A recent student conduct case has generated questions and comments about the purpose and practice of the student conduct system, how sanctions are applied, and how various populations are affected by sanctions. The information below contains general information about the process and its application, both currently and over time, as well as current university initiatives to further our commitment to diversity and equity.
1. Why can’t the university comment on specific conduct cases?
In adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other university policies related to privacy and conduct, the university is unable to provide information about student conduct, or to respond to or correct information shared by others about student conduct cases, without the express written permission of the students who are the subject of the conduct case.
2. What is the Integrity Principle?
The university’s Student Integrity Code includes an Integrity Principle to which all incoming students subscribe by making this public promise:
I am a member of the community of the University of Puget Sound, which is dedicated to developing its members’ academic abilities and personal integrity. I accept the responsibilities of my membership in this community and acknowledge that the purpose of this community demands that I conduct myself in accordance with Puget Sound’s policies of Academic and Student Integrity. As a student at the University of Puget Sound, I hereby pledge to conduct myself responsibly and honorably in my academic activities; to be fair, civil, and honest with all members of the Puget Sound community; and to respect their safety, rights, privileges, and property.
3. What are the Standards of Integrity?
Puget Sound has a Student Integrity Code that applies to all students enrolled at the university. It is expected that all students will comport themselves in alignment with the Student Integrity Code and subscribe to the Integrity Principle, which is implemented through the six standards of integrity below. The student conduct process can be initiated in response to an alleged violation of the following standards.
4. How are reports of alleged violations handled?
Any member of the university community may file a complaint alleging a violation of the code with a member of the Dean of Students staff or Security Services. An initial investigation determines whether an alleged violation is minor or major.
If further investigation warrants charge of a minor violation, the student charged may choose an administrative hearing (typically a Resident Director), peer board (five students), or an informal resolution (including mediation).
If further investigation warrants charge of a major violation, the student so charged may choose an Integrity Code Board (student, faculty member, staff member), administrative hearing (Dean of Students staff member), or Honor Court (seven students, faculty member, and staff member). If approved by the Dean of Students, the following options may be available: informal resolution, voluntary withdrawal, or conditional suspension. Appeal of findings and/or sanction, on grounds outlined in the Code, is to the Dean of Students. See Implementation of Student Integrity Code and Hearing Boards for more information.
5. What is the difference between minor and major violations?
Minor violations include those that pose no significant threat to property or individuals, but that indicate a lack of regard for the rights, property, or personal privileges of individuals or groups within the university and neighboring community.
Major violations include any acts that pose a significant threat to personal or university-owned property or to the physical safety or psychological security of individuals and/or groups within the university and neighboring community. Examples of major violations include causing physical harm or reasonable apprehension of harm to another individual or group, theft of individual or university-owned property, or substantial interference with the university’s responsibilities of protecting the health and safety of individuals and groups or ensuring the opportunity of all members to attain their educational goals.
Educational and preventive measures are contributing to a decrease in major violations of the Student Integrity Code over time:
Percentage of hearings categorized as major violations
6. What range of sanctions might be issued in a student conduct case?
Violations of the Student Integrity Code, which might result in sanctions up to and including separation from the university, include alcohol violations, drug violations, harassment (which may or may not include discriminatory harassment, as not all harassment is discriminatory), and other actions that are outlined in the six standards of the code. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, educational activities or assignments, drug and alcohol assessments, conduct reprimand, probation, suspension, and expulsion.
Over the past seven years, conduct suspensions have ranged from two to five students per academic year. Of the five suspensions for the most recent academic year (2015–16), all suspended were male; four identified as white and one as Asian. Those suspended were found responsible for violation of multiple standards, including assault, property damage, harassment, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and/or possession/use of alcohol.
Conduct sanctions for academic years 2011–12 through 2015–16
|Conduct probation I||31||50||89||82||130|
|Conduct probation II||7||5||6||4||18|
7. What types of sanctions are covered under “other” in the table above?
Nearly every decision related to a Student Conduct Code violation includes educational or restorative justice components designed to address the specific needs of the individuals involved. For example, this might include some combination of issuing an apology and making a roommate agreement; meeting regularly with an appointed advisor; formally engaging in an educational program related to the offense (such as drug or alcohol education); completing counseling; or other actions that further a student’s ability to return to the community in good standing.
“Other” is a sanction or set of sanctions most often implemented in addition to conduct reprimand, probation, or suspension. In order for appropriate educational sanctions to be identified, students found responsible for violations must be willing to accept responsibility and engage in conversations about their behaviors.
8. How are sanctions determined?
A finding of responsibility is based on whether a preponderance of evidence exists that a student has violated the Student Integrity Code. If a student is found responsible for alleged violation(s), then decisions on appropriate sanctions are made. Members of the university community responsible for decision-making related to code violations focus on making the conduct process one in which a student is encouraged to examine the motives for, and consequences of, the actions that have brought the student’s standing in the community into question.
Sanctions are intended to provide the student with the opportunity to grow in self-knowledge and ethical habits of thought and action, and when appropriate, the opportunity to heal the breach in the community caused by the student’s behavior and to recompense the community. In order for appropriate educational sanctions to be identified, students found responsible for violations must be willing to accept responsibility and engage in conversations about their behaviors.
9. Can respondents appeal a decision?
Both complainants and respondents have the option of appealing a decision. Appeals are made to the Dean of Students, who does not participate in the investigation, hearings, or issuing of sanctions in a case. The dean may affirm or reduce sanctions; the dean cannot increase sanctions as the result of an appeal.
In evaluating sanctions, those that are educational and restorative justice-related, as opposed or in addition to punitive sanctions, can be applied if a respondent is willing to accept responsibility for, and engage in conversation about, the behavior that led to the original sanction.
11. What happens if a student is found responsible but does not accept responsibility?
If found responsible for a violation, the degree to which individuals take responsibility for a violation and demonstrate willingness to engage in education or restorative justice is also considered. If those found responsible for violations of the Student Integrity Code choose to not engage in conversations about responsibility, the hearing board and/or appeal officer are limited in terms of defining educational or restorative-justice options that address the causes of behavior for which a student is being sanctioned. In these cases, sanctions necessarily may be limited to those that are punitive rather than educational. An educational response is always preferred but requires the engagement and cooperation of all parties involved.
1. What is the difference between harassment and discriminatory harassment?
Discriminatory harassment consists of conduct of any type (e.g., oral, written, graphic, or physical) directed against a person (or group of persons) because of his or her (or their) race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, marital or familial status, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, gender identity, or any legally protected characteristic, which is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive as to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, an educational program or a faculty, staff, or student staff member’s ability to perform or participate in a work environment.
Harassment that is not discriminatory includes actions such as bullying or harassing an individual or members of a group on a basis other than those defined above.
2. Are all incidents listed on the Harassment Reporting Officers (HRO) Annual Report adjudicated through the student conduct process?
No. In some instances students were not involved or the complainants didn't wish to pursue a complaint, a perpetrator could not be identified, there was no complainant or respondent, or a resolution was agreed to by the parties involved outside of the conduct process.
The HRO report deals only with reports of discriminatory harassment. It does not include all violations or alleged violations of the Student Integrity Code, or any resulting sanctions.
3. What is the role of the Bias-Hate Education Response Team (BHERT)?
BHERT is committed to fostering an equitable, inclusive learning environment for all members of the university community. BHERT reviews aggregate data in order to address, through educational means, incidents of bias and hate on campus. BHERT is composed of 10 staff members from across the campus, as well as three faculty members. The group does not adjudicate conduct issues, but collaborates with others on campus to:
4. What is the Harassment Reporting Officers (HRO) Annual Report—and why are there so many incidents reported at Puget Sound?
We encourage reporting. We believe that making it safe to report and raising awareness of the types of incidents reported will contribute to creating a safer and more aware campus community. In order to cultivate a campus environment in which concerns are brought forward for resolution, the HRO report includes all issues raised, whether or not they resulted in official actions through the student conduct process or other channels.
In 2015–16, members of the university community responded to 105 reports of discriminatory harassment or sexual misconduct. The HRO report includes all inquiries about or reports of potentially discriminatory harassment, bias, or sexual misconduct made to Harassment Response Officers, the Chief Diversity/Title IX Officer, and the Bias-Hate Education Response Team (BHERT). It does not include all violations or alleged violations of the Student Integrity Code. Violations of the Student Integrity Code, which also might result in sanctions up to and including permanent separation from the university, include alcohol violations, drug violations, and other actions outlined in the six standards of the code.
1. Are students of color more likely than white students to be involved in the student conduct process?
White students comprise the largest percentage of students involved in the student conduct process. The most likely student to be involved in the student conduct process is a white, male, first-year student.
White students as a percentage of all students involved in student conduct
2. What percentage of students on campus identify as minorities?
Fall 2016: 24.6% (all undergraduate students); 28.0% (freshman class)
Fall 2015: 25.8% (all undergraduate students); 20.4% (freshman class)
Fall 2014: 25.4% (all undergraduate students); 24.1% (freshman class)
Fall 2013: 25.0% (all undergraduate students); 25.1% (freshman class)
3. What is being done to increase and support minority students on campus?
We view diversity as a matter of equity and inclusion, and aim to understand and actively respond to the ways organizational aspects of our society and of our own university often work against those principles. The work of diversity seeks to account for and redress deeply embedded historical practices and legacies, forms of cultural and social representation, and institutional policies and processes that can systematically exclude groups or individuals from full participation in higher education.
As committed to in the university diversity statement: