Frequently Asked Questions
Below you'll find some frequently asked questions. Please check over these for more information regarding the The Office of Student Conduct.
Frequently Asked Questions by Students
What is the The Office of Student Conduct?
OSJA serves as the central coordinating office for implementation of the Code of Student Conduct. The office acts on reports of possible violations from students, faculty & staff, law enforcement and others. The staff of the The Office of Student Conduct is committed to working with students to develop a campus community with high standards of civility as well as academic achievement.
I received a Student Non-Academic Misconduct (SNAM) citation, what do I do now?
SNAM's are issued to students when a University Police Officer believes a student may have violated the Code of Student Conduct. As it indicates on the bottom of the citation, the student MUST contact The Office of Student Conduct at 348-8234 by 4:45 p.m. on the next business day to schedule an appointment.
How do you make your decision about if I violated policy?
A standard of evidence is the measuring stick by which we make a decision. The University of Alabama uses a Preponderance of Evidence in order to find a student in violation of policy. The student is not responsible for violating policies unless proven otherwise; however, unlike a court of law, the standard of evidence which must be met in order to prove a student violated policy is less stringent, a Preponderance of Evidence . In other words, if you imagine weighing the evidence on some imaginary scale, it must be more than 50% convincing that a policy was violated. Another way of stating it is "Is it more likely than not that a policy was violated?"
So how will I be sanctioned?
The Office of Student Conduct operates under an educational philosophy, and as such, does not believe that punishment is the best way to educate. Our sanctions (from a Disciplinary Warning to University Suspension) range depending on:
- The nature of violations (what you did)
- Prior violations / previous disciplinary history (what you have done before)
- Mitigating circumstances surrounding the violation (unusual circumstances)
- Your motivation for the behavior (why you chose to take this action)
- Sanctions involved in cases involving similar violations (precedent)
- The developmental and educational impact (how this is going to affect you)
Will my parents find out about this?
Student records are protected under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. In general, parents of a student less than 21 years of age will be notified of any violation of the University's drug and alcohol policies. Students may choose to sign a release, giving permission for the staff of The Office of Student Conduct to have contact with their parents. This is often helpful when students are facing the possibility of suspension from the University. Most often it is the student who shares this information with their parents. This is a position we actively encourage. Parental support is a key ingredient in a student's long term success, no matter what the judicial outcome.
If the violation also involves an alleged crime, can I be prosecuted criminally AND also through The Office of Student Conduct?
Yes. This does not constitute double jeopardy. Students have a separate relationship to the University that is different from their responsibilities as citizens. For example, if an employee steals from her / his employer, they can be fired as well as prosecuted for embezzlement.
Why does the Code of Student Conduct apply to my behavior off campus?
The Code of Student Conduct indicates that the University reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to investigate "activities which adversely affects the University community and / or the pursuit of its objectives." This means that the University recognizes that a student does not act in a vacuum. It is reasonable to assume that some behaviors exhibited by students, even off campus, might have a negative impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the campus community. This section of the Code affords the University the opportunity to act to protect the broader interests of the students and the University.
Why do I have a disciplinary hold on my records?
There are a variety of reasons that The Office of Student Conduct may place a disciplinary hold on a student record. Please contact The Office of Student Conduct immediately to determine why there is a hold on your specific record. The following is a general list:
- The student has not contacted this office to resolve an alleged violation of the Code.
- The student has not completed their sanction by the due date for that case.
- The student has missed appointments with OSJA.
I can't finish my sanctions by the deadline, what should I do?
Contact The Office of Student Conduct immediately. There are some circumstances where a student may qualify for an extension. That decision must be made by an OSJA staff member. Extensions are not able to be granted by persons who supervise community service work.
Frequently Asked Questions by Parents
Will I be notified if my student gets in trouble: i.e., if student is charged with violating the Code of Student Conduct?
We typically notify parents if their student has violated the University's alcohol or drug policies as allowed by amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This act governs the release of educational records. We encourage students to speak with their parents and believe that as adults, students should take responsibility for initiating the conversation. This notification is initiated so that we can all work together to resolve the issue and help the student.
Can I be in a disciplinary meeting or hearing with my student?
The student may have an advisor present, who may be a parent. The role of the advisor is to support and advise the student but not to speak or represent the student.
What is my role in the university judicial process? How can I help my student?
You can help guide the student through the process and be supportive while holding the student accountable to your expectations and the University's. You can also help identify and provide necessary interventions, such as alcohol or drug evaluations, anger management, and others, so that your student can be successful at Alabama . Allow and expect the student to set appointments, attend meetings, and fulfill sanctions. It is usually not helpful to the educational development of the student, or resolution of the matter, for you to take over the process from your student.
Do I need to hire an attorney to represent my student?
Students may have an attorney serve as an advisor but may not be represented by counsel. Students most often hire attorneys when there are criminal charges that relate to an incident.
How are sanctions decided?
Sanctions are determined by considering the following factors: nature of the violation, the student's role in the incident, the effect of the incident on others and the student, the student's developmental and educational needs, and the student's prior disciplinary record. Mitigating and aggravating circumstances are considered. There are also a number of violations that have minimum or standard sanctions.
My student was placed on probation? What does it mean?
Probation is a notice to the student who has violated the Code of Conduct; should the student violate the Code of Conduct during a probationary period, the student's sanctions will be progressively more serious, including the possibility of suspension form the University.
Can my student appeal a disciplinary decision?
Students can request a review on three bases: 1) appropriateness of sanction; 2) process not followed; and/or 3) there is new information available that was not available at the time of the original hearing. Students have five (5) school days from receipt of decision/sanctions to request a review.
Does the outcome go on my student's record?
Notations are not placed on the academic transcript. The University does keep a disciplinary record for a period of seven (7) years. The student must sign a release in the The Office of Student Conduct for information from that record to be released.
Will a disciplinary record keep my student from getting into law school, graduate school, etc.?
A disciplinary record does not automatically exclude a student from further study, jobs, etc. That usually depends on the type or severity of misconduct in which a student is involved. A disciplinary record may lead an admissions office to more closely scrutinize the student's application. We will only release information about a student's disciplinary record to another school or potential employer as allowed by the records policy.
Why is a particular rule or policy in place?
Policies are designed to support the University's educational mission. They are meant to support a safe environment where people can study, work, and live without undue interference. They are also designed to build and support the academic and social community, teach students responsibility and interdependence, as well as promote moral and ethical development.
My student was charged criminally. Why go through The Office of Student Conduct too?
The criminal justice system and the University's Code of Conduct are not mutually exclusive. By virtue of being a student, your student is held responsible for upholding the standards of behavior in the Code of Conduct, as well as public laws. A Code of Conduct violation may be heard if the criminal case is not completed or if the criminal charges are dropped.
This incident happened off campus. Why is the University involved?
The University has an interest in maintaining a safe community and appropriate standards of conduct for its students. This includes both on-campus and off-campus behavior, which can have an impact on the University and the University's mission.
I know my student could not have done this; I didn't raise my student that way. So why is my student being charged?
Developmentally this is a period of exploration, experimentation, and testing for students. They may have a period of transition from late adolescence to adulthood. They may also be away from home and the daily influence of their parents for the first time. As students are testing the beliefs and values they learned at home, they may make choices that are inconsistent with these values. Such testing is part of the developmental process and is normal. However, students must also learn that the choices they make may not be healthy and may have consequences.