General Questions

The Code of Student Conduct is a set of standards to which we hold student members of the campus community. It is based on four core principles:

  • Respect for the integrity of the academic process
  • Individual integrity
  • Respect for the freedoms and privileges of others
  • Respect for University resources

Our office engages in a comprehensive Code review every five years with the input and assistance from campus partners, including students. The Code is ultimately approved by the Corporation of Brown University. The next code review will take place during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The point of an investigation is to gather relevant information related to the alleged violations. This information will be used to determine if there is a basis to file charges against a student and at what level, if any, the matter should be resolved. The investigation report will serve as the main hearing document if the case is referred to a hearing.

There are several possible outcomes of an investigation. It is possible that after gathering all relevant information, the Dean of Students will decide that there is not a basis to file charges. In that case, we typically take no action or follow up on the incident outside the student conduct process. If the Dean of Students determines that there is a basis to file charges, they will also recommend the level at which the matter should be resolved. This may include a Dean’s Hearing, an Administrative Hearing, or a Student Conduct Board Hearing.

For lower-level hearings, typically one dean serves as the Case Administrator (sending letters, processing decision forms, assigning hearing officers, etc.). Another dean may serve as the hearing officer (meeting with the student, making a determination of responsibility, assigning sanctions and accompanying terms, etc.), although we also have hearing officers for Dean’s Hearings who are not deans.

For upper-level hearings, one dean serves as the Case Administrator and may chair the hearing while another dean serves as the Investigator. The Chair does not have a vote in the decision but presides over procedural issues during the hearing and deliberations.

We understand that participating in the disciplinary process can be stressful and that stress can affect your academics as well as other areas of your life. We will help you connect with a dean in Student Support Services who can help you strategize how to manage the impact of this stress and communicate effectively with your instructors about accommodations that you might need.

Our office does not typically communicate with your instructors about your participation in this process unless you request it.

Our office works very closely with Student Support Services, and we can easily help you schedule an appointment with a support dean who can help you manage this process. You can also use Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to discuss the impact of your participation in this process. Other resources, such as the Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life, Student and Employee Accessibility Services, and Health Services, are also available to you. Your Case Administrator can assist you in making a connection to any of these resources.

Respondents

A. To be informed in writing of the charge(s) and alleged misconduct.

B. To not be presumed responsible of any alleged violations unless so found through the appropriate student conduct hearing.

C. To have an advisor during a formal investigation, a hearing before the Student Conduct Board, an administrative hearing, or a student organization hearing. The advisor may be any person of their choice within the University community who is a full time faculty or staff member and is not an attorney.

D. To have a reasonable length of time to prepare a response to any charges.

E. To be informed of the evidence upon which a charge is based and accorded an opportunity to offer a relevant response.

F. To be given every opportunity to articulate relevant concerns and issues, express salient opinions, and offer evidence before the hearing officer(s). Students also have the right to prepare a written statement in matters that may result in separation from the University.

G. To be afforded privacy, in accordance with University practices and legal requirements.

H. To request that a hearing officer or member of a Student Conduct Board be disqualified on the grounds of personal bias.

I. To have a timely determination of the charges.

J. To appeal a decision.

K. To refrain from providing information that is self-incriminating.

The Investigator’s role is to gather as much relevant information as possible and write a comprehensive report to be reviewed by the Dean of Students. The Investigator will ask you questions about your participation in or knowledge about the incident(s) under investigation and may solicit any documents or supporting evidence you may have. This could include text messages, bank statements, Facebook postings, or other relevant documents.

The decision to retain an attorney  is a personal one that should be decided by a student and their family. The University does not provide attorneys to students. Attorneys will only be allowed in the hearing room for cases in which the allegations could constitute a capital/life offense under Rhode Island law. If you are accompanied by an attorney,  know that the attorney will not be allowed to participate in the hearing or speak on your behalf. Our office will not interact directly with your attorney and will advise all communication from your attorney to go through the Office of General Counsel.

Attorney Peter J. Cerilli provides legal advice to Brown undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. He holds office hours in Room 204 at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center during the Fall and Spring semesters. He is also available for consultation by telephone (on select days and times). Please refer to this website for the current schedule of his available dates and times for consultation.

If your case is referred to a Dean’s Hearing, you can expect a one-on-one meeting with a dean or other administrator. During this hearing you will be asked to provide your account of the incident and any supporting evidence to the hearing officer. Hearing officers for Dean’s Hearings will likely engage you in a discussion about decision-making, responsible behavior, community values and other topics related to your growth and development. Your Dean’s Hearing officer will determine if you are responsible for a Code violation and will decide on all sanctions and accompanying terms.

If your case is referred to an upper-level hearing (Student Conduct Board Hearing or Administrative Hearing), you can expect a more formal meeting in a conference room with scripted procedures. Your Case Administrator will be present for (and may chair) the hearing, along with a panel or an individual administrative hearing officer, and the Complainant or a University Representative presenting the allegations. The Investigator will appear at the hearing to answer questions, and other witnesses may be called. You will be allowed to give an opening statement and a closing statement in addition to answering questions from the hearing body and providing your narrative of events. You may be accompanied by your advisor during the hearing.

If the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards is notified about a potential Code violation that occurs off campus, we will typically address it. The Code of Student Conduct applies to all students, no matter where they are. The University expects students to represent the values of Brown University whether they are on or off campus.

Information about your hearing and its result is only shared with other University personnel who need to know. This may include representatives from Residential Life, the Dean of Students, or other parties that may be involved in or impacted by the outcome. We do not share any information with other students (except complainants under certain circumstances).

You do not have to appear at the hearing. If you do not appear, a decision about your responsibility and appropriate sanction/accompanying terms will be made in your absence. The hearing officer will make this decision based on the evidence available to them. 

If you appear at the hearing, you have the right to refrain from providing information that is self-incriminating. However, hearing officers are allowed to consider this in their decision-making process.

You may make an appointment with the OSCCS to review redacted evidence before your hearing. You may take handwritten notes but will not be allowed to photograph or photocopy the documents. Please call 401-863-3145 to schedule an appointment to review your hearing documents.

You may not bring anyone with you to a Dean’s Hearing. If you are being assisted by an advisor or supported by a friend, they must wait outside the hearing room. If you are a complainant or respondent in an upper-level hearing, you may be assisted by your advisor during the hearing. Any additional support people must wait outside the hearing room.

If you are found responsible for a Code violation, your sanction will fall along a range of increasing severity from a Reprimand to Expulsion, depending on the nature of the incident and your conduct history.

  • A Reprimand functions like a written warning and is considered completed as soon as it has been assigned.
  • Probation is a period of time during which you are expected to demonstrate better commitment to the Code of Student Conduct, as any incidents that occur during that time will be scrutinized more heavily and sanctioned more seriously.
  • Deferred Suspension is a period of time during which your activities on campus may be impacted with the intention of encouraging increased focus on academic pursuits and strict adherence to the Code of Student Conduct without distractions. During a Deferred Suspension, a student is allowed to remain on campus but is not allowed to represent Brown University in any official capacity.
  • Suspension is a designated time a student must spend away from campus focusing on growth and development before being allowed to rejoin the campus community.
  • Expulsion is a permanent separation from the University. All sanctions aside from Expulsion are typically accompanied by educational or restorative assignments called accompanying terms. If accompanying terms are not met by the deadlines assigned by the hearing officer, you may be charged with failure to comply with a proper directive and subjected to another hearing process.

Accompanying terms are educational and/or restorative assignments that accompany a sanction that is received as a result of being found responsible for a Code violation. These may include writing a reflection paper, issuing a letter of apology, paying restitution for damage to property, or other assignments designed to make students reflect more deeply about their behavior and choices.

Within five (5) days of notification of the hearing outcome, the respondent(s) may appeal in writing the decisions in the case, setting out the reason(s) for the appeal.  Appeals will be submitted to the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services or their designee.  Appeals will normally be considered only when:

(1) there is relevant new evidence that was not reasonably available to be presented to the original hearing authority and that in the judgment of the Appeal Officer the introduction of the information may have changed the finding by the original hearing authority; or

(2) when a substantial procedural error by the University or hearing body/officer is demonstrated and in the reasonable judgment of the appeal officer such error is sufficient enough that it may have affected the decision of the original hearing authority.  

If the appeal officer determines that the appeal has merit, they may reduce the severity or terms of a sanction or may remand the matter to an appropriate hearing officer or body.

After the period of suspension is up, you may petition the Dean of Students for readmission. The petition must demonstrate that you have satisfied any accompanying terms of the suspension.

It is possible that the alleged Code of Student Conduct violation is also a potential criminal or civil offense. Therefore, it is possible that you may go through two different resolution systems. The resolution to the alleged Code violation will not take the result of any legal proceedings into account. The two processes are completely independent of each other.

A sanction of Suspension or Expulsion will result in a permanent transcript notation. A transcript remark may also accompany a sanction of Deferred Suspension. Following a Deferred Suspension, a student may apply to have the transcript remark removed after one full semester.

If you are found responsible for a Code violation, our office will report it if asked. Internal to Brown University, we will share any violations and their resulting sanctions. For external constituents, we only report incidents that resulted in a sanction of Probation or above. We will not report any charges for which you were found not responsible, any warning letters, or any No Contact Orders.

No. Your student conduct record remains a part of your permanent record.

Complainants

Go here. We have an online submission form, and this page will tell you what your complaint should include.

Your complaint should include your written narrative of the incident(s) as you observed or experienced it. You can also attach other documents, including screenshots of text messages, photographs, audio recordings, or any other information that can be digitized. Any evidence that supports your narrative would be prudent to provide. Please note that most complaints do not come with supporting “evidence,” so it is okay if you do not have any documents to provide.

After you file a complaint, it gets reviewed by the staff in the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards to determine the best course of action. This may result in a preliminary review, which may include asking you for additional information, contacting potential witnesses, and gathering other important information before deciding how to proceed. If the allegations you make in the complaint could, if substantiated, result in a student’s temporary or permanent separation from Brown, a full investigation will be conducted. If the allegations are not serious enough to warrant separation, even if substantiated, the case will likely be referred to a Dean’s Hearing. In either event, you will be contacted by the Case Administrator, the Investigator, or the hearing officer to solicit your participation if the details of the case warrant it. If the allegations you make in your complaint do not constitute a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, the case may result in non-disciplinary follow up (mediation, Dean’s Conference, warning letter, etc.).

You may be assisted by an advisor during a formal investigation, a hearing before the Student Conduct Board, or an Administrative Hearing. The advisor may be any person of your choice within the University community who is a full time faculty or staff member and is not an attorney. 

You will meet one-on-one with the Investigator in an office or conference room on campus. The Investigator will ask you questions related to the allegations and your experience of the incident(s) under investigation. The Investigator will be particularly interested in your observations of fact - what happened, when it happened, who was involved, etc. - but will also ask questions about how the incident impacted you. The Investigator may also ask questions about any background information that is relevant to the investigation. Under most circumstances, anything you share with the Investigator could potentially be shared with the Respondent and possibly other witnesses for comment.

Upper-Level Hearings: You are not required to appear at the hearing. If you do not wish to participate as the Complainant, you may choose to participate only as a witness and have a more limited role during the hearing.

Dean’s Hearings: You are not permitted to attend the Respondent’s hearing but may have the opportunity to meet separately with the hearing officer to discuss your complaint.

Witnesses

While your participation helps in the generation of a thorough investigation report, we do not require students to participate as a witness. We do, however, encourage you to think carefully about how not participating may ultimately impact the broader campus community.

We ask that you not discuss the case with anyone while it is ongoing, unless it is for advice or support. You should not be consulting with the Complainant, Respondent, or other witnesses about the content of your testimony or the information you have shared or plan to share with the Investigator. After the case is over, we ask that you think carefully about how and with whom you discuss any details of the case. These are often sensitive matters, and maintaining confidentiality helps all parties, including future potential Complainants and Respondents, be able to trust that the details of their participation in this process will not be broadcast to the campus community.

You will meet one-on-one with the Investigator in an office or conference room on campus. The Investigator will ask you questions related to the allegations and what you know about the incident(s) under investigation. The Investigator will be particularly interested in your observations if you were present for and directly observed the incident(s) or if you have information that helps establish a coherent timeline of events. The Investigator may also ask questions about what you were told about the incident(s) and any background information that is relevant to the investigation. Under most circumstances, anything you share with the Investigator could potentially be shared with the parties for comment.

Parents

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards received allegations that your student violated the Code of Student Conduct. The allegations, if substantiated, could warrant your student’s separation from Brown University. The investigation is designed to gather all relevant information so the Dean of Students can determine the best course of action to resolve the matter.

The most important role you can play in this process is as a support person for your student. Unless you were a material witness to the incident(s) under review, you will not be asked to participate in the process. You may, however, attend any hearing with your student for support and wait in a waiting area during the proceedings.

Our process is analogous to a criminal process only in that it affords respondents due process. Otherwise, our process is designed to be as educational as possible and is completely separate from any legal proceedings that may take place off campus. A student who is found responsible through our conduct process may be placed on a disciplinary status (probation, etc.) with the University and will likely be assigned one or more educational accompanying terms. The outcome of any hearing will be part of your student’s educational record, but it will not become part of any criminal record unless they are found guilty in a court proceeding. A court proceeding and the University conduct process may happen around the same time, but the two processes are completely separate from each other.

Your choice to hire or consult with an attorney is a personal one. It is important for you to know that we do not allow attorneys to participate in our hearing process unless the allegations constitute a capital/life offense in the state of Rhode Island. Your student may be advised and assisted by an attorney, but the attorney will not be allowed to be in the hearing room or in any meetings with our staff. All attorney inquiries will be directed to the Brown University Office of General Counsel.

Your student can expect to receive a lot of information from our office - verbally, physically, and/or electronically. They can expect to be assumed to be not responsible for violating the Code of Student Conduct unless a hearing body determines otherwise. We try to be as transparent as possible in our processes and flexible as much as we are able without unduly prolonging the timeline. We are always available to answer any questions they have and to take their feedback about the process seriously. For cases that go to investigation, members of our office all serve in different impartial roles, so your student should expect to feel respected and supported throughout. After the hearing, no matter the outcome, our staff remains committed to your student’s development and well-being and remains available to answer questions, provide information, and connect your student to needed resources. If your student is separated from Brown following a hearing, they should expect our staff to be involved in supporting them when they return to campus.

Your student can share any documents with you that they choose. The Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards will not share any documents directly with you.

Your student may share as much information with you as they wish. Our office will typically only share information with you if your student has signed a release for us to do so. Your student can access the request form here.

You can assist your student by providing emotional and logistical support throughout the investigation process. This may include helping them prepare for the possibility of being separated from Brown for a period of time (housing arrangements, requirements for enrolling at another institution, financial considerations, etc.). You should encourage your student to ask questions if they are unsure of something about the process and to seek support resources that are available to them on campus (Student Support Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Office of the Chaplains and Religious Life, Health Services, Student and Employee Accessibility Services, etc.). Their Case Administrator can help connect them to these resources.

Your student’s conduct record may greatly impact their future and success, depending on the details of the case(s). Our office shares information with outside entities (certain employers, other schools, government agencies) when asked, so it is possible that others will have access to this information even if nothing appears on the transcript. If the infraction was small and was not a pattern of recurring behavior, it may not impact your student in any meaningful way. For violations that ended in serious sanctions, however, your student may be denied admission to other institutions or be considered ineligible for certain government positions. It is important to discuss this with your student so they can prepare for this potential impact.

Student Conduct Board Members

All students who are currently in good disciplinary standing are eligible to be part of the Student Conduct Board. 

Training to be a member of the Student Conduct Board takes approximately three hours. If you are chosen to serve on a panel, you will spend time reading the case materials before the hearing, time during the hearing asking questions, and time after the hearing deliberating about the finding(s) and sanction and accompanying term(s) with the other panelists. On average, each case demands about five hours of your time. Most students do not serve on more than one panel per year due to our volume.

Undergraduate students are selected annually by the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS). Graduate students are selected annually by the Graduate Student Council. Medical students are selected annually by the Medical Student Senate.

You will be asked to attend a formal training session that lasts approximately three hours. Topics to be covered include an overview of the Code of Student Conduct, the investigation process, how to weigh evidence, how to develop good questions, what to consider when assigning sanctions and accompanying terms, preparing for a hearing, and case studies.

Student Ambassadors

All first-years, sophomores, and juniors are encouraged to apply via this link. The application process begin each Fall, from November 1st to January 5th. If you have any questions about the application and/or the process, please email [email protected].

Student Ambassadors meet weekly for an hour to discuss issues and concerns regarding community standards at Brown. In addition, Ambassadors may work independently and in teams to create and work on projects that enhance a safe and ethically responsible learning community. A weekly meeting may be canceled during weeks where members are actively working on projects. Students may also meet in one-on-one settings with student conduct professional staff to develop individual professional goals.

Student Ambassadors receive comprehensive training regarding the student conduct hearing procedures, their roles as peer guides for students, connecting students with campus resources, and leadership development.