The nonacademic misconduct process in detail

Specific steps involved in the process following the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


12. Opportunities to appeal.

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

Appeals to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

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

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 Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs’ 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 Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Appeal to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

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 Conduct and Community Standards Contacts

How can we help?

Email us at:



Line art image of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
724 W. Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53715

Office Hours
Monday-Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm

After Hours Contacts

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