Frequently Asked Questions about Code of Student Life

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 regarding an incident in which you may be involved.

Is the outcome of my meeting pre-determined?

No. The judicial administrator will make a decision whether you are responsible or not responsible for violating the Code of Student Life or other policy only after hearing your side of the story.

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 14 of the Student Misconduct 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 wait to 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. Meet with the investigator and tell your side of the story
b. Submit documents and other relevant evidence
c. Bring an advisor (attorney, parent, advocate, or other support person) to the meeting with the investigator
d. If you are disputing the charges, you have the opportunity to submit the names of witnesses who may have information relevant to the complaint (If you dispute the charges, the investigator will complete the investigation and they will notify you in writing of his/her findings.)
e. Until you receive a final letter from the Office of Student Accountability, you have the right to know, upon request, the status of the investigation in your case.

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 Student Misconduct 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 Student Misconduct Procedure. The investigator is authorized to (1) make findings of fact, (2) determine whether the student misconduct rules apply to your case, and (3) impose non-suspension sanctions if you violated a misconduct rule.

What if I have questions about the misconduct 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. The specific allegations cannot be discussed on the phone prior to the meeting.

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 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 parent.

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 report is inaccurate, explaining your side of the story during the meeting is important. As explained in the Student Misconduct Procedure, you have the right to submit documents and other relevant evidence, and to identify witnesses who may have information relevant to the report. You also have a right to bring an advisor (e.g., attorney, parent, advocate, or other support person) to the meeting.

If the report is unfounded, the case may be dismissed and no sanctions will be imposed. 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 findings.

Why do I have to meet with the University when I’m resolving the issue in the court system?

The court charge and the Code of Student Life charge are two different matters even though they arose out of the same circumstance(s). The court system will work to resolve any criminal or civil violation of the laws. However, because you are also a student, you are responsible for complying with the Code of Student Life, which is a different system.

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 will be considered responsible for violating University misconduct regulations and therefore subject to disciplinary sanctions. For more information, refer to section 6, “Criminal Charges,” in the Student Misconduct Procedure.

What if my criminal charge is still pending in court and there is a trial date set?

University regulations are different than criminal laws and procedures. You are still required to contact the 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 complaint because criminal charges are pending. For more information, refer to section 6, “Criminal Charges,” in the Student Misconduct Procedure.

Is there someone who could help me prepare for my meeting with the investigator?

Yes, there are several resources are available, including the Student Misconduct Procedure, the University Ombudsperson, or a private attorney may be an option (however you may be charged a fee 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 are responsible for violating University Policy(ies) and no sanctions are imposed. [You and/or the reporting party may appeal the finding to the Office of the Vice President for Student Life.]
  • You are not responsible for violating University Policy(ies)and no sanctions are imposed.

b. The reporting party may appeal the finding to the Office of the Vice President for Student Life. The investigator may not conclude their investigation after one meeting if new information. The investigator may postpone their decision until additional information is gathered and you may have a second meeting. The process is not over until a final decision is issued from the investigator, even then, you and/or the reporting party has the right to appeal the investigator’s decision

For a visual representation of the Student Misconduct Procedure, please see the University of Iowa Student Misconduct Flowchart.

What if I do not like the decision made by the investigator after our meeting?

You can ask for further review. When a investigator finds you have violated the Code of Student Life, you have the opportunity to appeal the outcome by submitting a petition requesting the Office of the Vice President for Student Life (for non-suspension 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 Office of the Vice President for Student Life or the Office of the Provost will review the file and read the appeal petition you submit before issuing a final decision letter. For more information about the appeal process, refer to section 15 of the Student Misconduct 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 campus housing eviction, probation, or a mandatory counseling program). Furthermore, a student placed on probation is subject to suspension if a subsequent violation were to occur.

A student on probation facing suspension has the opportunity to request a formal hearing before an adjudicator to dispute the allegations. However, because the previous offense has already been resolved, the student placed on probation cannot dispute the first offense at the formal hearing.

My friend said they were charged with PAULA over a year ago and was not called in, why did I get charged by your office?

In August of 2010, the Code of Student Life was expanded to include off-campus. Your friend likely received the ticket prior to the expansion of the Code when our office did not have jurisdiction over the offense.

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. 

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 misconduct process is designed to enforce University regulations 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 registration. 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.