What’s this e-mail? – Your Charge Letter
If you receive an e-mail (charge letter) from the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution or Housing and Residential Life about possible violations of the code, please note that it is just that – a notification of alleged charges and the allegations accompanying the incident. We are contacting you because we received information that indicates you may have acted in a way that is not in accordance with the standards we have for you as a student here at FIU. We have a process in place that outlines how we proceed with a case and how we want you to be included. Ultimately it’s a two way street and
we want you to have your voice heard about what happened.
There are two things you should do when you receive a notice from our office, and you can do these in either order.
- Plan on coming to the scheduled meeting we have set up for you. This meeting is a time for us to explain to you the process and make sure you understand your rights as a student. If this time doesn’t work for you, please call and reschedule.
- Research the conduct process so you will know what to expect. A quick overview of the process on our website provides a good summary of the process. The FIU Student Code of Conduct is the formal document that outlines the processes which is also available on our website.
You may want to consult with an advisor, which can be anyone from the FIU community (e.g. another student, a faculty member, or staff person). This Advisor can support you through the process if you feel nervous. An advisor is not required, and many students feel comfortable meeting without one. We can provide a list of impartial advisors if you’re not sure who to ask and would like exercise this right. Lawyers not of the FIU community are only allowed as Advisors if you have a pending criminal matter for the same incident.
Depending on the nature of the incident, you may want to review your conduct file in our office. You have access to your file as it is part of your overall educational record. We maintain all files electronically so a meeting with a representative from our office is necessary to review this file.
If the incident is from a football game and you already have a copy of the citation or if you otherwise have a good idea of the incident, you may not need to request a copy of your file. You may also ask to view it in the meeting we have scheduled for you in your initial charge letter. The rest of the process is outlined in the overview of the process. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us.
What’s this hold? – Getting a Hold Removed
If you have a hold on your account, it could be for four different reasons:
- You have a pending conduct case and you have not responded to any of our attempts to contact you. Once a hold is in place for this reason, it will not be lifted until all sanctions are completed if indeed you are found responsible for violations of the student code of conduct.
- Another hold may be due to the fact that you have incomplete sanctions from a previous conduct case. If you went through the conduct process and were found responsible, you may have been given sanctions in your decision letter which outlined a deadline for completion for sanctions. If that date has passed, a hold will remain until all sanctions are complete.
- If your hold indicates that you are a Judicial Applicant, you need to go through our Admissions Clearance Process. Please see the “Clearance” section of our website our contact or office for questions (305) 348-3939.
- If you left the University with a pending case, were suspended or expelled, you will also have a hold from our office. If you need this lifted temporarily to order transcripts from the Registrar, please see the “Requesting Transcripts” section of our website or contact our office at (305) 348-3939.
Almost all holds from our office restrict a student from access to their academic records plus prohibits them from registering in any further classes. All pending student conduct matters must be resolved prior to a student’s graduation. Please contact our office if you have a question about a hold on your account.
What can happen to me? – Sanction Information
After each conduct case is resolved, a student receives a decision letter. If you have been found responsible for any violations of the Student Code of Conduct, you will be given sanctions by the hearing officer who handled your case. Sanctions are the University’s way of helping you reflect on your behavior and hopefully learn how to act in ways that align with our community standards. Reflection is an active process that can help give you an understanding of your impact on the many communities that you are a part of at the University (i.e. a Student Club, you residential community, possibly your classroom, maybe a Greek organization, your family, and of course the greater FIU Community).
If you are found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, you will be assigned sanctions that could include educational activities (including classes, reflection or research papers, workshops), restitution, restrictions, etc. Additionally you will be assigned a warning, probation, suspension or expulsion.
All sanctions guidelines are outlined in your decision letter. This includes due dates and instructions for how to complete what is expected from you. If you have any questions about a sanction, follow up with the person who gave you your decision letter.
Our sanctions range depending on:
- The nature of the violation (what you did)
- Prior violations/previous disciplinary history (what have you done before)
- Mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation (unusual circumstances)
- Your motivation for the behavior (why you chose to do what you did)
- Sanctions involved in cases involving similar violations (precedent)
- The developmental and educational impact (how is this going to affect you)
Do I need to report this? – How to give us information
If you have been a part of or witnessed a situation that you think someone should know about, please file a report with our office. The link to our online Incident Report is found below as well as on the front of our Homepage. All reports are submitted online via our Incident Report link.
Filing a report with our office does not mean that it will automatically be a conduct case. Sometimes it important for us to know if a student is struggling with being away from home or has been dealing with a lot of family issues. Each report submitted to our office is read by administration and determined if it warrants action from the University.
Our office works with student behavior only. If you need to report something about a faculty member, please see the Chair of that department. If it involves a staff member, please contact Human Resources. If you have witnessed a crime, you may file a report with us as well as contact FIU Police to file a police report. The FIU Police and work together with our office to exchange information about students’ behavior and contribute to the conduct process.
Reports submitted anonymously are not encouraged. Anonymous reports hinder our ability to follow with the reporter who most likely has more information that we may need for a case. Finally, an anonymous report may not allow our office to move forward with a conduct case.
But I have rights! – What are your rights as a Charged Student?
Part of our process specifically takes time to ensure that you are aware of your rights as a student going through the conduct process. For a detailed description of these rights, please see the Students’ Rights section of the Student Code of Conduct. To break down the basics of these rights, see below.
- We must give you notice in writing of the charge(s) against you, as well as allegations upon which the charge(s) is based. Additionally, we must also give you a follow up letter outlining the decision from your case which includes other information regarding sanctions and appeals. Essentially, every student charged by the University in the conduct process receive two letters, one outlining initial charges and the second outlining the outcome of that case.
- This file is part of your educational record, so you are provided the opportunity to review all information in the file. Scheduling a meeting with a staff member is the best way to access your file.
- Going through conduct is two way street. We want to hear your side of the story. Just like the University will present information about your case in order to determine your responsibility, you too will have the opportunity to provide information to us about the situation in question. If this includes witnesses, you may present their testimony as evidence in your case.
- In a formal hearing, witnesses may be called, including RA’s, Police, and other students. These witnesses will be questioned by the University. You also have the right to question these witnesses.
- As outlined briefly in the Charge Letter explanation, you have the right to an Advisor. An Advisor can be anyone from the FIU community (e.g. another student, a faculty member, or staff person). This Advisor can support you through the process if you feel nervous. An advisor is not required, and many students feel comfortable meeting without one. We can provide a list of impartial advisors if you’re not sure who to ask and would like exercise this right. Lawyers not of the FIU community are only allowed as Advisors if you have a pending criminal matter for the same incident.
- Going through the conduct process does not force you to explain your level of involvement in any situation. While we recommend a student to explain their involvement and actively participate in presenting information to the University, it is not required. If you choose not to share information explains your involvement in violations of the Code of Conduct, you may abstain from answering questions. By not answering questions, this is not held against you as an admission of responsibility for the charge(s) against you.
- Finally, if you are found responsible and wish to appeal the decision letter, you have that option. Guidelines for the appeal process are explained in your decision letter. This opportunity is time sensitive so take note of the date you received your decision letter to make sure your appeal deadline has not passed.
Again, this is a summary of your rights as a charged student and does not substitute for the official Students’ Rights section of the Student Code of Conduct. Your rights in this process will be explained to you in the meeting scheduled for you in your initial charge letter.
Overview of the Student Conduct Process
The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution can receive information from many sources. Most of our reports come from students, faculty, staff, and the University Police. After we review a report, it is determined whether or not charges will be brought against the student by the University. Once a student is charged by the University, they are requested to meet with a representative for what is called an Information Session. During this meeting, we go over your rights, the conduct process, possible sanctions, and ways that you can resolve your case with the University.
If they charges are appropriate, students can simply accept the charges as presented and then they are sanctioned by the University. If a student wishes to contest the charges, then he/she have the option of going to a hearing. In a hearing, the student is allowed the opportunity to present their side of the story
to a hearing body who will then decide whether or not the student is responsible for the charges against him/her.
Regardless the outcome of a case, a student will always receive a decision letter stating the outcome of the case. Additionally, a student always has the right to appeal the decision of a conduct case. Guidelines for the appeal process are explained in the Student Code of Conduct. For a more detailed explanation of the Student Conduct process, please see Section (7) of the Student Code of Conduct.
Privacy and Records
All information regarding Student Conduct records are maintained by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, this includes student organizations. Student records maintained by our office are protected by several laws, including state and federal laws. Release of any student record is governed by applicable laws regarding the privacy of educational records. The following are a few keys things to keep in mind regarding your record in our office.
- Student conduct files are kept for (7) years from the date of the last incident. However, expulsion and suspension cases are kept permanently. Therefore, you must disclose this record if you are within this time period. When in doubt, check with our office.
- If you’re suspended or expelled from the University, this will be noted on your academic transcript.
- Information regarding your conduct record will only be disclosed if you have given us writte permission to share it with specific individuals or if it is deemed an “educational need to know”.
- The University may contact parents/guardians of students under the age of 21 in accordance with the FIU Alcohol and Substance Abuse Parent/Guardian Notification Policy.
- All student conduct records will be communicated through the e-mail address issued to the student by the University. The physical address on file with the Registrar may be used to communicate records regarding suspensions and expulsions.
- To access your record in our office, schedule a meeting with a staff member and they will have you submit a request in writing to review your file.