Many commonly asked questions about what happens when you are referred to the Office of Student Conduct are answered below.
How does your office know when and who violates the Code of Conduct?
The Office of Student Conduct receives various incident reports from different sources, e.g., Department of Public Safety, Office of Residence Life staff, faculty or administrative offices, and other students.
How do I file a complaint?
Anyone who thinks s/he is a victim of or a witness to an alleged violation may submit a statement form with Department of Public Safety, or the Office of Student Conduct. One must realize that the accused student(s)/organization will have a right to review the statement and call into question any allegations. You must be prepared to possibly give an account of your complaint in a judicial hearing if needed.
What are my rights in the discipline process?
Your rights are outlined in the Code of Conduct, Section J, “Rights in all Disciplinary Hearings”
How do you make your decision about if I violated a College policy?
A Standard of Evidence is the measuring stick by which we make a decision. Ramapo College 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 that a student violated policy is less stringent. 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?”
Does a student who has been charged with a violation need an attorney?
Any student (Accused, Victim, Witness) who appears at a disciplinary hearings may have an advisor accompany him/her. The advisor may provide advice but will not be permitted to question witnesses or to present information at the meeting. (Having an attorney serve as an advisor does not change the role of the advisor.) A student who wishes to have an attorney as an advisor must inform the Office of Student Conduct in writing or by telephone at least three business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
What about an incident occurring off-campus, e.g., a drug arrest, DUI, fights, theft, assault, etc.?
As a citizen of the RCNJ Community you are expected to represent the institution in the best possible manner. RCNJ reserves the right to deal with violator’s off-campus for incidents that would normally be considered violations of the Code of Conduct had they occurred on-campus.
If an incident is being handled in the courts, may the College also take action?
Yes, students sometimes find that their involvement in an incident is reviewed by two or more jurisdictions (e.g., the College discipline system and the civil and criminal justice systems.) The fact that an incident is being examined from more than one perspective does not mean that the student has been placed in “double jeopardy.” The purpose of the student discipline process is to determine if a person shall remain a member of this academic community and, if so, under what conditions.
If I did violate the rules, maybe I can just lie about it, sound very sincere, and get away with it.
This is a bad idea for two reasons.
First, people almost always get caught in their lies. One lie leads to another and another. Eventually, everything comes crashing down, and what was a single violation at the start is compounded by additional dishonest acts.
Second, even if one is successful in deceiving others, it is much harder to fool oneself. The individual must live with his/her conscience, and with the knowledge of that deception. It is best to tell the truth right at the beginning, face one’s mistakes and take responsibility for the consequences, learn from the experience and develop positive, ethical ways of solving problems in the future.
Maybe I can just talk my way out of it …
Again, this is a bad idea. The meeting with a Hearing Officer/College Disciplinary Review Board is an opportunity to talk about what happened in a non-threatening environment. Trying to avoid responsibility for one’s behavior usually results in more severe sanctions, and may establish a pattern of dishonesty and evasion that will create bigger problems in the future.
But admitting a violation will ruin my life – I’m afraid the violation will go on my record and keep me from going to professional or graduate school, or from getting a job!
A single violation will NOT ruin one’s life. As an educational institution, a primary goal of the campus disciplinary process is to help students learn from their mistakes. Usually, no permanent records are retained, and nothing goes on a student’s transcripts regarding the disciplinary action. Only if the sanction involves Expulsion is it noted on transcripts. In all but a very few cases, a student discipline record will not prevent one from applying and being admitted to medical, law, dental, or other professional or graduate schools.
But I was not aware of the rules; I did not mean to do anything wrong!
Every student is responsible for knowing what the rules are. This is why it is important to ask questions if one is unsure of the standards that apply. For example, if a student does not know the proper rules for citing sources in a paper, or do not know whether or to what extent students can work together on a homework assignment, the student must ask questions about the rules BEFORE completing and submitting the assignment. Ignorance is not an excuse. If you find yourself worrying about whether something is OK or not, don’t ignore your instincts-ask for clarification.
And if I did do it?
A referral to the student conduct system, regardless of the outcome, can be a learning process. The goals of a disciplinary inquiry are to find the truth, to be fair, and to treat all those involved with respect.
If a student has violated the rules, we know that it is not easy to admit mistakes. Our experience has been, however, that most students have the courage to admit their mistakes. The act of taking personal responsibility empowers the individual and allows him/her to get beyond a bad decision and move forward with his/her life.
Most answers to questions about the student conduct process can be found in the Student Handbook. If you do not find the information you are looking for, you can send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call the Office of Student Conduct at (201) 684-7869.