Nonacademic Misconduct

The missions of the University of Wisconsin System and its individual institutions can be realized only if the university’s teaching, learning, research and service activities occur in living and learning environments that are safe and free from violence, harassment, fraud, theft, disruption and intimidation. In promoting such environments, the university has a responsibility to address student nonacademic misconduct; this responsibility is separate from and independent of any civil or criminal action resulting from a student’s conduct.


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What can I expect from a disciplinary conference?

A disciplinary conference is the opportunity to discuss with a full-time staff member (investigating officer) the alleged behavior, provide one’s own perspective, and clarify information in the incident report.

Staff will take the time to learn more about you, your future goals, and your motivations as a student. You will be provided an opportunity to discuss the incident as well as provide feedback on what sanctions may be assigned as a result of policy violations or what efforts on your part can restore the harm from the incident.

Investigating staff will adhere to established procedures, respect the student’s individuality, and support your personal development.

What outcomes can I expect if I’m found responsible for misconduct?

Sanctions that result from a finding of responsible will be comparable to the severity of the violation, consistent with educational purposes, rebuild trust within the community, and are in the best interests of the student and the communities in which they are a member.

Learning outcomes include:

  • Evaluating the positive and negative impact of their behaviors on themselves and their community.
  • Apply information learned from the conduct process to their future decisions in order to increase positive consequences and reduce negative consequences for themselves and their community.
  • Describe the positive impact participation in the conduct process has on their Wisconsin Experience.
  • Repair the harm from their actions or rebuild trust with impacted parties.

Specific sanctions that may result from misconduct are described in more detail here.

Please note that a fair process means we are true to our procedures and respect student rights, and yet may result in differential outcomes for those involved. This difference is based on individual conduct history, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, or individual behaviors or needs. If you think that your rights were not respected in a case, please contact the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards.

What are my rights if I’m involved in misconduct?

Students are encouraged to fully review Chapter UWS 17 to understand their rights if they are participating in the misconduct process.

When a student is involved in the misconduct process, we strive to ensure that each student receives due process, consistent with constitutional law. Individuals should experience a process where we consistently follow the established procedures of Chapter UWS 17. Student rights include:

  • To be notified of the allegations against them.
  • To have an opportunity to share their perspective on the incident.
  • To be notified of the findings of the investigation.
  • If found responsible, to have educational outcomes that are reasonable for the nature of the behavior, past misconduct, and the overall welfare of the student and wider campus community.
  • To request a hearing to dispute the findings of an investigation or recommended sanctions, as provided for in Chapter UWS 17.
  • To have a support person during any disciplinary conference and hearing.
  • To inspect your student conduct record, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • To privacy of your student conduct records, except as permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or with written authorization for release by the student.

What are my responsibilities as a student?

As a student, you are joining our community of scholars and professionals. We hope that your choices will reflect the highest ethical conduct, consistent with the established policies of the community, in order to foster the very best learning environment. However, we understand that students experience a developmental journey and may engage in behaviors that go against community expectations. The following documents are the primary sources that list student behavior expectations. Links to them can be found on the Home page.

  • Nonacademic Misconduct (UWS 17)
  • Conduct on University Lands (UWS 18)
  • Academic Procedures (UWS 14)
  • Student Housing Handbook

If a student chooses to act in a manner that violate an established university policy, the matter is referred for investigation. In the investigation and resolution process, we have the following expectations for students:

  • We expect that students cooperate with all staff, including student staff, police officers, investigating officers from the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards or University Housing, and hearing committee members.
  • We expect students to answer our questions.
  • We expect students to be honest.
  • We expect students to take responsibility for their behaviors in the incident reported.
  • We expect students to take actions to repair the harm caused by their actions.

Who is involved in the misconduct process?

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards oversees and implements, with the assistance of University Housing staff, the student nonacademic misconduct procedures to assist student success at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, particularly when their behavior conflicts with established community expectations or impacts relationships within our community.

Students involved in misconduct who live off campus meet with a staff member in the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards. For students who live in the residence halls, most misconduct cases are resolved by a professional staff member from Residence Life. Students who live in University Apartments will often meet with a staff member from Resident Support Services.

Instructors are the primary person responsible for investigating and resolving cases of academic misconduct. Certain sanctions are reported to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards, which may take additional action in accordance with UWS 14.

Why do we have conduct policies and procedures?

Student conduct policies are an integral part of the educational mission and goals of the University of Wisconsin-Madison to foster teaching, learning, research, and service activities in living and learning environments that are safe and free from violence, harassment, fraud, theft, disruption, or intimidation. The student nonacademic misconduct process is one of many tools that the University can use to foster the personal and academic development of its students. Additionally, the disciplinary process may also be an appropriate means for the University to ensure the safety of our community.

Our procedures provide for, and help maintain, an educational atmosphere with emphasis on developing individual understanding and acceptance of personal and social responsibilities. The established procedures ensure that student rights are respected.

What are the differences from the legal system?

While the nonacademic misconduct process does resolve cases where a student’s behavior violated established policies, which at times may be defined by state statute, it is separate and distinct from any legal proceedings. The campus process does not use the same procedures, burdens of proof, or rules of evidence as local, state, or federal legal systems.

Core to our educational approach, the University takes steps to ensure that the process is as non-adversarial as possible, while still safeguarding the rights of involved students. In most cases, including all cases of sex-based discrimination, University staff make decisions based on a preponderance of the evidence—information that persuades a reasonable person that is is more likely true than not true that misconduct occurred. In certain cases, clear and convincing evidence—information that would persuade a reasonable person to have a firm belief that the misconduct occurred—is necessary to remove a student from campus or restrict them from a course or program.