Frequently Asked Questions for Families and Advocates

The following are questions frequently asked by family members and advocates during the conduct process:

 Will I be notified if my student is charged with violating the Code of Student Conduct?

It is the student who notifies parent(s) or self-selected third parties about a pending case. Conversations are between the University and its students.Parents/ legal guardians of dependent students under 21 years of age are notified when a student is found responsible for an alcohol or drug violation.

 My student has received a Notice of Charge (NOC) from the Dean’s Office about a Code of Student Conduct violation, what happens next?

The Notice of Charge (NOC) informs your student that they have allegedly violated one or more parts of the Code of Student Conduct and/or Residential Life Community Standards. The Notice contains a statement of the charges as outlined by the Code of Student Conduct and/or Residential Life Community Standards and a summary of the information received, including the date and location of the incident. The Notice of Charge also informs your student that they must call the Dean of Students Office to schedule a Conduct Conference.

 What is my role in the student conduct process? How can I help my student?

We encourage you to help your student by being supportive throughout the conduct process. You can help by identifying and providing necessary interventions to support your student’s success at UMass Amherst. Allow and expect your student to set appointments, attend meetings, and fulfill any sanctions they may receive. 

 Can I be present at a Conduct Conference or a hearing with my student?

The Conduct Conference is between your student and a University representative.You may attend a Conduct Conference as an advisor to support your student through the process. However, you cannot speak for, or represent your student in the process. Attendance at a conference or hearing is subject to the approval of your student (who must also complete a Confidentiality Waiver) and the Dean of Students Office staff member holding the meeting.

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 Do I need to hire an attorney or some other person to represent my student?

You don't have to, but you can. When there is a pending criminal case or when there is a reasonable likelihood that a criminal complaint will be sought against the student(s) arising out of the same facts as the charge(s), your student may, at their own expense, be accompanied by an attorney. Your student is responsible for presenting their information and perspectives in the conduct meeting; attorneys may not participate. An attorney assisting your student must not be an employee of the Student Legal Services Office or supported by University funds. Your student must also complete a Confidentiality Waiver to allow the attorney to be present in the meeting(s.

 How are sanctions determined?

Conduct cases involving students are considered on an individual basis with each involved student. The nature and severity of the offense, as well as a student’s conduct history, is taken into consideration when determining sanctions if a student is responsible for violating the Code of Conduct and/or Residential Life Community Standards. If your student would like to request a copy of their conduct history prior to an upcoming conduct conference, they can fill out a Conduct Clearance Request Form.

 Can my student appeal a sanction decision?

After the conclusion of a conduct conference, your student can request a Sanction Hearing with a Dean of Students staff member if they dispute the appropriateness of the recommended sanctions. To meet the criteria for a Sanction Hearing, your student must agree with the facts in a case and accept responsibility. The outcome of a Hearing is subject to appeal should the student meet the grounds outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. More information on the Sanction Hearing process is available in the Code of Student Conduct.

 My student was charged by the police. Why are they also being charged by the University for a Code Violation?

The University reserves the right to take action based on any student conduct, regardless of location, that is contrary to the pursuit of the educational mission of the University or that may adversely, distinctly or directly affect the University community and or its international programs. Therefore, it is possible for students involved in the Student Conduct process to also be involved in a separate, legal process.

While many of the University’s standards of conduct parallel the laws of society in general, the University sets standards that are higher and more stringent than those found elsewhere in society. The purpose of our conduct process is to reinforce and encourage the development of good decision-making and personal integrity and to teach these skills where they are lacking. It is the University’s goal that your student make their way through any aspect of the conduct process, your student will leave that process as a better educated student, a better member of the University community, and a better global citizen.

For a list of potential violations, review the Code of Student Conduct.

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 My student is also going to court for the same incident. Can the campus proceedings be delayed until the conclusion of the criminal process? 

In a case where criminal charges related to the alleged Code of Student Conduct violation(s) are pending against a charged student, upon the charged student’s request, a reasonable delay shall be granted to secure the advice of legal counsel except in the case of Interim Restrictions.

 My student’s case was dropped in court. Will it also be dropped by the University?

The University conduct process is separate from the criminal/court process. Disciplinary action at the University will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced.

 Does the outcome of a conduct process go on my student’s official transcript?

Your student conduct record is kept by the Dean of Students Office and is separate from academic records. However, students who were expelled prior to July 1, 2012 will have their dismissal noted on their transcript.

 My student took responsibility for violating the Code of Conduct. Will this affect their ability to get into graduate school?

The impact on your student’s ability to get into graduate school depends on several factors including your student’s conduct history, their status with the University, the severity and/or frequency of Code violations, as well as the scrutiny of the graduate program requesting the information. The decision to admit your student based on their conduct history is ultimately up to the institution requesting your student’s history.

Your student’s conduct history is not released to any third party without their written permission. Graduate and professional schools, state bar associations, government agencies, and/or independent agencies may request a clearance to review their conduct history while attending UMass Amherst. For more information on what violations are reported to graduate schools, review the University's Reporting Policy.

 My student was found responsible for violating the alcohol policy and says they have to complete an alcohol course. What does the course entail? 

If your student accepts responsibility for violating the alcohol policy, they may be required to complete the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program. BASICS aims to help students explore their alcohol and drug use in a non-judgmental environment with the goal of reducing risky behaviors and the harmful consequences of alcohol use and abuse. BASICS is not therapy or substance abuse treatment. Students are assessed a fee for completing BASICS.

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