CofC Logo

4-IV. Conduct and Student Organizations

New Student Code of Conduct

4-New-Code-of-Conduct

(From the official policy web site http://policy.cofc.edu/ and retaining the policy web site numbering system)

The New Student Code of Conduct is presented in four sections this is Section IV:

4-IV. Conduct and Student Organizations.  Including Definitions of terms used in this New Student Code of Conduct.

Student organizations enrich the campus and community by providing a source of intellectual, personal and social development of students through their programs and activities. The College fulfills an important mission by providing procedures and policies for the registration and support of student organizations.

As a guiding principle, groups will be held responsible for the acts of their members when those acts grow out of or are in any way related to group life. Isolated violations of individuals should not be chargeable to the group, but evidence of group conduct exists when one or more of the questions below are answered in the affirmative:

  • Would a reasonable person understand the behavior to fall within the scope of the organization’s activity?
  • Was the behavior committed by one or more members and sanctioned by the organization and/or its officers?
  • Was the behavior committed by one or more members during the course of an activity financed by the organization and/or on property owned by the organization?
  • Was the behavior committed by one or more members and supported by its members?
  • Did the officers have prior knowledge the incident would take place?
  • Did the members lie about the incident?
  • Was there a pattern of member(s) violations of College policies or codes found to have existed without proper and appropriate organization control, remedy, or sanction?

Amnesty Stipulations

a. Individuals who have experienced hazing and who truthfully report will likely not be individually charged with a violation of this regulation.

b. Individuals who have knowledge of hazing activities, but who did not participate, and truthfully report the organization, team, or group, will likely not be individually charged in relation to that particular incident.

c. Any organization, team, or group that seeks assistance in hazing education/prevention and positive new member activities in efforts to prevent hazing from occurring within, even if past behaviors have included hazing, will likely not be charged with a past violation of this regulation.

d. Any organization, team or group that self-reports a hazing behavior to an appropriate College Official or the Department of Public Safety will likely be given the opportunity to change those behaviors without immediate threat of being charged with a violation of this regulation. An organization or group that self-reports shall identify those individuals responsible for the hazing behaviors. If evidence is presented in subsequent semesters that hazing behaviors have continued within the organization, that organization may be held responsible for past behaviors.

Cases involving student organizations are not considered confidential under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); therefore, the College does not protect the confidentiality of the conduct records regarding the conduct of student organizations.

A. Student Organization Discipline Procedures

When the College of Charleston receives information regarding alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct, Honor Code, or other policy violation, one of two processes may be employed: The Partnership Process or the Honor Board Process.  Each process is outlined below, and, each begins with the same first two steps.  Steps 3 and onward are unique to either the Partnership Process or Honor Board Process.  A general timeline for each process is included, although the Division of Student Affairs may extend the time in exceptional circumstances or for good cause shown.

The opportunity to participate in the Partnership Process may be revoked based on egregiousness of offense/allegation.

If organization is subject to additional process, that process may begin only after the Office of the Dean of Students has concluded its process.

Barring exigent circumstances (e.g., conclusion of semester, academic breaks, prolonged investigations, etc.), the Office of the Dean of Students will make earnest attempts to maintain the integrity of the specified timelines for each step of a process. Should the Office of the Dean of Students anticipate a potential derivation from specified timelines, the organization will be notified.

1. Incident report is received by the Office of the Dean of Students, Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL), Public Safety, informant, self-report, or other source.

2. Notification letter of allegation(s) and invitation to meet with an official from the Office of the Dean of Students and/or other selected officials, functional area staff member, and functional area student representative is sent within three business days of receipt of information. In cases involving dangerous misconduct and/or death/injury, the Office of the Dean of Students may issue a cease and desist of all organizational activities; local/regional/national advisor(s) receive same notification. Notification letter may outline the potential violation(s) of College of Charleston policy and/or the Student Code of Conduct.

B. Partnership Process

1. Organization officers and advisor on file meet in the Office of the Dean of Students with selected officials, functional area student representative and a functional area staff member within three business days of receipt of notification letter. Group discusses internal investigation process/strategy. 

Written report of internal findings due to the selected officials and functional area staff member within five business days of meeting.  The written report should be detailed and specific, including names of individuals to be held accountable. A sample report will be provided to the organization as a suggestion on how to format the final submission.

If the organization does not accept responsibility, obstructs the process, provides false/inaccurate information, omits information, or misses a deadline or meeting, the process automatically moves to Step 3 of the Honor Board Process.

2. Organization officers and advisor meet in the Office of the Dean of Students with the selected officials, functional area staff member, and functional area student representative to discuss information discovered through internal investigation and recorded in the written report.  Organization accepts responsibility and prepares an initial draft of Organizational Enhancement Plan (OEP) where appropriate. Organization may be subject to additional sanctions by the selected officials and/or functional area staff member.

If information points to an individual or group of individuals and is not adequate to support organizational charges, the organization is found Not Responsible and the Office of the Dean of Students proceeds with individual charges.  Names of individual students must be provided to proceed.

Case materials (e.g., incident report, meeting notes, internal investigative report, etc.) are kept on file in the Office of the Dean of Students for record keeping purposes, in accordance with the college’s normal records retention policies. Student organizations do not retain the same FERPA protections as individual students. Therefore, case materials may be disclosed if a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is submitted. All information identifying individual students would be redacted if such a request is received and before release of case materials.

3. Organizational Enhancement Plan further developed by organization officers with assistance from advisor, selected officials, functional area representative and functional area student representative. Organization officers must confirm acceptance of plan by all members within five business days.  Signed final draft of OEP is sent to the selected officials and functional area staff member for final review.  Final outcome may include an organizational status which is mutually agreed upon in the OEP.

If the organization does not accept responsibility and/or the accountability outcome, process moves to Step 3 of the Honor Board Process

4. Within five business days, the Office of the Dean of Students formalizes institutional accountability outcome (sanctions) with organizational leadership and advisor in a signed final OEP. 

5. If the organization misses any deadlines or violates the OEP, or is charged with any further violations (including failure to comply), the organization will participate in the Honor Board process and may incur additional charges.

C. Honor Board Process

1. The Office of the Dean of Students assembles investigation team to conduct member interviews.  The timeline for the investigation will be determined by the interviewers and shared with the organization. Additionally, a Cease and Desist Order may be issued based on the egregiousness of the allegation or possible continued threat to the health and safety of others.

a. Organization may waive this step after reviewing materials offered by the Office of the Dean of Students
b. Waiver must be submitted in writing via email to the Office of the Dean of Students

2. Investigation provides information (“reasonable cause”) that supports charges being brought against the organization (Proceed to Step 3).

OR Investigation provides information that does not support charge(s) being brought against the organization. Honor Board Process ends.

3. The Office of the Dean of Students meets with organization to deliver letter/packet to organization of alleged violation(s); offer for a Pre-hearing meeting will be made, but is not required.

4. Organization returns response form within three business days.  Honor Board Chair schedules hearing and sends hearing notice. If organization does request a pre-hearing meeting, Honor Board chair schedules the meeting to be held at least three business days prior to the hearing to review the hearing process, script, confirm case materials, and any witnesses. This meeting does not serve to replace the actual hearing and no resolution will be provided during this meeting.

5. Organization appears before Honor Board to determine responsibility and/or sanctions

6. Resolution through Honor Board Process

a. Organization found In Violation by Honor Board (proceed to Step 7).
b. Organization found Not in Violation of all charges.  The Honor Board process ends.

7. The Office of the Dean of Students will consider the recommendations of the decisional authority, may make appropriate modifications to the letter and will then render a decision and inform the student organization (and party bringing the complaint if applicable by law or College policy) of the final determination, generally within two business days of the hearing, subject to extension, in the discretion of the Division of Student Affairs (Executive Vice President for Student Affairs), for good cause shown. Notification will be made in writing and will be delivered by email to the student organization leadership’s College-issued email account(s). Once emailed, such notice will be presumptively delivered. In cases of sexual misconduct and other crimes of violence, notice of the outcome will be delivered to all parties simultaneously, meaning without substantial delay between the notifications to each.

8. A student organization has the right to appeal to the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs within five days of receipt of outcome letter (See Appeal section of the Student Handbook).

D. Sanctions

The following conduct sanctions may be imposed upon student organizations when they have been found in violation of the Student Codes. All sanctions may be imposed individually or in combination. Conduct sanctions are imposed for the purpose of holding student organizations accountable for their actions and the actions of their guest(s), whether on campus or at any organizational event. Failure to satisfactorily complete a conduct sanction may result in more severe sanctions. More than one sanction may be imposed for any single violation.

1. Reprimand: An official statement to the student organization explaining that it has violated a College policy, Code, or regulation. Any further misconduct could result in additional disciplinary action.

2. Restitution: When an organization has damaged or destroyed College or personally owned property the organization may be required to make restitution, or receive additional educational sanctions.

3. Restriction of Privileges: Restrictions placed upon a student organization which limits College privileges for a specified period of time. These limitations may include, but are not limited to, the following:

a. Denial to represent the College in any capacity.

b. Denial to maintain an office or other assigned space on College property.

c. Denial to receive or retain College funds.

d. Denial to participate in intramural sports.

e. Denial to sponsor, co-sponsor and/or participate in any social event or other activity.

f. Denial to sponsor any speaker or guest on campus.

g. Denial of rush or membership recruitment activities.

h. Denial of having alcohol at organizational events.

i. Denial of the use of College vehicles.

j. Denial of the use of College facilities.

k. Denial of advertising on campus for organizational activities.

l. Denial of soliciting and/or selling any items on campus.

4. Conduct Probation: A specified period of review, observation and/or restrictions during which a student organization is under official warning that its misconduct was very serious. Subsequent violations of College rules, regulations, codes or policies could result in more severe sanctions, including suspension or dismissal of recognition. During the probationary period, a student organization is deemed “not in good standing” with the College and may be subject to specific limitations upon its behavior or College privileges.

5. Suspension of Organizational Recognition: The denial of privileges of a recognized organization for a designated period of time, which will be no less than one semester. Any organization whose recognition is suspended must:

a. Cease all organizational activities.

b. Vacate any appointed or elected office with that organization’s governing body for the duration of the organization’s period of suspension.

c. Surrender balances of all organizational funds granted by Student Government.

d. Vacate office or housing space assigned by the College from the date of the notice of suspension. Space vacated due to suspension may be reassigned to other eligible College organizations. In the case of housing, individual members will be reassigned provided space is available. There will be no individual College Housing contract cancellations.

6. Dismissal of Organizational Recognition: Permanently excludes the organization from the College without any recourse to reapply for recognition. Any organization whose recognition is permanently revoked must:

a. Cease all organizational activities.

b. Vacate any appointed or elected office.

c. Surrender balances of all organizational funds granted by Student Government.

d. Vacate office or housing space assigned by the College from the date of the notice of dismissal. Space vacated due to dismissal may be reassigned to other eligible College organizations. In the case of housing, individual members will be reassigned provided space is available. There will be no individual College Housing contract cancellations.

7. Interim Suspension of Organizational Recognition: An interim suspension may be imposed, by the Dean of Students or the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs or their designee prior to the beginning of the administrative process. The interim suspension may be imposed in cases where:

a. The alleged action of the student organization may pose a threat to the well-being of the College or any of its members, or to preserve College property;

b. The student organization poses a threat of disruption or interference with the normal operations of the College.

During any interim suspension, the organization shall be required to discontinue with all organizational activities. The organization will be denied access to all College activities and privileges for which the organization might be eligible. In certain circumstances, organizational leadership may be restricted from communication with the organizational membership or students may be required to vacate organizational housing units.

Prior to imposing an interim suspension, every effort will be made to give the student organization an opportunity to respond to the charge(s). Following the imposition of an interim suspension, the opportunity for an administrative hearing as described above will be provided as expeditiously as possible, generally five business days after the interim suspension unless the student organization waives the time deadline or there are extenuating circumstances or other good cause shown.

A decision reached by the Dean of Students or designee about an interim suspension by be appealed by the student organization to the Executive Vice President for Student Affairs within two working days of the transmittal of the decision.  Such appeals shall be writing and shall cite the name of the case; the grounds for the appeal and the relief requested.  The conditions of the interim action shall be imposed while any appeal is under review.

A student or organization that fails to complete or comply with any sanctions may be subject to additional measures from the Office of the Dean of Students.

Definitions

The term “College” means College of Charleston.

The term “Student” is defined as any person who is admitted, enrolled or registered for study at College of Charleston for any academic period, irrespective of whether they are on campus or not. Persons who are not officially enrolled for a particular term, but who have a continuing student relationship with the College are considered students. A person shall be considered a student during any period, which follows the end of either the spring or fall semester, which the student has completed, including Maymester or summer, until the last day for registration for the following semester. A person shall be considered a student during any period while the student is under suspension from the institution or when the person is attending or participating in any activity preparatory to the beginning of school including, but not limited to, the Bridge Program, Spectra, or I-Charleston.  A student may also include an individual in either a credit, non-credit, degree seeking or non- degree seeking classification.

The term “Honor System” means the Honor Code and the Student Code of Conduct (which includes but is not limited to the Alcohol, Drug, and Sexual Misconduct policies).

The term “Codes” means the Honor Code and the Student Code of Conduct.

The term “Policy” means any published policy of the College or any of its divisions.

The term “Regulation” means any published regulation or rule of the college or any of its divisions.

The term “College Official” includes any person employed by the College and any person serving the College in an official capacity.

The term “Member of the College Community” includes any person who is a student, College official, trustee, faculty, staff, or volunteer, or any other person serving the College in an official capacity. The Executive Vice President for Student Affairs shall determine a person’s status in a particular situation.

The term “College Premises” includes all land, buildings, facilities, and other property in the possession of or owned, rented, used, or controlled by the College.

The term “Organization” means any registered student organization, who has been accepted and officially recognized by the College through the Student Government Association or the Graduate Student Association.

The terms “shall” and “will” are used in the imperative sense.

The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.

The term “Business Day” means a day when the College is open for normal business, regardless of whether classes are in session (e.g., the day preceding Thanksgiving). In determining any deadlines as set forth in the codes, references to a number of “days” prior to or after occurrence of an event shall not include the day of the event.

The term “Day” means a calendar day.

The term “Complainant” means any person filing a complaint of suspected misconduct under these codes.

The term “Respondent” means a student or organization against whom a complaint has been filed under these codes.

The term “Health” means physical or mental well-being.

For the purposes of the Honor System, the term “Residence Hall” means any hall, house or any other living unit owned or leased by the College for the principal purpose of providing student housing.

For the purposes of the Honor System, the term “Possession” means having actual knowledge of a substance or property and/or being in such close proximity to the substance or property that it is a reasonable presumption that one had knowledge of the substance or property.

For example,

a. Those in a room where a controlled or prohibited substance is present would be presumed to be in possession of the substance absent compelling evidence to the contrary or

b. A bong found on a desk during a health and safety inspection would be presumed to be the possession of the student to whom the desk belongs, absent compelling evidence to the contrary.

The term “Group” means a number of persons who are associated with the College and each other, but who have not registered, or are not required to register, as a student organization (e.g. athletic teams, musical or theatrical ensembles, academic or administrative units, clubs).