For students who received a notice of investigation letter from an investigator.
I received a letter from the Office of Student Accountability and it sounds serious, is it?
Yes, the letter is serious. The Office of Student Accountability received a report that you allegedly engaged in behavior that may be a violation of the Code of Student Life or other University policy.
Is the outcome of my meeting pre-determined?
No. The investigator will make a decision whether you are responsible or not responsible for violating the Code of Student Life or other policy(ies) only after hearing your account of what happened.
What information will the investigator seek?
The investigator seeks details and circumstances about the incident in question.
Are sanctions pre-determined?
Depending upon the findings of the investigator, a pre-determined sanction may be imposed based on the violation(s). The sanctions imposed for violations depend upon the student’s prior disciplinary history and the nature of the violation. The potential sanctions that may be imposed are outlined in section 12 of the Accountability Procedure.
What if I have a scheduling conflict with the meeting time set by the investigator?
If you have a scheduling conflict, call the Office of Student Accountability (335-1527) as soon as possible to reschedule. If you do not call your registration may be restricted, or the investigator may proceed to make a decision in the case in your absence.
What rights do I have during the meeting with the investigator?
You have the right to:
a. A summary of the allegations made against you and the corresponding policies you are alleged to have violated.
b. The opportunity to have a support-person present with you, which may be an attorney provided at your own cost, if you wish.
c. The opportunity to present your account to a neutral investigator who starts with the assumption that you are not responsible for the alleged behavior.
d. The opportunity to review evidence used to make a decision.
e. The understanding that decisions regarding your responsibility will be made by the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, also known as the “more likely than not” standard.
f. The opportunity to appeal the final decision and the sanctions imposed, if applicable.
Should I read the Code of Student Life before the meeting?
We recommend that you read the Code of Student Life. You can refer to your notice of investigation letter for the rule(s) that you allegedly violated. We also recommend you read the Accountability Procedure.
Who is the investigator?
Generally, the investigator is a staff member in the Office of Student Accountability. The investigator’s role is described in the Accountability Procedure. The investigator is authorized to (1) make findings of fact, (2) determine whether the Code of Student Life policies apply to your case, and (3) impose non-suspension sanctions if you violated a misconduct rule.
What if I have questions about the accountability process in advance of the meeting?
If you have basic procedural questions, you can contact your investigator (listed in your notice of investigator letter) at 335-1527.
What if I don’t attend the meeting? Can I admit responsibility and resolve the case without meeting with anyone?
No, we expect you to attend the meeting even if you are not disputing the charges. If you do not attend, your registration may be restricted and the investigator may decide to issue a decision and impose sanctions without your participation.
Can my lawyer or parents attend the meeting?
Yes, as long as you are present and give them permission to attend. You are responsible for any legal expenses. As a courtesy, please inform the investigator in advance of your meeting who will attend the meeting with you. During the meeting, the investigator may ask you to sign an information release form so that they can discuss your case after the meeting with your attorney and/or support person(s).
Do I have a right to read the document that describes my alleged misconduct?
Yes. During your meeting, the investigator will share with you the report(s). The report is placed in your non-academic misconduct file and you have the right to view all the documents in your file.
What if the description of the incident in the report is inaccurate? How do I dispute the allegations?
If you believe the description of events is inaccurate, explaining your account of what happened during the meeting is important. As explained in the Accountability Procedure, you have the right to submit documents and other relevant evidence, and to identify witnesses who may have information relevant to the allegations. You also have a right to bring a support person (e.g., attorney, parent, advocate) to the meeting, at your own expense.
The investigator will determine if you did or did not violate the Code of Student Life. Following your meeting, the investigator will work to complete the investigation and notify you in writing of the outcome. If the allegations are unfounded, the case will be dismissed and no sanctions will be imposed.
Why do I have to meet with the University when I’m resolving the issue in the court system?
Court charge(s) and the Code of Student Life charge(s) are separate and distinct matters, even though they arose out of the same circumstance(s). The court system will work to resolve any criminal or civil violation(s) of the law. However, because you are also a student, you are separately responsible for complying with the Code of Student Life and university policy, which are administrative in nature.
What happens if I pleaded guilty in court to a criminal charge filed by police in connection with this same incident?
A student who pleads guilty in court may be considered responsible for violating the Code of Student Life or university policy and therefore subject to disciplinary sanctions. For more information, refer to section 8, “Impact of Criminal Charges,” in the Accountability Procedure.
What if my criminal charge is still pending in court and there is a trial date set?
The Code of Student Life and university policies are different than criminal laws and procedures. You are still required to contact the university investigator, even if the criminal charge is not resolved in court. After they talk with you, the investigator may decide to delay the resolution of your Code of Student Life investigation because criminal charges are pending. For more information, refer to section 8, “Impact of Criminal Charges,” in the Accountability Procedure.
Is there someone who could help me prepare for my meeting with the investigator?
Yes, there are several resources are available, including the Accountability Procedure, the University Ombudsperson, or a private attorney may be an option (you are personally responsible for paying any fees for attorney services). If criminal charges are pending, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney prior to your meeting with the investigator.
Will the process be over once I meet with the investigator?
That depends. There are several directions that your case may follow
a. The investigator may conclude the investigation with the following outcomes:
- You are responsible for violating University Policy(ies) and sanction(s) are imposed. You must complete the sanction(s) before the case is closed. You may appeal the outcome to the Vice President for Student Life or to the Office of the Provost, depending on the sanction(s) you receive.
- You are not responsible for violating University Policy(ies) and no sanctions are imposed.
b. The investigator may not conclude their investigation after one meeting if additional information is needed to make a decision. The investigator may postpone their decision until additional information is gathered and you may have a second meeting. The process is not complete until a final decision is issued from the investigator, even then, you have the right to appeal the investigator’s decision
For a visual representation of the Accountability Procedure, please see the University of Iowa Accountability Procedure Flowchart.
What if I do not like the decision made by the investigator after our meeting?
When an investigator finds you have violated the Code of Student Life, you have the opportunity to appeal the outcome by submitting a statement requesting the Vice President for Student Life (for non-suspension or expulsion sanctions) or the Office of the Provost (for suspension or expulsion sanctions) to review the decision. Ordinarily, no meeting occurs during the appeal process; the Vice President for Student Life or the Office of the Provost will review the record and read the appeal petition you submit before issuing a final decision letter. For more information about the appeal process, refer to section 13 of the Accountability Procedure.
What are the chances I will be suspended from the University?
Decisions to suspend a student are made by the Director of Student Accountability and not by an investigator. Even if you are not currently at risk of suspension, the outcome of your meeting with the investigator may have important consequences that could result in a suspension in the future. The investigator does have authority to impose serious sanctions short of suspension (such as a University Housing contract cancellation, disciplinary probation, or the completion of alcohol or drug education). Furthermore, a student placed on disciplinary probation may be subject to suspension if a subsequent violation were to occur..
Who has access to my disciplinary record?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) severely restricts disclosures of non-directory information. In other words, if the information is not in the University’s directory, then it is not public information.
However, University employees with a legitimate educational interest (e.g., a dean or residence hall coordinator) may review your record without your written permission. In addition, where health and safety emergencies exist, or when required by law, the University may release information without your permission.
If I am found responsible for violating University policy, what will appear on my transcripts?
If you are found responsible for violating a University policy warranting less than a suspension or expulsion sanction, there will not be a notation on your transcript. If a student is found responsible for violating a University policy that warrants suspension or expulsion then a notation is placed on the transcript reflecting the suspension or expulsion. Additionally, students who withdraw from the University while an investigation is occurring that could result in suspension or expulsion, or if a student fails to re-enroll for a subsequent academic semester, they will receive a notation on their transcript indicating that they “Withdrew After Disciplinary Complaint Was Filed”.
I am also facing the legal process through the courts. Isn’t this double jeopardy?
No. The term double jeopardy applies only to the criminal justice system and prohibits the government from prosecuting a citizen multiple times for the same violation of law. The student accountability process is designed to enforce University policies and review a student’s status at the University.
What happens if I withdraw from school, graduate or transfer to another institution before this is resolved?
A restriction may be placed on your ability to register for future classes or programs. Your student record may indicate that you withdrew after the disciplinary complaint was filed and permission from the Office of Student Accountability may be required before a withdrawn student may be permitted to re-enroll.