Nonacademic Misconduct

This may include things like hate or bias, sexual violence, hazing or other issues that may work against the university’s living and learning environment that is safe and free from violence, harassment, fraud, theft, disruption, and intimidation.


This guide walks through the process following a report of nonacademic misconduct, including student responsibilities, outcomes, and appeals.

Reporting an issue

Nonacademic misconduct can occur inside and outside the classroom. When classroom behavior disrupts other students’ abilities to learn or disrupts research or teaching activities, it may be nonacademic misconduct.

This misconduct is structured according to the Wisconsin State Legislature Administrative Code, Chapter 17: Student nonacademic Disciplinary Procedure.

Amnesty through responsible action

In the interest of student safety, this program serves to remove or reduce punitive consequences faced by students in violation of nonacademic misconduct. This allows a student who required medical assistance to receive medical attention without a violation of misconduct policies. It would also remove violations for those who assisted the student in need.

About Amnesty Through Responsible Action

Steps involved in the nonacademic misconduct process

To help with transparency, set expectations, and to provide agency for those involved in the nonacademic misconduct process, the following information contains an overview of the entire process and a detailed look at some of the components.

Overview


  1. A report is made.
  2. The allegations are recorded, and a record is created in the campus Student Conduct database.
  3. The case is assigned to an investigating officer.
  4. The accused student is notified.
  5. A conference between the investigating officer and student.
  6. An investigation is conducted.
  7. The investigation concludes and outcomes are decided.
  8. The investigation findings and rationale are shared.
  9. The student has the opportunity to challenge the outcome.
  10. A hearing can take place.
  11. Outcomes from the hearing.
  12. Opportunities to appeal.

A detailed breakdown of the steps involved


1. A report is made.

2. The allegations are recorded, and a record is created in the campus Student Conduct database.

3. The case is assigned to an investigating officer.

4. The accused student is notified.

The investigating officer will send the student alleged to have violated policy an email message alerting them to the allegations.

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Contents of the secure message

  • A brief summary of the allegations.
  • A list of the policies allegedly violated based on the information currently available.
  • Information about campus policies and procedures under UWS 17.
  • An invitation to the student to schedule a conference to discuss the allegations, and the option to provide information in writing as well as other rights in the process.

This message is secure and can only be accessed by the student.

5. A conference between the investigating officer and student.

Students are encouraged to schedule the conference as quickly as possible.

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Why hold a 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.

What happens during the conference?

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.

6. An investigation is conducted.

7. The investigation concludes and outcomes are decided.

The information gathered in the investigation, including the conference, will be used to determine the outcomes for the incident.

8. The investigation findings and rationale are shared.

After the investigation has concluded, the investigating officer will compose their findings in a letter and email this message to the student.

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What is included in the findings?

The letter will include the policies for which the respondent was found responsible, the basis and reasoning for that decision, and the outcomes recommended for the student based on their unique case.

All decisions are made based on a preponderance of the information–what is more likely true than not true–with the exception of decisions to suspend or expel students for incidents that do not involve responsible findings for sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, or stalking. In those cases, clear and convincing information is necessary to recommend suspension or expulsion.

When multiple students are involved in the same incident, each may not receive the same outcomes. While the behaviors in question may appear to be similar, each student has unique learning needs and conduct histories that may warrant differential outcomes.

The obligation of the investigating officer is to provide a fair process consistent with the procedures outlined in UWS 17 and to make a determination on sanctions/outcomes appropriate for each student consistent with our educational mission.

9.  The student has the opportunity to challenge the outcome.

A hearing may be requested to challenge the findings.

If a student accepts responsibility and does not contest the outcomes, then the decision of the investigating officer becomes final ten days from the date of the decision.

10. A hearing takes place.

Students have the right to a hearing before a nonacademic misconduct committee or examiner if they wish to contest the findings or outcomes recommended by the investigating officer.

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How hearings work and outcomes

Hearings maintain the same educational purpose as the overall misconduct process. The student and witnesses are expected to answer questions and fully participate.

Advisors, including attorneys, may only consult with their advisee, except when suspension or expulsion are recommended, or criminal charges for the same behavior are pending. In these cases the advisor may pose questions to parties to the hearing. Respondents are still expected to answer questions directed to them.

The hearing chair may take appropriate steps to ensure the order in the hearing, including designating procedures by which questions may be asked of the complainant or respondent.

The decision of the hearing body will be rendered within 14 days of the date of the hearing and delivered to the student (and complainant, if applicable) via email.

Who is involved in the hearing?

The nonacademic misconduct committee represents the university community in matters of student misconduct.

  • Committee members are trained by the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards on conduct procedures, effective questioning, and determining appropriate sanctions.
  • Committees are composed of at least one student and at least two faculty/staff, from a pool appointed through shared governance processes.
  • Examiners are a faculty or staff member appointed to the Committee and may resolve cases at the request of the respondent.

Privacy and audio recordings

Hearings are subject to Wisconsin open meetings laws and while they start as open meetings, are typically moved to a closed session.

Hearings involving allegations of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment are resolved by a misconduct committee only and must be conducted in private.

Hearings are audio recorded and the record is maintained as part of the involved parties’ (respondent/complainant) student record.

Residence hall-specific outcomes and suspension/expulsion recommendations

Residence hall-specific outcomes (contract cancellation, disciplinary moves) have a separate appeal process. Refer to the finding letter for information on this process.

Suspension and expulsion recommendations are automatically referred to a hearing for resolution, unless the student waives their right to a hearing or resolves the case via settlement agreement.

11. Potential outcomes from the hearing.

The student, and in certain cases the complainant, have the right to appeal the decision of the hearing body.

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.

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.

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Learning outcomes

  • 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.

Potential sanctions

The consequences of the misconduct are also called sanctions. They may involve education, affect student status, or involve other sanctions including, but not limited to denial of some university priveleges, payment of restitution, or enrollment restrictions.

Sanctions

12. Opportunities to appeal.

Resolutions can be appealed to the Chancellor or the Board of Regents.

Appeals to the Chancellor

Resolutions may be appealed to the Chancellor in two types of situations. Any other sanction may not be appealed to the Chancellor.

Appeal to the Chancellor

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1. Allegations of sexual assault, stalking, dating/domestic violence, or sexual harassment

When the case involves allegations of sexual assault, stalking, dating/domestic violence, or sexual harassment, the parties may appeal investigator and hearing decisions to the Chancellor’s office as outlined in UWS 17.

2. Sanctions of enrollment restrictions, suspension, or expulsion

When these types of sanctions are prescribed by a nonacademic hearing committee or examiner, a student may appeal the decision to the Chancellor.

Appeals to the Board of Regents

Final institutional decisions in both nonacademic and academic misconduct cases may be appealed to the Board of Regents under the procedures outlined in the administrative code.

Appeal to the Board of Regents

Student rights and responsibilities

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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.

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.

Contact

Student Conduct and Community Standards Contacts

How can we help?

Email us at:
conduct@studentlife.wisc.edu

Fax:
608-265-4656

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Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
70 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1380


Monday-Friday: 10:00am - 4:00pm

After Hours Contacts

Crisis response:
Call Mental Health Services
608-265-5600 (option 9)
Emergencies:
Dial 911 for immediate help from the
UW Police Department
UWPD Non-emergency line: 608-264-2677