College Honor Codes and Disciplinary Action

Colleges have a variety of policies for discipline violations. Learn more about what happens when you break the rules.

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Naturally, you hope that while you’re enrolled at college, you will not encounter disciplinary problems of any kind.

Nevertheless, whether you’re afraid you committed an infraction or you simply wish to understand the consequences if you do, familiarize yourself with your school’s honor code and policies.

Honor Code

Every school has an honor code that outlines expectations for all students. When you agree to attend a school, you agree to adhere to all the principles set forth in the writing. This includes academic honesty, such as cheating, and general on-campus behavior.

Augustana College states that its honor code “sets the foundation and boundaries to ensure academic excellence and stability” as well as “holds each individual accountable to the community of Augustana College.”

The honor code will also explain how your school handles any reported cases of infractions. While the repercussions vary from case to case, you can get an idea for how the process plays out, including reporting, hearings, appeals and penalties.

Make sure you fully understand your school’s specific honor code. In the spring of 2011, Brigham Young University basketball player Brandon Davies was dismissed from the team when he admitted he had had sex with his girlfriend. At most schools, this would not be an offense. But the BYU honor code strictly prohibits this because of its strong ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

Types of Infractions

  • Academic misconduct: This entails cheating, plagiarism and any other behavior in which a student does not honestly complete what is required of her.
  • Drugs and alcohol: In almost all states, alcoholic beverages can only be served and enjoyed by students 21 and over, and the sale or use of prescription and illegal drugs (a doctor’s note notwithstanding) is strictly prohibited.
  • Sexual harassment: Your school’s policies regarding sexual harassment will likely be in accordance with those of the state. You can find this information via your school’s website or from the state government.
  • Residence hall policies: If you live in university housing, you will be expected to adhere to all rules set forth when you sign an agreement. Policies vary, so read over your lease in its entirety when you move in.
  • Criminal behavior: Theft, damage to public property and any other form of criminal behavior may be punishable by both the university and law enforcement authorities.

Disciplinary Action

If you are accused of breaking your school’s code of conduct, the repercussions will depend on your specific case. Smaller incidents may be handled between a student and the accuser, while more severe infractions may result in a hearing among you, the dean and a committee of school faculty members. The consequences in such instances can include:

  • A failing grade if you are accused of academic dishonesty or cheating.
  • A letter from the dean to your parents outlining the charges against you.
  • Loss of campus privileges, such as housing, dining and attendance at social events.
  • A semester or yearlong probation in which a second infraction will result in serious repercussions.
  • Suspension for a pre-determined amount of time.
  • Expulsion from the college entirely. Expulsion will be added to your permanent record and transcript if you attempt to transfer to another school.

Remember, if you feel you have been wrongly accused of a violation, you can appeal any decisions made by the university.

While you hope you will never find yourself in serious trouble in college, being a responsible student entails knowing all the rules beforehand.

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