Q: A student has asked me to serve as an advisor during the student conduct process. What does this mean?
A: Being an advisor means that you are tasked with helping a student prepare for student conduct meetings or conferences, accompanying the student in any conduct proceedings, advising the student in the sharing of information, and assisting the student during the appeals process.
This is an important role because resolving a complaint through the student conduct process can be a challenging experience for any student and for that reason the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards encourages students to seek the assistance of an advisor to support and accompany them through the process.
It is important to understand that this is a voluntary position. Students can find free legal assistance at Student Survivor Legal Services (for complainants) or at the Office of Student Advocacy (advises mainly respondents). However, a student can also choose to hire independent legal counsel to serve as an advisor. In that event, the student is solely responsible for any fees related to the representation.
Q: What is my role in the student conduct process?
A: As someone who helps the student navigate the student conduct process, the advisor is a silent participant during all official meetings. This means that the advisor may provide advice to a student outside of these meetings but may not advocate on behalf of a student, speak on behalf or instead of a student, or act in opposition to university policy during the course of the resolution of a complaint. The advisor may not question witnesses, undertake their own investigations, make statements, provide testimony or otherwise intercede in the student conduct process.
An advisor may, on one occasion throughout the student conduct process, present a 5 minute or less brief summary of the student’s information at the beginning of the Administrative Conference. This is the only time that an advisor is permitted to advocate, represent, or speak on behalf of the student.
The advisor is someone who is present to help the student understand the proceedings and to support them in what can be a difficult and stressful experience. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that the advisor become familiar with the investigation and resolution process in order to effectively advise the student and accurately and appropriately guide the student throughout the process. The Title IX Coordinator is available to provide training for advisors. Additionally, advisors are encouraged to review the information and resources on this website so that know the university process and proceedings so that they can more effectively assist the student.
Unfortunately, we have seen advisors choose not to take advantage of these opportunities and therefore provide inaccurate and sometimes disadvantageous advice to their students. Engaging in obstructive behaviors, ignoring or intentionally violating the procedures set in place or providing flawed guidance to the student not only does a disservice to the student, but may also place advisors in violation of their own ethical obligations (such as in the case of attorneys).
It is also important for advisors to understand that if they do not comply with the university’s rules and procedures, they may be asked to leave the proceeding or be restricted from serving as an advisor.
Q: Do I need to be an attorney to be an advisor?
A: No. A student may select any person to be an advisor, including but not limited to:
- Another student not involved in the complaint
- A parent or family member
- A member of the faculty or administration not involved in the complaint
- A translator
- An attorney, limited to one attorney if a member of a law firm
- A union representative
It is strongly recommended that an advisor not be a witness or have a conflicting role in the underlying allegations or student conduct process.
As a reminder, you should not offer legal advice if you are not a trained legal professional.
Q: Do I need to complete a form to serve as an advisor?
A: If you have been chosen to advise a student during the student conduct process, the student must complete the Advisor Designation and Authorization form.
Q: Where can I get more information on the student conduct process?
A: An advisor can call the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards to talk with a conduct professional about the conduct process. For questions related specifically to the sexual misconduct process, advisors can call the Title IX Coordinator.
The student conduct process is outlined in the Student Conduct Code.
Additional standard operating procedures apply to allegations of sexual misconduct.
The student conduct process is also described in detail on the Office of the Dean of Students website which provides a general overview.
The Title IX Coordinator and/or the Office of the Dean of Students will also supply the student with confidential resources and support information. These are described in greater detail at the Resources for Complainants and Resources for Respondents sections of this site.
Q: Who should I contact if the student I am advising needs disability accommodations during the student conduct process?
A: The student should promptly notify the Investigator in charge of their investigation if the student may need accommodations during any part of the student conduct process and the student should contact the Accessible Education Center (AEC) to discuss what accommodations may be appropriate for their particular situation. All accommodation requests are assessed, granted and made by AEC.
However, if at any time the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards determines that a student accused of misconduct under the Student Conduct Code lacks the mental capacity to respond to the allegation, the Director will pause the student conduct process and/or proceeding until the Director determines the student may adequately respond to the allegations and meaningfully participate in the process.
Q: The student I am advising speaks English as a second language. Are there additional resources available during the student conduct process?
A: The student may, on their own, select an English interpreter to assist them with the process. Students have often sought assistance from professors, advisors and friends or family when language has been a barrier to full participation. There are resources in the Eugene/Springfield area and the student may request assistance from the Title IX Coordinator in locating assistance. The Title IX Coordinator will attempt to fulfill this request as appropriate and reasonable. The interpreter may accompany the student to official meetings along with the advisor, but his or her role at official meetings will be limited to language translation.
Q: Does the designation of an advisor affect the student conduct process?
A: The designation of an advisor does not change how an allegation of student misconduct will be resolved because the student conduct process is a student-centered process. All communications will be directed to and take place with the student. However, if the student indicates the advisor should be included in communications on the Advisor Designation and Authorization form then the investigator will also include advisors on communications as a courtesy.
The investigator reserves the right to recommend for removal any advisor who distracts, derails, impedes or disrupts any part of the student conduct process. If the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Student Conduct or their designees determine that the advisor has engaged in unreasonable, disruptive, harassing or retaliatory behavior, they may require the student to proceed without an advisor or identify a new advisor.
Q: Where can I find more information on the rights of students during the student conduct process?
A: Students involved on either side of the complaint are entitled to a fair, balanced, and equitable resolution process. Rights of the complainant and respondent are outlined separately on this site.
Q: I have obtained information from someone who has not been interviewed by the investigator. Can I submit this information to the investigator?
A: Witness statements obtained by someone other than the student conduct investigator will generally not be allowed and will not become part of the Record. If the student believes someone has relevant information about the underlying allegation the person’s name and contact information should be submitted to the investigator as a possible witness. There are certain exceptions to this rule and more information can be found in the standard operating procedures.
Q: Are there alternative resolutions to allegations of student misconduct other than the formal student conduct process?
A: Aside from allegations of sexual assault or sexual violence, an allegation of a potential violation of the Student Conduct Code may be resolved through alternative dispute resolution or an admission of responsibility.
The Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, determines if an allegation of student misconduct may be appropriately resolved outside the formal student conduct process. You can find more information here or contact their offices to find out more.
Q: What happens if there is a criminal investigation?
A: The university investigation is an administrative process, not a legal or criminal proceeding. This means that the student conduct process will be resolved separately from the criminal investigation. A violation of the Student Conduct Code does not necessarily constitute a violation of state or federal law. Furthermore, the student conduct process depends on a preponderance of the evidence standard, so the student conduct investigator determines whether it is more likely than not that the alleged student conduct violation occurred based upon the available relevant information.
In the event of a criminal investigation, the criminal and student processes may proceed concurrently. The student conduct investigator may conduct joint interviews with law enforcement as appropriate, but the processes will remain separate.
Sometimes, the student conduct process may be temporarily paused while active fact-finding is being completed by law enforcement. If that happens, the decision to pause will be made by the Title IX Coordinator in consultation with the relevant law enforcement agency. The student conduct investigator will communicate with all parties as described in the Student Conduct Procedures and/or SOPs.
Q: I am concerned the student conduct investigator is not treating the student fairly. What should I do?
A: If a student believes the student conduct investigator is biased or that they are being treated unfairly, the student may submit a request for a new investigator to the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards. The request should be submitted as soon as the student has reason to believe the investigator is biased. Forms to make these requests are located here.
Q: Will the student conduct process continue if the student withdraws from the university?
A: Yes. Pursuant to Section 1(IV)(5) of the Student Conduct Code, the university retains jurisdiction over a party even if the party withdraws from the university prior to resolution of a complaint. If a student respondent chooses to not participate, the university will move forward with the student conduct process, including the Administrative Conference and sanctions without the benefit of their participation.
Q: How are sanctions determined?
A: The Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator and the student conduct investigator, determines sanctions. Sanctions depend on many factors within the student conduct process and may vary from student to student. You can read more about the specific sanctions that are considered here, and about the types of factors that are considered specifically in sexual misconduct cases.
Q: What happens if the student is found responsible?
A: When a student has been found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code under the standard operating procedures, the Notice of Findings will be submitted by the investigator/Decision-maker to the Director of Student Conduct for a determination as to appropriate sanctions. The Director will consult with the investigator/Decision-maker, and with the Title IX Coordinator who must approve the sanction. The Director will issue a written sanctions decision, which will include information regarding appeals, within five (5) days after the Notice of Findings has been issued. As noted in the Appeals Standard Operating Procedures, and consistent with provisions in the Student Conduct Code, an appeal must be submitted within 14 calendar days of the final decision. A final decision is either the Decision-makers finding of not responsible, or the Director of Student Conduct’s sanctioning decision, whichever is applicable.
If a student is found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code, the Complainant and the Respondent each may submit an impact or mitigation statement within three days. The impact and mitigation statements may be taken into consideration by the Director in issuing sanctions.
- An impact statement provided by the Complainant is written statement from the Complainant describing the impact of the incident on the Complainant and expressing the Complainant’s preferences regarding appropriate sanctions or aggravating circumstances the Complainant wishes the Director to consider.
- A mitigation statement provided by the Respondent is a written statement from the Respondent explaining any factors that the Respondent believes should mitigate or otherwise be considered in determining the sanctions imposed.
Q: Can I obtain a transcript of the Administrative Conference in preparation for an appeal?
A: Once the initial decision has been issued, and after the sanctioning decision has been made in cases involving a finding of responsibility, the full Record and the audio from the Administrative Conference will be shared with the Complainant and the Respondent. The Record and audio file will remain posted during the period of time within which they may file an appeal. The link to the Record and audio will be emailed to the Complainant and the Respondent directly, and requires that each sign in to their account to access the materials.
Q: Is there an external appeal process?
A: Students can file an external appeal with the Office for Civil Rights. Students may also pursue an appeal by filing a writ of review with the Lane County Court. See ORS 34.010-100. Students are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in order to determine if and how to file an external appeal.