Frequently Asked Questions by Parents
My student has received a letter from the Office of Student Conduct. What does this mean? It means that your student has been referred to the Office of Student Conduct for an alleged violation of University policy. Your student is required to meet with the Student Conduct Coordinator or Assistant Dean to discuss the judicial process, the information that was presented in the referral, and to get information from your student about what happened. A referral does not mean that your student will be found responsible. The violations are alleged and are pending until a full disciplinary investigation is completed.
Will a decision be made about my student during this meeting? It depends on your student's individual circumstances. Many students choose to have their case heard administratively by a staff member during the first meeting. Some students choose to schedule a follow-up meeting or have their case heard by a disciplinary panel. Students who are facing suspension or expulsion from the institution are given the option of having the Assistant Dean or a designee hear the case, having the University Disciplinary Committee hear the case, or sending the case through the TUAPA process. The Assistant Dean or designee may decide how a case will be adjudicated if suspension or expulsion are not options.
Can I call the office and get the details about my student's case? Your student's disciplinary file is considered an educational record. Educational records are protected documents per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. We are prevented from releasing these records to anyone, including parents, without the written consent of the student. We simply can not provide details of your students situation without this form on file. We CAN discuss the process with you and answer general questions not related to the specific case.
Where can I learn more about FERPA? FERPA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education. The Department maintains a FERPA website (with links to FERPA regulations) at: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
How can I support my student through the disciplinary process? You can discuss the issue with your student and encourage them to use the process as an educational tool. You can empower your student to handle the situation on their own to prepare for the conflicts they will face after college. You can also attend the disciplinary meeting(s) as an advisor for your student. Your role as advisor is limited to advising your student. An advisor can not make opening statements, cross-examine witnesses, engage in argument, or represent the student in any way. The advisor is simply there to encourage, support, and guide the student. We encourage you to talk to your student to determine the amount of support your student will need.
How will I know if my child is subject to University disciplinary action? You may not know. Student disciplinary records are protected under FERPA. The best practice is for your son or daughter to inform you about any disciplinary charges directly.
I've heard about changes in FERPA allowing notice to the public if a student commits a crime of violence. What policy has the University adopted regarding this new provision? This recent change in FERPA permits - but does not require - release of final results of campus disciplinary proceedings (reached on or after October 7, 1998) regarding specified crimes of violence or non-forcible sex offenses, as provided in part 99.31 (a) (14) (i) of the FERPA regulations. Consistent with other FERPA requirements, the University has decided to make public, upon request, the identities of individuals found responsible in a campus disciplinary hearing for any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense specified in the law.
I've also seen press reports about a FERPA provision allowing notice to parents when
a student violates drug or alcohol laws. What position has the University taken on
this new rule?
Part 99.31 (a) (15) (i) of the FERPA regulations authorizes - but does not require - disclosure to parents of 'the student's violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance if - (A) The institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation with respect to that use or possession; and (B) The student is under the age of 21 at the time of the disclosure to the parent.' The University has decided to notify parents of students under the age of 21 whenever a student has been found responsible for a first (or subsequent) violation of the University drug policy, and a third (or subsequent) violation of the University alcohol policy, including policies enforced by the office of Residence Life.
Will I be notified if my student is a victim of a violation of University rules? Generally, you will not be notified unless the university has sufficient evidence to indicate that your child is in physical danger and is unable or unwilling to contact you themselves. We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open with your student while they are at MTSU so that your student will keep you apprised of all important situations.
Does MTSU have any programs designed to assist parents in communicating with their students? Yes. MTSU offers students and parents the opportunity to participate in the Partners in Education (PIE) program. Please refer here for additional information.
What type of offenses typically result in suspension or expulsion from the institution? There is no hard and fast answer to this question as each disciplinary case varies from individual to individual; however, there are some general categories that more often result in separation from the institution. These offenses include any form of physical abuse or assault, drug offenses, hazing, possession and/or use of weapons, significant academic misconduct, and repeated rules violations.
What do you consider when sanctioning a student? The nature of the offense, previous disciplinary history, motivation for the behavior, mitigating and aggravating circumstances, sanctioning precedents, and the developmental and educational impact for the individual student and MTSU community. We look at each case on an individual basis. Our goal is not to satisfy students, many students AND parents are not happy with the outcome of the judicial process; however, we do aim for equality and fairness in procedure. When a student leaves our office we want them to feel that they have been treated fairly and with dignity.
Do I need to hire an attorney for my student? The student judicial process is not a legal process. Students are permitted to have an advisor(s) with them throughout the disciplinary process; however, the advisor is not permitted to represent the student. Ultimately, the decision is yours and your students to make.