University vs. Legal Process

The student conduct process is not attempting to determine whether a student has violated the law, but whether a student has violated the Standards for Student Conduct. Because of this, the outcome of a court proceeding has no bearing on the outcome of the conduct process. Further, the concept of “double jeopardy” does not apply, as criminal proceedings do not offer exemption from civil or administrative proceedings.

  • A student may be arrested and charged in the criminal justice system as well as under the Title V. Alternatively, charges can occur for alleged violations of the Title V, which may not be violations of the law.
  • The campus conduct process is not comparable to a trial. Rather a conduct proceeding (conference or hearing) is educational in nature. Students and their advisor should expect a supportive and non-adversarial environment during the disciplinary process. 
  • Students are entitled to one advisor throughout the process, which may be a friend, parent, attorney, or any person of their choosing excluding witnesses. However, the advisor may not represent that student. Students are expected to speak for themselves at all times during the process. Any advisors disregarding these rules will be asked to leave any meeting.
  • The standard of evidence in determining whether a student is in violation is not as high as that of the criminal process. We use a “preponderance of evidence (more likely than not),” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Legal rules of evidence do not apply in campus conduct cases. The conduct officers will gather and utilize any information that is relevant, including hearsay or third party testimony.
  • Campus conduct cases are confidential, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law. Conversely, criminal records are public records, and information may be shared with the community at large. Findings of “in violation” of Title V will not result in any criminal record. Additionally, findings of “guilty” or “not guilty” in the criminal system often have no bearing on the outcome of campus conduct proceedings.
  • The campus conduct process is intended to be educational, not punitive.  Our goal is to help the student to better understand the impact of his or her actions and to help him or her take steps towards repairing the harm done to the university community. Sanctions are not predetermined, but rather are developed with consideration given to the individual circumstances of the case and any previous disciplinary history. Overall, the campus conduct process is much less formal than criminal proceedings. (Adapted from The Ohio State University)

Parallel Judicial Proceedings - 1098(III)(K)

Student Conduct Code proceedings are independent from court or other administrative proceedings. Discipline may be instituted against a Student also charged in civil or criminal courts based on the same facts that constitute the alleged violation of the Student Conduct Code. The Campus may proceed before, simultaneously with, or after any judicial or other administrative proceedings, except in cases involving a 1097 issue. 

Due Process

A significant body of case law has been established that outlines constitutional requirements in a student disciplinary process. At Cal Poly, students may accept all charges and sanctions issued at a disciplinary conference (referred to as a Resolution Agreement). Alternatively, if a student does not accept the terms of the settlement agreement at the disciplinary conference, the student's case automatically goes to a hearing. The student receives "notice" through a "charge letter" that is e-mailed to the student's Cal Poly e-mail. The student receives "the opportunity to be heard" at the disciplinary conference and/or at the hearing. 

Evidence - 1098(IV)(D)(5)

Formal rules of evidence applied in courtroom proceedings (e.g., California Evidence Code) do not apply in the hearing. All information that responsible persons are accustomed to rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs is considered. Hearsay may be considered and will be given the weight appropriate under all of the circumstances. Unduly repetitive information may be excluded.

Student Rights

Student participation is always valued and encouraged. If a students declines to participate or speak in a conference or hearing, the disciplinary process will proceed without student involvement. A decision will be reached based on the information available to the conduct officer or hearing officer. In a hearing, the burden of proof is upon the University to establish that the student is responsible by a preponderance of the evidence. All reasonable evidence, including hearsay, is admissible. The preponderance of the evidence burden applies in ALL cases, regardless of what the parallel criminal proceeding standard is. 
A student does NOT have the right to: 

  • be represented
  • the federal rules or California state rules of evidence

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