Know the Code!

Know the Code!

Student Conduct Regulations

Office of Student Conduct Overview

The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) is responsible for interpreting and enforcing the Code of Conduct. In addition to maintaining the discipline process, OSC also serves as a resource to hold students accountable of their actions. So, if you are the victim of another student’s misconduct, you could work with the OSC to hold that student accountable for his/ her actions.

The purpose of student discipline is to maintain a healthy community where shared values, expectations, and behavioral standards set by the campus community and the Code of Conduct are embraced. With an educational focus, the discipline process established at Penn State does not follow the same procedures used in courtrooms. The University does not employ lawyers to “prosecute” students. Instead staff work with students in educating them in regard to what is expected of them as members of the University community.

When it is alleged that a student has engaged in behavior which violates the Code of Conduct, whether on or offcampus, the allegation will be documented and forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). A staff member of the Office of Student Conduct may then contact the student to schedule a Disciplinary Conference to discuss the situation.

What services does the Office of Student Conduct provide?

The Office of Student Conduct is responsible for implementing the Student Code of Conduct. Through Disciplinary Conferences, Administrative Hearings, and University Hearing Boards, the Office of Student Conduct responds to allegations of student misconduct.

In addition to implementing the Student Code of Conduct, the Office of Student Conduct also serves as another resource for victims. If you, or someone you know, have been the victim of a student’s misconduct, you can contact our office and a staff member will meet with you and review your options.

The Office of Student Conduct also provides workshops and programs on a variety of topics to help educate students on what is expected of them and what rights they are afforded as members of the University community.

Where do I go to file a complaint?

If you are a victim or witness of student misconduct and wish to file an allegation, you should go to the Office of Student Conduct located in the Susquehanna Building or contact the Office by phone at (717) 948-6260.

What are the specific sanctions for common offenses like underage drinking?

Offenses like underage drinking are sanctioned based on an established set of precedent guidelines. The Office of Student Conduct Designee will use the Code of Conduct and Precedent Guidelines in conjunction with the facts of the individual case when deciding whether or not to charge a student and determining the appropriate charge and sanction. For example, the range of sanctions for a first time underage alcohol violation is a Disciplinary Warning to Disciplinary Probation, completion of an alcohol education program, and Parental Notification is also considered.

What is the major difference between the Office of Student Conduct process and the traditional criminal process?

The process is educationally based with an emphasis on student development and accountability, where the goal of the criminal justice process is focused entirely on punishment. Therefore, the Office of Student Conduct professionals work with students who have been charged with violating the Student Code of Conduct through educational assignments like counseling or disciplinary probation instead of fines or incarceration like the traditional criminal process.

However, it is important to remember that it is possible to be sanctioned through the University process and be held accountable through the traditional criminal process depending upon the nature and/or location of the violation.

Can I still be charged with violating the Code of Conduct if the situation occurred off-campus?

The University does have an Off-Campus Misconduct Policy that states if a student is involved with a situation that could be a violation of the Code of Conduct and affects a Substantial University Interest, then it may warrant disciplinary action. This means that regardless of where the violation occurred, whether it is downtown Middletown or another state, a student may be charged by the University if that violation is reported to the University. See the University Off-Campus Misconduct Policy.

Can my parents be notified?

Yes, depending upon the severity of the charge and the implemented sanctions your parents may be notified of the charges and sanctions. Federal legislation allows Penn State to disclose records of disciplinary violations of federal, state, or local law governing use or possession of alcohol under the age of 21 or use of possession of controlled substances. During the Disciplinary Conference, the Designee will give you more information and will be able to tell you whether or not the situation warrants parental notification.

Please note that University Police do notify parents of students charged with an underage alcohol violation. This notification is separate from that the Office of Student Conduct may do at the conclusion of the process. See the University Parental Notification Policy.

What steps should I follow if I have been charged with an offense?

First, someone from the Office of Student Conduct will contact you via email or phone. It is very important that you respond promptly. Once you’ve contacted a staff member, they will set up a date and time for a Disciplinary Conference. It is important that you attend your Discipline Conference at the scheduled time.

It is equally important that if you were also cited by local or state police that you respond to that citation within ten days. The criminal process is separate from the University process and it is crucial that you respond to the citation given by local or state police.

What is my educational record?

Any information about a student that is kept by the University is part of the student’s educational records, which includes a student’s disciplinary record. These records are confidential and in most cases, the student’s permission is needed in order for the record to be released. Often this information is requested through background checks and/ or job references.

What information in my educational record is released?

If you are found responsible or accept responsibility for violating the Code of Conduct, the charge and sanction will be released. For more information, please consult the Student Discipline Records Policy.

If I have been sanctioned what will appear on my transcript?

If you receive a sanction of Disciplinary Probation with a Transcript Notation, Temporary Expulsion, and/or Indefinite Expulsion, that will be noted on your transcript while the sanction is in effect. After the sanction ends, the notation will be removed, however, the charge and sanction remain as part of your Disciplinary Record. If you receive a sanction of Permanent Expulsion, that information becomes a permanent notation on your transcript.

What will happen to my disciplinary records after graduation?

Your disciplinary records are kept in the Office of Student Conduct for seven years past your graduation, but only reported out for three years past your graduation. For more information, please consult the Student Discipline Records Policy.