Appeal Guidelines

Section 15 – Appeals of the Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards Process

Following an initial review, a student found responsible for a violation of the Student Conduct Code may file a written appeal within ten business days from receipt of the written decision. Receipt is deemed accomplished by personal delivery or three days after the date of mailing.

In most cases, the status of a student will not be altered and disciplinary outcomes will not be implemented until completion of the appeal. Written appeals should be submitted to the Student Affairs Appeals Coordinator, or designee, at sjacsappeal@usc.edu.

Should a party intending to appeal believe they have been given inadequate time to prepare their written documents, a written request for extension of time may be submitted to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. The request must be submitted in writing within the ten business-day appeal period, and should include the rationale for requesting the extension along with a proposed date by which all appeal documents will be submitted.

Requests for extension of time will be considered on their merits and will not be granted automatically.

15.01

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

The appellant should be aware that all appeals are documentary reviews in which no oral testimony is taken. Appeals are determined solely on the merits of the documents submitted and do not proceed to oral hearing. Appellate documents therefore should be as complete as possible.

15.02

Appeals must state one or more of the following criteria as the reason for the appeal:
I. That new information has become available which was not reasonably available during the original review, regarding the responsibility or dismissal of the original report, that could affect the outcome. The appeal must specify the new information that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination, why the information was unknown or unavailable, and how the new information could affect the outcome of the Administrative Review.

II. That the outcome imposed is excessive, insufficient, or inappropriate.

III. That staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards deviated from university rules or regulations, in a way which materially deprived the student of any procedural protections detailed in Section B.10.30 above. Procedural or technical irregularities will not be sufficient to sustain an appeal unless found to have affected the outcome.

IV. The finding of responsibility is not supported by a “preponderance of the information” standard.

15.03

After receiving all appellate documents, the appropriate appeal panel will convene and review the submitted appellate documents, the written decision from the initial review and supporting documents relevant to the initial review decision. In addition, the appeal panel may request additional statements from staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

15.04

In its review of the appellate documents, appeal panel members may not substitute their judgment for that of the review officer merely because they disagree with the findings or conclusion, nor will they make new findings of fact. Moreover, the appeal panel may not substitute its opinion on credibility for the judgment of the review officer who saw and heard the witnesses and parties. The role of the appeal panel is not to decide whether it would have reached the same factual conclusions as the review officer, but rather to decide whether a reasonable fact-finder could have come to the same conclusion based on the facts in the record. If there is a conflict in the information and a reasonable fact- finder could have resolved the conflict either way, the appeal panel may not reverse the decision of staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards

In adjudicating an appeal on the grounds that the outcome imposed is excessive, insufficient, or inappropriate, the appeal panel will not substitute their judgment for that of staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, merely because they disagree with the outcome. The role of the appeal panel is not to decide whether it would have issued the same outcomes imposed by Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, but rather, whether the outcomes assigned were excessive, insufficient, or inappropriate in light of the guidance provided in Part B. 11.80 above.

The appeal panel may uphold the initial decision in its entirety, decrease outcomes of the initial decision, send the case back to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, or dismiss the case. The appeal panel applies a preponderance of the information standard.

The panel’s recommendation is submitted to the Vice President for Students Affairs, or designee, for their consideration. The Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, may adopt or modify the Panel’s recommendation, at their discretion. The decision of the Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, is final and binding upon all parties. There is no further appeal in any of these cases. The decision will be issued to the student and the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards via email.

15.05

Upon written request to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, the university will provide an alleged victim of a crime of violence the final results of the disciplinary proceeding. Final results are available only after the appeal process has been exhausted and the university has made a final determination in the matter. Final results are limited to information related to the outcomes imposed by the university that affect the victim.

15.10  Appropriate Appeals Panel

I. Peer Review Appeal Panel
The Peer Review Appeal Panel reviews all non-academic appeals except those resulting in sanctions of expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree or revocation of admission, and except for matters of sexual, interpersonal, or protected class misconduct.

The panel consists of three to five members, including at least one student member, appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Student Affairs Appeal Coordinator or another designee of the Vice President for Student Affairs shall serve as a non-voting advisory member of every appeal panel. The recommendations of the Peer Review Appeal Panel may be reviewed and modified by the Vice President for Student Affairs at their sole discretion and, once approved, are final and binding upon all parties.

II. Student Behavior Appeal Panel
The Student Behavior Appeal Panel reviews all appeals where academic outcomes of expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree and revocation of admission are imposed.

The panel consists of three members including at least one faculty member and one student,  appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Student Affairs Appeal Coordinator , or another designee of the Vice President for Student Affairs, shall serve as a non-voting advisory member of every appeal panel.

The recommendations of the Student Behavior Appeals Panel are reviewed and modified by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, at their sole discretion and, once approved, are final and binding upon all parties. No student has the right to make a direct appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs.