Student conduct process FAQs
This information is being presented to assist you in understanding the conduct process at WWU. It is meant to serve as a supplement to the Student Conduct Code and in no way replaces any of the policies or procedures that are documented there. You should make yourself familiar with the Student Conduct Code. A general process page here provides information and flow charts detailing the steps in our administrative student conduct process.
The Student Conduct Code (the Code) is a set of community standards and prohibited conduct that seeks to promote student learning and accountability while maintaining the safety and well-being of all members of the university community.
Any member of the university community may file a complaint against a student for a violation of the student conduct code. Complaints are made in writing to the Office of Student Life at email@example.com or through the Reporting a Concern or Complaint page. Violations also come from contacts made with University Police, staff, or faculty at Western.
Once a full complaint is received, the conduct officer is required to provide at least three business days’ notice to the complainant of a meeting. Decisions typically are made within a week. Complex cases which involve many students may take longer, but the conduct officer attempts to resolve complaints within two-three weeks (not including any appeals or review).
In situations involving intoxication, alcohol poisoning, or drug-related medical issues, students are encouraged to seek swift medical assistance for themselves and others without fear of penalty. Students requesting and receiving medical assistance in these situations will not typically be subject to the student conduct process. This policy refers to isolated incidents and does not excuse students who repeatedly or flagrantly violate the alcohol or drug policy, nor does it preclude action arising from other violations of the code. Western will consider the positive impact of reporting a situation when determining any course of action.
Western does not act as a policing agent for students when they are off campus. However, the university reserves the right to take action if a student’s conduct is determined to adversely affect a substantial university interest.
Student conduct that occurs off campus may be subject to the student conduct code when it:
- Adversely affects the safety or well-being of any member of the university community; or
- Involves academic work or any records, documents, or identifications of the university.
In determining whether to exercise jurisdiction over such conduct, a conduct officer shall consider the seriousness of the alleged offense, the risk of harm involved, and whether the alleged complainant(s) are members of the university community.
A student accused of violating the Code, known as the Respondent, has certain rights in the conduct process. Below is a summary of these rights, please see the Student Conduct Code for more information on these rights.
These include the right to:
- Receive written notice to attend meetings;
- Provide evidence;
- Be accompanied by an advisor of their choice;
- Remain silent or decline to respond to any question(s);
- Review information;
- Receive written notification of the findings, decision and basis for each;
- Request an appeal;
- Request a review; and
- Waive any of these rights.
Yes, a student may by accompanied through the student conduct process by an advisor of their choice and at their own expense. This advisor may be an attorney, a parent, a faculty member, or a mentor.
An advisor’s role in the student conduct process is to provide support to the student. Within the student conduct meeting, the student may seek support or advice from the advisor. An advisor is not an active participant in the conversation with the conduct officer.
Western uses the preponderance of evidence standard to determine if a violation of the Student Conduct Code has occurred. Preponderance of evidence is a determination if the student “more likely than not” committed the alleged violation based off of the information gathered during the student conduct process.
If a student is found responsible for misconduct, sanctions may be assigned. Sanctions serve many purposes including, but not limited to, educating students about the seriousness of their actions; reinforcing the high standards of scholarship and behavior expected for Western students; promoting student development; and maintaining the safety and well-being of members of the university community.
Sanctions are determined based on a number of factors including the conduct violation, any previous student conduct history, the perceived needs of the student, and the desired outcome of the Complainant (if applicable).
A list of possible sanctions is listed in the Student Conduct Code (WAC 516-21-260). This list of sanctions is not meant to be exclusive and other sanctions, designed or intended to enhance the educational value of conduct proceeds may be applied in a given case.
For more information on sanctions, please see our Sanctioning Guidebook.
The Respondent and Complainant (if applicable) may appeal within ten days of receiving a decision by the conduct officer.
An appeal may be requested for any reason including;
- The proceedings were not conducted in conformity with prescribed procedures an significantly impacted the outcome of the student conduct process;
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the violation(s) committed;
- The decision reached did not properly consider the information presented; and/or
- New information became available that was unavailable at the time of the original meeting, and could substantially impact the original decision.
After any appeal, the Respondent and Complainant (if applicable) may request that a decision be reviewed by the dean of students. This request for review must be made in writing within ten days of the written outcome of the appeal. The dean of students will review the written documentation only; any involved person (Respondent, Complainant, witnesses) may be called to meet if necessary and at the discretion of the dean of students.
It depends. Student records, including records about misconduct, are protected by The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA prevents the University from discussing your student record with your parents/family unless:
- A student designates that we can communicate with them; or
- A student’s housing or student status is in jeopardy due to a drug or alcohol violation, including probation, deferred eviction or immediate eviction, disciplinary probation, and/or deferred suspension. (As allowed by the 1998 amending of FERPA). Students will be told in advance if family is going to be notified.
Student conduct records are maintained in the dean of students’ office according to state records retention policies which is typically 6 years except in cases of suspension, interim suspension, or expulsion, which are permanent records. Academic transcripts do not have notations for student misconduct.
Some graduate applications ask for applicants to sign a release of information allowing Western to disclose the student’s conduct history. Universities vary in what information they require applicants to disclose regarding their conduct records, so be sure to carefully read what information the application is requiring.
The Education Abroad office at Western checks all conduct records prior to students studying abroad. A student conduct record will not automatically disqualify a student from participating. To determine if a student conduct record may impact one’s ability to participate in study abroad contact the Education Abroad office.
We do our best to avoid scheduling student conduct meetings during class times, however if an appointment is scheduled during a student’s class time they should contact the Office of Student Life directly at (360) 650-3706 prior to their scheduled meeting to reschedule.
The student conduct process will proceed and the conduct officer assigned to the case will make a determination based off of the available information.