University Student Conduct Code
10.00 General Disciplinary Principles
Students are expected to make themselves aware of and abide by the university community’s standards of behavior as articulated in the Student Conduct Code and in related policy statements. Students accept the rights and responsibilities of membership in the USC community when they are admitted to the university. In the university, as elsewhere, ignorance is not an acceptable justification for violating community standards. Lack of intent or awareness of university standards normally will not be accepted as excuses for violations and will normally receive the same consequences as deliberate violations.
Because the functions of a university depend on honesty and integrity among its members, the university expects from its students a higher standard of conduct than the minimum required to avoid disciplinary action. Likewise, while many of the university’s standards of conduct parallel the laws of society in general, university standards also may be set higher and more stringently than those found elsewhere in society.
10.05 Disciplinary Authority
The powers of the university are exercised, its property controlled and its affairs conducted by the Board of Trustees. Responsibility for the administration of these affairs is delegated by the board to various officers of the university, as stipulated in the corporate bylaws; the enforcement of all rules and regulations is the specific duty of the university president. The President, in turn, delegates the authority to the Vice President for Student Affairs to establish and hold student conduct review proceedings that will ensure the proper administration of the university’s rules and regulations. The Vice President for Student Affairs has delegated this responsibility to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. In exceptional circumstances, where imminent harm may result to persons or property within the university community, the Vice President for Student Affairs may modify procedures outlined under the Conduct Review System (see section 12).
Student procedural rights and review procedures are articulated in sections 12.30 and 12.40 of the Student Conduct Code.
10.10 Basic Principles
The Relationship of Discipline to the Purpose of the University
The University of Southern California is primarily an academic community. As such, the university seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. To achieve this objective, the university exercises certain disciplinary and discretionary powers. It protects its educational environment by establishing and maintaining standards of conduct for its students as individuals and as groups. These standards reflect the very nature of an academic community and the need to preserve an effective educational environment.
Activities of students may result in violation of law, and students who violate the law may incur penalties prescribed by civil authorities. However, the university reserves the right to review such incidents independent of action by civil authorities, recognizing that the university’s authority and its disciplinary process serve its educational mission and interest, a function separate from action by civil authorities.
The university’s function with reference to student conduct differs from the community’s function in method as well as scope. Recognizing its role in developing a sense of responsibility in students, the university uses admonition, example, counseling and guidance in addition to formal disciplinary proceedings. Every USC student is presumed to have sufficient maturity, intelligence and concern for the rights of others to help maintain the standards of the academic community. When a student’s behavior demonstrates otherwise, the university will consider disciplinary action as appropriate.
Conditions for Review
A. Definition of a Student:
For the purpose of university rules and regulations, a student is defined as one who:
1. is currently enrolled in university classes or in one of the university’s degree or non-degree programs,
2. has completed the immediately preceding semester and/or is enrolled for the next scheduled semester,
3. is officially representing the university during a period between regular academic semesters, or
4. is not officially enrolled for a particular semester, but who has a continuing relationship with the university.
An individual may be reviewed under this code if an allegation of academic integrity violation is made after the student has left the university and a degree has been granted.
B. Definition of a Student Organization:
A student organization is defined as one which has satisfied the administrative procedures for recognition as prescribed in this guidebook (here) or which is functioning within the university community in the capacity of a student organization.
Generally, a matter will be reviewed only when a report has been filed with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards within one year of discovery of the alleged violation. Cases involving academic or sexual misconduct may be reported at any time.
Any action pending within the Student Conduct process does not relieve the student from any financial obligations to the university.
University jurisdiction and discipline shall be limited to conduct which occurs on university premises or within the university community, is associated with university sponsored or related activities, or which adversely affects the university community and/or the pursuit of its objectives.
E. Standard of Proof:
The burden of proof shall at all times rest upon the complainant. The standards 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.
F. Status of Students Pending Final Student Conduct Adjudication:
The status of a student in most cases will not be altered and disciplinary sanctions are not initiated until completion of an initial review or an appeal, if any. Interim action may be initiated by the President of the university, by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or the designee of either, whenever there is evidence that a student or organization poses a substantial threat to the safety or well-being of members of the university community, to property within the university community or poses a continuing threat of disruption or interference to normal university life or functions.
Administrative holds affecting registration transactions, posting of degree and a student’s ability to acquire copies of his/her transcript may be placed when students fail to fulfill terms of their disciplinary obligations. Such situations may include failure to respond to a written notice indicating a required appointment with a designated university disciplinary official and failure to complete disciplinary sanctions by an established deadline.
This restriction normally will remain in effect until disciplinary obligations are met or adjudication of the matter is complete. Students placed on disciplinary probation or deferred suspension may continue to participate in university activities unless specific sanctions or other campus and organizational rules or regulations restrict such participation.
When the outcome of a disciplinary action is suspension from the university, a restriction will be placed prohibiting the student from performing any registration transactions during the period of suspension. The restriction will not be removed, and the student will not be allowed to perform registration transactions, until the stated period of suspension has expired and all disciplinary obligations are met.
Revised March 2012.
Expectations for Students’ Conduct
The general principles set forth here and behaviors which are described in Section 11.00 are intended to provide clear guidelines for students as to what is expected of them as members of the university community, and as to the kind of unacceptable behavior that may result in university disciplinary action.
Principles of Community
See Principles of Community in the Getting Started section.
Revised April 2007.
Code of Ethics
See Code of Ethics of the University of Southern California in the Getting Started section.