Rhodes College is committed to being a community that facilitates the holistic development of its community members.
This commitment encourages the freedom for individual choice and expression with the expectation that individual members of the community will uphold the Honor Code and the Standards of Conduct, demonstrate respect for self, others, the law and for College policies and procedures.
The foundation of these Standards of Conduct are rooted in the idea that the Rhodes College community is a community where students live by The Rhodes Honor System.
Parents, supporters, and campus partners can support students going through the community standards process by encouraging them to be honest, take responsibility for their actions, and express what they will do to learn and grow from the incident to avoid future misconduct.
It is important to understand, however, that based on Federal regulations the College is limited in it's ability to share information with parents and supporters. Please review the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, for more details about these regulations and guidelines about the privacy of student records.
What to Do When Your Student Is Involved In the Conduct Process
Here are some recommendations if your student is involved in a conduct process…
- The following section provides some recommendations for parents and supporters when they discover that their student is involved in the campus conduct process.
- While Rhodes College recognizes that your goal is to provide support for your student, hearing officers ask that you provide this support unconditionally, but not blindly. Understand that there is a process in place to hear all information regarding the incident in question and encourage your student to prepare him or herself for the process.
- When the student receives notification regarding conduct procedures and has questions, direct them to contact the assigned hearing officer or advisor for information. Staff members are not permitted to give specifics during active conduct cases to anyone other than the involved student and will recommend that the student contact them anyway. This also empowers the student to solve their own issues and concerns.
- The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 precludes Rhodes College from discussing your student’s academic and disciplinary record without their written permission.
- Educate yourself on the institution’s student conduct process by going to the department’s web site (click here) or by requesting a copy of the Standards of Conduct (click here). Many of your questions may be easily addressed here.
- Practice the “24 Hour Rule.” You may receive a phone call from your student because they are upset about facing conduct charges. You may be tempted to try to immediately fix the problem for them. This intervention invariably fails. Try to allow 24 hours to inform, guide, teach, and observe. Lessons learned through participation in a student conduct process must be experienced to have the desired effect.
The Office of Community Standards takes its role very seriously and commits to providing a fair and unbiased system for all students. While we understand that involvement in the conduct process may be difficult for students, we prioritize education in the process, while providing the students support to effectively handle the situations in which they find themselves.
The Office of Community Standards is committed to respecting the right to privacy of each student involved in our student conduct process. The right to review or discuss a student's disciplinary file lies solely with the student. If a student wants to assign that right to anyone, the Student Consent to Release Educational Records (click here) must be on file in our office before we can discuss any information related to the student's disciplinary file.
FAQs from Parents and Supporters
- What is the purpose of the Honor Code, Standards of Conduct, and other College policies? The Standards of Conduct and other College policies are designed to support the College's educational mission and to ensure a safe environment where people can work, study, and live without undue interference. They are also designed to build and support the academic and social community, by teaching students responsibility and interdependence, and to promote moral and ethical development.
- My student has been notified of a disciplinary violation. Do they have the opportunity to defend themselves? Every student notified that they may have allegedly violated the Standards of Conduct or other College policy is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations during their conduct meeting. These meetings allows them the opportunity to provide their responses and discuss their involvement or knowledge of the incident.
- What happens if my student is found responsible for a violation of the Standards of Conduct or other College policy? Students that are found responsible are issued sanctions as a means to hold them accountable for their behavior. These sanctions are educational opportunities designed to help the student learn from their actions/behaviors and prevent further violations or misconduct.
- What is my role as a parent/supporter in the College conduct process? How can I help my student? You can best help by encouraging your student to be honest and forthcoming and by being supportive while holding the student accountable to your expectations and those of the College. You should remind your student of the importance of attending meetings and fulfilling sanctions. It is not beneficial to the development of the student, or resolution of the matter, for you to take over the process.
- Will my student have any support during the conduct process? Students will have the opportunity to select an advisor in the process, whether Administrative or a hearing with the Community Standards Council or Honor Council. The Office of Community Standards may solicit support from Counseling Services and Chaplain service as confidential resources.
- Can I, a faculty member, or attorney attend meetings and hearings with the student? Can I access any information while the case is open? Parents, supporters, attorney, faculty, etc. will not be permitted to accompany the student in any meeting or hearing in the process. Information will not be shared during an active case, even if the student has consented to release information.
- My student was charged criminally. Why go through College's conduct process? Our conduct and disciplinary process is completely separate and independent of civil or criminal proceedings. Our process may proceed prior to, simultaneously with or following civil or criminal proceedings. Additionally, our process is not subject to challenge on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving similar factual circumstances have been dismissed or reduced in civil or criminal proceedings.
- Do I need to hire an attorney to represent my student? Hiring an attorney is your choice. However, the College’s relationship is with the student. The College’s conduct and disciplinary process is designed with the purpose of being an educational process which promotes the student taking on the responsibility of managing their own affairs. Having anyone else take on this role for the student detracts from the learning opportunity for the student. Our staff will only communicate and interact directly with the student.
- How are Sanctions decided? Outcomes, often referred to as Sanctions or educational activities, are decided upon by taking into account how best the student will learn from the activity in relation to the violation(s) for which they were found responsible. Outcomes may be imposed independently or in combination with other outcomes. Outcomes are determined case by case, since it reflects the needs of the individual student, the student's cumulative disciplinary history, and the impact of that student's behavior on the community.
- Can my student appeal a disciplinary decision? A student may request an appeal for the case. The appeal process is a review of the process and all materials are submitted in writing to the Appellate Officer/Committee. In making their request, the student must submit a written statement in support of their appeal which must meet one or more of the outlined criteria in the Appeals Procedures. For more information please see the Appeals section of our student handbook.
- Does the outcome go on my student's record? A student is considered to have a disciplinary record when a conduct officer finds the student responsible for violating the Standards of Conduct or other College Policy. All disciplinary files are maintained by the Office of Community Standards for up to seven (7) years post graduation.
- Will a disciplinary record keep my student from getting into law school, graduate school, etc.? A disciplinary record does not automatically exclude a student from further study, jobs, etc. That usually depends on the type and severity of misconduct in which a student is involved. A disciplinary record may lead an admissions office to more closely scrutinize the student's application. Disciplinary files may also adversely affect a student's ability to participate in other opportunities such as Study Abroad programs, College-sponsored immersion trips, student leadership opportunities, etc.
Upon receipt of an official Authorized to Release Information to the requesting entity, the Office of Community Standards will disclose the required information for the student’s admission/appointment, etc. In addition, the Office of Community Standards will disclose the specific information that is requested by the entity.
- I know my student could not have done this so why are they being put through the conduct process? Developmentally, this is a period of exploration, reflection, and accountability. They may be in a period of transition from late adolescence to adulthood. They may also be away from home and the daily influence of their parents/supporters for the first time. As students are testing their independence, they may sometimes make choices that are inconsistent with values instilled in them. Such accountability is part of the development process and is normal, however, students must also learn that the choices they make may not always be consistent with the law, College policies and expectations and may have consequences.
- How long does it take to resolve a case? Cases heard administratively are often resolved within three to five days unless there are mitigating factors which may extend the case’s completion. When a formal hearing is required, the process takes longer. All parties have the right to develop their respective arguments. It can take up to 3 business weeks to resolve the case.
Once a decision is made, the student then has 4 business days after written notification to file an appeal.
- What are the appeal rights in our system? Appeals are limited to specific conditions. Reasons for granting an appeal include: 1) a procedure was not followed, 2) New and relevant information, sufficient to alter the decision, that was not available at the time of the original hearing, 3) The sanction imposed was inappropriate for the violation of the College policy.
A student is not granted an appeal automatically if they object to the outcome of a case – one or more of the above conditions must be substantiated.
- Is the case reheard in an appeal? No. The appellate will not rehear the case in totality. In making their decision, the appellate officer/committee limit its review to the record of the case including written statements submitted by the involved student. The appellate will determine if the student’s ground(s) for appeal is/are substantial. The appellate may alter the original charges, decision, and/or sanctions of the hearing officer/body by upholding, overturning, or modifying the information. Additional charges may be added and more severe sanctions may be imposed with the appellate’ s findings and evidence.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Parents/Supporters
- Do Colleges and Universities have any written policy about information from student records that can be shared with parents/supporters? Yes, institutions of higher education are subject to a federal law called Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also called “FERPA” or the “Buckley Amendment”). FERPA sets privacy standards for student educational records and requires colleges and universities to publish compliance statements, including all related institutional policies.
- Where can I find out more information about FERPA? FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA website (with links to FERPA regulations).
- What records does FERPA cover? The privacy protection FERPA gives to students is very broad. With limited exceptions discussed below, part 99.3 of the FERPA regulations gives privacy to all students ‘educational records.’ Education records are defined as “those records that are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or Institution or by a party acting for the agency or institution.” Examples of student records entitled to FERPA privacy protection are grade reports, transcripts, and most disciplinary files, among others.
- What protections does FERPA give to students concerning their records? Right to Inspect and Review Educational Records. Right to Request to Amend Educational Records. Right to have some control over the Disclosure of Information from educational records (“Personally Identifiable Information” or information that would directly identify the student or make the person’s identity easily traceable).
- What does it mean to say a record is ‘protected’ by FERPA’? Unless personally identifiable information from a student’s education record falls under a specified exception, the information cannot be released to third parties (including parents/supporters) without a signed and dated written release from the student.
- How can I learn how my student is doing? The best approach is to ask your student directly. Communicating with young adults isn’t always easy. They are not often as forthcoming as we would like. The college years, however, are a period of remarkable growth and maturation. The ability and willingness of students to share information and insights usually grows, especially as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.
- I had easy access to my student’s high school records, why don’t I have the same access to records kept by the College? Under FERPA, the access rights that parents, legal guardians, and other supporters had in the elementary and secondary school setting are transferred to students, once a student has turned eighteen, or is attending any postsecondary educational institution.
- Why do I have limited access to my student’s college records when I’m paying the college expenses? Student records are confidential. As a parent, legal guardian, or supporter you must have a signed release from your student to access your student’s college records. FERPA does not require colleges and universities to grant such access.
- My student is a dependent. I should be able to see his/her records at will! FERPA allows universities and colleges to decide individually if they will release or share information concerning students under the age of 18 (minors).
- Will I be notified if my student is hurt or in danger? FERPA does allow for an exception in emergency situations. There are also exceptions if your student is a threat or danger to others.
- How will I know if my student is subject to College disciplinary action? Student disciplinary records are protected under FERPA. The best practice is for your student to inform you about any disciplinary charges directly. Students can also authorize release of all the information in their disciplinary files. The student may complete a Student Consent to Release Education Records form.