Student Rights and Responsibilities


STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT


Introduction

The University of Houston-Victoria (UHV), as an institution of higher education, strives to maintain an educational environment that recognizes and respects the ideas, health, safety, welfare, intellectual and property rights of others and the University. The University has a clear responsibility in the area of student conduct to protect and promote the educational mission of the University. Students admitted to UHV accept the responsibility to conform to all UHV policies and regulations, along with all federal, state, and local laws.

The UHV Student Code of Conduct supports UHV’s obligation to its educational mission. The Student Code of Conduct contains 6 sections:

Section I: Student Code of Conduct Definitions;

Section II: Student Code of Conduct Violations;

Section III: Possible Sanctions for Code Violations;

Section IV: Student Notification and Disciplinary Procedures;

Section V: University Counseling Center Referral; and

Section VI: Appeal

 

Section I: Student Code of Conduct Definitions

  1. Accused student means any student accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct.

  2. Advisor means an individual or an attorney who the student can ask to attend a hearing with the student. Advisors are not permitted to participate directly in the Student Conduct Board Hearings.

  3. Complainant is any person who submits a charge/disciplinary referral in accordance with the disciplinary process contained herein alleging that a student violated this Student Code of Conduct.

  4. Faculty member means any person hired by the University to conduct classroom or teaching activities or who is otherwise considered by the University to be a member of its faculty, including instructors, lecturers, adjuncts, and teaching assistants.

  5. Notification means correspondence sent by regular mail, addressed to the addressee at the permanent address as shown on University records or the students’ residence hall address while residing at the University if the student lives in University housing, personally delivered to the student(s) and/or sent electronically from a University of Houston-Victoria email account to the student’s UHV email account as shown on University records.

  6. Policy means written regulations of the University as found in, but not limited to, the Student Handbook, Faculty Manual, Residence Life Handbook, and Student Athlete Handbook, University Catalog, and University webpage.

  7. Respondent means the student accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct.

  8. Student includes all persons enrolled in courses at the University, either face-to-face, electronically, or via ITV pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees.

  9. Student Code means this Student Code of Conduct.

  10. University means University of Houston-Victoria and any location where the University delivers courses or programs.

  11. University official means a person serving in an official University capacity, including, but not limited to, the University of Houston System Board of Regents, UHV administrators, faculty and staff, and housing and food services staff.

  12. University property means all equipment and software, land, buildings, facilities and other property (including adjacent streets and sidewalks) in the possession of or owned, used, or controlled by the University.

Section II: Student Code of Conduct Violations

The University of Houston-Victoria defines the following acts as unacceptable and a violation of the Student Code. All alleged violations of the Student Code may result in referral to the Director of Student Life and Services.

Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol does not diminish or excuse a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. This list may not include all possible violations.

Violation of Probation – Violation of the code while on probation from the University, or violation of the terms of that University probation.

Disruption/Obstruction – Obstructing or interfering with University functions or any University activity. Disturbing the peace and good order of the University by, among other things, fighting, quarreling, disruptive behavior or excessive noise, including but not limited to, a disruption by the use of all types of cameras, cell phones, and/or communication devices.

Mental or Bodily Harm – (a) Intentionally inflicting mental or bodily harm upon any person; (b) taking any action for the purpose of inflicting mental or bodily harm upon any person; (c) taking any reckless, but not accidental action from which mental or bodily harm could result to any person; (d) engaging in conduct (including, but not limited to, stalking) that causes a person to believe that the offender may cause mental or bodily harm; (e) participating in any act which demeans, degrades, or disgraces any person. “Any person” as used in this section may include oneself.

Discrimination – Intentional discrimination against a person on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation except where such distinction is allowed by law.

Destruction of Property – Intentionally or recklessly damaging, destroying, defacing, or tampering with University property or the property of any person or business on campus.

Theft – Theft, or attempted theft, of property or services from any department, person, or business on University property.

Possession of Stolen Property – Possessing property known to the possessor to be stolen and that may be identified as property of the University or any other person or business.

Forcible Entry or Trespass – Forcible or unauthorized entry to any building, structure, or facility and/or unauthorized entry to or use of University grounds.

Unauthorized Use of Property or Service – Unauthorized use of property or services or unauthorized possession of University property or the property of any other person or business.

Unauthorized Use of University Keys – Unauthorized use, distribution, duplication, or possession of any key(s) issued for any building, laboratory, facility, room, or other University property.

False Report of Emergency – Causing, making, or circulating a false report or warning of a fire, explosion, crime, or other catastrophe.

Misuse of Safety Equipment – Unauthorized use or alteration of firefighting equipment, safety devices, or other emergency equipment.

Possession of Dangerous Weapons – Unauthorized possession of a firearm, weapon, dangerous chemicals, or any explosive device of any description (including compressed air guns, pellet guns, BB guns, shotguns, or illegal knives) or the ammunition of any firearm or other dangerous weapon or explosive device on University grounds. (A weapon in your vehicle constitutes possession.)

Manufacture, Distribution, Sale, Offer for Sale, Use, or Possession of Controlled Substances or Drug Paraphernalia – The manufacture, distribution, sale, offer for sale, use, or possession of any controlled substances, including but not limited to barbiturates, hallucinogens, amphetamines, cocaine, opium, heroin, or marijuana. Controlled Substances and Drug Paraphernalia are defined by Texas law.

Unauthorized Use of Alcoholic Beverages – Possession, distribution, or consumption of alcoholic beverages except during events or in circumstances authorized by University officials and/or failure to comply with state or University regulations regarding the use of or sale of alcoholic beverages.

Public Intoxication – Presenting a threat to oneself or others due to being under the influence of alcoholic beverages.

Failure to Comply or Identify – Failure to comply with direction of University officials, security, or any law enforcement officers requested to be on campus by a University official, or failing to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so.

Failure to Appear – Failure to appear at the request of any hearing authorities or failure to schedule an appearance with a hearing authority as directed by a University official.

Misuse or Abuse of Computers – Misuse or unauthorized use of any computer or computer system as outlined in UHV’s computer use policy.

Falsification of Records – Altering, tampering, forging, knowingly using falsified documents or records of the University (including, but not limited to UHV parking permits and student ID’s); being party to falsification; giving or providing false statements, written or oral; and/or providing false information during any University proceeding or to any University official.

Misuse of Identification – Transferring, lending, or borrowing University identification.

Violation of Established University Policies and Procedures – Violation of University Policy, as defined herein, and procedures as established in the UHV Student Handbook, the Residential Life and Housing Manual, and other policies that relate to student behavior.

Violation of Criminal Law – Alleged violation of any criminal law where the student’s conduct interferes with the University’s exercise of its educational objectives or responsibilities to its members.

Aiding and Abetting – Assisting, hiring, or encouraging another person to engage in a Student Code violation.

Section III: Possible Sanctions for Code Violations

One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated the Student Code of Conduct.

University Expulsion – Permanent separation of the student from the University and all its activities and events.

Withholding a Degree – The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Conduct Code, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

University Suspension – Separation of the student from the University for a definite period of time, during which the student shall not be permitted to earn University credit from UHV, be on University owned property including University housing, nor participate in University events and activities. Conditions may be placed upon the student’s return following the suspension.

Disciplinary Probation – Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe disciplinary sanctions (i.e. expulsion) if the student is found to violate any UHV policy during the probationary period. A student on disciplinary probation is unable to be elected to or hold any office of any student organization recognized by the University of Houston-Victoria and may not represent the University in any special or honorary role.

Cancellation of Pre-registered Courses – Cancellation of pre-registered courses or restriction from registration.

Residence Hall Expulsion – Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.

Disciplinary Hold – a hold placed in PeopleSoft that would prevent a student from enrolling in University courses or receiving an official transcript pending completion of the imposed sanction.

Loss of or Restricted Privileges – Denial or restriction of one or more University privileges granted to students for a designated period of time. These may include but are not limited to parking privileges, dining facility privileges, use of University computers and labs, and participation in athletics of other extracurricular activities. Students who lose privileges that they have paid for or are paying for, such as housing and dining privileges, will be held accountable for remaining payments that are due and will not receive any refunds.

Restitution – Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. Restitution may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.

Fines – Previously established and published fines for residential housing violations may be imposed as published in the Resident Handbook (agreement).

Discretionary Sanctions – Work assignments, essays, service to University, or other discretionary assignments focusing on educating the student.

Disciplinary Warning – a written notice to the student that a violation of a published University policy has occurred and that the continuation of such conduct or actions could result in additional disciplinary action.

Interim Suspension – In certain circumstances, the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs or a designee may immediately suspend a student on an interim basis prior to a hearing when there is cause to believe that the student’s presence on University premises or at a University-related or registered student organization activity poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the safety or security of themselves, others, or to property. The student may be immediately suspended from all or any portion of University premises, University-related activities, or registered student organization activities.

The temporary suspension will be confirmed in writing and shall remain in effect until the conclusion of a Disciplinary Conference or Hearing Board hearing, without undue delay.

The written notice will include:

  • A statement of the regulations that the respondent allegedly violated.

  • A specific statement of the facts constituting the alleged violation. A copy of the Student Code of Conduct.

  • The date, time, and place of the hearing or instructions to schedule the hearing or disciplinary conference.

An extension may be granted to either party by the Director of Student Life and Services for good cause. If either party fails to appear at a scheduled hearing without cause, the hearing may continue in his/her absence.

The hearing shall follow the procedures outlined in Section V.

The student may appeal the decision as outlined in Section VII.

If the decision is to suspend or expel the student, the sanction takes place from the onset of the interim suspension imposed by the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.

In the event a lesser sanction is imposed, the interim suspension will not become a part of the permanent record.

Violation of Law and University Discipline

University disciplinary hearings involving a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both criminal law and the Student Code (if both possible violations result from the same factual situation) may be held without regard to upcoming civil or criminal litigation in court or criminal arrest and prosecution. Proceedings under this Student Code may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings.

Determinations made or sanctions imposed under this Student Code shall not be subject to change because criminal charges arising out of the same facts giving rise to violation of University rules were dismissed, reduced, or resolved in favor of or against the criminal law defendant. A student charged with criminal offenses may choose to remain silent during conduct proceedings, recognizing that he or she gives up the opportunity to explain his or her version of events and that the decision is made based on the information presented at the hearing.

When a student is charged by federal, state, or local authorities with a violation of a law, the University will not request or agree to special consideration for that individual because of his or her status as a student. If the alleged violation is also being processed under the Student Code, the University may advise off-campus authorities of the existence of the Student Code and of how such matters are typically handled within the University community. The University will attempt to cooperate with law enforcement and other agencies in the enforcement of criminal law on campus and in the conditions imposed by criminal courts for the rehabilitation of student violators (provided that the conditions do not conflict with campus rules or sanctions). Individual students, acting in their personal capacities, remain free to interact with governmental representatives as they deem appropriate.

Section IV: Student Notification and Disciplinary Procedures

The purpose of these procedures is to provide orderly, fair student disciplinary policies and procedures. Reasonable deviations from these procedures will not invalidate a decision or proceeding unless significant prejudice to a student may result.

Disciplinary Action Initiated

Any member of the University community may report a student for alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct. A written charge/disciplinary referral shall be submitted to the Director of Student Life and Services. Any suspected code violation should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place, preferably within five (5) business days of the date of the event.

Notification and Procedural Interview

The Director of Student Life and Services will notify the student(s) in writing within three (3) business days of receiving the written charge/disciplinary referral.

A procedural interview between the student and the Director will be set within three (3) business days after the respondent has been notified in writing of an alleged violation of the Code.

Failure to appear at the procedural interview shall constitute a separate violation of this Code and may result in further disciplinary action.

Copies of the following documents will be made available to the student at the time of the interview:

  • Student Code of Conduct with specific mention of and reference to the Student Disciplinary Procedures.

Written Charge/Disciplinary Referral

Within five (5) business days of the procedural interview the student is required to choose either a hearing before the Hearing Board or a disciplinary conference with the Director of Student Life and Services. The student shall indicate his/her choice in writing.

The Director shall notify the student in writing of the time, date, and place of the disciplinary conference or hearing.

Disciplinary Conference

Students electing in writing to participate in a disciplinary conference with the Director of Student Life and Services are afforded the following procedural protections:

  • Written notice of the alleged violations at least three (3) business days prior to the scheduled conference, unless the student requests in writing that the conference occur more quickly.

  • The right to be accompanied by an advisor.

  • The right to have access to the student’s disciplinary file prior to and during the conference.

The Director will investigate the complaint, including talking with witnesses, as appropriate. Before a decision is rendered, the student will be given an opportunity to respond to the information obtained by the Director of Student Life and Services.

The Director will advise the student in writing of the decision within ten (10) business days from the close of the investigation.

If the student fails to appear, the disciplinary conference may proceed without him/her.

Student Conduct Hearing Board

Students electing in writing to participate in a hearing before the Student Conduct Hearing Board are afforded the following procedural protections:

  • The Student Conduct Hearing Board shall include five (5) students appointed by the Student Government Association President; two (2) faculty representatives appointed by the Faculty Senate President; and two (2) staff representatives appointed by the Staff Council Chair.

  • The students do not need to be student senate members and should not be University staff.

  • A quorum shall consist of five (5) persons, with at least three (3) being students and one being a faculty or staff representative. If the quorum is not met and at least three (3) people are present with one being a student, the respondent can request the hearing proceed with those in attendance.

  • The Chair will be appointed by the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. The Director of Student Life and Services will act as a procedural advisor to the group.

The Director of Student Life and Services may remove a board member for justifiable cause. A board member may appeal his/her removal in writing to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. Decisions of the Associate Vice President are final.

If a board member resigns, cannot serve, or is removed from office, the Director of Student Life and Services will select an alternate to fill the vacancy. The alternate will correspond to the position vacated, be it student, faculty, or staff.

Hearing Procedures

Disciplinary hearings shall follow these guidelines:

Three business days prior to the hearing, the Director of Student Life and Services will make available to the respondents:

  • Copies of documents relevant to the case

  • A list of witnesses

  • A summary of expected witness testimony

The student is entitled to an advisor, who may be an attorney, but who sits in an advisory capacity and who addresses the board only upon permission from the Chair. Respondents who wish to have an attorney present as their advisor shall notify the Director of Student Life and Services with the attorney’s name and phone number at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing. Advisors may not appear in lieu of students at the hearing.

If the University chooses to proceed through legal counsel, the student will be notified three (3) business days prior to the hearing and shall also have the right to proceed through counsel. Counsel may not appear in lieu of the student.

Hearings will be closed to the public except when the respondent requests an open hearing. This request must be made in writing to the Director of Student Life and Services at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing.

If the student fails to appear, the hearing may proceed without him/her.

The Director of Student Life and Services or his/her designee will present the case for the University or the complainant.

Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant and respondent, may be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses. All participants shall be excluded during board deliberations.

The hearing consists of two parts:

  • Determination of violation

  • Determination of sanction

The Chair exercises control over the proceedings and can exclude anyone from the proceedings for disruption and/or failure to adhere to the rulings of the Chair.

Any party may challenge a board member on the ground of personal bias. Board members may be disqualified upon majority vote of the remaining board members, conducted by secret ballot.

The burden of proof shall be on the complainant or University, whichever is applicable, to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence.

The Chair shall determine what evidence is allowable. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply.

Respondent, complainant, and witnesses may speak on their own behalf, examine written evidence offered, and question witnesses. However, respondents, complainants, and witnesses shall not be forced to testify against themselves and their silence shall not be used to their detriment.

Individuals referred to in any statements by respondents, complainants, and witnesses have a right to respond briefly. They must request this privilege to the Chair who will determine the length of the response and when it shall occur during the hearing.

At the conclusion of the presentations, the board shall deliberate in closed session. After deliberation and a vote, the decision of the board will be announced to the participants.

The board may hear evidence concerning the appropriate sanction if the respondent is found to have violated the Student Code. The board may consider the respondent’s prior disciplinary record only in order to recommend an appropriate sanction.

Decisions by the board shall be by majority vote. In the event of a tie, the Chair will vote to break the tie. The Director of Student Life and Services may attend the hearing but will not be present for the board’s deliberation.

Hearings will be recorded (audio only) and, upon request, the respondent will be afforded the opportunity to listen to and review the recordings in preparation for an appeal. The only recording devices allowed in the hearing are those provided by the Director of Student Life and Services Office.

The board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the Director of Student Life and Services for further action. The Director will advise the respondent of the decision in writing within 7 business days of the hearing and, at the same time, will make a copy available to the respondent in the Director’s Office.

Victim’s Right to Know

According to federal law, alleged victims of violent crimes are entitled to know the results of campus student disciplinary proceedings concerning the alleged perpetrators.

Section V: University Counseling Center Referral

The Director of Student Life and Services may refer a student to the University Counseling Center during the pendency of the disciplinary process. The Counseling Center with written permission of the student may discuss the results of the referral with the Director of Student Life and Services. The student may refuse such a referral without penalty at which time the disciplinary process will continue as if no referral were made.

Section VI: Appeal

A student can appeal a student disciplinary decision by sending to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs a written notice that includes a detailed explanation of the reason for the appeal within fifteen (15) business days from the date of the receipt of the letter notifying the respondent of the Director of Student Life and Services’ decision.

The Associate Vice President of Student Affairs will render a decision and notify the respondent in writing within ten (10) business days of the receipt of the appeal.

The decision of the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs shall be final.