Community Standards and Mediation

Student Conduct Process

Below is a basic overview and definitions related to the process applied when a student is documented in an Incident Report.  

University of Southern Maine Conduct Process:

  1. Complaint filed (for example an incident report or police report).
  2. Notification letter sent via email to maine.edu gmail account to the accused student detailing the charges and the date, time, and location of their conduct meetings or administrative hearing. 
  3. Individual hearings or meetings take place between the student and an administrator along with any advisor the student wishes to bring to the meetings.
  4. Outcomes of any hearings, mediations, or informal resolutions emailed to a student's maine.edu (gmail) account.
  5. If suspended or dismissed the student will have 7 calendar days to request a Right of Review Hearing.

Administrators Involved in the Conduct Process

Conduct Officer:
The Conduct Officers hear cases that could have been heard by any of the people above and all remaining alleged violations of the Student Conduct Code, such as:

  1. Violations that may or do result in sanctions of Deferred Suspension, or Suspension or Dismissal from the University of Maine System that occur on any U.S.M. campus (including inside residence halls).
  2. Violations that occur off campus, if:

    1. The University can demonstrate a "clear and distinct interest."
    2. The conduct "seriously threatens"

      1. Any "educational process."
      2. Any "legitimate function of the University."
      3. "The health or safety of any member of the academic community."

Resident Directors (RDs):
RDs are not Conduct Officers; however they do adjudicate many of the violations that occur inside the residence halls. In order to resolve a violation with a charged student, the student must voluntarily admit violating policy and voluntarily accept an agreed upon sanction(s). If the charged student and the RD cannot come to an agreement on what happened and the appropriate resolution, the case will be adjudicated by a Conduct Officer.

RDs typically resolve first violations of the following:

  • Noise, Hall Sports, Lounge Furniture, Pets, Smoking, Trash Removal, Wall Hangings, Illegal Appliances, and Lockouts.
  • Some Alcohol Violations

Many cases can be resolved by resolved via informal resolution which require that the accused student accept responsibility and voluntarily agree to the sanctions. If a case can not be resolved informally then the case will be sent through the Conduct Process as described above.

FAQs (Common questions about the Student Conduct Process)

Where is the Office of Community Standards & Mediation located? 
Where can I find the rules? 
What is the Student Conduct Code? 
What does it mean to be "written up" in an Incident Report? 
What will the Administrative Hearing be like? 
What should I do if I receive a notice of an Investigation Meeting or Administrative Hearing? 
Can I call the Administrator and everything up over the phone? 
When do I find out the results of the meeting? 
What is going to happen to me if I am found responsible for violating the code? 
What is a sanction? 
What if I fail to complete my sanction? 
What does it mean to get a strike
What if I do not agree with the decision? 
Will my parents be notified? 
Will this incident appear on my transcript?

Where is the Office of Community Standards located?
188 Upton Hall on the Gorham campus. You can call our office at (207) 780-5242.

Where can I find the rules?
The majority of the policies and procedures are online: usm.maine.edu/communitystandards/university-policies
Printed copies of policies are available by request to: usmcommunitystandards@maine.edu

What is the Student Conduct Code?
The Student Conduct Code is a University of Maine System document that outlines University policies and provides students guidelines for appropriate behavior on campus. The Code is a contract between the student and the University and it applies on and off campus.

What does it mean to be "written up" in an Incident Report?
When a Residential Life Staff member and/or the USM Campus Police address problem behavior that may or may not violate University policy, they are required to document the interaction. This report is shared with Residential Life and Community Standards. Depending upon the violation and the student’s conduct history, a Resident Director (RD) or a Conduct Officer (Officer) will send a notice of a meeting to the students listed on the incident report to the student's University email address.

What will the Administrative Hearing be like?
The student (and any advisor or support person they wish to bring) and administrator will discuss the incident and discuss the alleged violations and the possible outcomes. After the hearing the administrator will decide if any policy was violated and issue a written decision with any sanctions imposed.

What should I do if I receive a notice of a meeting?
The most important thing to do is to attend the meeting. If you cannot attend the meeting as scheduled, it is your responsibility to reschedule the meeting. If you are scheduled to meet with a staff person and you do not reschedule prior to the initial meeting time, the meeting will be held without your input and a decision will be made as to whether or not you violated policy. 

This meeting is your opportunity to share what happened and to ask any questions you may have about policies and procedures. The RD or the Conduct Officer will ask you about the alleged violation. Honesty is important and it will be used as a factor when resolving the case. Sometimes students are called in to meet with a RD or an Officer simply as a part of an ongoing investigation and not because they are being charged with a violation of the Code.

Can I call the Administrator and clear everything up over the phone?
Staff can answer general process questions by telephone; however you will need to attend an in-person meeting to discuss the incident. If attending in person cannot happen due to how far you live from campus, etc. you may contact the Office of Community Standards to discuss what other options may exist for resolving your case.

When do I find out the results of the meeting?
Often you and the administrator in charge of your case will discuss the outcome. The adminitrator will follow-up in writing.

What is going to happen to me if I am found responsible for violating the code?
Appropriate disciplinary and educational sanctions are imposed according to the nature of the violation. Students are held accountable and sanctions are imposed with the goal of changing behavior. Sanctions range from an Official Warning through Dismissal from the University of Maine System. While the majority of student conduct cases do not warrant suspension or expulsion, these sanctions are imposed for serious violations of the Code and/or for repeated violators.

What is a sanction?
Sanctions are imposed when an administrator and a student agree to a resolution regarding an incident or when an administrator has found a student in violation of the Code. They are all assigned with a start and an end date. 

 Sanctions can have many components including the following:

  1.   Online or in person educational sessions
  2.   Housing contract action (warning, probation, deferred termination, or termination)
  3.   University wide action (warning, probation, deferred suspension, suspension, deferred dismissal, and dismissal)
  4.   Alcohol/drug strike(s) (only when the violation is substance related)
  5.   Educational assignments (including things like community restitution, research and reflection papers, and counseling)
  6.   Restitution (for damages)
  7.   Loss of Privileges

What if I fail to complete my sanction?
If a student fails to complete a sanction (such as a research paper or attending an educational course) by the due date they will be charged with a violation of the Code called Failure to Comply with Sanction and additional sanctions may be imposed.

What does it mean to get a strike?
USM has a 'three strike' alcohol and drug policy. Violations of the alcohol and drug policy generally result in one or two strikes. Three strikes may jeopardize a student’s ability to remain in University housing. Students found responsible for hosting, [allowing others to violate the alcohol policy in your room], may minimally receive two strikes.

What is meant by a sanction of deferred housing contract termination?
A deferred sanction of housing contract termination means that any new violation of any policy will result minimally in loss of housing. Students who receive this sanction are clearly in jeopardy of losing their housing.

What if I do not agree with the decision?
If you do not agree with an administrator’s decision, you may contact the office of Community Standards and Mediation to discuss your options. Students suspended or dismissed from the University or from campus housing may file a written request for a review of the case by the Student Conduct Committee. Your written request for a review must be filed within 7 days of receipt of the outcome letter. Review procedures are detailed in the Student Conduct Code.

Will my parents be notified?
The alleged violation is an issue between the student and the University. Your disciplinary files are confidential and protected by University policy based on federal law. If a parent calls the University about a disciplinary matter staff may answer general questions, but they will refer the parent to their student for specifics. You may sign a confidentiality waiver with the Office of Community Standards and Mediation to allow non-involved parties (such as your parents, advisor, or employer) access to your disciplinary files. Your parents may also gain access to these files if they claim you as a dependent on their income taxes or if your waive your rights. In certain cases related to safety an emergency contact will be notified.

Will this incident appear on my transcript?
Most violations do not become part of your academic record, but are maintained in a separate disciplinary record in the Office of Community Standards and Mediation. Students who are suspended or dismissed from USM are not permitted to attend any institution wthin the University of Maine System for the duration of the sanction period. When a student requests a transcript to apply to a non University of Maine System school, a letter is sent to the transfer institution for those students suspended or dismissed for a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense.

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