Community and belonging are the heart of what a university is. In order to maintain the integrity of our community, our Code of Conduct details expectations for student organizations as well as individual students. Just as we ask individual students to “sustain a culture of excellence”, we ask that student organizations strive for positive and upstanding conduct to preserve the reputation of the university.
“A student organization may be found responsible for conduct that violates the Standards of Conduct only if the conduct is fairly attributable to the student organization.” Student Code of Conduct, Section 2.4
Student Organizations are responsible for being fully acquainted with and complying with the code. Please navigate through the different sections to see tips and recommendations on how to best navigate the conduct process as a student organization.
Transparency & Student Organizational Misconduct History
SCCS understands and recognizes the importance of transparency wherever possible, particularly when the decision to join an organization may be impacted by knowledge about that organization’s previous conduct incidents and history. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not apply to student organizations, but rather only to individual students. Due to this, a student organization’s conduct history can be requested by emailing SCCS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an effort to be transparent and hold organizations to the highest standards, SCCS and the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life (OSFL) have made a commitment to share information regarding the sorority and fraternity community’s conduct history through a page on OSFL’s website. Conduct history will remain on this page for five (5) years.
Follow this link to view the Community Conduct History page on the OSFL website.
General Terminology & Guidelines for SCCS Investigations and Meetings:
In some instances, simultaneous investigations may occur. Inter/National Organizations, Law Enforcement agencies, and other entities may have concurrent investigations occurring alongside an SCCS investigation. If this occurs, SCCS will collaborate with the other investigating entities, if possible. Elements of a collaborative investigation may include coordinated or joint interviews, evidence sharing, and investigation report sharing, but within the limits of student records policies.
Student organizations may choose not to participate in any aspect of the conduct process, but the conduct process will continue with or without participation by the student organization. Organizations with inter/national, regional, or local advisory staff or volunteers may be allowed to participate in the resolution of conduct processes when a current student is no longer able to represent the organization.
Student Conduct & Community Standards (SCCS) will generally notify an Inter/National Organization or regional representative, along with the organization’s Advisor, of an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct
through a Written Notice of Educational Conference. The University of Tennessee believes in an active partnership with key stakeholders to best address issues of misconduct.
When the nature of the incident is more severe, SCCS or the organization’s Administrative Liaison reserves the right to immediately contact the Inter/National Organization. University interim administrative action may also be taken at any point in an investigation.
Below are the steps generally taken:
- Report received & preliminary investigation occurs
- Written Notice of Educational Conference emailed to Student Representative
- Inter/National Organization and/or regional representative as well as local Advisor copied on the Written Notice
- Educational Conference
- Additional investigation occurs if needed
- Notice of Allegations (investigation summary) shared with key stakeholders
- Follow-up meeting to discuss potential sanctions/outcomes
- Sanction recommendations shared with all respective stakeholders
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not apply to student organizations, but rather only to individual students. If a FERPA waiver is on file for a member, an Inter/National Organization or regional headquarters may participate in SCCS meetings and interviews with members of the student organization.
The health, safety, and welfare of students are of the utmost importance to the University. When individuals know someone is in need of emergency medical attention due to alcohol or drugs, they should immediately call for help and stay with the impaired individual. Individuals who help are referred to as “Good Samaritans,” and the individuals in need of medical attention are referred to as “Impaired Individuals.” When these steps are followed, no formal disciplinary action is taken by the University for the “Good Samaritan” or for the “Impaired Individual.” For more detailed information regarding Amnesty for Individual Good Samaritans and Impaired Students, please see Sections 11.3 and 11.4 of the Student Code of Conduct as well as the Amnesty page of the SCCS website.
Student organizations, through their officers and members, are also expected to take responsible action in emergency situations. While the Policy on Amnesty for Individual Good Samaritans and Students in Need of Emergency Medical Attention may not fully apply, adherence to the steps outlined above by a student organization’s officers and/or members will be considered a mitigating factor when determining the outcome of or sanction for misconduct. Additionally, the University will consider a failure of officers and/or members to adhere to steps described to be an aggravating factor when determining the outcome of or sanction for misconduct. Please see Section 11.3 and 11.4 of the Student Code of Conduct.
The Vice Chancellor for Student Life may impose interim restrictions prior to the conclusion of the student conduct process when the Vice Chancellor has reasonable cause to believe that a student organization’s continued presence poses a significant risk of substantial harm to the health, safety, or welfare of others or poses an imminent or ongoing threat to the disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of the University. Interim restrictions are confirmed by notice to the organization that explains the basis for the interim restrictions and will remain in effect until the conclusion of the student conduct process.
An Administrative Liaison (AL) is a staff member from the office the organization reports to at the University. They serve as a resource to the organization during the conduct process. Groups are classified as either general student organizations, Greek organizations, or Rec Sports organizations. For general student organizations, SCCS reaches out to the Center for Student Engagement (CSE) and invites them to participate in the conduct process as an Administrative Liaison. For Greek organizations, the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life (OSFL) serves as the liaison. For sports clubs, a staff member from Rec Sports is the Administrative Liaison. Advisors of organizations are also welcome to take part in any phase of the conduct process. The Student Representative is expected to inform Advisors of the status of the case and invite them to attend any meetings. The AL will also reach out.
A Student Representative is the student member representing the organization during the conduct process. It is typically the organization president, but other individuals may serve in the role if needed. It is the organizations responsibility to notify SCCS if the current president will not be the Student Representative.
A Notice of Educational Conference (EC) is written notice (via email) through which SCCS notifies the Student Representative (student member representing the organization) that an investigation has begun. The notice states that SCCS has received allegations indicating the organization may have engaged in misconduct and instructs the Student Representative to schedule an Educational Conference with SCCS. Information regarding the student organization conduct process is also included.
An Educational Conference is a meeting between SCCS and the student organization. During this meeting, SCCS generally reviews Fundamental Rights Section 5.1 of Code
, verbally shares the alleged violations, provides the student organization an opportunity to respond to the allegations and identify witnesses, and permits both parties to ask and answer preliminary questions.
- Generally, SCCS will further investigate the allegations by gathering additional information and conducting interviews
- Advisors and I/NOs are permitted and encouraged to attend. They may teleconference in if unable to attend in person.
Follow-up meetings are used by SCCS to update student organizations on investigations and findings, discuss possible resolutions, and/or share Notices of Allegations and/or Sanctions.
After the investigation is complete, SCCS will make a recommendation regarding responsibility. If SCCS determines it is more likely than not that the student organization violated the Code, sanction recommendations will be made. There will be a No-Action Determination for the student organization if there is not a preponderance of the evidence or if individuals are responsible and not the entire group. If responsible the following will be shared:
- Notice of Allegations – A Notice of Allegations (NOA) is a written summary of the investigation, along with the Standards of Conduct SCCS has determined it is more likely than not that the student organization violated.
- Notice of Sanctions – A Notice of Sanctions (NOS) is a written notice that informs the student organization of the recommended sanctions that have been determined by SCCS with the collaborative input of the student organization and partnered I/NO.
- Resolution Option Form – A Resolution Option Form. A student organization can enter into a Resolution Agreement or request a formal hearing to contest responsibility and/or recommended sanctions.
- Resolution Agreement – If a student organization enters into a resolution agreement, the student organization:
- accepts responsibility for violating the Standards of Conduct
- agrees to the imposition of the sanction(s)
- waives all rights to resolve the allegations through a formal hearing
- Alternative Resolution – An Alternative Resolution is a mutual agreement as an alternative to the traditional Student Conduct Process. Before proposing an alternative resolution, SCCS shall determine whether an alternative resolution would be appropriate based on the facts and circumstances of the case. An Alternative Resolution may be requested or proposed at any point in this process.
The sanctions imposed on a Respondent should be proportional to:
- The Respondent’s misconduct and appropriate for the particular case based on the gravity of the offense (including, without limitation, how the violation affected or reasonably could have affected other members of the University community by creating a risk to health and/or safety, by interfering with the educational experience of others, and/or it was committed against another UT community member).
- The relevant portion of the Standard of Conduct violated.
- Consideration may also be given to the Respondent’s conduct record.
- If the Respondent acted in self-defense, and, if so, whether the amount of force used was reasonable under the circumstances.
- The Respondent’s academic classification (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior).
- Cooperation with the investigation (i.e., being forthcoming, not providing false information).
- Other aggravating or mitigating factors, such as the Respondent’s responsiveness, or lack of responsiveness, in resolving the matter.
- The effectiveness of the sanction based on the Respondent’s previous sanction record.