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FAQ for Families and/or Parents

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What is the purpose of the Code of Conduct and Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct?

The Code of Conduct exists to assist in maintaining a civil and safe community in which all Penn Staters can live and learn. Most colleges and universities, including all of the Big 10 schools, have a conduct code governing student behavior. The many privileges associated with being a Penn State student, and eventually an alumnus, mean that students have a corresponding responsibility to maintain the values and ethical standards of behavior befitting a proud member of this community. The conduct process administered by the Office of Student Conduct is designed to foster growth and learning through holding students accountable for their behavior. The goal of the Office of Student Conduct is to create a community in which students’ actions validate the essential values of Penn State University:

What are some of the sanctions commonly assigned for Code of Conduct violations?

Sanctions are assigned based upon the nature of the misconduct, its impact on the community, individual student factors, and any prior discipline history. Administrative sanctions may include a formal warning, a period of probation, or some kind of separation from the University among other options. Additionally, an educational program or component will typically be included in order to further help the student learn and grow as he or she moves forward from the incident.

How can my student make sure he or she is not in violation of the Code of Conduct?

Students are advised to acquaint themselves with the Code of Conduct and with the rules and regulations associated with University housing.

Can I accompany my student to a discipline conference with Office of Student Conduct?

Students may be accompanied by any person of their choosing to a regular discipline conference with a case manager. The student is expected to speak on his or her own behalf and parents or family members may not disrupt proceedings or speak on behalf of the students. Please call ahead if you will be accompanying your student to a conference, so arrangements can be made for space. Individuals who are not part of the University community (holders of a valid PSU ID card) may not be present at a hearing; however, parents may wait outside the hearing room for the duration of the hearing if they wish.

How can I best support my student through this process?

The best response to your student's misconduct is to be supportive while encouraging them to accept accountability for their decisions and actions. You may want to advocate for your student by helping them seek any and all resources at Penn State that may be helpful to them. Additionally, your student would be best served by being allowed to make his or her own decisions and arrangements in the resolution of the conduct process. This means letting them set their own appointments, ask their own questions, and collecting all the important information they need to complete their sanctions and avoid future misconduct. When family members and guardians intervene on the student's behalf, it is not generally educational for the student, nor is it an effective or efficient way to move through the conduct process.

Can students be held accountable to the Code of Conduct if they were found not guilty in court?

The student conduct process addresses your obligations to Penn State University and the Code of Conduct. Any legal process in the courts or with a criminal case relates to similar but separate obligations to state and federal law. Therefore, there may be cases in which the student is held accountable by Penn State for behavior that was not prosecuted, or was not prosecuted successfully, in court (and vice versa).

I received a letter that my student was found responsible for a Code of Conduct violation. What should I do?

The Office of Student Conduct recommends that your first response upon receiving a letter is to have a conversation with your student. If, after speaking with your student, you have further questions, you may contact the Office of Student Conduct. For more information that may be helpful in understanding the content of your notification letter, please see "Terms to Know."

What is the University’s policy related to alcohol and how are alcohol violations handled?

Students are held accountable by the Office of Student Conduct for alcohol violations that occur on and off campus. As with all misconduct, the disciplinary response to an alcohol violations depends upon the details of the incident, any prior discipline history, and the conversation that takes place with the student in a discipline conference. In order to address the issue of problem drinking among Penn State students, the University has implemented a number of programs intended to educate students about alcohol and reduce problem drinking.

You can review the University's alcohol policy in greater detail and to learn more about the typical responses to alcohol violations.

120 Boucke Building | 814.863.0342 | Contact the Office of Student Conduct