The procedures implemented by this code will be consistent with all appropriate rights accorded to students in university disciplinary decisions. Students may also request reasonable accommodations with the Student Conduct Office to ensure equitable participation, along with a full and fair understanding of the process. Requests may be verified with the Disability Resource Center and/or through review of documentation of disability.
University as Convener
The University is the convener of every action under this code. Within that action, there are several roles, including, but not limited to the respondent, complainant, reporting person(s), witness(es) and investigator(s). The respondent is the person who is alleged to have violated the code. The complainant is the party bringing the complaint, who may be the University, an employee, a student, a visitor, or a guest, and may choose to be present and participate in the process as fully as the respondent. A witness(es), may offer information regarding the allegation, and shall also be included in the Conduct Process. Additionally, the University may utilize an investigator(s), whose role is to present the allegations and share the evidence that the University obtained regarding the allegations.
Initiation of Conduct Process
Any member of the University community, visitor or guest may report alleged violation(s) by any student for misconduct under this code. Reports of alleged violations should be submitted to either the Student Conduct Office or University Police Department within a reasonable timeframe after the discovery of a possible violation of the Student Code of Conduct, except in exceptional circumstances as determined in the University's sole discretion.
Receipt of a report may result in an investigation of the incident. The investigator(s) will identify an initial list of all charges that may have been violated, review the history of the parties, context of the incident(s), and any potential patterns and nature of the alleged violation. Where appropriate, the investigator will develop an investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, and anticipated timeline. Investigations are expected to take 30-45 class days, except in exceptional circumstances. Upon completion of an investigation, a final report will be presented to the Hearing Administrator to determine if a student may be charged and proceed through the student conduct process. The standard for determining whether to issue a charge letter to a student is whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the student violated the Student Code of Conduct. Not every conduct report will require a formal conduct investigation, as determined in the University's sole discretion.
Upon receipt of the allegation and/or investigation, when appropriate, a determination will be made on whether reasonable grounds exist for any charges, and if so, a written charge letter will be issued to the referred student. A Charge Letter is commonly issued within 1-5 class days, but may take 30-45 class days after the initial referral when a case undergoes an investigation. In extenuating circumstances, it may take longer for a Charge Letter to be issued. Charge letters are sent to students via their University of North Florida email account. Charge letters will include a summary of the charges and sources of information. The charge letter will instruct the student to contact the Student Conduct Office within 5 class days of receipt of the letter to schedule a Conduct Review. Failure to contact the office within 5 class days will result in waiver of the Conduct Review.
A student group or organization and its officers and membership may be held collectively and individually responsible when violations of this code by the organization or its member(s):
- Take place at events, whether participation or sponsorship is formal or informal;
- Have received the consent or encouragement of the organization or the organization's leaders or officers;
- Were known or should have been known to the membership or its officers.
Hearings for student groups or organizations follow the same general student conduct procedures. In any such action, individual determinations as to responsibility will be made and sanctions may be assigned collectively and individually and will be proportionate to the involvement of each individual and the organization.
The purpose of the Conduct Review is to provide the respondent with the opportunity to discuss the allegations and review the reports and materials supporting the referral. The Hearing Administrator will explain the rights and options available, as well as describe a range of potential sanctions for the violation in question.
The respondent may be accompanied during the Conduct Review by an advisor of their choice, which is further addressed below under Section F. Student Rights.
If a student elects to forgo a Conduct Review or fails to timely schedule or attend a Conduct Review, and 5 class days have expired since the date of the notice, the student waives their right to a Conduct Review. At that time, a formal hearing (either Administrative or Panel) may be scheduled in the student's absence at the sole discretion of the Hearing Administrator. The student will be notified of the date and time of the formal hearing. If the student fails to appear at the scheduled formal hearing, and failed to provide advance notice to this effect to the Hearing Administrator, the hearing will be held in the student's absence and they may be charged with additional violations of the Code.
At the conclusion of the Conduct Review, the respondent may have the opportunity to request the forum in which the case will be heard, either an Immediate Hearing, Administrative Hearing or Panel Hearing. If the respondent elects to continue the conduct process with an Immediate Hearing, the Conduct Review meeting will then transition into the hearing. Choosing to move forward with an Immediate Hearing requires the respondent to waive the 3 class day notice period, and other student rights.
If the respondent elects to continue the conduct process with an Administrative or Panel Hearing, the respondent and Hearing Officer will work to schedule the hearing for a mutually agreeable date and time. Respondents have the right to a 3 class day notice period, along with other rights described below under Section F. Student Rights.
However, the Hearing Administrator may determine that it is in the best interest of both the student and the University that a case proceed to a Panel Hearing based on the seriousness of the violation or in the interest of fairness. The hearing will be scheduled no sooner than 3 class days after the conduct review and generally no later than 14 class days after the Conduct Review, at the sole discretion of the Hearing Administrator.
At least 3 class days before the Administrative or Panel Hearing, the student and their advisor, if any, have the right to review all of the information that will be presented against the student. The University also has the right to review all information the respondent intends to rely on at the hearing at least 3 class days before the hearing. This information includes: documentary evidence, physical evidence, and a list of witnesses that intend to be called by either party. The University cannot compel the attendance of any witness(es) at the hearing on the student's behalf.
NOTE: Holds. The Student Conduct Office may place a disciplinary hold on the records and registration of any student who fails to respond to a notice. Any pending disciplinary matters must be resolved prior to the awarding of any degree or certificate. Disciplinary notices will be sent to students electronically, using their Osprey e-mail account. If correspondence needs to be sent to an alternative address, the student's permanent address as contained in the University's Student Records will be used.
Types of Hearings
The purpose of a hearing is to provide an impartial forum for the party bringing charges against a student and the respondent to present all of their information regarding the alleged misconduct. A determination of responsibility is based on the preponderance of the information presented; that is, if the information provided at the hearing, as a whole, shows that it is more likely than not that the student committed the violation.
If a respondent waived a Conduct Review, either voluntarily or involuntarily, the Hearing Administrator will provide the respondent with a brief overview of the hearing and general conduct process before the hearing.
Hearings will be scheduled no sooner than three class days from the Conduct Review, unless otherwise requested by the respondent, and no later than fourteen class days, or at the sole discretion of the Hearing Administrator. If either the complainant or respondent requires additional time to prepare for a hearing, the Hearing Administrator may review the situation to determine appropriateness and fairness to all parties. Requests for additional time must be submitted in writing and supporting documentation is strongly encouraged. If it is determined an undue burden will be placed on a party, than an extension will be granted.
There are three types of hearings, Immediate, Administrative and Panel. In most cases, respondents may choose their hearing type. However, the Hearing Administrator may determine in their sole discretion that it is in the best interest of both the student and the University that a case proceed to a Panel hearing based on the seriousness of the violation or in the interest of fairness. Any charges based on an alleged Title IX violation will proceed to a Panel Hearing.
When two or more respondents are charged with violations stemming from the same incident, those cases may be heard jointly if the respondents waive their right to individual hearings. In these situations, sanctions (if any) will be communicated separately. Charges from multiple incidents may be addressed in a single hearing.
The respondent chooses to continue their Conduct Review meeting and immediately proceed to a Hearing. The respondent will waive certain rights in order to continue immediately. The Hearing Administrator will review the reported charges against the student and all other relevant information to determine whether to recommend to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) that the respondent is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the charge(s) and any appropriate sanctions.
The respondent meets individually with a Hearing Administrator who reviews the reported charges against the student and all other relevant information to determine whether to recommend to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) that the respondent is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the charge(s) and any appropriate sanctions.
The respondent meets with the Student Conduct Board, a panel comprised of students, faculty and staff, with a minimum of 50% student representation. The panel will review information and determine whether to recommend to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) that a student is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the charge(s) and any appropriate sanctions.
A Hearing Administrator is present at each Panel Hearing to ensure that the Student Code of Conduct procedures are followed. The Hearing Administrator will answer procedural questions asked by the panel, the complainant, or the respondent. The Hearing Administrator will also keep the proceedings focused on issues relevant to the specific allegations. The Hearing Administrator will not participate in the determination of a recommended finding or sanction. The Panel Hearing members may ask the Hearing Administrator questions regarding the judicial process.
Cases involving alleged Title IX violations will be heard through a Panel Hearing. Student Conduct Board members must undergo annual Title IX training, in addition to the annual Conduct Panel Board training, in order to be selected on a panel for these cases.
8. Hearing Procedures
- The Hearing Administrator will explain each party's rights and options and assure that fairness and procedural due process are observed throughout the hearing.
- All Student Conduct hearings will be closed to the public and may include the person(s) bringing allegations against a student(s), the respondent(s), advisor(s), alleged victim(s), the reporting person(s), Investigator(s), Hearing Administrator(s), and any witnesses who may offer relevant information regarding the allegation. Witnesses may only be present during the time they are testifying.
- A student charged with violation(s) of the Code of Conduct will have the opportunity to present information on their behalf, including presenting witnesses, if available, and/or signed written statements from witnesses, and other documentary evidence. The respondent has the opportunity to review and respond to written statements and may offer evidence to rebut witness statements and other evidence presented at the hearing. Witness statements are entitled to be given the same consideration by the hearing body as live witness testimony. Witness statements need not be sworn or in affidavit form.
- The respondent, complainant, and any witnesses may be accompanied during the hearing by an advisor of their choice, which is further addressed below under Section F. Student Rights.
- Witnesses may be called by the University, the complainant, and the respondent. The Hearing Body, complainant, and the respondent will have the privilege of questioning all present witnesses and questioning all present parties (directly or indirectly through the Hearing Administrator, at the sole discretion of the Hearing Administrator). Witnesses appear at hearings on a voluntary basis and cannot be compelled to attend a hearing.
- A student may choose not to answer any and all questions posed by a Hearing Body.
- The Hearing Administrator may determine a recess of the hearing is in the best interest of the parties when additional information may provide clarification to the case.
- The University is not required to postpone disciplinary proceedings pending the outcome on any criminal prosecution. If a student chooses not to participate or answer questions during the conduct review or hearing, the Hearing Body may proceed with a hearing and base its decision on all available information.
- The respondent does not have the burden of proof regarding the charges that have been brought against them. A determination of responsibility is based on preponderance of the information presented; that is, if the information provided at the hearing, as a whole, shows that it is more likely than not that the student committed the violation.
- In cases involving multiple students charged, information provided at one hearing may be used in the related case(s).
- Information obtained during a hearing may result in the adjustment of the original charge(s).
- If the respondent fails to appear at the scheduled hearing after proper notice, the hearing may be held in the respondent's absence.
- Prior records of disciplinary action, past criminal convictions, impact statements and character witness statements are considered by the hearing body only in the sanctioning phase of deliberations.
- The Hearing Body's recommended finding of "responsible" or "not responsible" will be based on the information presented at the hearing.
- After the hearing is concluded, the Hearing Body will provide to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) a recommended finding of "responsible" or "not responsible" on all charges, and any sanctions. The Hearing Body's recommendations will be communicated in writing to the respondent within 14 class days from the conclusion of the hearing.
- The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) will review the Hearing Body's recommendations regarding responsibility and sanctions, and make the University's official decision, which may adopt, modify or reject the Hearing Body's recommendations, in whole or in part, or remand for a rehearing. The official decision will be communicated to the student in writing within 14 class days, and it will include the finding of "responsible" or "not responsible" on all charges, the imposed sanction(s), an explanation of any differences between the Hearing Body's recommendations and the official decision, and notice of the student's ability to appeal the official decision to the University President (or their designee). This time limit may be extended in the sole discretion of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (or their designee) where additional consideration of evidence or deliberation is required. The student will be informed (by phone, email, mail or in person) of the estimated duration of this extended time period. If the student does not appeal the official decision to the University President (or their designee), the official decision will constitute the University's final action.
- All hearings will be audio recorded, except for the deliberation phase. This recording will serve as the official record of the proceedings. All hearings are considered confidential in accordance with FERPA and will be maintained in the Student Conduct Office.