Frequently Asked Questions for Family

My student received a letter from your office citing student conduct code violations. What happens next?
Every student charged with a disciplinary violation is afforded the opportunity to explain what happened during the incident in question and to present additional relevant information regarding his or her involvement.

Most cases are heard through our administrative review process and involve at least one meeting with a judicial officer from this office. Complicated cases (more than one accused student, several witnesses and serious violations of the Student Conduct Code) may require more than one meeting or may require a panel hearing. The final decision on the appropriate adjudication route will be made by the Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.

At the end of the appropriate fact finding process, a decision is made as to whether the student is responsible for the student conduct code sections cited in the original letter. The University uses the preponderance of evidence standard as the measure by which a decision is made.

Not all students are held responsible and sometimes an administrative warning is appropriate. Our decisions regarding whether to hold a student responsible and what sanctions to assign are made on a case by case basis, but are guided by procedural norms. If a student is held responsible, the judicial officer will recommend a set of educational sanctions designed to remedy the violation and ensure the student understands USC community standards.

My student is not happy with the University’s decision.
What can my student do?

The University’s student conduct system is intended to encourage students to take responsibility for their behavior. Feel confident that the decision in your student’s case was thoroughly and carefully considered, and it is intended to help your student understand USC’s behavioral standards.

However, the Student Conduct Code does allow for appeals based on one or more of the following criteria: (1) New Evidence; (2) Sanction Excessive or Inappropriate; (3) judicial officer failed to follow University Rules or Regulations during the review process. The written appeal must be submitted to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards within ten (10) business days from receipt of the written decision.

The written appeal must include the Appeal Request Cover Sheet, a document available from Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, indicating the specific grounds for the appeal, supporting arguments, documentation and any other relevant information the accused student or the complainant wishes to include. The student should refer to Guidelines for Writing Appeals, another document available from Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for more detailed instructions.

Appeals are documentary reviews only; no oral testimony is taken. Therefore, the student’s document should be as complete as possible. The appropriate University Review panel will consider the appeal documents and may decide to uphold the initial decision in its entirety, increase sanctions of the initial decision, decrease sanctions of the initial decision or remand the case back to Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review or dismiss the case. The appeal panel’s decision is final and binding upon all parties.

I pay the bills; I want to know what is going on.
Why can’t Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards discuss the details of my student’s case with me?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law which prohibits educational institutions from disclosing information from a student’s confidential educational records to a specified set of third parties, including parents, without the student’s consent.

USC strictly adheres to the provisions in FERPA. The best ways to ensure your student’s judicial officer can fully address your concerns is to have your student contact our office at and sign a waiver granting parental access to his or her records. Once the student signs a waiver, a member of our staff can discuss the student’s case with anyone listed in the waiver. Our office must also have a signed waiver before parents can participate in any administrative meetings. While we encourage parental support, the entirety of our process is aimed at the educational development of your student. Therefore, all of our questions will be directed toward your student and your student will be expected to answer the questions truthfully. For more information, the parent may request the Guidelines for Student’s Advisor, a document available in Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.