Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

OSCCE 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 Conduct. In that case, the disciplinary process begins.

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.

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 & support persons, the ultimate decision is up to the student as to who they bring. More information regarding Support Persons can be found on the Information for Support Persons page.

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).

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.  

Many graduate schools and employers request information regarding a student's disciplinary record. Due to FERPA, a student's record will only be released to a third party with their written permission. When a student is found responsible for having violated a policy in the Code of Student Conduct, a disciplinary record is created. OSCCE 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.

If a student is charged with a violation of federal, state, or local laws for off-campus behavior, they may be disciplined by the university without a university hearing when: they are found guilty by a court of law; they plead guilty or nolo contendere to the charges; or they are given probation before judgment. Additionally, interim or final disciplinary action may be taken before any court action is completed. Examples of charges that may result in action include acts of violence, drug and alcohol related violations, and a citation for a disorderly house. Such action will be taken only after a limited investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education and after a student has been offered a meeting with a university official. Any interim action will be reviewed, and appropriate final action taken, at the student's request or at the university's discretion, when a final court decision is rendered or when the university receives additional persuasive evidence.

It is important to distinguish that the disciplinary 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 disciplinary 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.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a Federal law that provides students with access to inspect and review their educational records and protects students right to privacy by limiting access to the educational record. The Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education will not release a student's disciplinary record to a third party without their consent, unless directed by a court order. A student is guaranteed the right to inspect and review all information in their file maintained by the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education, subject only to reasonable regulations as to time, place, and supervision. FERPA permits the university to contact a student's parent(s) or legal guardian if they are under the age of 21, with information regarding any violation of university policy or state, federal or local law governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance.

Student conduct files are retained for seven years if a student is found responsible. Disciplinary records may be retained for longer periods of time if the accountability action is suspension or expulsion from the University or university housing.

If a student is facing concurrent criminal charges and requests a university hearing, they are permitted to have legal counsel present at the university hearing. Legal counsel may not participate in the hearing, but may advise the student as a Support Person.

A university hearing is offered when the potential accountability action may be suspension or expulsion from the University. A university hearing is a fact finding disciplinary process conducted by the university hearing panel. An informal investigation will be conducted for violations resulting in lesser accountability actions. An informal investigation will normally consist of an informal, non-adversarial meeting between the accused and a university administrator, as designated by the director of the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education. For further information regarding these student conduct processes, see the Code of Student Conduct.

FAQ for Attorneys

It is the practice of the Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education to correspond at all times directly through the student and not through any third party. In order for the Office of Student Conduct & Civility Education to speak with an attorney, we first need a signed Disciplinary Record Authorization Form (PDF) (see above) from the student. Once this has been submitted, we can speak with a third party about any allegations against the student and their status in the student conduct process.

As per the Code of Student Conduct, if the accused student refuses to participate in the student conduct process, the university hearing will take place in the absence of the accused student. If a student chooses not to attend or not to speak during the hearing, the hearing board will make a decision based on information presented during the university hearing by witnesses on behalf of the university and on behalf of the accused student. The student may not use their refusal to participate as a later ground for appealing a decision.

The student disciplinary system is not judging criminal guilt, but rather whether a student has violated campus policies. The courts have long recognized the differing interests of the University community from that of the criminal justice process. Although there are basic concepts of fairness that apply to student disciplinary proceedings, the student disciplinary system serves administrative and educational functions relating to the mission of Towson University. Therefore, many of the intricate rules and processes found in a court system are not applicable to university disciplinary procedures.

The University's disciplinary process will normally proceed independently of pending criminal charges. Students charged with a violation of local, state, or federal laws for off-campus behavior may be disciplined by the university without a university hearing. If a request is made by a student with pending criminal charges to delay the university's disciplinary process, the director of Student Conduct will determine whether the request can be honored. The university reserves the right to take interim or emergency action against the student pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.

The burden of proof in the student conduct process is preponderance of the evidence.

Here is a list of publications that may be useful:

  • Kaplin, William A. & Barbara A. Lee. (2006). The law of higher education, (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Bickel, Robert D. & Lake, Peter F. (1999). The rights and responsibilities of the modern university: Who assumes the risk of college life? Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press
  • Paterson, B.G. & Kibler, W.L. (1998). The administration of campus discipline: Student, organizational, and community issues. Asheville, NC: College Administration Publications, Inc.

If you have additional questions or need more information, contact the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education, Administration Building, Suite 236, or call 410-704-2057.