Last Updated on April 12, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
Being charged with breaking college discipline codes and facing allegations is terrifying. Many university students may be inexperienced with the college discipline system, and can be faced with an overwhelming and harsh accusation of wrongdoing. Knowing the possible resolutions options available to a college, is important when facing student discipline.
UC and UCD Discipline Practices
With my office in Sacramento, California, the closest University of California (UC) campus is the University of California at Davis (UCD). As such, I will use some of UCD’s documents as an example of what options may be available.
College Discipline Resolution Options Consistent
I have noticed over the years, via contact with many colleges, as varied as UCLA, CSUS, and private colleges, that although universities may have differences in their student discipline patterns, negotiation practices, and willingness to reach a resolution, their options for resolution of discipline allegations tend to be similar.
Student Disciplinary Sanction Options
Several years ago, I obtained a useful document from UCD on sanctions they may consider when resolving a discipline matter:
This document has been absorbed by the UCD website, but remains relevant. It is illustrative as to the potential discipline outcomes UCD or other colleges may consider when resolving a student discipline matter.
Many Options for Resolution of College Discipline Allegations
Often college students are offered only limited resolution options for a discipline matter, such as suspension, deferred suspension, or expulsion. Yet, the UCD document (above) shows there are a wide range of potential alternative punishments which may also be options, such as:
- Special Assignment, such as community service, educational project, training, or other similar outcome.
- Restitution: repayment for damage
- Name on File -basically a written document stating the student did wrong in their college file(s).
- Warning or censure: a warning is put in the student’s records about what they did.
- Loss of privileges or exclusion from activities
- Disciplinary probation
- Exclusion from some areas of the college campus or from certain university functions (e.g. debate club meetings)
- Interim suspension [temporary]
- Deregistration -relevant to student organizations, such as sororities and fraternities or clubs
- Restrictions on university employment/turn over of university property and identification
- Deferred (delayed) separation, deferred dismissal or deferred suspension [this is a very common punishment]
- Delay of graduation
- Dismissal from college [aka expulsion]
- Revocation of university degree
Any of the above can also be combined, depending on the situation.
Learn and Prepare Once Contacted
When the college discipline office, such as the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (aka OSSJA) at UCD, emails a student to meet regarding alleged wrongdoing, a student should get prepared. Students should know all resolution options available in advance, as university staff may not tell them.
Meeting with the College Discipline Office About Allegations
The discipline meeting is quite important. If a college proposes, for example, a deferred separation (a terrible outcome for a minor offense) with waiver of future hearing options, or worse, the student can propose alternative discipline allegation resolutions.
For example, a student could suggest a Letter on File (notation in their records) or a college class on plagiarism. It would be far better to do community service or a class and have a warning than to receive a deferred separation or suspension.
Students should study their options and advocacy tips to obtain the best resolution when dealing with college discipline allegations- it is critical!
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.