Information for Parents & Families
What to Do When Your Student Is Involved In the Student Conduct Process
If your student is involved in the Student Accountability process, it is understandable that you will want to support them. This page is intended to provide you with information and answers to questions so that you can be prepared to best support your student as they navigate the Student Accountability Process. The Code of Student Accountability and other webpages linked to this page offer a detailed description of the process. We highly recommend that you read them with your student.
While the disciplinary process is the method for upholding the University's policies, our ultimate objective is to provide a fair process and help your student learn. We strive to get to know students, listen to their stories, and provide opportunities for growth throughout the process, regardless of their responsibility for violating policies. Every part of our process is designed to be educational.
FERPA and Student Conduct
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that provides confidentiality regarding a student's education records, including disciplinary records. When a student enters the college setting, regardless of age, they become the custodian of their own record. This means that SARP cannot disclose information regarding a student's disciplinary record without the student's permission. Students can give permission for SARP to share their disciplinary record with anyone should complete the Authorization to Release Form and return it to SARP. FERPA does permit disclosures of information regarding alcohol and drug violations to parents or guardians of students who are under the age of 21.
If your student has not completed a release form, SARP can still discuss the general disciplinary process with you.
FAQ's About the Student Conduct Process
How did SARP receive a report about my student?
SARP receives reports from both inside and outside of the University community. Any member of the TU community can file a report. The report may contain information suggesting a potential violation of the Code of Student Accountability. In that case, the disciplinary process begins.
How is my student notified that they are alleged to have violated policy(s)?
SARP provides a letter via email to all students notifying them of an allegation, providing basic information about the incident, and identifying which policy(s) they allegedly violated. This notice will also offer an opportunity to meet with a Hearing Officer for a Conduct Resolution Meeting to discuss the incident.
What if my student doesn't want to participate in the Student Conduct process, or I don't want them to participate?
Students are not required to meet with our office for a Conduct Resolution meeting. However, the Conduct Resolution Meeting is their opportunity to share their perspective, see reports that have been submitted, provide names of witnesses that can provide additional information, and answer any questions the Hearing Officer may have before they make a decision.
The student's perspective is critical in forming a clear and full picture of the incident. We also know that students build valuable self-advocacy skills by participating in the process.
Students who don't participate are not presumed to be responsible. If students fail to attend a Conduct Resolution meeting, a decision about their responsibility will be made in their absence using the available information.
Can I accompany my student to their meeting?
Students are entitled to bring a Support Person with them to any meeting or proceeding involved in their disciplinary process. While we welcome the involvement of family members, the ultimate decision is up to the student as to who they bring. More information on Support Person's can be found on our webpage.
How does SARP determine if my student is responsible for violating policy(s)?
Towson University uses the preponderance of evidence standard. This means that the evidence must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred in order to say that the student is responsible for violating policy(s).
How does SARP determine Accountability Action(s)?
Generally, both status and educational Accountability Action(s) are assigned when a student is found responsible for having violated policy(s). A variety of factors are considered when determining what Accountability Actions(s) are appropriate for a particular student, including the impact the incident had on the campus community, severity of the violation, past disciplinary history of the individual, circumstances related to the incident, and educational value of the Accountability Action.
Can my student appeal their outcome?
Yes, all students have the right to appeal an outcome or an Accountability Action. Information on the grounds for appealing and how to appeal can be found on the Appeal Procedures page.
What if my student has a parallel court process?
The disciplinary process and court process can happen simultaneously. In some circumstances, the University may permit a student to wait until the conclusion of their court case before proceeding with the Student Accountability Process. Decisions to wait are made by the Director of SARP and are based upon the reasonably available evidence, nature of the allegations, potential harm to the University Community, location of the incident (on or off campus), and/ or other relevant factors.
Why is the University involved if my student's incident was off campus and the Court process is handling it?
It is important to distinguish that the accountability process is an administrative process intended to address allegations of policy violations, whereas the court process is meant to address violations of law. The University will pursue its accountability process independent of pending criminal charges, regardless of whether they are dismissed, dropped, or otherwise resolved.
Additionally, the University's standard of evidence (preponderance) is generally lower than that of many courts. Although a criminal charge may have been dismissed, the actions involved may still be a violation of the University's policy(s).
Finally, the University has a vested interest in the holistic development of our students. We want for all students to represent themselves and the University in a positive light; therefore, we address the misconduct of our students regardless of the location where an incident occurred.
Will graduate schools and prospective employers find out about my student's disciplinary record?
Many graduate schools and employers request information regarding a student's disciplinary record. Due to FERPA, your student's record will only be released to a third party with their written permission. When has student is found responsible for having violated a policy in the Code of Student Accountability, a disciplinary record is created. SARP maintains student's disciplinary records for seven years from the date of the incident, or indefinitely, if the student is suspended, expelled, or removed from on-campus housing.