Section 12 – Student Conduct Review
Note: This Section 12 does not apply to student sexual, interpersonal, or protected class misconduct, which is subject to https://policy.usc.edu/discrimination/.
12.01 Incident Report
Faculty or staff may initiate an incident report against a student or student organization for an alleged violation of the Student Conduct Code by submitting a written incident report to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. See Section 13 for details regarding the academic integrity process specifically.
12.02 Intentionally omitted.
12.03 Contents of an Incident Report
A report of an alleged violation should consist of a clear, concise written statement that contains the following information:
I. A list of any and all parties against whom the incident report is being filed.
II. A description of the alleged misconduct, the date or period of time during which it occurred and the location where the incident(s) allegedly occurred.
III. The name, address and phone number of the person making the report.
IV. All incident reports are considered to have been made in good faith.
12.04 Timing of Incident Reports
Reports may be submitted up to one year after the date of discovery of the alleged incident. This time-frame may be extended under special circumstances.
Cases involving academic, or sexual, interpersonal or protected class misconduct, may be reported at any time.
12.05 Intake and Initial Fact-finding
Upon receiving a report that a student has allegedly violated university standards, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee, will review the report to determine whether there is good cause to proceed with the student conduct process. The Director or designee may conduct such fact-finding as they see fit in order to determine whether a particular incident report has merit, and such fact-finding shall not disqualify them from also conducting the Administrative Review with the student.
The Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will send written notification of the incident report to the student via USC email. Students who fail to respond to initial notification from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee, within five business days of the email notification or who cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts, remain subject to Summary Administrative Review and consequent sanctioning. If the student fails to respond to the email notice to schedule an appointment with the designated member of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designee, an administrative hold will be placed on the student’s record prohibiting the student from performing registration transactions until an appointment is scheduled and completed. In addition, a Summary Administrative Review may be conducted in absentia when a student fails to respond to initial notification.
12.06 Overview of Student Conduct Reviews
In incident reports where there is good cause, the Director or designee will meet with the student to conduct an Administrative Review, either Voluntary or Summary. At this Administrative Review meeting with the Judicial Affairs officer, the student has the opportunity to present any information regarding the incident, however, written statements from the student will not be accepted, and the student are not permitted to create a recording or transcription of the meeting. The decision as to whether the matter should be resolved by Administrative Review is at the sole discretion of the Director or designee.
12.10 Administrative Reviews
An Administrative Review consists of a meeting between the Director or designee (finder-of-fact), and the named student.
I. In a Voluntary Administrative Review, the student does not dispute the facts upon which the allegations are based, waives their right to further review, and accepts the decision by signing an Administrative Review form. Students accepting the Administrative Review form retain the right to appeal to the appropriate appeal body only as to the appropriateness of the sanction (see Section B.15.02.II).
II. In a Summary Administrative Review, the student may verbally deny some or all of the facts upon which the allegations are based, or the student may dispute the appropriateness of the recommended sanction(s). The Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, or designated review officer, may determine the student is responsible for the alleged violation(s) or dismiss the case, based on the preponderance of the evidence. Students found responsible for violations under the Summary Administrative Review process retain the right to appeal to the appropriate appeal body on all grounds (see Section 15.02).
12.13 Residential Education Review
In specified cases involving violations of behavioral standards outlined in the Student Conduct Code or the University Housing & Hospitality Services Contract & Living Agreement by student residents in university housing, a Residential Education Review may be conducted by a Residential Education staff member. A Residential Education Review is a process which utilizes procedures in lieu of the procedures contained in this Student Handbook (documentation on the Residential Education review process is available at resed.usc.edu/resources/residential-review-process-policies/).
12.14 Other Review Systems
The Vice President for Student Affairs has granted to Keck School of Medicine, Ostrow School of Dentistry, and the Leventhal School of Accounting, the authority to conduct independent reviews, render decisions and recommend appropriate sanctions in cases of alleged academic integrity violations. Granting this authority does not preclude the university from adjudicating matters concerning the behavior of students from these schools. These graduate/professional school panels must meet standards of procedural fairness. Sexual, interpersonal, and protected class misconduct cases involving students from these schools are still reviewed by the Title IX Office, but the determinations of a completed sexual, interpersonal, and protected class case may lead to additional sanctions imposed by those schools as appropriate to the professional discipline.
12.15 Public Health Measures
Students and student organizations are required to comply with behavioral expectations set forth by the University in light of COVID-19. Given the community health risks posed by the failure to adhere to these expectations, the University will hold students and student organizations accountable for their non-compliance. If the University receives notice that a student or student organization is repeatedly failing to comply:
- Students may lose their access to University premises, which may consequently delay their ability to complete their coursework. Tuition refunds will not be granted to students who lose their ability to access University premises under these circumstances.
- Students and student organizations may also be found responsible for violations of the Conduct Code (Section B.11), and subject to a review by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
12.40 Adjudicatory Procedures
All of the student procedural protections listed in Section 10.30 will be observed. The following procedural guidelines apply to all reviews of Student Conduct Code violations adjudicated by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards:
I. Multiple Accused Students
In reviews of incidents involving more than one student, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will determine whether the reviews concerning each student be conducted separately.
II. Pending Criminal Charges
For cases in which criminal investigations and/or proceedings are concurrent or pending against the accused student directly, the university normally may proceed independently of such investigations or proceedings. The student or the reporting party may request that the university delay its proceeding. Such requests should be submitted in writing at least two business days prior to the scheduled review, to the Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, stating the requested action and the supporting rationale for the request. The Director or designee may grant the request but is not obligated to do so. The mere fact that criminal investigation or proceedings exist will not ordinarily be considered grounds for delay.
However, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards may coordinate with law enforcement to ensure the university process does not interfere with the integrity or timing of the criminal investigation. At the request of law enforcement, the university may temporarily defer its process.
Neither a decision by law enforcement not to proceed with arrest or prosecution, nor the outcome of a criminal proceeding in favor of the accused, are themselves determinative in the university’s proceeding or the determination that a Conduct Code violation has occurred. However, conviction of a criminal offense may be dispositive in a Conduct Code review.
III. Relevant Information
It is the responsibility of the review officer to render determinations concerning relevance of information to be presented as part of the review. Rules of evidence and discovery used by federal and state judicial proceedings shall not be applicable to reviews described in this Code. The review officer will consider information that is relevant, material, and temporally proximate to the conduct at issue; in other words, information that makes the existence of a fact or inference more or less likely.
The review officer may exclude information that is not relevant or is not considered credible or reliable in the investigatory process. For instance, polygraph tests will not be considered in determining whether a fact exists. Character witnesses, statements, or letters are also not considered (examples of character evidence include statements, resumes, transcripts, and letters from friends, family, or faculty).
IV. Standard of Proof
The burden of proof shall at all times rest upon the reporting party. The standard of proof for deciding against the accused student shall be such evidence that, when weighed against that opposed to it, has the more convincing force and the greater probability of truth.
For cases in which a student is found not responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code, no sanctions will be assessed. For cases in which a student is found responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code, the student’s previous conduct record at the university will be considered in determining appropriate sanctions. Except for cases in which the student’s disciplinary history is a basis for the alleged violation(s) under review (e.g., reference to Section 11.49 or to a continuing pattern of behavior), consideration of that history will occur subsequent to the determination of responsibility.
Cases involving suspension, expulsion, revocation of degree and revocation of admission are subject to review and possible modification by the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee.
Included with the decision document will be a statement outlining the proper course of appeal for the particular case.
12.60 Disciplinary Records
For certain cases or when a student is determined to be responsible for a violation of university standards by any student conduct process, a disciplinary record of the matter will be maintained in a confidential student file by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for up to seven years. Expulsion, suspension, revocation of degree and revocation of admission will result in permanent student conduct files.