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Code of Conduct & Student Conduct Procedures

Code of Conduct and Student Conduct Procedures (downloadable file)

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Section I: Introduction

Section II: Definitions

Section III: Authority

Section IV: The Code of Conduct

Section V: Student Conduct Disciplinary Procedures

Section VI: Protocol for Violations of Academic Integrity

Section VII: Disciplinary Records

Section VIII: Interpretation and Review

Section I: Introduction

This document outlines the standard procedures and practices of the University discipline process. To be fully aware of their individual rights and responsibilities in this process, students are encouraged to review all of the materials on the Office of Student Conduct website (http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/conduct).

The Office of Student Conduct strives to deliver a student discipline process that is equitable, just, educational, effective and expeditious; and to provide a system that promotes student growth through individual responsibility and in which the success of its educational endeavors is characterized by increased civility.

The Office of Student Conduct supports the University’s educational mission by promoting a safe, orderly and positive University climate through enforcing behavioral standards, enacting and facilitating intervention efforts, managing disciplinary proceedings, mentoring students, developing leadership, delivering informational programming and fostering peer education. We hope to create a University culture that is self-disciplined, where civility is embraced, and the norms and foundational beliefs validate the essential values of Penn State University, namely

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Section II: Definitions



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Section III: Authority

A. Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct

  1. The Senior Director and his/her designees are specifically authorized by the President of the University to have the responsibility and authority to carry out, interpret and direct the processes of the student conduct system.  The Senior Director shall develop policies for the administration of the student conduct system and procedures for the University Conduct Board and Administrative Hearings that are consistent with the provisions of the Code of Conduct.
  2. The Senior Director may review and reverse any resolution of a Disciplinary Conference or Administrative Hearing.
  3. The Senior Director may make minor modifications to sanctions assigned by the University Conduct Board. 
  4. The Senior Director or designee reserves the right to issue, in writing, an administrative directive or condition that requires adherence to specific behavioral actions.
  5. The Senior Director or designee may restrict an individual from participating as an advisor in a hearing when he determines that an advisor's presence, based on the advisor's prior relationship or interactions with either the respondent or complainant, is reasonably likely to cause significant emotional distress or to create significant disruption.
  6. The Senior Director has the authority to delay a student’s graduation and/or hold or revoke degrees until, or after, a pending discipline matter has been resolved.
  7. The Senior Director or designee reserves the right to convene a conference and/or hearing, prior to re-enrollment, for a student facing pending University charges. This will normally take place at the conclusion of criminal proceedings.
  8. On behalf of the University, in limited circumstances, the Senior Director or designee may request a review of the decision(s) of the University Conduct Board or Title IX Decision Panel within five (5) University business days following the date that the student receives official notification of the results.

B. Hearing Decisions

Decisions made by a University Conduct Board or Administrative Hearing Officer are final pending the normal review and appeal process.


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Section IV: The Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct describes behaviors that are inconsistent with the essential values of the University community.  Any student found to have committed, to have attempted to commit, or to have assisted in the misconduct listed in the Code of Conduct may be subject to the disciplinary sanctions outlined in Section V, E.  A person engages in an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific violation of the Code of Conduct, he/she performs any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that violation.  Registered student organizations are held accountable for misconduct listed in the Code of Conduct through the applicable conduct process.

At the direction of the Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct and in coordination with the Senior Director of Residence Life, minor to moderate level incidents that occur in or around the residence halls that involve students living in on-campus housing will typically be managed by Residence Life staff.  Incidents involving moderate violations, including repeated behaviors, and all incidents involving major violations will be managed by the Office of Student Conduct. 

While the University has a primary duty regarding behavior on its premises, there are many circumstances where the off-campus behavior of students is of Substantial University Interest and warrants disciplinary action. 

The Pennsylvania State University expects students to conduct themselves in accordance with the law. Student behavior off the premises of the campus that may have violated any local, state, or federal law, or yields a complaint from others alleging violations of the law or the Student Code of Conduct will be reviewed by the University. Upon receipt of a complaint alleging off-campus student misconduct, the Senior Director or his/her designee will review the allegations to determine the appropriate course of action by the University.

Student conduct committed off the campus which affects a Substantial University Interest is behavior that

Any off-campus student behavior that affects a Substantial University Interest and violates the Code of Conduct is subject to disciplinary action following standard University procedures.

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B. The Code of Conduct

1. ABUSE/ENDANGERMENT/HAZING OF A PERSON: Physically harming or threatening to harm any person, intentionally or recklessly causing harm to any person or reasonable apprehension of such harm or creating a condition that endangers the health and safety of self or others, including through the facilitation of or participation in any mental or physical hazing activity (also see Policy Statement 8).

2. SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND MISCONDUCT:  Engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to substantially interfere with the individual’s employment, education, or access to University programs, activities and opportunities, and such conduct would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances.  Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence (as described in AD-85).

Sexual misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and refers to attempted or completed unwanted or non-consensual sexual activity, including, but not limited to the following: rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, forcible sodomy, sexual penetration with an inanimate object, intercourse without consent, sexual touching and fondling, the touching of an unwilling person's intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast or buttock, or clothing covering those intimate parts), forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts, sexual exploitation, and sexual coercion.

3. HARASSMENT:  Engaging in behavior that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to threaten an individual or substantially interfere with the individual’s employment, education or access to University programs, activities or opportunities, and such behavior would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances. (also see Policies AD-85) 

Behaviors that meet the above definition may include, but are not limited to, the following:

engaging in a course of conduct, including following the person without proper authority (e.g., stalking), under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or to suffer emotional distress.

4. WEAPONS, EXPLOSIVES AND OTHER DANGEROUS ITEMS: The possession, storing, carrying, or use of any weapon, ammunition, or explosive by any person is prohibited on all University property except by authorized law enforcement officers and other persons specifically authorized by the University. No person shall possess, carry, or use any fireworks on University property, except for those persons authorized by University and local governments to discharge such fireworks as part of a public display. Paintball guns and paintball markers may only be used on the property of the University in connection with authorized University activities and only at approved locations (also see SY-12).

5. FIRE SAFETY VIOLATIONS: Tampering with fire or other safety equipment or setting unauthorized fires. Exhibiting behaviors that risk health and safety of self or others during a fire related incident.  Burning candles, incense or other items in the Residence Halls or other University facilities, whether attended or unattended. (See SY10, SY28, SY30)

6. ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS: Illegally possessing, using, distributing, manufacturing, selling or being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.  Anyone, including those under 21, serving alcohol to persons under 21 is in violation of both University regulations and state law.  Excessive consumption of alcohol is also prohibited and occurs when a person is intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger self, other persons, or property, or annoy persons in the vicinity.  Use, possession or distribution of beverages containing alcohol on University property shall comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and University Policies and Rules. (also see Policies AD-18, AD-33 and Policy Statement 3).

It is also a violation of the residence hall contract for a student to be in the presence of alcohol and/or illegal drugs in any residential area (also see http://www.hfs.psu.edu/housing/undergraduates/tcrsreshalls.shtml#policies )

7. FALSE INFORMATION: Intentionally providing false or inaccurate information or records to University or local authorities. Providing a false report of an emergency, University rule and/or Code violation.  Knowingly providing false statements or testimony during a University investigation or proceeding.

8. THEFT AND POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY: Stealing or being in possession of items belonging to another individual or entity.  The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear.

9. DISRUPTION OF OPERATIONS: Obstruction or disruption of classes, research projects, or other activities or programs of the University; or obstructing access to University facilities, property, or programs. Disruption is defined as an action or combination of actions by one or more individuals that unreasonably interferes with, hinders, obstructs, or prevents the operation of the University or infringes on the rights of others to freely participate in its programs and services (also see Policy Statement 1).

10. VIOLATIONS OF ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.  Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Violations of Academic Integrity include, but are not limited to, copying, plagiarism, fabrication of information or citations, facilitation of acts of academic dishonesty by others, unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, and tampering with the academic work of other students (also see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20 and G-9 Procedures).

Special Procedures are used to address violations of academic integrity.  (See Section V: Protocol for Violations of Academic Integrity)

11. FAILURE TO COMPLY: Failing to comply with reasonable directives from University or other officials when directed to do so. Failure to provide identification or to report to an administrative office or, when reasonable cause exists, failing to leave University-controlled premises or dangerous situations when directed to do so by properly authorized persons, including police and/or other University staff. Failing to complete sanctions assigned as part of the conduct process.

12. FORGERY/ALTERATION: Making, using or possessing any falsified University document or official record; altering or forging any University or official document or record, including identification, meal or access cards. This includes but is not limited to forging documents (signing another’s name and/or ID number), manufacturing IDs or tickets, altering parking permits, misusing of forms (letterhead stationery, University forms) to mislead.

      13. UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY OR USE: Unauthorized entry into or use of property or University facilities including private residences, offices, residence halls, classrooms, computers, computer networks, and other restricted facilities. Unauthorized entry or use of facilities is described in more detail in those University policies regarding the rights of individuals and the rights of the institution. Specifically, students have an “obligation not to infringe upon the rights of all members of the campus to privacy in offices, laboratories and residence hall rooms, and in the keeping of personal papers, confidential records and effects, subject only to the general law and University regulations.”  The University also has the right to control use and entry into facilities for reasons of security, safety or protection of property. This includes closing facilities at specified times. It should also be recognized that an open or unlocked door is not an invitation to enter and use facilities. The same concept applies to computer entry or misuse, including violation of any University computer policy (also see Policy AD-20 and Policy Statement 4).

14. DISORDERLY CONDUCT: Engaging in disorderly, disruptive, lewd or indecent conduct, including but not limited to creating unreasonable noise; creating a physically hazardous or physically offensive condition, inciting or participating in a riot or group disruption; failing to leave the scene of a riot or group disruption when instructed by officials; or disruption of programs, classroom activities or functions and processes of the University.

15. VIOLATIONS OF UNIVERSITY REGULATIONS: Violating written University policy or regulations contained in any official publications, administrative announcements, contracts (e.g., residence hall contracts or leases) and/or postings.

16. VIOLATION OF LAW: When it is established that a student has violated federal, state, or local law and the violation of law affects a Substantial University Interest, the student may be charged within the Code of Conduct for Violation of Law.   

17. RETALIATION: Taking adverse action against any individual on the basis of a good faith report made by such individual, or on the basis of such individual’s participation in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry by the University or an appropriate authority, or the individual’s participation in a court proceeding relating to suspected wrongful conduct.  (See Policy AD-67)



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C. Code of Conduct and Violations of Law


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Section V: Student Conduct Disciplinary Procedures (For violations of Academic Integrity, see Section VI.)

A. Reports, Disciplinary Conferences, Advisors and Charges

  1. Anyone may report that a student violated the Code of Conduct.  Any report should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place and will be directed to a Case Manager.
  2. After a report is filed, the Case Manager will meet with the respondent in a Conference. The Conference is an informal, non-adversarial meeting intended to allow the Case Manager to examine the complaint, listen to the respondent, discuss circumstances regarding the incident, and address the respondent’s questions. The respondent will also be informed of the conduct process.  (In cases involving allegations of Title IX violations, Special Protocols for Title IX Allegations (Section V, Subsection D) will be implemented.)
  3. Students have the right to be accompanied by an advisor. 

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B. Hearings


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C. Special Protocol for Crimes of Violence (as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Appendix A), excepting potential Title IX violations (see Section 5, D)

In cases involving a person alleging he/she is the complainant of a potential crime of violence, the following additional procedures will be followed.

D. Special Protocols for Title IX Allegations (see also AD-85):

When a University conduct process is initiated for a case involving a potential Title IX violation, the following additional procedures will be followed in a timely manner, typically within 60 days of receipt of the complaint of misconduct. Alternatively, as of 02/24/2015, if the Senior Director determines that the investigative model articulated in Section V, Subsection D.2 should be utilized to manage the case, he will refer the case to that process.

1. Traditional Model

2. Investigative Model

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E. Sanctions

Primary Administrative Sanctions:

CONDUCT CONVERSATION:  A conduct conversation is used in limited circumstances in very minor level cases.  It is formal documentation that the student’s misconduct has been discussed and future violations may result in further discipline action.

CONDUCT WARNING:  A conduct warning is an indication to a student that his/her   conduct violated the Code of Conduct and that further misconduct will result in more severe disciplinary action. 

CONDUCT PROBATION: Conduct probation is assigned for a specified period of time and is intended to foster reflection, responsibility, and improved decision-making. Additional conditions and/or educational programs may be assigned as a component of the probation. Future established misconduct, failure to comply with any conditions or to complete any assignments may lead to a more severe disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion.

Conduct probation may be recorded on the official University transcript when, either due to the serious nature of the offense or when a student’s disciplinary history is significant, the Office of Student Conduct determines a notation is merited. 

CONDUCT SUSPENSION: Disciplinary suspension from the University is assigned for a specified period of time. A suspended student is precluded from registration, participation in any class, activity or program of the University, and residence on campus. In addition, the student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director or designee. During the period of the suspension, a notation will appear on the student’s official University transcript.

INDEFINITE EXPULSION:  Indefinite expulsion from the University is for a period of not less than one calendar year, and re-enrollment must be approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee at University Park or by the Chancellor at other campus locations. During a period of indefinite expulsion, a student is precluded from registration, participation in any class, activity or program of the University, and residence on campus.. In addition, the student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director or designee. If a student wishes to return to the University after the period of his or her indefinite expulsion, he/she must request re-enrollment (in writing) from the Senior Director or designee. During the period of the expulsion, a notation will appear on the student’s official University transcript.

EXPULSION:  Expulsion of a student from the University is permanent.  A student is precluded from registration, participation in any class, activity or program of the University, and residence on campus. In addition, the student is prohibited from using or visiting University facilities unless special permission is obtained from the Senior Director or designee. Expulsion requires administrative review and approval by the President.  The sanction of expulsion is permanently noted on a student’s official University transcript.

XF GRADE: See Violations of Academic Integrity

Secondary Administrative Sanctions:

HOUSING REVIEW:   Housing Review is implemented when an on-campus student has either breached the terms and conditions of his/her housing contract/lease agreement or has engaged in inappropriate behavior in or near the residence halls.  This review is for a specified period of time with the understanding that any further breach of the conditions of their housing contract/lease agreement, during the time specified, may result in an extension of review of housing contract or a termination of a student’s housing contract, or a notice of non-renewal of a lease agreement.  A housing review will typically be assigned in conjunction with other administrative sanctions. 

ROOM REASSIGNMENT:   A student is relocated from one housing assignment to another residence hall assignment.  This may be a temporary or permanent change of assignment.   This sanction should be made after consultation with the residence life staff member.  This sanction can be assigned independently or in conjunction with other administrative and active sanctions.

LOSS OF HOUSING:  Loss of housing permanently separates a student from the University housing program.  This separation is typically immediate.

LOSS OF PRIVILEGE: Loss of Privilege involves the withdrawal of the use of service, participation in an activity, or withdrawal of privileges consistent with offense(s). Loss of privilege may be imposed separately or in addition to other sanctions.  

Active Sanctions:

Active sanctions are sanctions that the University reserves the right to assign to students in addition to administrative sanctions.  These include, but are not limited to the following: administrative directives, alcohol or drug education, counseling, reflection papers, projects, decision-making workshops/modules, meetings with staff or others, restitution, and sanctioned service.

Other Sanctions:

The University reserves the right to impose other sanctions in addition to those listed above in response to specific circumstances of a case. 


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F. Interim Actions

In situations where there is a need for immediate action to alleviate concerns for safety, to help ensure the well-being of members of the University community, or to prevent the disruption of normal campus operations, the University community, or management of a residential facility, case managers may assign appropriate interim actions. Interim actions assigned should be reviewed by the Senior Director of Student Conduct or designee. Interim actions assigned by Residence Life case managers that only impact a student’s ability to live in the residence hall or room assignment may be reviewed by the Senior Director for Residence Life or designee. Interim actions may include, but are not limited to, administrative directives, residence hall room reassignment, contract termination, mandated assessment, or restriction from parts of campus.

On rare occasion, the Office of Student Conduct may become aware of a student whose continued participation within the University community may pose an immediate threat to the student or others or may pose an imminent threat of disruption to normal campus operations.  If the Senior Director or designee reasonably believes that such a threat is posed, an interim suspension may be assigned.  


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G. Sanction Reviews and Appeals

Sanction Reviews


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Section VI: Protocol for Violations of Academic Integrity

A. Initial Process

Although Violations of Academic Integrity are included in the Code, the management of these cases is handled by faculty and the college or campus academic integrity committee.  All procedures must conform to the G-9 Procedures established by the Faculty Senate.  The procedures may be found at http://www.psu.edu/oue/aappm/G-9.html.

B. Role of the Office of Student Conduct

When an academic integrity committee recommends that a student receive a discipline sanction in addition to the academic sanction assigned by the faculty or academic integrity committee, then a Student Conduct Case Manager will manage that aspect of the case.  Consideration will be given to the sanction recommended by the committee.  The Case Manager will meet with the student in a disciplinary conference to discuss the additional discipline sanction.  The student will have the right to request a sanction review for the discipline sanction per the procedures in which will be implemented as outlined in Section F1 Sanction Review.

C. Record Keeping

All records related to cases involving Violations or Academic Integrity are maintained by the Office of Student Conduct according to the procedures outlined in Section VI, Discipline Records.

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Section VII: Disciplinary Records

A. Maintenance of Student Records


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Section VIII: Interpretation and Review

A. Interpretation

Any question of interpretation or application of the Code of Conduct shall be referred to the Senior Director for final determination.

B. Review

Feedback related to the Code of Conduct or any student conduct procedure should be directed to the Senior Director.

A formal review of the Code of Conduct and the student discipline process and procedures will occur every three years under the direction of the Senior Director.

Downloadable versions of this document are available upon request by contacting the Office of Student Conduct

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