Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process
Austin Community College (“ACC” or “College”) promotes the exchange of knowledge in an environment that encourages reasoned discourse, intellectual honesty, and respect for the rights of all persons. In support of this goal, the primary purpose of the following Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process is to educate and guide students to understand their responsibilities in regard to appropriate behavior and respect for others in the College community.
1. Student Rights
A. Course Expectations
Austin Community College students are guaranteed certain rights as citizens of the college community. Students have the right to receive a detailed syllabus within the first week of class for each course in which they enroll. Each syllabus should include course policies, instructor expectations, and grading standards. Students have the right to timely academic evaluation that is consistent and without prejudice. Students have the right to expect instructors to post and maintain office hours.
B. Due Process and Evidentiary Standard
Students have the right to due process in regard to any complaint or disciplinary action brought against them. College disciplinary procedures respect the due process rights of students. Due process includes:
- Notice to the student of charges they are facing;
- The right to know the evidence against them;
- The right to know the name of the complainant; and
- The opportunity to present their side of the story to an unbiased party.
The evidentiary standard used in resolving allegations of misconduct is preponderance of the evidence. This standard is met if the information indicates that it is ‘more likely than not’ that a violation occurred.
2. Student Responsibilities
A student attending an ACC-sponsored event or activity assumes responsibility for conduct compatible with the mission of the College as an educational institution. Although ACC is dedicated to an open, free society, some actions are inappropriate in an institution of higher education. Students who commit infractions pertaining to any of the following areas at an ACC-sponsored event or activity, or on ACC property or premises, are subject to disciplinary action. An ACC-sponsored event or activity is defined as any event or activity on or off campus that is initiated, aided, authorized, or supervised by ACC.
A. Misuse of college computers, technology, and other electronics
Students have the responsibility to adhere to rules regarding the use of college computers, technology, and other electronic resources. Specific violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Installing or modifying any software or hardware without approval;
- Violating the rights of others, including that of privacy;
- Violating policies, rules, or agreements signed by the student regarding the use of technology resources;
- Attempting to infiltrate unauthorized networks or systems, or attempting to damage or alter software, hardware, or data;
- Deliberately disrupting or interfering with others’ approved use of information systems;
- Violating license restrictions or copyrights;
- Producing advertisements or solicitations for non-college-related purposes;
- Using the Internet or other electronic communications to threaten College District students, employees, or volunteers;
- Sending, posting, or possessing electronic messages that are obscene, sexually explicit, abusive, threatening, harassing, bullying, damaging to another’s reputation, or illegal;
- Using any ACC computer, facility, equipment, software, network, or other resource, including email:
a. For any activity other than that for which access or use was assigned or authorized; or
b. To commit or attempt to commit acts prohibited under college policy and/or applicable federal, state, or local laws.
Students have the responsibility not to impair, interfere with, or obstruct the orderly conduct, process, or function of the College or any of its students, faculty, staff, or guests. Threatening acts, direct or implied, concerning harm to others, illegal or unlawfully carried weapons, and/or explosives will be immediately addressed and reported to the necessary authority to ensure a threat is not imminent and individuals affected by the threat are notified and safe. Specific violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Acting in a manner that significantly interferes with any ACC teaching, administrative, disciplinary, public service, or other authorized activity inside or outside the classroom.
- Acting in a manner that endangers the health, safety, or welfare of others at ACC, including at ACC off-campus events.
- Engaging in conduct of a harassing nature that does not constitute illegal harassment. Examples of this type of conduct may include, but are not limited to persistent, unwelcome teasing or offhand or offensive comments; pranks; a pattern of electronic, verbal or written communications that involve indecent, obscene, or inappropriate content; or a pattern of electronic or personal (written or verbal) communications and interactions that are not welcomed or reciprocated by the recipient. Harassing behavior of this nature should cease to occur after notice is given that it is unwelcome, or an individual communicates they want the behavior to stop.
- Destroying, damaging, misusing, or defacing college property.
- Stealing from ACC or others.
- Interfering with the freedom of movement of another person.
- Interfering with the right of another to enter, use, or leave any College building, facility, property, service, resource, or activity.
- Refusing to comply with the directions of a College official, including campus police, in the performance of his or her duty.
- Failure to provide identification when requested by ACC personnel.
- Violation of any ACC policy.
- Possessing and/or using ACC keys/cards without authorization.
- Providing false or misleading information to the college or its representatives.
- Falsely reporting, by any means, the presence of an explosive, incendiary device, fire, or other safety hazard.
- Failing to obey a summons or comply with the terms of any disciplinary sanction imposed in accordance with the Student Standards of Conduct.
- Forging, using, or altering any College document, record, or ID without authorization.
- Retaliation against an individual who has brought a complaint forward, or participated in an investigation of such complaint.
C. Drug and Alcohol Usage
ACC complies with local, state, and federal laws and penalties regarding the unlawful use of drugs and alcohol. The following are violations of the Student Standards of Conduct:
- The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale, or being under the influence, of a drug or narcotic, as those terms are defined by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, unless under the direction of a physician;
- The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale of paraphernalia related to any prohibited substance;
- The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale, or being under the influence, of alcohol or other intoxicating beverage without the permission of the College President, or designee;
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol that was legally consumed, which causes disruption to the learning or working environment, or poses a concern of safety to the individual or others.
D. Illegal Acts
Students have the responsibility to adhere to all local ordinances as well as state and federal laws while on college premises or at college-sponsored events. Illegal acts include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Possession or use of firearms or other weapons not in accordance with the Campus Carry Law which is outlined on the College’s website at the following link: http://www.austincc.edu/campus-carry/policy. Students are responsible for reviewing this information and adhering to the requirements. It is not a violation of this policy when possession or use of firearms or other weapons is for educational purposes with prior written approval of the professor or faculty sponsor, campus manager, and the campus police;
- Theft of property;
- Assault, attempted assault, terroristic threats, or stalking;
- Title 5 of the Penal Code, Felony Offenses Against the Person;
- Hazing, including, but not limited to, any action or situation, with or without consent of the student, which intentionally or recklessly endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into any organization operating under the sanction of the Austin Community College District;
- Violation of any state or federal law not specifically listed in this policy;
- Unlawful discrimination and harassment.
E. Prohibition of Discrimination and Harassment
The College is committed to protecting the rights and dignity of its students and does not tolerate any form of illegal discrimination or harassment. The investigative, adjudicative, and disciplinary procedures in response to complaints of discrimination and harassment are addressed in the following policies, with the exception of reports of religious discrimination.
- Prohibition of Sexual Misconduct: Administrative Rule 3.10.003
- Prohibition of Discrimination or Harassment of Students on the Basis of Disability: Administrative Rule: Administrative Rule and Guidelines Procedures 6.02.002
- Prohibition of Discrimination or Harassment of Students on the Basis of Race, Color or National Origin (Title VI): Administrative Rule 6.02.003
Reports of religious discrimination against students are investigated in accordance with the procedures outlined in this policy.
F. Solicitation, sales, and canvassing
ACC prohibits solicitation, sales, or canvassing (for any purpose) by students or non-students on college premises except with the written permission from the campus manager, subject to the approval of the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services. Similarly, no concessions for profit may be operated on college property without the written permission from the Student Life Office and/or the campus manager, subject to the approval of the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services.
G. Scholastic Dishonesty and Academic Misconduct
Reports of Student Standards of Conduct violations outlined in this section may be addressed through the Academic Integrity Disciplinary Process, the process outlined below for general disciplinary action, or both processes depending on the nature of the alleged conduct.
“Scholastic Dishonesty” shall include, but not be limited to, cheating, plagiarism, and collusion.
“Cheating” shall include, but shall not be limited to:
- Copying from another student’s test or class work;
- Using test materials not authorized by the person administering the test;
- Collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during a test without permission from the test administrator;
- Knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, or soliciting, in whole or in part, the contents of an un-administered test, paper, or another assignment;
- The unauthorized transporting or removal, in whole or in part, of the contents of the un-administered test;
- Substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for one’s self, to take a test;
- Bribing another person to obtain an un-administered test or information about an un-administered test; or
- Manipulating a test, assignment, or final course grades.
“Plagiarism” shall be defined as appropriating, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another’s work and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of that other’s work in one’s own written work.
“Collusion” shall be defined as the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for fulfillment of course requirements.
3. Correspondence During Process
The ACC-issued email address will be the primary method of corresponding with students. When correspondence is to be sent via U.S. Mail, a student’s official address throughout either of the disciplinary processes described herein will be the address on file in the Admissions and Records Office. Students are responsible for ensuring their mailing address is current and for monitoring their ACC-issued email account.
4. General Disciplinary Action Process
Violations of the Student Standards of Conduct are investigated by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services and by the Student Services Division specifically. Exceptions to this occur when a student violates a program-specific policy that is not addressed in the Student Standards of Conduct or violations of the Student Standards of Conduct are discovered in the course of an investigation under another policy or rule. A Conduct Notification Report detailing alleged violations of the Student Standards of Conduct by an ACC student must be completed. The general disciplinary procedure is as follows:
- The alleged violation must be reported using a Conduct Notification Report and submitted to the appropriate Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services. This process will also be utilized in response to the receipt of a Police Incident Report referring conduct that can be addressed under this policy. Alleged violations occurring at ACC centers are reported to the center coordinator, while off-campus and Distance Learning incidents are reported to the Associate Vice President of Student Support Services who will then forward the report to the designated North, Central, or South Regional Executive Dean of Students Services for review by the appropriate Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services.
- The Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services will conduct a preliminary review of the allegation which may include convening separate conferences, characterized by active listening, with the complainant and the respondent to understand the nature of the alleged violation. It is helpful for the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services and the students to discuss the circumstances and issues of the alleged violation and to identify possible resolutions.
- After completing the preliminary review of the complaint alleging misconduct, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services may (a) dismiss the complaint or (b) notify the respondent in writing (via ACC email) of the complaint against him/her and summon the respondent for a conference at which time they will have the opportunity to respond to the complaint of alleged conduct violation and to present information to support his/her version of the facts. A respondent shall have at least three (3) business days after receipt of written notice of the alleged conduct violation to prepare for the conference. Receipt of written notice is considered the date the email is sent.
- If the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services determines that the matter is best resolved in an informal manner, the involved persons will be provided with options or remedies that may be helpful or beneficial in finding a resolution, including informal which is outlined below in Section F.
- At any point, and depending on the severity of the alleged conduct violation, a student may be issued an interim suspension pending completion of disciplinary proceedings. Procedures required for placing a respondent on interim suspension are outlined in Section G below.
- The Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services will investigate the alleged violation. The investigation may include but is not limited to a review and consideration of information shared by the complainant and respondent, in addition to interviewing any witnesses identified by either party as having information related to the alleged misconduct. Character witnesses are not considered witnesses that have information related to the allegation and will not be interviewed. Should any follow up be required to clarify information received or to obtain additional information, the parties will be contacted by the investigating Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services to schedule an additional conference.
- Once the investigation is complete, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services will make a ruling regarding responsibility and will disclose the determination of any consequent sanctions in accordance with the provisions below.
- The Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services has the authority to issue sanctions including, but not limited to, the following:
a. Restitution: Reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of property. Reimbursement may take the form of appropriate service to repair or otherwise compensate for damage.
b. Alternative sanction, including restorative justice: In order for this type of sanction to be considered, a respondent must admit and take accountability for the alleged conduct violation, actively participate in the process to find resolution, and agree to the findings and sanctions assessed. If the alleged conduct was against an individual, that individual must agree to this type of sanction.
c. Reprimand: A verbal or written warning following a rule violation. Repetition of such a violation may result in more severe disciplinary action; and
d. Probation: The placing of a student on notice that continued violations or misconduct may result in suspension or expulsion from the Failure to comply with the College’s rules, regulations or stipulated conditions, while on probation, risks further sanctions.
- The following sanctions may be recommended by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services, but are subject to the review and approval of the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Services:
a. Restrictions/Loss of Privileges: Restriction or loss of privileges as a student for a specified period of time, including but not limited to: attending College events and/or activities; accessing College property or specifically designated areas on Campus; or participating in student clubs or organizations;
b. Removal from course(s) that does not result in suspension from the College;
c. Suspension: Temporary removal from the College for a definite period of time and/or until stated conditions have been met. If necessary to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment, in order to gain re-entry to the College, a student’s agreement to complete post-suspension terms may be required. Suspensions may exceed one semester. A student who is suspended may not enter College property without permission from the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services, and further loses all privileges to participate in any College activities or organizations; and
d. Expulsion: Permanent separation from the College. A student receiving disciplinary expulsion is permanently prohibited from enrolling in classes at the College. This shall be noted in the student’s permanent record, and a permanent bar to enrollment will be imposed.
C. Written Notification of Outcome of Investigation
Within ten (10) business days of the completion of the investigation the respondent will be notified by the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services of the outcome in writing (via ACC email). The notice will include the findings, any resulting sanction(s), and the deadline and process for an appeal in accordance with Section D below.
The issuance of sanctions specified in Section 4(B)(2), are subject to the following review and approval process before notification can be sent:
a. Before a Section 4(B)(2) sanction is issued or considered final, the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Services must review the Dean or Associate Dean’s findings and recommendations. Any written statements submitted by the complainant or respondent in relation to the allegations, must be included in the review.
b. The respondent or complainant may be contacted via ACC email or telephone in the event the Regional Executive Dean of Student Services seeks clarification or answers to follow-up questions.
c. Upon review of the findings and recommended sanction(s), the Regional Executive Dean of Student Services may approve, modify, or reverse the recommended sanction(s). The Regional Executive Dean’s decision will be sent to the Dean or Associate Dean to include in the written notification.
The process to appeal a sanction depends on the nature of the sanction.
1. Sanctions Other than Under Section 4(B)(2). Students may appeal the ruling in writing to the appropriate Regional Executive Dean. The appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days of receipt of the ruling. The appeal is limited to a review of the documents. The student will be notified of a decision within five (5) business days of the receipt of the request for an appeal. The decision of the Regional Executive Dean of Student Services is final.
2. Appeals to Judicial Review Panel for Sanctions Under Section 4(B)(2). Within five (5) business days following the receipt of written notification from the Regional Executive Dean of Student Services of a sanction outlined in Section 4B(2), the student may request an appeal to the Judicial Review Panel (JRP). Appeals must be submitted in writing to the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Services subject to the limitations below:
a. Appeals to the JRP are limited to the following parameters:
i. Procedures were not properly followed as outlined in the Student Standards of Conduct & Disciplinary Process; or
ii. New or newly discovered information which substantially affects the outcome of the hearing has been discovered; or
iii. Evidence of bias in the proceedings.
b. The request must include supportive documentation substantiating one or more of the three above stated parameters. The appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Services will review the request and documentation to determine if a JRP will convene. Any requests submitted that do not include the parameters outlined above will be automatically denied. If the request is granted, the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Services will appoint a Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services not associated with the case to serve as an Administrative Dean of Student Services who is responsible for organizing and conducting the JRP. The Administrative Dean of Student Services will serve as the JRP Chair.
c. Within five (5) business days following notification of the student’s request, the designated Regional Executive Dean of Student Services will notify the student if a hearing will be convened and, if so, the name of the JRP Chair for the Judicial Review process. If approved, the JRP will convene within ten (10) business days from the student’s receipt of notification that a hearing will be convened.
d. The JRP will convene as needed to review cases. JRP hearings are closed to the public, except for members of the student’s family and any advocate appointed by the student. The student and advocate may confer privately during the hearing; however, only the student is permitted to address the JRP. The student must respond to all inquiries from the JRP.
e. The decision of the JRP to affirm, modify, or dismiss the finding of the Regional Executive Dean of Student Services will be communicated by the JRP Chair. The decision of the JRP is final and is not subject to further appeal.
E. Judicial Review Panel Procedures
A JRP is convened and chaired by a JRP Chair at the request of a Regional Executive Dean of Student Services.
1. Composition and Appointment. The JRP Chair will appoint the members of the JRP. A JRP is composed of four members who must be neutral and unbiased and have not participated in decisions related to, nor had direct knowledge of the case:
a. Designated JRP Chair (Non-voting member)
b. Instructional Faculty representative (Dean, Department Chair, Full/Time Faculty, Adjunct Faculty) (Voting member)
c. Student Services Representative (Voting member)
d. Student Government Representative (Voting member)
2. Student notification:The JRP Chair will notify the student in writing of the JRP hearing date. The notification should:
a. Direct the student to appear at the date, time, and place specified in the letter.
b. State the charges against the student.
c. Outline which parameters form the basis of the appeal.
d. Inform the student that counsel may represent the College and that the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services involved with the case may question any witnesses or the student.
e. State that the parties shall exchange lists of witnesses and copies of documentary evidence to be used at the hearing at least three (3) business days before the hearing.
f. Advise the student of the right to:
- A private hearing.
- Appear alone or with a representative (who may be an attorney), who may confer with the student but may not advocate on behalf of the student to the JRP. Only the student has a right to address the JRP.
- Know the identity of each witness who will testify, unless there is reason to believe that disclosure would endanger the health and safety of the witness.
- Call witnesses.
- Offer evidence.
- Testify on his/her behalf.
- Audio-record the hearing.
3. Failure to appear: If a student fails to appear, the hearing will proceed as scheduled with the parties who are present. The JRP is permitted to issue a ruling based on the record presented at that time.
4. Hearing Procedure: JRP hearings are informal in nature and are closed to the public.
a. Witnesses will be asked to affirm that their testimony is truthful.
b. Student witnesses will be told that they may be charged with Student Standards of Conduct violations if it is found that they intentionally provided false information to the JRP.
c. College faculty or other employees serving as witnesses will be told that they are subject to discipline under appropriate College rules for intentionally providing false information to the JRP.
d. The JRP Chair may remove any person who becomes disruptive during the hearing, including the student.
e. The process for the proceedings are as follows:
- Review of violation(s) and the pending resolution.
- Student’s rationale for appeal.
- Initial questions from the JRP.
- Witness testimony.
- Additional questions from the JRP (if needed).
- JRP deliberation.
f. Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant and the respondent, will be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses.
g. Only the JRP shall be present at its deliberations after the hearing concludes. JRP deliberations shall not be recorded or transcribed.
5. Records of the hearing: The College will make an audio recording (or use assistive technology, if needed) of the JRP hearing. The student will be given a copy of the audiotape, if requested.
F. Informal Resolution
Informal resolution is utilized as an alternative means to resolve problems or disputes before initiating formal complaint procedures. Informal resolution may help facilitate quick resolutions while minimizing the need to participate in the formal investigative process. For informal resolution to proceed, both parties must agree to use this as a means to reach resolution.
If informal resolution is proposed as an alternative to conducting an investigation of an alleged violation of the Student Standards of Conduct (see #4 in Section A: Procedures), to be binding in a disciplinary case, a resolution agreement must be approved by the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Services. If resolution is not found, the investigation will be assigned to another individual that has investigative authority under this policy.
G. Interim Suspension
At any point during disciplinary proceedings, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services may impose an interim suspension not to exceed ten (10) College business days. Interim suspension may be imposed to ensure the physical or emotional safety and well-being of the complainant or others and/or prevent the respondent from engaging in any disruptive or destructive activity on property owned or controlled by the College or at any College-sponsored event or activity. Interim suspensions will be supported by evidence that the continued presence of the student at the College may pose a significant threat to others, to College property, or to the stability and continuance of normal College functions. The interim suspension is effective immediately on the date notification is issued.
1. Right to a meeting: A student issued an interim suspension will be given prompt opportunity to meet with the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services. The conference is limited to discussion about the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, and whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence poses a substantial and immediate threat to himself or herself or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal College functions.
2. Appealing an interim suspension: The student may request a meeting to appeal the interim suspension with the appropriate Regional Executive Dean of Student Services. The meeting is limited to discussion about the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, and whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence poses a substantial and immediate threat to himself or herself, to others, to property, or to the stability and continuance of normal college functions. The Regional Executive Dean of Student Services will affirm or rescind the interim suspension and provide notification to the student within two (2) business days of the meeting.
H. Hold on student records
In pending cases that could result in disciplinary action, the Dean or Associate Dean of Student Services may place a hold on the student’s records and will notify the student in writing of such a hold.
I. Cases involving criminal charges
Students may be accountable both to local, state, or federal authorities and to the College for acts that violate the law and the Student Standards of Conduct. The college’s disciplinary process will proceed without regard to criminal proceedings and their outcome.
If the College is notified of an off campus incident, that may have resulted in criminal charges against an enrolled student, the College will assess the information received to determine if the incident has a substantial connection to the interests of the College, and/or poses a safety threat to the College or an individual or group of individuals at the College.
J. Notice to victims of violence
Results of directly related disciplinary proceedings may be released to the victim of a violent crime or non-forcible sex offense, upon written request.
K. Disciplinary records
The College shall maintain for every student determined to have committed misconduct at the College, a disciplinary record that provides details regarding the violation, the disposition of the charge, and the sanction assessed, if any, and any other pertinent information. The disciplinary record shall be separate from the student’s academic record and shall be treated as confidential; the contents shall not be revealed except on request of the student or in accordance with applicable state or federal laws.
The disciplinary record shall be maintained permanently in the event that a student is expelled or subject to an extended suspension. In all other cases, the disciplinary record shall be maintained in accordance with the College record retention schedule.