What are the Community Standards?
The Community Standards Student Handbook is a document that contains all the policies and procedures relating to the student conduct process, including the Student Code of Conduct and other important policies. The Community Standards Student Handbook applies to all GSU students, as defined in the document. The Community Standards Student Handbook is available online: www.govst.edu/handbook
What is an Alleged Conduct Violation Letter?
If you receive a complaint letter, it means that Community Standards has received a report regarding an incident in which you may have been involved. Complaint letters include a list of possible violations of the Student Code of Conduct. The primary purpose of an Alleged Conduct Violation Letter is to notify students that they need to meet with Community Standards or the appropriate conduct administrator to discuss the incident. The meeting (called a conduct hearing) will be with an Administrative Hearing Officer (a University staff member authorized to hear alleged violations of the code) or the Student Conduct Committee (a board of students, staff, and faculty who hear alleged violations of the code) and decisions are not made about whether or not students are responsible for violations until the hearing. However, if you do not attend your hearing or notify Community Standards of your need to reschedule, a decision may be made based on the information available.
How is the Community Standards process different from criminal court proceedings?
The University student code process is not a criminal or judicial trial/practice. The purpose of the hearing is to determine what transpired during the incident and whether the Student Code of Conduct was violated, and if so, by whom. The hearing process is designed to educate students and hold them accountable for their conduct and decision-making. The standard of proof that applies to all University student conduct proceedings or determinations is a preponderance of the information. A finding of a violation of the Code of Conduct must be supported by evidence that is “more likely than not” that the violation was committed. The University bears the burden of proving the charges.
What kind of consequences/sanctions can be imposed?
Governors State University (GSU) has designed the system to educate all parties to the highest ethical standards of behavior. A student who is found in violation or admits that they violated a code would receive a sanction based on the severity of the behavior. Sanctions are meant to be educational in nature and range from warnings to probation to suspension or dismissal from GSU. Often, the sanction will include community service, an educational program, and/or a reflective essay. Students who fail to complete their assigned sanctions will have a hold placed on their student account, which prevents the student from registering.
Will my parents or family be contacted by the University if I file a report or if a report is filed against me?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects your educational records (including disciplinary records) from being accessed by others without your permission. However, there are exceptions that permit Community Standards to notify parents/guardians of the outcome of a student’s disciplinary case. The university reserves the right to notify parents/guardians if students for incidents involving
violations of the following policies: Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, Prescription/Over-the-Counter Medication, and in instances in which the student may be a threat to themselves or others.
Because not all cases result in this level of sanctioning, parents will not automatically be notified when their student becomes involved in the conduct process. However, if parents would like information regarding their student’s disciplinary history or status at the university from Community Standards, they can request that their student grant Community Standards written permission allowing the release of that information. Students should complete and submit the FERPA Waiver Form to give Community Standards permission to release information.
What does it mean if there is a "ODOS Hold" on my account?
An "ODOS Hold" is applied by the Office of the Dean of Students (ODOS) when students are not in compliance with the conduct process, typically resulting from failing to complete assigned sanctions. Students on hold cannot add classes, register for next semester, or receive transcripts from the university. If you are on hold and wish to have it lifted, contact Community Standards to find out what steps to take.
Can I expect confidentiality in my interactions with Community Standards?
Privacy is a crucial component of the Community Standards program. All information shared through the conduct process (hearings, meetings, etc.) will be kept private, with two exceptions: 1) If there is mention of a serious violation of the Community Standards or law, a staff member would be required to act upon this information as appropriate and to ensure the safety of the community. 2) If a staff member becomes aware that someone may be in danger of serious, imminent harm, they would be required to address the situation as appropriate to ensure the safety of the community.