CampusLife

Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution

Referring a Case to Student Conduct

According to the American University Student Conduct Code, any AU student, faculty, or staff member may refer an AU student, student group, or organization suspected of violating the Student Conduct Code.

The director or assistant director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services are available to discuss incidents alleging violations by students who do not attend AU, but we cannot process those in our office. We may be able to provide information on available resources related to the incident. If the person alleged to have committed the violation is a faculty or staff member at AU, you should consult with the Dean of Academic Affairs or Human Resources respectively.

This page is designed to answer typical questions for those considering referring a case to our office. We encourage anyone considering referring a case to meet with our director or assistant director to discuss the specific nature of the case referral and better understand the discipline system at AU.

Additionally, if you have a case that includes hate/bias-related behavior or sexual misconduct, please note that we have information especially pertinent to those violations posted on our site.  

How do I refer a case?

To refer a case, use the Student Conduct Case Referral Form available on our website. Please complete as much of the form as you can and be as detailed as possible when writing the details of the report. The following are some general tips for writing that section of the report.

  • Case referrals should focus on facts (not opinions). Conclusions (if you think someone was angry) should be supported with examples (elevated volume in voice, gestures, quoted statements about their emotional state).
  • Write the original report in a word document (using paragraph structure – indent new paragraphs, etc.).
  • Please note how the incident came to your attention.
  • If a person is involved in the incident, the person's name and involvement should be in the narrative. If you believe a policy violation has occurred, the narrative should focus on specific information about an individual's role in an incident. A hearing officer or hearing panel's job is to determine if a student (or student group) is responsible or not responsible for alleged policy violations.
  • If the case is resolved by a hearing panel in a Disciplinary Hearing, the complainant (person filing the referral form) may call witnesses to share information in person or via written witness statement. A list of witnesses must be submitted to Student Conduct at least 72 hours prior to the Disciplinary Hearing start time. There is a privacy law that applies to disciplinary information. You should contact the director or assistant director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services to learn the impact of this law on the matter in question.

Please contact conduct@american.edu or call 202-885-3368.

 

Does the person who I make the case referral about have to know it came from me?

The Student Conduct Code states that a respondent (student who allegedly violated policy) has a right "to hear and respond to evidence upon which a charge is based." The identity of the person filing the case is often important information for the charges. There are a variety of ways to reduce contact between the person who makes the complaint (complainant) and the person who allegedly violated policy (respondent). If Public Safety, Housing and Dining, or another university official responds to the incident, they might file a complaint and serve as the complainant.

Additionally, involved parties may request a no contact order from the Dean of Students Office.

 

What happens after I submit the report?

The director will review the report and determine if any additional information is needed. The director will then consider whether the documented behaviors are a potential violation of the Student Conduct Code. If the behaviors are a potential violation of the Student Conduct Code, the director will determine if the issue should be addressed through mediation, a disciplinary conference, or a disciplinary hearing. For more details on those processes, please see "Conduct Process Overview," "Preparing for a Disciplinary Conference," and "Preparing for a Disciplinary Hearing," all available on our website. For all of these processes, the person alleged to have violated policy has a right to see the entirety of the report. Should you have questions about whether or not to submit a Student Conduct Case Referral Form, the director and assistant director are available to meet and discuss that the details of the incident and its potential referral.

 

Is there a deadline for filing a Student Conduct Case Referral Form?

A written complaint must be filed with the director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services within 15 days (excluding weekends, official university holidays, winter and spring breaks) of the occurrence or discovery of the alleged infraction(s).

Complainants filing cases after the 15-day filing period may request in writing an extension of the filing period from the director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services. Requests for waivers of the filing period may be made up to one major semester (fall or spring) after the date of discovery of the alleged incident. In such cases, the director will evaluate whether a reasonable person might be justified in filing after the 15-day period due to the nature of the charges alleged. The deadline for filing a case will also be extended if there is an alleged violation of the university’s discrimination and discriminatory harassment policy, sexual discrimination and harassment policy, whistleblower policy, or a Student Conduct Code violation involving rape, sexual assault, or stalking. In such cases, the complainant will have one year from the date of discovery to file a complaint as set forth in these policies.

 

What if I want to file referrals about multiple people?

This may be done using a separate referral form for each individual. You can copy the narrative onto each, but be sure that charges listed and information on each form is relevant for that individual, not just the case in general.

 

How much detail do I need to provide?

You should use the Student Conduct Case Referral Form to provide any relevant information you have about the case. For the respondent (student alleged to have violated policy) to be found responsible, AU requires that a case meet the standard of evidence known as "preponderance of the evidence." This essentially means that evidence needs to demonstrate it is "more likely than not" that a violation occurred. It is particularly helpful if the Student Conduct Case Referral Form includes names and relationship to the incident of anyone who you might want to ask to serve as a witness. Finally, it is best to document the incident as fully as possible while details are still fresh in your mind.

 

Will I get another chance to share information about the case?

Most cases referred to the Student Conduct office are less serious in nature and therefore are resolved through a disciplinary conference. In a disciplinary conference, the complainant is not present. In a disciplinary hearing, both the complainant and the respondent are provided with opportunities to make statements to the hearing panel members.

Cases are assigned to be resolved in a disciplinary hearing when the potential outcome could warrant removal from housing, suspension, or dismissal. All less serious cases are assigned to be resolved in disciplinary conferences where removal from housing, suspension, or dismissal are not sanction options.

 

What happens if someone submits a referral form that is determined to be false?

The bottom of the Student Conduct Case Referral Form requires the person submitting it to sign the following statement: "The statements are a true and accurate representation of the incident, and I understand that intentional misrepresentation of facts may result in disciplinary action. I understand that this information will become a matter of record with Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services and could be used by a hearing panel or a hearing officer. By signing this form, I give consent to release all relevant information pertaining to this incident." If someone intentionally refers a case with false information, they could be the subject to disciplinary action.

 

What do the following words mean in the referral form: complainant and respondent?

Complainant: the person referring the case.

Respondent: the student (s) or student group who allegedly violated policy.

 

The Student Conduct Case Referral Form says I should list "regulations allegedly violated." Where do I find the list of regulations? How many regulations can I list?

This refers to the "prohibited conduct" section of the Student Conduct Code (Section VI) and the Residence Hall Regulations. That can be found on our website. Go to the "Prohibited Conduct" section of the Student Conduct Code. Prohibited Conduct applies to all AU students. Additionally, the Residence Hall Regulations list another category of regulations that apply if the behavior occurred in the residence halls. If you are unsure of which charges might apply, we encourage you to meet with our director or assistant director. Our staff can assist in clarifying meaning of regulations and their applicability to a specific case. You should select the violations that best describe the behavior. If, for example, someone was disorderly, they many also have been noisy. In this situation, depending upon the severity of each behavior, you might list both or you might determine that one or the other most accurately describes the behavior. Again, if you have specific questions, we would encourage you to meet with our director or assistant director.

 

Can I find out the outcome of my complaint?

In general, no. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (commonly referred to as "FERPA") is a federal law that guarantees the general confidentiality of an individual student's educational records, including disciplinary files. Student Conduct can only share information under very specific circumstances, which are exceptions to FERPA's general ban on such information sharing. If the case is resolved through mediation or a disciplinary hearing, the complainant will be informed of that resolution method (not necessarily the resolution itself) because they will be needed to participate. Additionally, if a case alleges a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense as defined by the Clery Campus Safety Act, then we can disclose the outcome to the victim(s) of the crime.

 

Can I submit evidence with my case?

Yes, you may submit photographs, emails, and other evidence. If evidence includes an illegal and/or dangerous item (i.e. drugs, weapon, etc.), that should be turned over to AU Public Safety for appropriate storage. Photos can be submitted as attachments. You can also take a "screenshot" of any computer-based evidence.