Non-Academic Violations Review Process

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 timeframe may be extended under special circumstances.

Cases involving academic, or sexual, interpersonal or protected class misconduct, may be reported at any time.

12.05  Processing of Incident Reports

Upon receiving a report that a student has allegedly violated university standards, staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will review the report to determine whether there is good cause to proceed with the student conduct process. Staff may follow up with appropriate parties to obtain additional information as they see fit in order to determine whether a particular incident report has merit. Staff may choose to drop the matter or proceed with an informal or formal resolution process.

12.06  Overview of Student Conduct Reviews

If the matter is not dismissed, the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will send written notification of the incident report to the student via USC email, initiating either an informal or formal resolution process.

12.07  Informal Resolution

In an informal resolution, the student is invited to meet with a staff member to discuss the report. Assuming that the student responds to the meeting request and subsequently actively engages in a conversation about the report, the matter will be closed without disciplinary action and the student will have no disciplinary history that is reported externally as a result of the report. Recommendations for resources or suggested follow-up may be shared with the student. If the student elects not to participate in this process, Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards staff may proceed with the formal resolution process.

12.08  Formal Resolution

In a formal resolution, the student is invited to meet with a staff member to conduct an administrative review of the report. The student has an opportunity to submit a written account of their perspective to staff in advance of the meeting. At the meeting, the student has the opportunity to present any information regarding the incident. The student is not permitted to create a recording or transcription of the meeting. Staff will decide if the student is responsible for any violation(s) of university policy based on a “preponderance of the information” (more likely than not) standard. If so, staff will determine (an) appropriate outcome(s).

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/outcomes in cases of alleged academic integrity or professional standards 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 EEO-TIX Office, but the determinations of a completed sexual, interpersonal, and protected class case may lead to additional sanctions/outcomes imposed by those schools as appropriate to the professional discipline.

12.15 Public Health Measures

expectations set forth by the University in light of public health needs, including but not limited to COVID-19 or any other disease, health and safety, natural disaster, or other emergency response. 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, staff in the Office 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 to staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards, stating the requested action and the supporting rationale for the request. Staff 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, staff in the Office 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 Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards staff to render determinations concerning relevance of information to be considered as part of their review of the incident . Rules of evidence and discovery used by federal and state judicial proceedings shall not be applicable to reviews described in this Code. Staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards will consider information that is timely and relevant to the alleged conduct under review .

Staff in the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards may exclude information that is not relevant or is not considered credible or reliable in the review of an incident . 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). Opinions by those who did not see, hear, or otherwise experience an incident may not be considered relevant.

IV. Standard of Proof
The standard of proof for a finding of responsibility for a violation of university policy shall be preponderance of the information, meaning more likely than not.

V. Decision
For cases in which a student is found not responsible for violating the Student Conduct Code, or in cases resolved informally, no outcomes will be issued . 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 outcomes . 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 letter will be a statement outlining the proper course of appeal for the particular case.