Austin Community College (“ACC” or “College”) promotes the exchange of knowledge in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, and respect for the rights of all persons. In support of this goal, the primary purpose of the following Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process is to educate and guide students to understand their responsibilities in regard to appropriate behavior and respect for others in the College community.
1. Student Rights
A. Course Expectations
Austin Community College students are guaranteed certain rights as citizens of the college community. Students have the right to receive a detailed syllabus within the first week of class for each course in which they enroll. Each syllabus should include course policies, instructor expectations, and grading standards. Students have the right to timely academic evaluation that is consistent and without prejudice. Students have the right to expect instructors to post and maintain office hours.
B. Due Process and Evidentiary Standard
Students have the right to due process in regard to any complaint or disciplinary action brought against them. College disciplinary procedures respect the due process rights of students. Due process includes:
The evidentiary standard used in resolving allegations of misconduct is preponderance of the evidence. This standard is met if the information indicates that it is ‘more likely than not’ that a violation occurred.
2. Student Responsibilities
A student attending an ACC-sponsored event or activity assumes responsibility for conduct compatible with the mission of the College as an educational institution. Although ACC is dedicated to an open, free society, some actions are inappropriate in an institution of higher education. Students who commit infractions pertaining to any of the following areas at an ACC-sponsored event or activity, or on ACC property or premises, are subject to disciplinary action. An ACC-sponsored event or activity is defined as any event or activity on or off campus that is initiated, aided, authorized, or supervised by ACC.
A. Misuse of college computers, technology, and other electronics
Students have the responsibility to adhere to rules regarding the use of college computers, technology, and other electronic resources. Specific violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
Students have the responsibility not to impair, interfere with, or obstruct the orderly conduct, process, or function of the College or any of its students, faculty, staff, or guests. Threatening acts, direct or implied, concerning harm to others, illegal or unlawfully carried weapons, and/or explosives will be immediately addressed and reported to the necessary authority to ensure a threat is not imminent and individuals affected by the threat are notified and safe. Specific violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
C. Drug and Alcohol Usage
ACC complies with local, state, and federal laws and penalties regarding the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol. The following are violations of the Student Standards of Conduct:
D. Illegal Acts
Students have the responsibility to adhere to all local ordinances as well as state and federal laws while on college premises or at college-sponsored events. Illegal acts include, but are not limited to, the following:
E. Prohibition of Discrimination and Harassment
The College is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of its students and does not tolerate any form of illegal discrimination or harassment. The investigative, adjudicative, and disciplinary procedures in response to complaints of discrimination and harassment are addressed in the following policies, with the exception of reports of religious discrimination.
Reports of religious discrimination against students are investigated in accordance with the procedures outlined in this policy.
F. Solicitation, sales, and canvassing
ACC prohibits solicitation, sales, or canvassing (for any purpose) by students or non-students on college premises except with the written permission from the campus manager, subject to the approval of the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs. Similarly, no concessions for profit may be operated on college property without the written permission from the Student Life Office and/or the campus manager, subject to the approval of the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
G. Scholastic Dishonesty and Academic Misconduct
Reports of Student Standards of Conduct violations outlined in this section may be addressed through the Academic Integrity Disciplinary Process, the process outlined below for general disciplinary action, or both processes depending on the nature of the alleged conduct.
“Scholastic Dishonesty” shall include, but not be limited to, cheating, plagiarism, and collusion.
“Cheating” shall include, but shall not be limited to:
“Plagiarism” shall be defined as appropriating, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another’s work and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of that other’s work in one’s own written work.
“Collusion” shall be defined as the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for fulfillment of course requirements.
3. Correspondence During Process
The ACC-issued email address will be the primary method of corresponding with students. When correspondence is to be sent via U.S. Mail, a student’s official address throughout either of the disciplinary processes described herein will be the address on file in the Admissions and Records Office. Students are responsible for ensuring their mailing address is current and for monitoring their ACC-issued email account.
4. General Disciplinary Action Process
Violations of the Student Standards of Conduct are investigated by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs and by the Student Affairs Division specifically. Exceptions to this occur when a student violates a program-specific policy that is not addressed in the Student Standards of Conduct or violations of the Student Standards of Conduct are discovered in the course of an investigation under another policy or rule. A Conduct Notification Report detailing alleged violations of the Student Standards of Conduct by an ACC student must be completed. The general disciplinary procedure is as follows:
1. The Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs has the authority to issue sanctions including, but not limited to, the following:
2. The following sanctions may be recommended by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs, but are subject to the review and approval of the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs.
C. Written Notification of Outcome of Investigation
Within ten (10) business days of the completion of the investigation the respondent will be notified by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs of the outcome in writing (via ACC email). The notice will include the findings, any resulting sanction(s), and the deadline and process for an appeal in accordance with Section D below.
The issuance of sanctions specified in Section 4(B)(2), are subject to the following review and approval process before notification can be sent:
The process to appeal a sanction depends on the nature of the sanction.
Sanctions Other than Under Section 4(B)(2). Students may appeal the ruling in writing to the appropriate Regional Executive Dean. The appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days of receipt of the ruling. The appeal is limited to a review of the documents. The student will be notified of a decision within five (5) business days of the receipt of the request for an appeal. The decision of the Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs is final.
Appeals to Judicial Review Panel for Sanctions Under Section 4(B)(2). Within five (5) business days following the receipt of written notification from the Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs of a sanction outlined in Section 4B(2), the student may request an appeal to the Judicial Review Panel (JRP). Appeals must be submitted in writing to the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs subject to the limitations below:
a. Appeals to the JRP are limited to the following parameters:
b. The request must include supportive documentation substantiating one or more of the three above stated parameters. The appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs will review the request and documentation to determine if a JRP will convene. Any requests submitted that do not include the parameters outlined above will be automatically denied. If the request is granted, the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs will appoint a Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs not associated with the case to serve as an Administrative Dean of Student Affairs who is responsible for organizing and conducting the JRP. The Administrative Dean of Student Affairs will serve as the JRP Chair.
c. Within five (5) business days following notification of the student’s request, the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs will notify the student if a hearing will be convened and, if so, the name of the JRP Chair for the Judicial Review process. If approved, the JRP will convene within ten (10) business days from the student’s receipt of notification that a hearing will be convened.
d. The JRP will convene as needed to review cases. JRP hearings are closed to the public, except for members of the student’s family and any advocate appointed by the student. The student and advocate may confer privately during the hearing; however, only the student is permitted to address the JRP. The student must respond to all inquiries from the JRP.
e. The decision of the JRP to affirm, modify, or dismiss the finding of the Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs will be communicated by the JRP Chair. The decision of the JRP is final and is not subject to further appeal.
E. Judicial Review Panel Procedures
A JRP is convened and chaired by a JRP Chair at the request of a Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs.
1. Composition and Appointment. The JRPChair will appoint the members of the JRP. A JRP is composed of four members who must be neutral and unbiased and have not participated in decisions related to, nor had direct knowledge of the case:
a. Designated JRP Chair (Non-voting member)
b. Instructional Faculty representative (Dean, Department Chair, Full/Time Faculty, Adjunct Faculty) (Voting member)
c. Student Affairs Representative (Voting member)
d. Student Government Representative (Voting member)
2. Student notification: The JRP Chair will notify the student in writing of the JRP hearing date. The notification should:
a. Direct the student to appear at the date, time, and place specified in the letter.
b. State the charges against the student.
c. Outline which parameters form the basis of the appeal.
d. Inform the student that counsel may represent the College and that the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs involved with the case may question any witnesses or the student.
e. State that the parties shall exchange lists of witnesses and copies of documentary evidence to be used at the hearing at least three (3) business days before the hearing.
f. Advise the student of the right to:
3. Failure to appear: If a student fails to appear, the hearing will proceed as scheduled with the parties who are present. The JRP is permitted to issue a ruling based on the record presented at that time.
4. Hearing Procedure: JRP hearings are informal in nature and are closed to the public.
a. Witnesses will be asked to affirm that their testimony is truthful.
b. Student witnesses will be told that they may be charged with Student Standards of Conduct violations if it is found that they intentionally provided false information to the JRP.
c. College faculty or other employees serving as witnesses will be told that they are subject to discipline under appropriate College rules for intentionally providing false information to the JRP.
d. The JRP Chair may remove any person who becomes disruptive during the hearing, including the student.
e. The process for the proceedings are as follows:
f. Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant and the respondent, will be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses.
g. Only the JRP shall be present at its deliberations after the hearing concludes. JRP deliberations shall not be recorded or transcribed.
5. Records of the hearing: The College will make an audio recording (or use assistive technology, if needed) of the JRP hearing. The student will be given a copy of the audiotape, if requested.
F. Informal Resolution
Informal resolution is utilized as an alternative means to resolve problems or disputes before initiating formal complaint procedures. Informal resolution may help facilitate quick resolutions while minimizing the need to participate in the formal investigative process. For informal resolution to proceed, both parties must agree to use this as a means to reach resolution.
If informal resolution is proposed as an alternative to conducting an investigation of an alleged violation of the Student Standards of Conduct (see #4 in Section A: Procedures), to be binding in a disciplinary case, a resolution agreement must be approved by the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs. If resolution is not found, the investigation will be assigned to another individual that has investigative authority under this policy.
G. Interim Suspension
At any point during disciplinary proceedings, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs may impose an interim suspension not to exceed ten (10) College business days. Interim suspension may be imposed to ensure the physical or emotional safety and well-being of the complainant or others and/or prevent the respondent from engaging in any disruptive or destructive activity on property owned or controlled by the College or at any College-sponsored event or activity. Interim suspensions will be supported by evidence that the continued presence of the student at the College may pose a significant threat to others, to College property, or to the stability and continuance of normal College functions. The interim suspension is effective immediately on the date notification is issued.
1. Right to a meeting: A student issued an interim suspension will be given prompt opportunity to meet with the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs. The conference is limited to discussion about the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, and whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence poses a substantial and immediate threat to himself or herself or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal College functions.
2. Appealing an interim suspension: The student may request a meeting to appeal the interim suspension with the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs. The meeting is limited to discussion about the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, and whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence poses a substantial and immediate threat to himself or herself, to others, to property, or to the stability and continuance of normal college functions. The Regional Executive Dean of Student Affairs will affirm or rescind the interim suspension and provide notification to the student within two (2) business days of the meeting.
H. Hold on student records
In pending cases that could result in disciplinary action, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Affairs s may place a hold on the student’s records and will notify the student in writing of such a hold.
I. Cases involving criminal charges
Students may be accountable both to local, state, or federal authorities and to the College for acts that violate the law and the Student Standards of Conduct. The college’s disciplinary process will proceed without regard to criminal proceedings and their outcome.
If the College is notified of an off campus incident, that may have resulted in criminal charges against an enrolled student, the College will assess the information received to determine if the incident has a substantial connection to the interests of the College, and/or poses a safety threat to the College or an individual or group of individuals at the College.
J. Notice to victims of violence
Results of directly related disciplinary proceedings may be released to the victim of a violent crime or non-forcible sex offense, upon written request.
K. Disciplinary records
The College shall maintain for every student determined to have committed misconduct at the College, a disciplinary record that provides details regarding the violation, the disposition of the charge, and the sanction assessed, if any, and any other pertinent information. The disciplinary record shall be separate from the student’s academic record and shall be treated as confidential; the contents shall not be revealed except on request of the student or in accordance with applicable state or federal laws.
The disciplinary record shall be maintained permanently in the event that a student is expelled or subject to an extended suspension. In all other cases, the disciplinary record shall be maintained in accordance with the College record retention schedule.