Student Conduct FAQs
Below are common questions received by the Office of Student Conduct. If you have additional questions, please email the office at StudentConduct@psu.edu or call at 814-863-0342.
- What is the Student Code of Conduct, to whom does it apply and how can students be informed about the Code?
The Code of Conduct is a set of expectations by which all Penn State students are required to abide. It applies to all students, including undergraduates, graduates, full-time, part-time, and World Campus students. Students are advised to acquaint themselves with the Code of Conduct and with the rules and regulations associated with University housing. Additionally, faculty can invite Office of Student Conduct staff into their classroom to deliver presentations about the Code, the conduct process or any special topics related to the Office’s services. Lastly, students will need to complete the Know the Code quiz at the start of their first semester.
- I was involved in an incident of misconduct. What can I expect?
You will be required to make an appointment with an Office of Student Conduct or Residence Life case manager, who will talk to you about what happened and, through that conversation, determine what, if any, violations of the Code of Conduct occurred. If it is determined that you are responsible for a violation, the case manager will assign sanctions. See Students and Organizations for more information.
- What are some of the sanctions commonly assigned for Code of Conduct violations and how are they decided upon?
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. If, at the conclusion of the conduct conference, the respondent believes that one or more of the sanctions that were assigned are not justified by the nature of the violation or are not within the guidelines of the University for the charge, and the sanction is conduct probation with transcript notation or a form of separation, the respondent may contest the sanction and request a sanction review. See Contesting a Charge or Sanction.
- What happens if I don't cooperate with the conduct process?
It behooves you to participate in the process so that your voice may be heard and information you feel is important may be considered. However, you may refuse to participate actively. In that case, a decision will be made based on the information the case manager has, and if it is determined you are responsible, charges and sanctions will be assigned to you. You would still have the opportunity to challenge the outcome through a sanction review (depending on the sanction) or a hearing. See Contesting a Charge or Sanction.
- Why are students accountable to a Code of Conduct if they are legally an adult?
The Code exists to maintain 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 and/or honor code governing student behavior. The many privileges associated with being a Penn State student, and eventually an alumnus, mean that you 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:
- Personal and academic integrity,
- Respect for the dignity of all persons and a willingness to learn from the differences in people, ideas, and opinions,
- Respect for the rights, property, and safety of others,
- Concern for others and their feelings and their need for conditions that support an environment where they can work, grow, and succeed at Penn State.
- Can I be held accountable to the Code of Conduct if I was not found 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 your separate obligations to state and federal law. Therefore, whether or not you are found guilty in court has no impact on the Penn State conduct process.
- Will I have a conduct record if I am involved in an incident of misconduct?
If you are charged by the University and accept responsibility, or if you are found responsible for charges, a discipline record is created. The record is considered part of your educational record and is kept for seven (7) years past your date of graduation. It can be reported outside the University for three (3) years after graduation. Your record can also be disclosed to parties inside the University at any time if it is determined that they have a legitimate educational interest. Your record can be shared with you at any time, released to a court of law via subpoena, and in certain, limited circumstances may also be shared with your parents or legal guardians.
In the two semesters before a student’s graduation or any time thereafter, a student may request that his/her conduct record not be externally disclosed. If approved, the conduct record would no longer be externally disclosed but would continue to be maintained. This decision shall be at the sole discretion of the Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct at University Park (or his/her designee at another Penn State campus) and shall include the entire record (i.e., no partial deletions are allowed).
See Conduct Records for more information.
- What is the policy about incidents that occur off-campus?
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 law violations or student misconduct will be reviewed by the University. Upon receipt of a report alleging off-campus student misconduct, the Senior Director of the Office of Student Conduct or his/her designee will review the allegations and if necessary consult with a Senior Student Affairs Administrator to determine the appropriate course of action by the University. See the Off-Campus Conduct Policy for more information.
- I am a victim of another student’s misconduct. What should I do?
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or 814-863-1111 (on campus) to summon assistance. Otherwise, you may complete the online Incident Report Form. Doing this does not commit you to being a part of a formal conduct process against another student, but may provide the opportunity to do so if a case develops. The case manager will gather information and, if necessary, put into motion a formal conduct process. The case manager can also help you access resources and victim services. A list of other resources at the University is available at Additional Services.
- Can someone accompany a student to a conduct conference?
Students may be accompanied by any person of their choosing to a regular conduct conference with a case manager. The student is expected to speak on his or her own behalf and parents, family members, advisers or attorneys may not disrupt proceedings or speak on behalf of the students. Please call ahead if someone will be accompanying a student to a conference, so arrangements can be made for space. In regard to hearings, 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.
- As a parent or guardian, 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.
- 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 conduct response to an alcohol violation depends upon the details of the incident, any prior discipline history, and the conversation that takes place with the student in a conduct 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.
- All incoming first-year students are required to complete an online education and learning module that provides detailed information about alcohol, including the effects alcohol has on mind and body, alcohol-related state laws, and university policies related to alcohol consumption.
- A mandatory alcohol education program known as the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is assigned for all students who are charged with an alcohol violation for the first time.
- The Penn State Commission for Substance Abuse Preventions (CSAP) has been created to support the campuses in identifying, implementing, and delivering evidence-based strategies for alcohol and other drug prevention.
- What should I do if I am concerned about a student's behavior?
If you are concerned about an immediate or serious threat, call 911 or contact the Behavior Threat Management Team at Penn State. If you believe that a student's behavior constitutes a violation of the Code of Conduct, are concerned about a disturbing interaction you've had with a student, or are concerned about a classroom disruption that occurred, you can report an incident and bring the behavior to the attention of the Office of Student Conduct in the form of an allegation of student misconduct. See Faculty and Staff for information on addressing classroom disruptions and managing student mental health concerns. You can also report an incident here.
- What services do you provide for resolving disputes involving students?
Students may invite faculty and staff members to participate in a formal mediation to resolve disputes. Mediation is a process in which two individuals or groups meet to resolve a conflict with the facilitation and help of a neutral third party. Mediators are trained to assist people in airing their concerns, clearing up misunderstandings, and arriving at a resolution that is agreeable to both parties. Mediation sessions at Penn State are conducted confidentially and safely by trained mediators. Information about how to request a mediation.
- How does the Office of Student Conduct handle Academic Integrity issues?
In most cases, a faculty member would begin by discussing the issue with the student and providing the student an opportunity to respond. If an academic integrity violation is suspected, the faculty member may file an Academic Integrity Form and specify and charge and sanction. The student then has the choice to accept or contest the charge. If the academic violation is considered extreme, the faculty member may opt to pursue a disciplinary action in conjunction with the college’s AI Committee and the Office of Student Conduct. In situations where the allegation is referred to the Office of Student Conduct, the academic sanctions will be carried out by the office in consultation with the campus or college Academic Integrity Committee. Once a student has been informed that academic dishonesty is suspected, the student may not drop the course during the adjudication process. A student who has received an academic sanction as a result of a violation of academic integrity may not drop or withdraw from the course at any time. Possible sanctions range from a loss of points on an assignment to a disciplinary warning to disciplinary probation or suspension. Another possible sanction is the assigning of an XF grade, which is a notation of academic dishonesty that is placed on a student’s transcript for a period of time, or until specified conditions have been met. At that time, the “X” will be removed and the “F” will remain on the transcript. The notation is reserved for the most serious breaches of academic integrity, which may include repeat misconduct. See Faculty and Staff for additional information.
- What other services are offered by the Office of Student Conduct?
Office of Student Conduct case managers can help you access referrals to student services on and off campus, including counseling, sexual assault information and services, alcohol and drug education programs, mediation and conflict resolution, legal services, and more. You may also request a presentation or workshop for your class, department, or student organization. Please call the Office of Student Conduct and ask to speak to a case manager to discuss how we can help connect you with what you need. Visit Additional Services for more information.
- How can I get involved with the Office of Student Conduct as a volunteer?
Faculty, staff and students are able to work with the Office of Student Conduct in various volunteer capacities, to include serving on hearing boards as well as conduct advisers. If you are interested in volunteering or you wish to recommend an individual to become a volunteer, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pre-Admission: What happens if I answer yes to having a criminal or disciplinary history?
Please note that answering affirmatively does NOT automatically preclude the applicant from admission. The vast majority of pre-admission reviews of applicants who indicate they have a criminal history are actually approved for admission consideration. If an applicant answers yes to the criminal or disciplinary history questions, the matter will be referred to Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct. The Office of Student Conduct may then conduct a review of the information. The review may include, but is not limited to, reviewing the information that is initially provided, as well as any other information that is requested, including probationary or parole expectations and considerations, criminal dispositions, records from previous institutions, and any other information that is necessary to evaluate what occurred and the applicant’s readiness to attend Penn State. See Conduct Records for more information.