Student Conduct & Honor Code

Philosophy

The Student Conduct system at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga provides a pivotal component in a student's development and success. At its core, this system is intended to educate students about acceptable behavior and ethical decision-making. During the education process, students are given the opportunity to learn about themselves and others; adhere to and respect the established community standards; and maintain or restore a positive standing with the University and/or the greater Chattanooga community. Through its conduct system, the University provides an educational experience that fosters individual growth and development, and an ethical framework that students can use to be successful in all aspects of their lives. 

About

The Student Conduct system is an administrative process for reviewing alleged violations of the University’s Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures; it is not a civil or criminal court process. The process utilizes formal investigation and hearing procedures to adjudicate alleged violations of University policy and procedures, as determined by the preponderance of the evidence standard. The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Student Conduct system is an administrative process for reviewing alleged violations of the University’s Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures; it is not a civil or criminal court process. The process utilizes formal investigation and hearing procedures to adjudicate alleged violations of University policy and procedures, as determined by the preponderance of the evidence standard. The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the process.

The Student Conduct system educates students about behavior, ethical decision-making, and success to foster growth and development. The Criminal Justice system is a responsive process which focuses on punishment and rehabilitation. 

The University has the discretion to take disciplinary action for violations occurring off University-controlled property. Examples of why the University may respond include:

  • Incidents that occurs in connection with a University-affiliated activity (i.e. Internship, Study-abroad);

  • Incidents involving another member of the University community;

  • Incident involving threatening or endangering behavior or the security of any person’s property. 

Please see the Student Handbook for the complete definition (http://www.utc.edu/dean-students/pdfs/rights.pdf).

The Student Conduct system is an independent process from the criminal justice system. Students are answerable to both the criminal justice system and the University for any violation of federal, state, or local law. The term “double-jeopardy” is a legal term used in the criminal justice system and not applicable to the Student Conduct process.  

It is important to understand that although the Student Conduct process is similar in structure to legal proceedings, the Student Conduct process is an administrative process. As such, the language and terminology utilized is different from that of legal (criminal or civil) processes.  Please reference the below examples of the different terminology used:  

  • Hearing ≈ Trial

  • Respondent ≈ Defendant

  • Complainant ≈ Victim

  • University ≈ Prosecutor

  • Hearing Officer ≈ Judge, Magistrate

  • Student Conduct Board ≈ Jury

  • Responsible ≈ Guilty

  • Not Responsible ≈ Not Guilty

  • Sanction ≈ Sentence

The Student Conduct system uses the following process for resolving alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures:

1. Report

A verbal or written report is submitted by the Complainant or other reporting party (i.e. Resident Advisor, staff member, faculty member).

2. Review

Reports are forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct for initial review. Incident Reports found to contain alleged violations of the Student Code, Residence Life Handbook, Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking (SMRVS), or other University policies are assigned to the appropriate Hearing Officer/Investigator. The Hearing Officer/Investigator will set up an initial meeting with the Complainant (accuser), as needed.

3. Investigation

The assigned Hearing Officer/Investigator conducts an investigation (if needed) and has an initial meeting with the Respondent. If the Hearing Officer/Investigator believes that charge(s) are warranted, the Respondent will be presented with their options for a hearing. The Respondent then decides whether to go before a Hearing Officer, the Student Conduct Board (SCB), or an Administrative Law Judge (TUAPA hearings only).

4. Hearing

Cases are heard before an individual Hearing Officer, the Student Conduct Board (SCB), or an Administrative Law Judge (TUAPA hearings only). During a hearing, all available information is reviewed and witnesses are interviewed. Case resolutions are determined by the Hearing Officer, SCB, or an Administrative Law Judge. If a Respondent is found responsible, the Hearing Officer, SCB, or Administrative Law Judge will determine the appropriate sanctions.

5. Decision

In cases heard before a Hearing Officer or Student Conduct Board (SCB), the Hearing Officer or SCB will generate a determination letter outlining the decision and any sanctions assigned. The letter is then provided to the Respondent and placed in their conduct file. In cases involving an alleged violation of UTC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (SMRVS), the determination letter is provided to both the Complainant and Respondent.

In cases heard before an Administrative Law Judge, the Administrative Law Judge generates an initial order outlining their decision and sanctions, if any. The order is then given to both the University’s and the Respondent’s attorneys. In cases involving an alleged violation of UTC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (SMRVS), the letter is provided to the University, the Complainant (via the University), and the Respondent.

The assigned Hearing Officer and/or the Office of Student Conduct will follow up with the Respondent regarding assigned sanctions.

6. Appeal

In cases heard before a Hearing Officer or Student Conduct Board (SCB), there are two successive levels of appeal: 1) Vice Chancellor for Student Development; and 2) Chancellor of the University.  Only the Respondent may appeal in these hearing types, with the exception of cases involving UTC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (SMRVS), in which either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal.               

In cases heard by an Administrative Law Judge, there are three successive levels of appeal: 1) Reconsideration by the Administrative Law Judge; 2) Chancellor of the University; and 3) Chancery Court. In this hearing type, the Complainant, the Respondent, and the University may each appeal the decision.

The Honor System uses the following process for resolving alleged academic violations of the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures:

1. Report

A verbal or written report is submitted by the Complainant or other reporting party (i.e. Course instructor or academic department head).

2. Review

Reports are forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct. Reports found to have alleged violations of the Honor Code are assigned to the Office of Student Conduct. The Office of Student Conduct will setup an initial meeting with the Complainant (accuser).

3. Investigation

The Office of Student Conduct conducts an investigation (if needed) and has an initial meeting with the Respondent. If the Hearing Officer/Investigator believes that charges are warranted, the Respondent will be presented with their options for a hearing. The Respondent then decides whether to accept an Honor Court Waiver (if offered by the referring faculty member), to go before an Honor Court Board (HCB), or an Administrative Law Judge (TUAPA hearings only).

4. Hearing

If the Respondent is offered and accepts an Honor Court Waiver, the student agrees to the grade on the assignment, examination, or course as recommended by the instructor. If the Honor Court waiver is not offered or the Respondent chooses not to accept the waiver, the case will go before the Honor Court Board (HCB) or Administrative Law Judge (TUAPA hearings only). All available information is reviewed and witnesses interviewed. A resolution as to whether the Respondent is Responsible or Not Responsible is determined by the HCB or Administrative Law Judge. If found responsible, the HCB or Administrative Law Judge will determine the appropriate sanctions.

5. Decision

In cases heard before the Honor Court Board (HCB), the HCB will generate a determination letter outlining the decision and any sanctions assigned. The letter is then provided to the Respondent and placed in their conduct file.

In cases heard before an Administrative Law Judge, the Administrative Law Judge generates an initial order outlining their decision and sanctions, if any. The order is then given to both the University’s and the Respondent’s attorneys.

The Office of Student Conduct will follow up with the Respondent regarding assigned sanctions.

6. Appeal

In cases heard before the Honor Court Board (HCB), the Complainant and Respondent may appeal to the Chancellor of the University.

In cases heard by an Administrative Law Judge, there are three successive levels of appeal: 1) Reconsideration by the Administrative Law Judge; 2) Chancellor of the University; and 3) Chancery Court. In this hearing type, the Complainant, the Respondent, and the University may each appeal the decision.

The University has three different types of hearings for resolving alleged non-academic violations.

  • University Hearing Officer: A case is heard before a University Hearing Officer, selected by the Vice Chancellor for Student Development. University Hearing Officers have education and training related to the University hearing process.
  • Student Conduct Board: A case is heard before a Student Conduct Board, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff. These individuals receive basic training from the Office of the Dean of Students. A quorum of at least three students and three faculty/staff are expected for any hearing.
  • Uniform Administrative Procedures Act: A case is heard before an Administrative Law Judge, who is appointed by the University. The Respondent may be represented by an attorney in this process; the University is represented by the Office of General Counsel.

 The University has two different options for resolving alleged academic violations.

  • Honor Court Waiver: A waiver is offered by the referring faculty member as an informal and expedited resolution to alleged violations of the Honor Code. Respondents signing the waiver admit responsibility for the violation and accept the modified assignment, examination, or course grade. 

  • Honor Court Hearing A case is heard before the Honor Court, which is comprised of students and faculty. These individuals receive basic training from the Office of the Dean of Students. A quorum of at least three students and three faculty/staff are expected for any hearing.

  • Uniform Administrative Procedures ActA case is heard before an Administrative Law Judge, who is appointed by the University. The Respondent may be represented by an attorney in this process; the University is represented by the Office of General Counsel.

Complainants and Respondents have the right to be accompanied by an advisor of their choosing. An advisor can be any person who is not a potential witness in the case, including any student, faculty, or staff member, parent, friend, legal counsel, etc. The University also has a Respondent Support Services program, in which trained faculty or staff members volunteer to serve as ambassadors for the Student Conduct process and advise students going through the process. For more information, visit https://www.utc.edu/dean-students/studentoutreach/rss.php.

Charges are any alleged violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct. Charges do not automatically indicate that an individual is “Responsible” for a violation; presenting charges ensures a fair process, allowing the Respondent (accused) to know what they have been accused of so that they may appropriately respond.

The purpose of sanctioning is to protect and enforce standards, track patterns of behavior, repair harm done by the Respondent, help the Respondent make better choices in the future, and help safeguard the University’s community, property, and academic mission. One or more penalties may be assigned for a violation. Examples of sanctions include:

Warning

A notice that the student is violating or has violated the Standards of Conduct

Disciplinary Reprimand

A disciplinary reprimand is used for minor violations of the Standards of Conduct. A reprimand indicates that further violations will result in more severe disciplinary actions.

Disciplinary Probation

This penalty permits a student to remain at the University on probationary status but with the understanding that a future violation of the Standards of Conduct may result in suspension. Other conditions of probation are specific to each individual case and may include a requirement of community service or other requirement or restriction

Suspension

Suspension for a specific period of time means that the student is withdrawn from the University and is not eligible to apply for readmission for a designated period of time. Usually, the period of designated suspension does not exceed one (1) calendar year. Other conditions of suspension are specific to each individual case and may include a requirement of community service or other requirement or restriction

Permanent Dismissal

Permanent dismissal means that a student is permanently barred from matriculating as a student on the Chattanooga campus. This penalty is used when the violation of one or more of the institution’s Standards of Conduct is deemed so serious as to warrant total and permanent disassociation from the University community without the possibility of re enrollment; or when, by his/her repeated violation of the institution’s Standards of Conduct, a student exhibits blatant disregard for the health and safety of other members of the University community or the University’s right to establish rules of conduct.

Revocation of Admission or Degree

Revocation of admission or degree means revoking a student’s admission to the University or revoking a degree already awarded by the University. Revocation of a degree shall be approved by the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Loss of Privilege

This penalty is intended to serve as a reminder of the Standards of Conduct and is for a specific period of time. Privileges that may be lost include, but are not limited to, scholarships, stipends, participation in extracurricular activities (e.g. intramurals), housing privileges, participation in social activities, and use of certain University-controlled property (e.g., information technology resources).

Restitution

Restitution may be required in situations that involve destruction, damage, or loss of property, or unreimbursed medical expenses resulting from physical injury. Restitution may take the form of a monetary payment or appropriate service to repair or otherwise compensate for the destruction, damage, or loss.

No Contact Directive

In cases involving allegations of assault, injury, sexual abuse, harassment, or where there is reason to believe continued contact between a student and specific persons, including complainants and witnesses, may interfere with those persons' security, safety or ability to participate effectively in work or studies, the Vice Chancellor for Student Development, or his/ her designee, may require that the student not have verbal, physical, or written contact with specific persons for a definite or indefinite period of time. The student will receive written or electronic notice of the no contact directive. Any student, faculty or staff member or other person with a reasonable justification may request a no contact directive. In addition to an internal University no contact directive, complainants are advised that other similar options exist and can be obtained from law enforcement and civil and criminal courts.

University Housing Transfer

This penalty is intended to serve as a reminder of the Standards of Conduct and is for a specific period of time. Examples of privileges that may be lost include participating in extracurricular activities (e.g., intramurals), housing privileges, participating in social activities, and using certain University-controlled property.

Removal from University Housing

This penalty is intended to serve as a reminder of the Standards of Conduct and is for a specific period of time. Examples of privileges that may be lost include participating in extracurricular activities (e.g., intramurals), housing privileges, participating in social activities, and using certain University-controlled property.

Educational

Students may be required to attend classes, at their own expense, dealing with issues such as the consequences of alcohol or drug use, civility, ethics, or other topics as deemed appropriate by the Vice Chancellor for Student Development or his/her designee.

In cases heard before a Hearing Officer or Student Conduct Board (SCB), there are two successive levels of appeal: 1) Vice Chancellor for Student Development; and 2) Chancellor of the University.  Only the Respondent may appeal in these hearing types, with the exception of cases involving UTC’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking (SMRVS), in which either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal.               

In cases heard by an Administrative Law Judge, there are three successive levels of appeal: 1) Reconsideration by the Administrative Law Judge; 2) Chancellor of the University; and 3) Chancery Court. In this hearing type, the Complainant, the Respondent, and the University may each appeal the decision.

In cases heard before the Honor Court Board (HCB), the Complainant and Respondent may appeal to the Chancellor of the University.

In cases heard by an Administrative Law Judge, there are three successive levels of appeal: 1) Reconsideration by the Administrative Law Judge; 2) Chancellor of the University; and 3) Chancery Court. In this hearing type, the Complainant, the Respondent, and the University may each appeal the decision.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law requiring educational institutions to maintain, keep private, and release certain records as prescribed. All conduct records will be kept private except to individuals who have an “educational need to know”,  who have a release signed by the student, and as required by law. Students wishing for records to be released to parents or other individuals/organizations should contact the Office of the Dean of Students to complete a waiver form. If a conduct violation involves alcohol and/or drugs, FERPA allows and the State of Tennessee requires that a letter be sent to parents/guardians notifying them of the violation.