University Community Standards
St. Thomas University is committed to developing and providing world-class education that is industry-relevant through our undergraduate, graduate and professional programs of study, supported by superior teaching and scholarship within the Catholic intellectual tradition. At STU, we challenge our students to use the Catholic teachings to examine their lives, their place in the world and their responsibility to others.
In an attempt to fulfill our commitment, we seek to develop a community where students can experience and develop through our community standards. The community standards that will guide STU are Individual Worth, Integrity, Self-Control, Critical Thinking and Community Responsibility and it is our intention that these values will infuse everything we do.
STU is committed to demonstrating God’s love by recognizing each individual as unique and worthy of respect. This commitment is expressed through respect for differing opinions, attitudes and cultures with fair and just treatment for all. Further, civil communication, interactions and resolutions are essential to the recognition of another’s dignity and worth.
The St. Thomas University community values ethical behavior in all our endeavors, whether scholarly, socially or intellectually. We encourage and expect all conduct to be grounded in integrity, mutual respect and civility.
The STU community is committed to self-control and to creating a culture of accountability. Individuals are accountable for the effects their behaviors have on themselves and others. This recognition of personal responsibility prepares all individuals to develop intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
The STU community will live out our mission through a commitment to the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The community encourages students to develop the ongoing capacity for critical, independent thinking and judgment both inside and outside the classroom. This commitment affirms individuals’ rights to teach and learn, and one’s opportunity to engage in a transformative experience STU strives to create which educates students for their whole life.
STU seeks to develop students who have a sense of responsibility toward their fellow human beings, respect for all life, indeed toward all the resources of the earth that God has placed in our care. The STU Community is committed to its students successfully living and learning together and to maintaining respectful interactions with individuals in the communities beyond our campus. For this reason, students are called to respect the rights and properties of others. Students are also expected to comply with the laws of society and the just administration of those laws. STU encourages responsible citizenship, service and stewardship.
9.1 Violation of University Community Standards
The University Community Standards describe behaviors that are inconsistent with the core values of the university community. The university retains the right to modify the University Community Standards at any time without advanced notice. The university reserves the right to discipline any student and/or a guest who engages in misconduct that adversely affects the pursuit of the university’s educational purposes and objectives or otherwise violates university rules. Students are held accountable for their guest’s actions and may be subject to disciplinary action for their guest’s infractions of the University Community Standards. Intentionally attempting or assisting in violation of the Community Standards may be considered as serious as engaging in the behavior. A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific violation of the University Community Standards, he/she performs any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that violation.
9.2 Application of University Community Standards
Sanctions for the conduct listed below can be imposed on applicants, enrolled students, students between academic terms, graduates awaiting degrees, and students who withdraw from school while a disciplinary matter is pending. Conduct that threatens the safety or security of the campus community, or substantially disrupts the functions or operation of the university whether it occurs on or off campus, including all online social media sites, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter is a violation of the University Community Standards. In cases where the School of Law students have allegedly violated the University Community Standards, the Associate VP for Student Affairs (or designee) and/or the Dean of the School of Law will determine if the student will be held accountable to the University Community Standards and/or the School of Law Code of Conduct.
9.3 Good Samaritan
Students or members of the community who observe a medical or other emergency are obligated to call for help. If the “Good Samaritan” who places a call for help is found to be in violation of the University Community Standards, the fact that they placed the call will be considered when sanctions are imposed on an individual or student organization. If you feel a community member is in need of medical assistance, please inform Public Safety at (305) 628-6500.
9.4 Disciplinary Process
The disciplinary process of the university is an integral part of its educational mission. The discipline system emphasizes the acceptance of each individual’s personal and social responsibilities. All breaches of the university rules and regulations are of equal seriousness. The university, however, recognizes its responsibility to all members of the academic community, and the protection of personal and institutional rights and property is a primary focus of the disciplinary process.
Summary Action: The university reserves the right to take summary action and/or dismiss a student who is charged with or convicted of a felony while enrolled at the university or commits an egregious policy violation that causes concern for the safety of the campus community. In these instances, the conduct officer will draft a suspension/expulsion letter that includes the policy violations, the rationale for the summary action, and the grounds for appeal.
9.5 Defined Terms
- Executive Conduct Officer – the staff member in the Office of Student Affairs who oversees the adherence to the University Community Standards, reviews alleged conduct violations, and issues sanctions for violations of the Community Standards.
- Conduct Officer – Executive Conduct Officer will assign cases to Conduct Officer as she or he sees fit. The Conduct Officer will be responsible for the duties delegated to him/her by the Executive Conduct Officer.
- Executive Appellate Officer – the Associate V.P. of Student Affairs. The Executive Appellate Officer is responsible for reviewing appeals of disciplinary outcomes and sanctions.
- Accused Student – the individual/student who has allegedly committed behavior(s) that betray the Community Standards.
- Complainant – the individual who has brought forth a complaint against another individual/student. In those cases where the complaint comes in the form of an Incident Report through residence life or Public Safety, the report itself exists as the complainant. The individuals named in the report may be asked to provide more information during the investigation or to be present if a conduct review meeting is held.
- Preponderance of the Evidence – the evidentiary standard used to determine a student’s “preponderance of the evidence” means that the information as a whole, shows that the facts support the conclusion that it is “more likely than not” that the student committed the alleged behavior that violates a Community Standard.
- Responsible / Not Responsible – the accused student will be asked to make a declaration of “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” during their conduct review meeting. When a student declares that he or she is “Not Responsible” for an alleged violation – the Conduct Officer(s) appointed will decide whether or not the student is responsible by the preponderance of evidence after reviewing all the information presented during the conduct review meeting.
- Days – refers to business days (Monday—Friday); not class days or calendar days.
9.6 Procedural Deviations
The Executive Student Affairs Officer may implement procedures that are not specifically prescribed in these policies or procedures if such implementation would serve to arrive at a full and true disclosure of the facts. Deviating from the procedures set forth in this policy may be warranted depending on the nature and circumstances of the alleged charges, accused student’s conduct record, availability of witnesses or other involved parties, and other relevant factors.
Any member of the university community may file a complaint against a student for violating the Community Standards.
Upon receiving an alleged complaint that an individual or group of students has violated one or more Community Standards, the complaint shall be investigated by the Office of Student Affairs under the direction of the Executive Conduct Officer.
- If it is determined that the allegation is without merit, the investigation will cease.
- If it determined that a violation may have occurred, a conduct review meeting with the Executive Conduct Officer, or their designee, will be scheduled and the student will receive written notice within twenty-four (24) hours of their scheduled meeting time.
In order to protect the health, safety, and security of the university community and its members, the university reserves the right to impose interim measures and sanctions may be issued on a case by case basis depending on the alleged charges and other relevant considerations such as an ongoing threat to an individual, an ongoing threat to university property, or a risk of disruption to university activities. Such measures and sanctions may include, but are not limited to, no contact orders, loss of privileges, or interim suspension.
9.8 Conduct Review Meeting
A conduct review meeting consists of a private, one-on-one meeting, with a single conduct officer to review the alleged conduct violation and determine an outcome for a disciplinary charge. Conduct review meetings may be recorded at the sole discretion of the assigned conduct officer. A conduct review meeting will be conducted by the Executive Conduct Officer or an appointed designee.
Conduct review meetings will be held individually with each party involved to gather evidence, ask clarifying questions, and learn of the charges alleged. Additionally, the conduct review meeting, the accused student will have the opportunity to present information, to challenge or clarify information, and to submit questions.
The accused student will have an opportunity to either accept or not accept responsibility for the charges alleged against them. If the accused student accepts responsibility, the Executive Conduct Officer will move on to issuing the appropriate sanction. Acceptance of responsibility may be considered a mitigating factor in the sanctioning process, depending on the circumstances and the charges alleged, the accused student’s conduct record, and other relevant factors.
The Office of Student Affairs will consider the severity and frequency of the charge(s) and will determine the appropriate disciplinary meeting format. The Executive Student Affairs Officer, or his/her designee, will make the ultimate decision on who will hear the case. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis.
Admission of any third party to the conduct review meeting shall be at the sole discretion of the Executive Conduct Officer. Conduct review meetings are designed to ensure accountability for the STU Community, individuals who are not a part of this community are not normally permitted to participate. Third parties include, but are not limited to, parents/guardians, peers, faculty members, staff, and other students who are not part of the complaint, incident report, or involved in the conduct review process. Legal counsel is not allowed during the conduct process at STU. If the accused student wishes to request admission of a witness, the accused student must submit a written request to the Executive Conduct Officer, within a reasonable time period, prior to the scheduled conduct review meeting. The request must include the witness’s name and an explanation of why the witness should be included in the conduct review meeting.
In cases involving more than one accused student, the Conduct Officer may choose to consolidate the conduct review meeting and conduct a single meeting with all accused students present together, as long as the facts of the case are similar in nature or the conduct arises out of the same incident.
The format for incidents that fall under the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy will follow the processes listed in that policy. Those policies and procedures supersede those listed here.
9.9 Conduct Review Meeting Order of Events:
- If the conduct review meeting will be recorded, audio and/or video recording begins, with notice provided to the student.
- Statement of charge(s) are read aloud, including a summary of the incident report; procedural points and questions are addressed by the Conduct Officer.
- The accused student will be asked to accept or deny responsibility for the charges brought against them.
- The accused student will be provided with an opportunity to respond to the charge(s) and any related case documentation and provided the opportunity to present any evidence they wish to be included in the case file.
- The Conduct Officer will ask clarifying questions and determine if any witnesses need to participate in the process for an appropriate determination to occur.
- Either party may request that a witness appear, but such request must be accompanied by supporting rationale for the request. The Conduct Officer will have sole discretion to determine whether or not a witness is permitted to appear.
- If the Conduct Officer admits written witness statements, the accused student may be read relevant portions of the statement as needed to fully inform the accused of allegations made against them. Depending on relevant circumstances and at the sole discretion of the Conduct Officer, the accused may receive a copy of such statements, which may be redacted for sensitive information such witnesses’ names.
- The Conduct Officer will have an opportunity to ask any follow-up questions for the accused student, and/or any witnesses present.
- The meeting will conclude and all files, including evidence, statements, recordings, and any images will be placed in the case file. The Conduct Officer will deliberate and provide a written determination (the outcome letter) to the accused party within five (5) business days. The outcome letter will include a summary of the alleged charges which violate the University Community Standards, the determination of the accused student’s responsibility, the rationale of that determination, the sanction issued, and a statement of the appeals process.
9.10 Appeals Process
Decisions or sanctions made as a part of a conduct review meeting may be appealed. Only one (1) appeal per case may be submitted and will be considered. Appeals must be submitted within forty-eight (48) hours of the delivery of the Outcome Letter, via STU email.
The Executive Appellate Officer hears all appeals. In the event that the Executive Appellate Officer is not able to hear an appeal, they will designate an alternate Appellate Officer (who played no role in the case) to hear the appeal. All appellate determinations are final.
An acceptance of responsibility is only able
Unless otherwise stated, if an appeal is initiated, the original decision or sanction will not become effective until the appeal process or timeframe is complete.
- Appeals must be submitted in writing in the form of an Appeal Letter to the Executive Appellate Officer through the Office of Student Affairs within forty-eight (48) hours of delivery of the Outcome Letter. Appeals received after the forty-eight (48) hour time frame, will not be considered and the original decision will be final.
- Appeal Letters must be authored and signed by the student submitting the appeal. Appeal Letters must be delivered by e-mail and must contain the student’s name, student identification number, and the date the appeal was written. Third parties may not file an appeal on behalf of the student.
- The Appeal Letter should state the reason(s) for the appeal and the supporting facts. In order for an appeal to be considered valid, the request and supporting facts must be directly connected with one or more of the Scope of Appeal Criteria.
- The Scope of Appeal Criteria lists the grounds which a student must establish for an appeal. To be considered valid, an appeal must reference one or more of the following grounds for review:
- Procedural Defect in the Conduct Review Process – which had a substantial impact on the original decision rendered in the case. The Appeal must describe the procedural defect in detail and include an explanation of how that defect substantially changed the decision that was reached. Deviations from prescribed procedures will not necessarily invalidate a decision or proceeding unless there is significant prejudice to the student or university.
- New Information – which was not available at the time of the original conduct review meeting and would have a substantial impact on the original decision rendered in the case. The Appeal must describe the new information in detail, explain why that information was not previously available, and how it would substantially change the decision that was reached.
- The Scope of Appeal Criteria lists the grounds which a student must establish for an appeal. To be considered valid, an appeal must reference one or more of the following grounds for review:
- Bias – Information demonstrating that there is no way a reasonable person could have arrived at decisions similar to the original decision absent of bias.
Appeals of determinations made based on the acceptance of responsibility can only be made on the grounds that the sanction was disproportionate to the actions responsible for.
- Appeals are closed to outside participation. No participants, advisors, attorneys, or other observers are to be present during these proceedings. No record shall be made of the discussion in these deliberations, other than the Executive Student Affairs Officer’s (or their designated Hearing Officer’s) final decision, with rationale.
- An Appellate Review Meeting shall be conducted within ten (10) business days of the appeal being received by the Executive Student Affairs Officer. Inability to schedule an appeal within ten (10) business days due to scheduling conflicts of the Executive Student Affairs Officer (or their designated Hearing Officer), will not be grounds for dismissal or adjustment of the original conduct review decision or sanction.
- Evidence that was not presented during the original conduct review meeting, may be presented, only if it was previously unavailable.
- Failure to appear at the Appellate Review Meeting, without proper notice to the Executive Student Affairs Officer, will result in a voiding of the appeal and makes the initial determination final
- Appeal decisions are final and will be delivered in writing, via email, to the charged student. These decisions may include:
- A finding that there is no merit to the appeal and affirming the decision of the adjudicating body.
- A finding that the student’s appeal on procedure is valid and deferring to the adjudicating body to determine the manner in which the case should be reconsidered.
- A finding that the sanction assessed by the adjudicating body was too severe or lenient and assessing what it deems to be an appropriate penalty.
In all cases, sanctions for violation(s) of the Community Standards can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Verbal Reprimand.
- Written Reprimand.
- Removal from Residence Halls. A person removed from STU housing for accountability reasons will be responsible for all housing charges assessed for the semester in which he/she is removed. Students will forfeit any housing deposits. Additionally, students will be responsible for the complete payments of his/her current meal plan.
- Restitution and/or fines.
- Reflection Essays.
- Letters of Apology.
- Required attendance to an educational or intervention program, seminar, etc.
- Required participation in assessments and screenings to assist in determining additional actions to be taken by the student.
- Random Drug Testing and/or referral to substance abuse treatment.
- Loss of privileges, such as the privilege to move off-campus, to live on campus, membership in STU co-curricular organizations or activities, athletics, attendance at special events, etc.
- Permanent No-Contact Orders between involved individuals.
- Permanent No-Trespass Order on university campus(s) or properties for an individual.
- Disciplinary Probation – a conditional retention of a student’s status for a specific period of time. Students found responsible for violations of the Community Standards during their probationary period will likely be separated from the STU Community by either Expulsion or Suspension.
- Interim Suspension – an immediate exclusion from class and other university privileges or activities until further notice. Interim suspension may be imposed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of members of the STU community. Interim Suspensions include restriction of individuals’ ability to be on university property.
- Disciplinary Suspension – Separation from the university for a specified period of time, which includes loss of all tuition, fees, coursework and other privileges of an enrolled student.
- Expulsion from STU – Separation from the university without the possibility of readmission. A Student will lose all tuition, fees, coursework and other privileges of an enrolled student.
- Delay of Degree – The university reserves the right to delay the awarding of a degree.
- Revocation of Degree – The university reserves the right to revoke any degree, and such revocation would be noted on the student’s academic transcript.
Factors that may be considered when determining an appropriate sanction may include but are not limited to the nature of the conduct violation, the circumstances surrounding it, whether the student has any prior conduct violations, and the impact of the conduct violation on the community as a whole.
Students must comply with the sanctions rendered in their case. Failure to comply will result in a referral to the Executive Conduct Officer for further evaluation and could result in additional disciplinary action.
9.12 Possible Fines
The following is a list of possible fines for some violations of the Community Standards. Along with the below fines, additional restitution and/or costs may be incurred depending on the incident and damages.
Fines may increase based on the level of offense and the repetition of misbehavior. A student may be fined for any violation of the Community Standards. The following are the most commonly assigned fines.
- Alcohol – $100 – $300
- Destruction of grounds/lawns – $50 – $100
- Altering or misusing fire safety equipment – up to $1000
- Lost/Replacement ID Card – $10
- Lost/Replacement Res Hall Room Key – $100
- Quiet Hour Violation – $25-$100
- Prohibited Items in buildings – $25
- Tobacco Free Campus Policy Violation – $25 – $100
- Pet Policy Violation – up to $100
- Visitation Violations – $100
- Vandalism – $25 – $100
- Propping Secure Access and/or Exterior Doors – $100