Student Conduct

When a large number of people live and work together in a campus community with concern for one another, it becomes necessary to formulate procedures and regulations to provide for an orderly environment. Consistent with these objectives, the University recognizes an obligation to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to meeting the academic, living/learning, and social goals established by the University and to stimulate an atmosphere of civility and civil discourse where learning and living in a secure environment can flourish.

Certain procedures and regulations have been developed by Robert Morris University to assure quality of opportunity for each student and each student group in attainment of their objectives. For many individuals, becoming a student in the University community represents the first serious challenge to accepting major responsibility. Robert Morris University considers students to be mature individuals who are responsible for establishing and accepting standards for personal and group conduct in accordance with the regulations of the University and laws of the county, state and federal government. The University Student Conduct Process was developed in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct and published University policies that may be found on the Robert Morris University web site at http://studentlife.rmu.edu/student-life-policies.

The following description and explanation of the University Student Conduct Process is being provided so that all students, both undergraduate and graduate, will be aware of their individual rights, as well as to assist individuals in their personal growth and development.

Student Conduct Philosophy

In order to protect the welfare and freedom of its students, faculty and staff as well as University property from destruction and misuse, Robert Morris University has formulated the University Student Conduct Process. The University has an obligation to clarify those standards of behavior that it considers essential to its educational mission and its community life. These general behavioral expectations and the resultant specific regulations represent a reasonable standard of student conduct.

Operating a student conduct process in a university environment requires careful investigation and consideration of many factors. Each student will be regarded in light of his/her individual character, his/her actions, and the amenability of that student to the ideals of civility and respect for others. The university believes that each case and each student is unique. The decisions rendered in a particular case will be made from an educational perspective. The decisions will be based on whether or not the individual is fulfilling the responsibilities expected of a student at Robert Morris University.

Student Conduct Process Flowchart
Student Conduct Process Flowchart
Student Conduct Process vs. Criminal Justice System
Criminal vs. Student Conduct Process

 

  Student Conduct Process Criminal Justice System
Foundation The Robert Morris University Code of Student Conduct. Federal, state and local laws.
     
Standard of Evidence Level of evidence necessary for a finding of "responsible:" a "preponderance of evidence" - a showing it's more likely than not that a violation occurred. Level of evidence necessary for a finding of "guilty:" "beyond a reasonable doubt."
     
Types of Admissible Evidence All evidence may be presented, including anonymous reports, hearsay, photographic evidence, etc. The reliability and accuracy of the evidence will be considered as part of the decision-making process. Strict rules of evidence apply. Evidence must be gathered, held and presented according to strict legal guidelines.
     
Retention of Records Records are retained for seven (7) years following the student's last violation. Records of students who are suspended or expelled from residence halls or the university are retained indefinitely. Records may be maintained in perpetuity.
     
Release of Records Records are private and may be released only as outlined in the Family Education Records Privacy Act (FERPA). Records are public and may be viewed by anyone.
     
Hearings Private hearings. Trained university hearing officers will conduct the meeting in a manner that is respectful to all involved. Students may elect that an advisor (no attorneys) may be present during the hearing. Usually public hearings. Attorneys may actively participate in questioning, cross-examination, etc.

 

Student Conduct FERPA/Parent Notification Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records.

FERPA stands for "Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974" also known as "The Buckley Amendment." FERPA is the United States federal law that protects student records privacy review and disclosure rights. FERPA places certain restrictions on the kinds of information about students that can be shared without explicit permission from the student.

For more information on FERPA at Robert Morris University, visit here.

The Dean of Students office will contact the parent/guardian when deemed appropriate. Documentation of the parental/guardian notification will be included in the student's educational record. The Dean of Students office may use discretion regarding parental/guardian notification in those incidents where it is determined that extenuating circumstances exist.

In most cases of student conduct violations by students who are eighteen (18) years of age, parents/guardians are notified following resolution of the alleged violation. Should a student be less than eighteen (18) years of age, parents/guardians are notified by the appropriate party as soon as possible.

Student Conduct Frequently Asked Questions

I received an e-mail stating I need to schedule a meeting about a possible violation of the Code of Student Conduct - what do I do now?

You have three (3) days to respond to the e-mail message. Incidents will not be discussed over e-mail. Even if you believe you haven't violated the Code of Student Conduct, it is still important that you schedule a meeting to provide any information helpful in resolving your incident.

What is an informal resolution meeting?

This is an informal meeting with a professional staff member who will decide responsibility for any alleged Code of Student Conduct violations from your incident. If your incident involves multiple students, you will have individual meetings. The goal of the meeting is to use all available reports and statements to decide who is responsible for the alleged violations from the incident.

What happens if I do not schedule an informal resolution meeting within three (3) days of receiving the e-mail or I don't attend my scheduled meeting?

Failure to schedule or attend an informal resolution meeting within three (3) days of receiving the e-mail message will result in that student's responsibility for any alleged violations being decided based on information available at that time. Additionally, the student loses his/her right to appeal the decision made.

What are my rights and responsibilities in the RMU student conduct process?

Please refer to Section 7 and Section 8 of the Code of Student Conduct regarding rights and responsibilities of students accused of student conduct violations.

May my attorney attend my informal resolution meeting or my student conduct board hearing?

Attorneys are prohibited from participating in the student conduct process. However if a parent/guardian happens to be an attorney by profession, they may attend the hearing in the advisory capacity as the parent/guardian.

My violation was off campus - why am I hearing from RMU if it wasn't on their property?

The Code of Student Conduct is a set of expectations for RMU student behavior regardless of location. Violations off campus that are reported to the university are approached as if they took place on campus property. Additionally, student conduct as part of university-sanctioned events, trips, and programs off campus are also subject to the Code of Student Conduct.

What exactly does "disciplinary probation" mean?

The sanction of disciplinary probation means that a student must prove him/herself to be a responsible member of the University community. Engaging in violations during the probationary period will result in more severe disciplinary action. The student or student group is permitted to remain enrolled at or retain recognition by the University under stated conditions, depending upon the nature of the violation and upon the potential learning value that may derive from specific restrictive measures. Further violations may result in immediate suspension, or expulsion from the University. Disciplinary probation is different than academic probation or financial aid probation.

Can I get my student conduct records expunged?

Robert Morris University does not clear or expunge student records at their request. Even if a student is found to be "not responsible" for an alleged violation, his/her record is kept according to the university's records management policy. Student conduct records are kept in original form for seven (7) years from the date of the student's last incident. Records of students who have been subject to suspension or expulsion are kept indefinitely.

Will my student conduct violations affect my future plans?

The student conduct process is separate from the university's academic operations. Results of student conduct violations are not reported to academic schools or departments. However, if a student's violations resulted in criminal charges, those charges could show up on a background check conducted by academic schools/departments or prospective employers.

What should I do if I have also been charged criminally? Isn't this double jeopardy?

Your citation has instructions on how to respond to any charges. RMU does not provide legal services or advisement on how to respond to a criminal charge or citation. While many Code of Student Conduct violations are also against the law, not all violations may result in a citation or criminal charge. The student conduct process is a separate, private civil process related to a student's status at the university.

If my charges are dropped by the district magistrate, will they also be dropped by RMU?

Criminal charges are dropped for many reasons. Only if a student can furnish proof of being found "not guilty" will alleged student conduct violations be dropped by RMU.

Will anything appear on my transcripts due to this incident?

RMU does not currently practice transcript notation.

Will you notify my parents/guardians about my violation?

Most students attending RMU are eighteen (18) years of age and legally adults and therefore subject to regulations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). RMU wants its legal adult students to independently take responsibility for their actions or presence for alleged student conduct violations. Should a student be found responsible for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, a letter is sent home to parents/guardians notifying them of the violations. Copies of incident reports, student statements, or descriptions of the incidents are not provided to parents without expressed written consent of the student.

If a student is under eighteen (18) years of age, parents/guardians are notified by responding professional staff (usually University Police or Residence Life) immediately following an incident.

What can I do if I don't like the decision made regarding my incident?

Eligible students may elect to appeal the decision of their incidents. Information on appeals can be found in Section 11 of the RMU Code of Student Conduct.

2022-2023 Code of Student Conduct (PDF)

Relevant Policies

Academic Integrity Policy
Academic Integrity Policy
Alcohol Policy

Alcohol use and possession must be in compliance with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania laws.

Possession and Use of Alcohol

  • Only students of legal drinking age (21+) may possess or consume alcohol.
  • Students must comply with Pennsylvania laws related to alcohol at all times.
  • Possession, consumption or display of alcoholic beverages by students in classrooms or any public area of the University’s buildings or grounds is strictly prohibited. Tailgating is subject to rules and standards set by the University’s Tailgating Procedures and Restrictions.
  • Public drunkenness or disorderly behavior while under the influence – regardless of age – is prohibited and may result in arrest and further discipline pursuant to the RMU Code of Student Conduct.
  • Substantial quantities of alcoholic beverage or common source containers such as kegs are prohibited unless being used by a licensed vendor affiliated with a University event.
  • Drinking games are prohibited on campus. Students may not possess paraphernalia or equipment for drinking games. The definition of drinking games includes but is not limited to any activity involving the consumption of alcohol which involves duress or encouragement related to the consumption of alcohol. Paraphernalia for easy alcohol consumption including but not limited to beer bongs, funnels, or ice luges are prohibited.

 

Events with Alcohol

  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages will not be allowed at any student event on campus unless expressly approved in advance by the University.
  • All events – on or off-campus – associated with a recognized student club, organization, or team where alcohol will be present must be registered with the Office of Student Life. Alcohol should only be present through “BYOB” by legal age attendees or provided by a “third party” vendor.
  • The University reserves the right to assign responsibility for an event to a recognized student club, organization, or team where a reasonable observer would associate the event with the club, organization, or team.
  • Alcohol is prohibited from all student club or organization events related to the recruitment, training/education, and initiation of new members.
  • Students or groups sponsoring formal or informal events off-campus are responsible for upholding Pennsylvania alcohol laws and any alcohol policies related to their affiliated national or international organizations.

 

Failure to abide by Pennsylvania alcohol laws could result in criminal charges or citation. Even if criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the University reserves the right to pursue disciplinary action through the RMU Student Conduct Process.

Revised 8/2018

Drug Policy

The use, possession, manufacture or distribution of narcotics and other controlled substances is prohibited and is considered contrary to the Code of Student Conduct. Any exception will only be for instances expressly permitted by law. Paraphernalia associated with the use of illegal substances is not permitted on University property or at University sponsored events. Hookah pipes and/or other legal smoking devices are prohibited in the residence halls. The misuse of legal and over the counter drugs is also prohibited—this includes the misuse of one’s own prescription medication and using a medication prescribed to another. Athletes should be aware as well that a positive drug test constitutes a violation of the University drug policy. The University encourages all members of the Robert Morris community to be aware of the consequences of the use, possession or distribution of narcotics or other controlled substances.

Individuals charged with use, misuse, possession, manufacture or distribution of narcotics or other prohibited substances can be disciplined under the University Student Conduct Process and may be prosecuted under Pennsylvania criminal statutes. Even if the criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the University can pursue disciplinary action, which may result in dismissal from the University.

Alcohol and Drug Amnesty Policy

The health and safety of our campus community is of paramount importance, and the University encourages its community members to come to the assistance of one another.

Amnesty from discipline related to alcohol and drug violations under the University Student Conduct Process will be granted to the student(s) for whom medical assistance is summoned and for those seeking assistance from emergency services personnel (e.g., Campus Police, Community Advisors, first responders) who serve in an emergency response capacity, provided the following conditions are met:

  1. A student contacted emergency services personnel based on a reasonable belief that another individual was in need of immediate medical attention, which had not otherwise been sought, to prevent death or serious bodily injury;
  2. The student seeking assistance provided their own name to the emergency services personnel; and
  3. The student requesting assistance remained with the individual believed to be in need of medical assistance until emergency services personnel arrived and the need for the concerned individual’s presence had ended.

To be clear, students who are directly involved in attending to the compromised student until help arrives will also be granted amnesty from university action for drug and alcohol violations set forth in this Code of Student conduct. Students involved in an incident for which amnesty is granted will be provided appropriate educational or developmental interventions.

Smoking Policy

It is Robert Morris University policy that no smoking is permitted at any time inside University buildings, residence halls, offices, University vehicles or any other interior space. Smoking is not permitted within 15 feet of any entrance door, open window or air intake. Individuals desiring to smoke may do so in the designated areas where ash receptacles are located. Violators of this policy are subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Smoking is defined as inhaling, exhaling or holding any lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe or similar product or device. This policy includes hookahs, vaporizers, and electronic vapor devices.

Weapons Policy

Possession of weapons, including firearms, knives, pellet guns, BB guns, paintball guns, bows and arrows, explosives, other weapons or dangerous chemicals on University premises is considered contrary to the Code of Student Conduct. Using any object as a weapon is considered a violation of this policy. Possession/use of fireworks is also prohibited on University property. The University encourages all members of the University community to be aware of the consequences of possession of firearms. Individuals charged with possession of firearms, weapons, or fireworks can be disciplined under the University Student Conduct Process and may be prosecuted under Pennsylvania criminal statutes. Even if the criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the University can pursue disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal from the University. The University reserves the right to confiscate any weapon pending student conduct review and/or federal and state laws. A valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (concealed firearms permit) does not supersede this policy.

Medical Marijuana

Although Pennsylvania legislation has legalized the use of medical marijuana, federal law continues to prohibit the manufacture, possession, distribution, sale, or use of marijuana. Furthermore, as a federal grant recipient, the university is subject to compliance with the Drug Free Communities and Schools Act, and the Drug Free Workplace Act. Accordingly, all forms of marijuana, including prescription medical marijuana, are prohibited on all university property (whether owned or leased) and in connection with all university programs. Students who are certified for use of medical marijuana through the Pennsylvania Department of Health may submit a letter to the Dean of Students Office requesting to be released from the university’s two-year residency requirement and/or their university housing contract.

Hazing Policy

RMU maintains a zero-tolerance policy with respect to hazing within the University community. This Policy applies to each act conducted on or off-campus if such acts are deemed to constitute hazing under this Policy or Pennsylvania law.

Definition
Hazing is any reckless or intentional act that produces physical, mental, or emotional pain, discomfort, humiliation, embarrassment, or ridicule directed toward other students or groups that is expected or required of new and / or current members of a team, group, or organization. Permission or approval by the person(s) being hazed is never a defense to violations of this Policy.

Sanctions
In addition to criminal and civil penalties, students, teams, groups, or organizations found responsible for violating this policy will be sanctioned according to the RMU Code of Student Conduct. Possible sanctions range from probation to expulsion for individual students and probation to permanent revocation of recognition for teams, groups, and/or organizations. These sanctions shall be in addition to any other sanction imposed for violation of any other University rule to which the violator may be subject. The University reserves the right to publish reports of confirmed violations of hazing and communicate these to any parent organization operating on campus.

Amnesty
The University promotes the safety and well-being of every member of its community. Therefore, the University will consider providing amnesty from Code of Student Conduct violations to a student who makes a best and first effort to seek emergency medical attention for any student(s) endangered by possible acts of hazing. Amnesty under this Policy may not prevent civil, criminal, or parent organization penalties.

Important Links

For more information contact:

Maureen Keefer
Assistant Dean of Students
Student Life
keefer@rmu.edu
Phone: 412-397-6484
Fax: 412-397-6318