Frequently Asked Questions
How is a conduct complaint filed?
Typically anyone can file a report. Most campuses receive reports from the campus police department, residential education staff, faculty and other university staff, and students. To file a complaint, your student should contact a WSU Resident Assistant or the Security Office.
If your student chooses to file a complaint (which is also referred to as an incident report), their role becomes one of witness in the case; however, the student may also be required to assume the role of complainant. The submitter of the complaint is sometimes asked to participate in the adjudication of the case to explain what they saw or heard and to answer questions about the incident.
Please note that filing a complaint with the Security Office does not constitute filing a criminal charge. The Security Office can assist students in contacting the local police department if they wish to file a police report.
If my student is a victim in a conduct case, what support do they receive?
How is the campus process different from a criminal charge through the City of Winona?
There are other types of violations that mirror criminal statutes such as underage drinking. There are still others that may use similar terminology but are defined differently. Sexual assault and rape are examples of these.
A second difference between the campus process and the criminal process is the standard of proof. On most campuses, there must be a preponderance of the evidence, enough evidence to tip the scales (i.e. 51% or “more likely than not”), before a student is found responsible for violating the student conduct code. This is the same standard used in most civil cases. In contrast, the standard in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Another difference is that the campus process is usually confidential whereas a criminal prosecution creates public records. For more on the limitations on disclosure of student records see the section below on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
In addition, a campus’s jurisdiction is more limited than the courts. Most institutions of higher education require some connection to the campus in order to address a violation of the code.
Yet another difference is that the hearing process on the WSU campus is an administrative hearing and not a trial, and as such not adversarial in nature. Therefore, the hearing process through the Office for Student Life and Development does not have the same procedures as a criminal trial. While students may have a third party present at their hearing, the student must speak for themselves. This is mainly to preserve the educational nature of university disciplinary hearings. It is important for students to represent themselves and to explain their conduct to others.
Finally, as the citizenship education process is considered an educational tool, the sanctions imposed tend to focus on repairing harm to the community, to victims, and to the institution as a whole. They also take into account what the accused student needs to learn from the situation. The process focuses on helping the student understand why their behavior violated community standards and how the person can avoid making the same mistake again. It is also focused on helping the student see how the instances of misconduct affect others. These are generally not addressed in the criminal process. However, where weapons or violence are involved, students may be facing separation from the institution. In these instances, the campus’s primary concern is maintaining a safe environment and an educational response would not be appropriate.
Does being convicted on campus give you a criminal record?
Can criminal charges be filed at the same time as a campus complaint?
What are the appeal rights in the WSU Conduct system?
Student may appeal any decisions made by a Judicial hearing board. Once a decision has been made, the student has a finite amount of time to file a notice of appeal. Appeals, however, are generally limited to specific conditions. Generally, some reasons for granting an appeal include:
- Procedural error;
- New evidence not available during the hearing;
- The conclusion reached was not supported by the information provided in the hearing; or
- The sanction imposed is unduly severe compared to the nature of the violation.
In most student conduct processes, a student is not granted an appeal automatically if the student objects to the outcome of a hearing – one or more of the above conditions must be satisfied.
How long does it take to resolve a case?
Do colleges and universities have any written policy about information from student records that can be shared with a parent?
Where can I find more information about FERPA?
What records does FERPA cover?
What protection does FERPA give to students concerning their records?
ü Right to Request to Amend Educational Records
ü Right to have some control over the Disclosure of Information from educational records (“Personally Identifiable Information” or information that would directly identify the student or make the person’s identity easily traceable).
What does FERPA require of colleges and universities?
ü Protect Students’ Rights to Inspect and Review Records
ü Protect Students’ Rights to Request to Amend Records
ü Protect Students’ Rights to Limit Disclosure of Personal Identifiable Information contained in Educational Records
ü Ensure that authorized third parties do not redistribute personally identifiable information, except under a few circumstances
ü Maintain records of requests for and disclosures of student education records
What does it mean to say a record is ‘protected’ by FERPA?
There appears to be many exceptions to FERPA release of records, do any apply to parents and guardians?
ü To the public, the final results of a disciplinary hearing against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (disclosure permitted, not required) (Foley Amendment)
ü To parents/legal guardians of students under 21, if students are found to have violated the alcohol or drug policy of the institution (Warner Amendment)
ü Some states have determined conduct records are not educational records and are public information
Many of these are permissible exceptions and are not required.
How can I learn how my child is doing?
I had easy access to my student’s high school records, why don’t I have the same access to records kept by the university?
Why do I have limited access to my child’s college records when I’m paying the college expenses?
Will I be notified if my child is hurt or in danger?
How will I know if my child is subject to university disciplinary action?
Information gathered from the Association for Student Judicial Affairs