practicing attorney only for cases in which criminal charges are pending or the recommended sanctions include expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission. Advisers must request and review the guidelines of advisers prior to the review. In all reviews, whether or not an adviser is present, the primary conversation shall be with the student. (See 12.50 G). A different provision on advisers applies to sexual misconduct matters. (See Section 17).
12.40 Adjudicatory Procedures
All of the student procedural protections listed in Section 12.30 will be observed. Complainants will be treated with the same procedural fairness afforded accused students. The following procedural guidelines apply to all reviews of Student Conduct Code violations adjudicated by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards:
Multiple Accused Students
In reviews of incidents involving more than one accused student, the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, will determine whether the reviews concerning each student be conducted separately.
B. Pending Criminal Charges
For cases in which criminal investigations and/or proceedings are concurrent or pending, the university normally may proceed independent of such investigations or proceedings. The accused student or the complainant may request that the university delay its proceeding. Such requests should be submitted in writing at least two business days prior to the scheduled review to the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, stating the requested action and the supporting rationale for the request. The director or designee may grant the request but is not obligated to do so. The mere fact that criminal investigation or proceedings exist will not ordinarily be considered grounds for delay.
C. Testimony and Evidence
It is the responsibility of the finder of fact to render determinations concerning relevance of testimony and evidence to be presented as part of the review.
Rules of evidence and discovery used by federal and state judicial proceedings shall not be applicable to reviews described in this code.
Affidavits or other written statements submitted in lieu of a witness’ presence at a review shall not be admitted into evidence unless signed by the author. Authorship and content of the document may be subject to verification at the discretion of the finder of fact.
In cases concerning accusation of sexual assault, past sexual history of any involved party will not be admitted in evidence or testimony unless directly relevant to the matter under consideration.
D. Standard of Proof
The burden of proof shall at all times rest upon the complainant. The standard of proof for deciding against the accused student shall be such evidence that, when weighed against that opposed to it, has the more convincing force and the greater probability of truth.
For cases in which it is determined that a student is not responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code no sanctions will be assessed. For cases in which it is determined the accused student is responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code, the accused student’s conduct record (see Section 12.60) at the university will be considered in determining appropriate sanctions. Except for cases in which the accused student’s disciplinary history is a basis for the alleged violation(s) under review (e.g., reference to Section 11.49 or to a continuing pattern of behavior), consideration of that history will occur subsequent to the determination of responsibility.
Cases involving expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree and revocation of admission are subject to review and possible modification by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or designee.
Included with the decision document will be a statement outlining the proper course of appeal for the particular case. A notification of the outcome and of the opportunity to appeal the decision shall be forwarded to involved parties according to 12.30I.
12.50 Reviews by Panels
In addition to the above protections and procedures, the following apply to initial reviews conducted by panels:
A. Involved parties will be provided written notice of the date, time and place of any scheduled review. Both the reporting student and the accused student must be notified at least three business days before the scheduled review. Notice may be either emailed, mailed or hand delivered. If a notice is mailed, it is deemed to be received three days after it is mailed to the student’s last known address. The university reserves the right to conduct reviews in absentia when proper notice has been given. Failure to appear after proper notice does not necessarily constitute grounds for an appeal hearing. Requests for rescheduling a review hearing must be directed, in writing, to the director, Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, with a statement of grounds for the request, at least two business days prior to the scheduled hearing. This request will be considered, but rescheduling is not automatic.
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, for good cause, may postpone a review and notify the accused student and the complainant of the new date.
B. A fully constituted review panel meeting the particular panel staffing requirements. (See Non-academic Conduct Review System.) Applicable requirements should be verified with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
C. An opportunity to object to any member of the review panel as biased. The panel will decide if that member should review the alleged violation. This decision will be based on that member’s ability to be fair and objective in the review.
D. An adviser at the review who may assist the accused student (e.g., conferring together, document management) but who may not represent the accused student by speaking exclusively on his or her behalf. At University Review Panels, the adviser may be a licensed or practicing attorney only for cases in which criminal charges are pending and the recommended sanctions include expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission. In all reviews, whether or not an adviser or attorney is present, the primary conversation will be with the student. (See 12.50 G). A different provision on advisers applies to cases of sexual misconduct. (See Section 17).
E. If the accused student declines to give testimony, this will not be construed as an admission of guilt. Declining testimony, the accused student retains the right to question witnesses, present witnesses on his/her own behalf and submit documentary evidence. If the accused student provides any testimony, he/she is subject to examination on credibility and on all matters relevant to the charges and to other testimony presented.
F. Panel reviews shall be private. The number of persons attending any review may be limited by the panel conducting the review.
Due to the nature of the university’s academic calendar and to the availability of appointed panel members, the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards may not be able to convene a University Review Panel for any specified date or time.
F. Panel Members’ and Chairperson’s Roles
The chairperson of the review panel shall exercise control over the hearing to avoid needless consumption of time and to prevent the harassment and/or intimidation of witnesses. Any person, including an adviser, who disrupts a hearing or who fails to adhere to the rulings of the chairperson of the review panel may be excluded from the proceedings.
Panel members (including the Panel Adviser) have the authority to ask questions of all parties.
All involved parties must be reminded of the student procedural protections cited in 12.30 at the outset of the review.
G. Adviser’s Role
The adviser’s role shall be to consult with the student and not to speak on the student’s behalf; however, the adviser may be permitted to make brief statements as stipulated in the guidelines for advisers. Advisers must request and review a copy of guidelines for his/her role in the respective review process from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards prior to the hearing in question.
At University Review Panel hearings, the adviser may be a licensed or practicing attorney only for cases in which criminal charges are pending and the recommended sanctions include expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission. At all other hearings, the adviser may be anyone but an attorney, except that in sexual misconduct cases the adviser must be someone who has completed university-approved training as an advocate. If an adviser will be present, the review panel must be informed of this fact at least three business days prior to the hearing date. When an attorney is present as the student’s adviser, the university may also have an attorney present. If the student designates an attorney as his/her adviser, the attorney shall keep the following in mind: the review is not a court of law but an educational process. It does not follow the formal rules of evidence and procedure attorneys may encounter in other judicial forums. The hearing’s educational context and purpose require that the attorney play a different and a more limited role than in the courtroom.
H. Hearing Format
Normally, the complainant presents evidence first, the accused student then presents evidence and responds to the evidence presented by the complainant and then the complainant may rebut. This procedure will be followed unless the panel agrees to a different format.
I. Testimony and Evidence
At least three business days before the review, the involved parties must furnish the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards with a list of witnesses they may present and with copies of any documents and other evidence they intend to present. This list may be supplemented with additional witnesses and evidence for good cause as determined by the review panel.
Only evidence and testimony presented during the hearing or officially admitted into the record following the hearing with notice to all parties may be used as the basis for the review panel’s decision.
Because review panels may limit the number of witnesses presented (see 12.40C), students should choose carefully those witnesses who can provide direct information concerning the allegation under review. Written statements from additional witnesses attesting to the same information is admissible (see Witnesses Testimony).
J. Witnesses Testimony
All witnesses may be questioned by the members of the review panel, by the complainant and by the accused student.
Witnesses may be asked to affirm that their testimony is truthful and may be subject to charges of dishonesty, pursuant to provisions of this code.
Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant and the accused student will be excluded from the review during all testimony but their own. The panel may also exclude “expert” witnesses (such as handwriting experts, private investigators and others). Any witness may be excluded unless the university has been notified in advance that the student intends to call them on his/her behalf. In addition, the panel may exclude any witness it deems inappropriate for an educational hearing. The panel may limit the number of witnesses presented at a review for good cause (e.g., repetitive testimony, character witness).
K. Hearing Record
An audiotape recording will be made by the university, with the knowledge of all parties, as the single verbatim record of the hearing. This record shall be the sole property of the university. The complainant or accused student may request permission to review this record for appeal only. This tape will be erased after the appeal deadline has expired or after an appellate decision has been released.
L. Panel Decision
Following the conclusion of testimony in a review, the panel will meet in a closed session (including the panel adviser) to deliberate and make a decision concerning the alleged violation(s). For cases in which the panel determines a student is not responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code no sanctions will be assessed. For cases in which it is determined the accused student is responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code, the panel will include consideration of the accused student’s disciplinary record (see Section 12.50) at the university in determining appropriate sanctions. Except for cases in which the accused student’s disciplinary history is a basis for the alleged violation(s) under review (e.g., reference to Section 11.49 or to a continuing pattern of behavior), consideration of that history will occur subsequent to the panel’s determination of responsibility.
The review panel will provide a written opinion outlining the results of the review to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. This written opinion should be released to both the accused student and the complaining student within 15 business days of the review. This time may be extended if necessary. The accused student and complainant should be informed if the decision will be delayed.
12.60 Disciplinary Records
For certain cases or when a student is determined to be responsible for a violation of university standards by any student conduct process, a disciplinary record of the matter will be maintained in a confidential student file by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for up to seven years. Expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree and revocation of admission will result in permanent student conduct files.
Revised September 2014.