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Frequently Asked Questions

So, what are the rules?  

The primary “rules” are found in the Student Code of Conduct. Students are also responsible for following other university policies and expectations which apply to them. These additional “rules” can be found in a variety of places, including class syllabi, departmental policies, on-campus housing contracts and leases, and the university's policy repository

Something has happened and I need to report it. What should I do?  

You may report a concern to the University office which is best able to assist you on the Report a Concern page. Please be aware, reporting forms are not monitored outside of university business hours. If this is an emergency, please contact University Police at 814-863-1111 or call 911. 

To report an incident alleging a Code violation involving any student or student organization at Penn State, you may submit a report directly to the Office of Student Accountability and Conflict Response using this online form.  

If I report or disclose something to OSACR, will it be kept private or confidential?

The Office of Student Accountability & Conflict Response (OSACR) recognizes that parties and other participants are often concerned about the privacy of information. Student conduct records are considered education records and are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As such, information gathered by OSACR may be shared with those who have a “need to know” the information to facilitate the student conduct process, provide support to those involved, and/or make mandated reports (e.g., reporting sexual harassment or child abuse). The University may also need to disclose information to comply with the law (e.g., response to a lawfully issued subpoena or court order). For more information about retention and disclosure of student conduct records, see the Student Resources webpage.

I answered “yes” to having a criminal or conduct history during the admissions process. What happens next? 

The presence of prior conduct or criminal history DOES NOT automatically preclude you from enrollment. In fact, the majority of enrollment conduct reviews of persons who indicate a criminal or conduct history are approved through our review process. However, in some circumstances, the review may result in the student being denied admission. For more information, please review our Enrollment Conduct Review page

I need to request my conduct records. What should I do?  

Please refer to the Disclosure of Records protocol.  

I have a student conduct-related hold on my student account. What should I do?  

You should email your case manager directly for assistance with student conduct-related holds. If you are unsure about who your case manager is, please check your “@psu.edu” email account for Maxient Correspondence from your case manager prior to contacting OSACR for assistance. If you still need assistance, please email studentaccountability@psu.edu with your full name, your student ID number, and a screenshot of your “Holds” screen in LionPath. 

I called the office several times and no one picked up. What should I do?

We have found that sometimes people are uncomfortable leaving voicemails and would rather call repeatedly until someone answers. This is not an effective way to contact our office. Please leave a message – including your name, phone number, and, if applicable, your student ID – and someone will return your call within one business day. Remember, we can’t call you back if you don’t tell us who you are or how to reach you. 

Can I get in trouble off-campus? 

In addition to incidents that occur on university property or within a university-sponsored activity, the Code may also be applied to your actions or behaviors that take place off-campus. The University may apply the Code to behavior that occurs elsewhere when the University can demonstrate a clear and distinct interest as an academic institution regardless of where the conduct occurs, and which: (a) Causes substantial disruption to the University community or any of its members; (b) Involves academic work or any University records, documents, or identifications; Seriously threatens the health or safety of any person, or; (d) Constitutes a violation of local, state, or federal law. 

How much evidence do you need to find me guilty? 

Students are not “found guilty.” Rather, there is a determination regarding whether a violation occurred based on the preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) standard following a thorough review of available and relevant information about the incident. This standard is different than the burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, used in most criminal courts. 

While many university expectations of conduct parallel the laws of society in general, there are significant differences between the conduct process and criminal justice procedures. Students should expect a supportive and non-adversarial environment during the process. The university focuses primarily on educating students about their behavior but may impose administrative sanctions to preserve a safe and healthy environment for the university community. 

Are you going to tell my parents or family about my conduct case? 

It depends. In some circumstances, it is important to involve parents or guardians to support and encourage their students to reflect, develop, and grow. Such situations where notification may be appropriate include when the case involves underage alcohol or drug use, indicates a significant health or safety concern to yourself or others, and/or impacts your status as a student. Your case manager will discuss with you if your conduct case may result in a parent/guardian notification. Find more information about notification and disclosure to parents and guardians on the Office of Student Accountability& Conflict Response Resources for Families website.

Why didn’t I get the same action plan as my friends? 

Action plans typically include both outcomes and sanctions, are individually developed, and are intended to be educational in nature. Outcomes and sanctions are determined based on several factors including the nature of the incident, your conduct history, and your input during the process. Outcomes may include educational courses, substance use assessments, reflection papers, educational projects, or community restitution service. Egregious or repeated misconduct could result in an elevated administrative sanction such as conduct probation, removal from the residence halls, suspension, expulsion, and/or negative notation on your transcript.