Code of Student Conduct
Community Expectations and Student Responsibility
Any community is born of a shared commitment to core values. The Catholic University of America (“University” or “CUA”), guided by reason and the light of faith, is a community dedicated to the cultivation of knowledge, skills, wisdom, and virtue. Membership in the University community brings with it the obligation to conduct oneself in ways that promote these goals and build up the community, and the obligation to refrain from activity inconsistent with our shared goals and commitments.
Each student is expected to make choices that preserve a safe and secure environment in which all individuals are able to pursue their academic endeavors, to practice responsible citizenship and to respect the rights of others, and to be accountable for her/his own actions and the conduct of her/his guests. Failure to uphold University rules and expectations as well as district, and/or federal laws and regulations may result in student conduct action within the University under the authority of this Code of Student Conduct (“Code”).
The purpose of maintaining student conduct in the University setting is to protect the character of the University community by discouraging conduct inconsistent with the values of the institution. The purpose of publishing student conduct regulations is to give students general notice of prohibited behavior and their rights and responsibilities during the student conduct process. The purpose of campus student conduct proceedings is to provide a forum through which to determine whether a student is responsible for violating University regulations. This Code provides a means for the exercise of student rights and responsibilities within the University student conduct system. The Code seeks to preserve the individual rights of students while ensuring that the interests of the entire University community are also maintained.
A. The Code applies to the on-campus conduct of all students. The Code also applies to off-campus conduct of students that, in the University’s judgment, involves or affects the University or other members of the University community, such as conduct in connection with:
1. Academic work or other University-related educational activities and experiences, such as class projects, field trips, study abroad, student teaching, or internships;
2. Activities sponsored, conducted, or authorized by the University or its student organizations;
3. Activities that cause or threaten harm to the health, safety, well-being, or property of the University or members of the University community, including the student him- or herself; or
4. Activities that unreasonably disturb the peace and privacy of the student’s neighbors when living off-campus.
B. The Code applies to conduct by a student while a student, even if it occurs outside of an academic term or when the student is not otherwise enrolled at the University and even if the University does not learn of such conduct until after the student graduates, withdraws, takes leave, or is otherwise absent from the University.
C. Students also continue to be subject to federal, state, and local laws while at the University. While those laws are separate and independent from the Code and impose different standards, violations of them may also constitute violations of the Code. In such instances, the University may take action under the Code independent of any other legal proceeding involving the same conduct and may impose consequences for violation of the Code even if such other proceeding is not yet resolved or is resolved in the student’s favor.
II. Authority for Student Conduct
A. Ultimate authority over student conduct is vested in the President of the University (“President”), who may take immediate action at her/his discretion for any violation of University policies or procedures whatsoever. Action taken by the President is final and closes the matter.
As an ordinary matter, the President has delegated authority over student conduct to the Vice President for Student Affairs (“Vice President”) who may exercise it consistent with these procedures.
B. The Vice President or designee reserves the authority to take immediate, necessary, and appropriate action to protect the health, safety and well-being of an individual and/or the University community. The Vice President may take an interim action to evict a student from University housing, restrict a student’s access to and movement about the campus, and/or suspend a student from the University whenever the continued presence of the student at the University is deemed to pose a serious threat to her/himself or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal University functions. The interim action shall become effective immediately upon delivery of oral or written notification to the student or his/her designee. A hearing or conference will be granted as soon as possible.
C. The Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development (“SCED”), with direction and guidance from the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students (“Associate Vice President”), is responsible for administering the student conduct system and ensures that all student conduct proceedings are carried out in accordance with University policies and procedures.
D. Student conduct action may be pursued for any violation of University policy, or district or federal law, on or off University premises by a student that affects the University’s interests and/or is inconsistent with the University’s expectations for students.
III. Prohibited Conduct
The following are examples of prohibited behaviors and activities which may result in student conduct action under this Code. Commission of or attempts to commit these acts, condoning, supporting or encouraging others in the commission of these acts, or failure to prevent one’s guests from committing these acts may be treated as violations of this Code.
A. Dangerous Conduct: Intentionally or carelessly engaging in conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety or causes physical harm to any person, including the violator.
1. Placing a person in fear of imminent physical danger or bodily harm.
2. Causing bodily harm to a person, or engaging in harmful physical contact that would likely have caused bodily harm despite the lack of any measurable harm.
3. Hazing – Any action which endangers the mental or physical health of a student, or which encourages the student to engage in illegal or inappropriate conduct for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition of continued membership in, a recognized or unrecognized group or organization.
B. Harassment: Any actions, threats, gestures, and/or words directed toward another person which have the purpose or which tend to incite a breach of the peace, create a hostile environment, or cause emotional distress to that person because of the humiliating, degrading, intimidating, insulting, coercive, ridiculing, or alarming nature of the conduct. It frequently, but not always, involves a pattern of conduct.
C. Dangerous Items: The use, possession or storage of any firearms, explosives, other weapons, fireworks or dangerous chemicals.
1. Firearms and ammunition - Firearms are defined as any gun, rifle, pistol, or handgun designed to fire bullets, BBs, pellets, or shots (including paint balls), regardless of the propellant used.
2. Explosives and fireworks including, but not limited to, firecrackers, cherry bombs, smoke bombs, and similar devices.
3. Knives that are longer than 3 inches, other weapons, objects that could be construed as weapons or items that pose a potential hazard to the safety or health of others. Other weapons are defined as any instrument of combat or any object not designed as an instrument of combat but carried or used for the purpose of inflicting or threatening bodily injury or damaging/destroying University property or the property of others.
4. Unauthorized hazardous materials or chemicals.
D. Interfering with Fire Safety
1. Misusing, tampering or damaging fire safety equipment including, but not limited to, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems or exit signs.
2. Unauthorized burning of any material in any University building, on University property or on areas adjacent to University property.
3. Disregarding a fire alarm signal or refusing to evacuate a building or a section of a building when a fire alarm is sounding.
4. Recklessly or intentionally activating an alarm when an emergency situation does not exist.
E. Alcohol: The use, abuse, possession, or distribution of alcohol, except as permitted by law and University policy.
1. Possession of containers that previously contained alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 years of age.
2. Possession of common source containers, whether full or empty, of alcohol such as kegs, beer balls, or boxed wine.
3. Possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 years of age.
4. Consumption of alcoholic beverages, including:
a. Consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 years of age;
b. Consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons 21 years of age or older in any public area, unless it is an official University-approved event, including public space within a residence hall.
5. Intoxication by any person, regardless of age.
6. Sale, distribution or provision or attempts to sell, distribute or provide alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 years of age. This also applies to those hosting social gatherings where alcohol is available for consumption to persons under the age of 21.
F. Drugs: The use, possession, and/or distribution of any drugs and/or drug paraphernalia. Drugs include any controlled substances as defined by law, including those without a valid prescription, and/or other recreational substances. CUA does not permit marijuana for any purpose; students who qualify under local law to use marijuana for medical purposes may not possess, store, use or share marijuana on University-owned or controlled property or during University-sponsored events.
1. Possession of paraphernalia including any item typically used to inhale/ingest/inject/mask drugs, regardless of whether the item has been used for illegal purposes.
2. Possession of drugs.
3. Use of drugs.
4. Distribution (any form of exchange, gift, transfer or sale) of drugs.
G. Theft/Unauthorized Possession of Property
1. Theft of property or of services or possession of stolen property.
2. Unauthorized possession of University property (including residence hall lounge furniture) or the property of others.
H. Damage to or Misuse of Property:
1. Damaging or defacing University property or the property of others.
2. Unauthorized entry into University facilities or property.
3. Unauthorized use or misuse of University property or the property of others.
I. Disorderly Conduct: Acting in a manner which annoys, disturbs, interferes with, obstructs, or is offensive to another/others.
1. Shouting or making excessive noise either inside or outside a building to the annoyance or disturbance of others.
2. Verbally abusing University officials (including students appointed to act as representatives of the University) acting in the performance of their duties.
3. Behaving in a lewd or indecent manner.
J. Non-academic Dishonesty:
1. Knowingly furnishing false information to the University or a member of the University community, including at University student conduct proceedings.
2. Forgery, misuse, unauthorized alteration and/or creation of documents, records, identification cards, keys, or other objects.
3. Possession or use of false identification cards.
4. Fraud, through act or omission, committed against a member of the campus community or others.
5. Knowingly initiating or causing to be initiated any false report, warning or threat.
K. Interfering with University Events: Interfering with any University or University-sponsored events, including but not limited to studying, teaching, research, sponsored social programs, and University administration, fire, policy, or emergency services.
L. Smoking: Smoking in a building or vehicle that is owned, operated or leased by the University or within 25 feet of an entrance or window of any University building.
M. Violating Other University Policies: Any violation of other published University regulations including but not limited to Residence Life and Housing Services policies and procedures, rules published in the Student Handbook and other University publications, and those available at http://policies.cua.edu
and other University websites.
N. Non-compliance: Failure to comply with reasonable directives of University officials, including students appointed to act as representatives of the University, acting in performance of their duties. Directives to provide identification and/or participate in a University student conduct process are included in the scope of this provision.
O. Sanction Violation: Violating the terms of any student conduct sanction as imposed in accordance with student conduct procedures, including the failure to complete sanctions by the stated deadline.
P. Gambling: Participation in any form of illegal gambling.
Q. Violation of Law: Violation of local, state, or federal laws, regulations or ordinances.
R. Sexual Misconduct
1. Sexual Relationships: Sexual acts of any kind outside the confines of marriage are contrary to the teachings and moral values of the Catholic Church and are prohibited. The University affirms that sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between husband and wife.
2. Sexual Offenses¹ – Sexual Offenses are prohibited in all forms. “Sexual Offense” is a broad term encompassing a range of behaviors including, but not limited to: sexual assault; sexual harassment; dating violence; domestic violence; stalking; indecent exposure; sexual exhibitionism; use of communication systems to send unwanted sexual material and messages; prostitution or the solicitation or employment of a prostitute; peeping or other voyeurism; allowing others to view consensual sexual activity; the non-consensual video or audio recording of sexual activity; or any conduct prohibited by applicable law.
a. Sexual Assault is sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another person without consent. Sexual assault is a criminal offense under D.C. law and includes the following:
• Oral, vaginal, or anal penetration, no matter how slight, with any object or body part without consent.
• Non-consensual touching of another person in a sexual manner. This includes, but is not limited to, the touching either directly or through clothing of another person’s genitalia, breasts, inner thigh, or buttocks with a clothed or unclothed body part or object.
b. Sexual Harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either:
• Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment, education, on-campus living environment, or participation in a University activity or program; or
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used or threatened to be used as the basis for decisions affecting employment, education, on-campus living environment, or participation in a University activity or program; or
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity or program.
Sexual harassment can occur between and among supervisors or managers and subordinates, faculty and staff or students, peers, vendors/subcontractors/visitors and employees or students, or any combination thereof. Often, but not always, the harasser is in a position of authority, trust, or influence that provides the opportunity to take advantage of the unequal positions of the parties.
c. Dating Violence² means violence committed by another person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: a) the length of the relationship, b) the type of relationship, or c) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
d. Domestic Violence² means violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of D.C. (including past or present marriage, domestic partnership, romantic, dating, or sexual relationship), by a former spouse or similarly situated person against a victim who is in a subsequent relationship with a former spouse or similarly situated person, or by any other person against a victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of D.C.
e. Stalking² means purposely engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual that would cause a reasonable individual to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person, feel seriously alarmed, disturbed or frightened, or suffer emotional distress.
A student can face significant disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action, for committing a sexual offense.
3. The definitions above describe the minimum legal standards for conduct, and they set forth terms that help determine criminal liability and legal responsibility. The University and the Church have higher expectations. They affirm that sexual activity is intended by God as an expression of love and commitment between a husband and wife, and therefore belongs exclusively within marriage. Sexual activity by unmarried persons lacks that essential level of commitment and responsibility, and harms moral growth and development. It undermines the Christian view of sexual activity embraced and promoted by the Church and the University, a view which insists upon mutual respect, moral integrity, and the sacredness of human sexuality.
S. Solicitation: Unauthorized solicitation, sale or promotion of any goods or services in University owned or operated property, including residence halls, or at University-sponsored events.
T. Complicity: Being present or otherwise involved, in such a way as to condone, support or encourage any acts which would violate this Code. Students who observe acts in violation of this Codeare expected to remove themselves or challenge the behavior. Students are also encouraged to report the matter.
V. Student Conduct System & Procedures
These guidelines are intended to provide general notice of rights and responsibilities during the student conduct process. This Code does not, nor is it intended to, afford the specificity or the due process rights of criminal or civil statutes or procedures.
A. Case Referrals
1. Any person may refer a student or student organization suspected of violating this Code to SCED. The referral will be reviewed to determine the appropriate student conduct or administrative action to be taken in accordance with this Code including, in the event that there is insufficient evidence to support formal action, a determination that student conduct or administrative action is not warranted.
2. Referrals should be made within a reasonable timeframe after the alleged incident (or after the latest alleged incident in cases of harassment or where there is a succession of documented incidents). Student conduct action may be pursued after considering the amount of time that has passed since the alleged incident and whether there is enough information available to substantiate the reported behavior.
3. Administrative action, in lieu of formal student conduct action, may be taken at the discretion of the University, in an appropriate and reasonable manner, to address student behavior.
B. Student Conduct Proceedings
1. A student potentially subject to formal sanctions other than eviction from residence, suspension or expulsion, or a student organization subject to formal sanctions other than loss of registration is entitled to a conference, which will normally consist of an informal meeting between the student responding to allegations (“respondent”) and an administrator.
2. A student subject to eviction from residence, suspension or expulsion from the University or a student organization subject to loss of registration is entitled to a hearing,
which will normally consist of a formal meeting between the respondent and the Associate Dean of Students (or designee). Allegations of sexual offenses will be resolved under the Disciplinary Procedures of Sexual Offense Complaints found in the Grievance Procedures for Reported Sexual Offenses
3. A student that accepts responsibility for violations of this Code (prior to the student conduct hearing) may meet with the Associate Dean in an administrative meeting to determine an appropriate sanction(s), in lieu of attending a hearing. This acceptance must be in writing, affirming acceptance of responsibility for the charge(s) and acknowledging that the full range of sanctions may be imposed.
C. Guidelines for Student Conduct Proceedings
The following procedural guidelines shall be applicable in student conduct proceedings. Formal rules of process, procedure, and technical rules of evidence, such as applied in criminal or civil court, are not used in student conduct proceedings. Deviations from prescribed procedures shall not necessarily invalidate a decision, unless significant prejudice to an accused student, complainant or the University results. Cases of sexual offenses will be resolved under the Disciplinary Procedures of Sexual Offense Complaints found in the Sexual Offense Grievance Procedures.
1. The respondent shall receive advanced written notification of the specific charges and the date, time, and location of the scheduled proceeding. Notice will most often take the form of a letter delivered to a student’s University e-mail account and/or residence.
2. The respondent may request a reasonable extension of time to prepare for the proceeding. Requests for an extension will not be granted for a period to exceed two business days except in unusual circumstances where the respondent can demonstrate the necessity for a longer delay. All requests for extension of time should be made in writing at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled proceeding, except in cases of documented serious illness or emergency.
3. The respondent shall be afforded reasonable access to review the case file prior to and during the proceeding, and may request a copy of a redacted incident report from SCED. “Case file” means the file containing those materials pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. If additional information becomes available and is relevant, it will be discussed and reviewed at the proceeding. The personal notes of University staff members and privileged information of other students are not included in the case file and thus are not accessible.
4. The respondent shall have the opportunity to provide additional and relevant information for the student conduct proceeding. Any additional information should be submitted in writing at least two business days prior to the proceeding.
5. The respondent shall have the opportunity to respond to the information related to the alleged violation of the Code; the respondent may provide the names of material witnesses from the CUA community who have relevant and necessary information pertaining to the incident. These individuals will be invited, at the discretion of SCED to participate in the proceeding, but are not required; character witnesses will not be heard. Ordinarily, witnesses who are not members of the CUA community will not be invited to serve as a witness in the proceeding, and expert witnesses generally will not be invited.
6. Student conduct proceedings will be closed to non-participants and to the public.
7. A respondent may be accompanied by one advisor. The role of the advisor shall be limited to support and consultation; the advisor may not speak during any student conduct proceeding except privately to the respondent, nor shall the advisor question or address witnesses. Violation of this expectation will result in the advisor being removed from a student conduct proceeding at the discretion of t the student conduct administrator. In consideration of the limited role of an advisor, and of the interest of the University to expeditiously conclude the matter, a student conduct proceeding will not normally be delayed if an advisor is unavailable.
8. A respondent who fails to appear at a scheduled proceeding without good cause (e.g. serious illness), after proper notice of such a proceeding, may be adjudicated in absentia, and forfeits all rights to an appeal unless it is for lack of proper notice, as required herein. In such cases, decisions will be based solely on witness testimony and other written information presented during the proceeding.
9. Proceeding outcomes must be supported by a preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidence means that a greater weight of evidence has been demonstrated in order to decide in favor of one side over the other, to determine whether a fact is true, or to establish that an event occurred. A preponderance of the evidence does not necessarily mean the greater amount of evidence, but rather the greater quality of evidence – making it more likely than not the matter in question is true.
10. A respondent may be found responsible for any prohibited conduct (including sections of the Code for which he or she was not originally charged) when behaviors that were previously unknown are discovered during the course of the student conduct proceeding or if it is determined that a different section of the Code more appropriately addresses the conduct in question.
11. The outcome of the student conduct proceeding shall be conveyed to the student in writing.
A. The imposition of sanctions is based on the nature of the violation and the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from it, and the character, disciplinary record, and rehabilitative potential as the student respondent.
B. In some cases, a sanction may be held in abeyance for a specific period. This means that, should the student be found responsible for a violation of the Code during the stated period, he or she may be subject to the deferred sanction in addition to the student conduct action appropriate to the new violation.
C. Sanctions that may be imposed in accordance with this Code include:
1. Censure: An official written reprimand for violation of specified regulations.
2. Disciplinary Probation: A period of time in which a student is expected to demonstrate positive behavioral change and may be excluded from participation in privileged or extracurricular institutional activities. Additional restrictions or conditions for behavioral changes may be imposed. Violations of the terms of student conduct probation, or any other violation of this Code during the period of disciplinary probation, may result in eviction from residence, suspension or expulsion from the University. While on disciplinary probation, the student is not in good disciplinary standing with the University.
3. Restitution: Repayment to the University or to an affected party for damages resulting from a violation of this Code.
4. Denial of Access to Specific Areas: Ban from certain non-academic area(s) for a specified length of time.
5. Eviction from Residence: Termination of the residence hall agreement and exclusion from visiting within certain or all residential facilities, as set forth in the notice of eviction, for a specified period of time. A student who is evicted is not entitled to a refund of room fees. A student who is a freshman or sophomore and is evicted from residence is unable to fulfill residency requirements and may be suspended, upon review.
6. Revocation of Privileges: Restrictions placed on activities and/or use of University services and facilities for a specified period of time.
7. Loss of Registration: Removal of registered student organization status, resulting in revocation of all University privileges for a specified period of time, normally for at least the remainder of the current academic term and no longer than one full calendar year.
8. Suspension: Exclusion from classes and other privileges or activities, including access to University premises or University-sponsored activities off campus, as set forth in the notice of suspension, normally for at least one semester. A student who is suspended is not entitled to any tuition or fee refund and is banned from University premises for the duration of the suspension.
9. Expulsion: Termination of student status, and exclusion from University premises, privileges and activities. A student who is expelled shall not be entitled to any tuition or fee refund and is banned from University premises permanently.
10. Discretionary Sanctions: Other sanctions that bear a reasonable relation to the violation for which the student has been sanctioned may be imposed instead of or in addition to those specified above. Discretionary sanctions include, but are not limited to: service hours, fines, educational reflection assignments, and participation in alcohol or drug awareness programs, and trainings, counseling and education regarding sexual assault and offenses.
The outcome of a student conduct proceeding may be appealed subject to the following guidelines:
A. A letter of appeal should be submitted to the Office of the Dean of Students by the student or student organization within three (3) business days of receipt of the outcome of the student conduct proceeding.
B. A student or student organization adjudicated in absentia forfeits all rights to an appeal process unless it is proven that it is for lack of proper notice, except in an extraordinary circumstance.
C. The appeal must specify grounds that would justify consideration. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the student conduct proceeding or an appeal for mercy are not appropriate grounds for appeal. The written appeal must specifically address at least one of the following criteria:
1. Significant procedural error that changes the findings of fact of the student conduct proceeding.
2. New evidence that significantly alters the findings of fact, that was previously unknown to the respondent, has been discovered and is available during the appeal process.
D. For matters resulting in eviction, suspension or expulsion, the Vice President will review and determine the outcome of the appeal. For all other matters, the Associate Vice President (or designee) will review and determine the outcome of the appeal.
E. One appeal is permitted. The decision on the appeal is final and shall be conveyed in writing to the student or student organization.
F. The imposition of sanctions may be deferred while the appeal process is pending unless, in the discretion of the Associate Vice President, the continued presence of the student on the campus poses a serious threat to her/himself or to others, or to the stability and continuance of normal University functions.
VIII. Student Conduct Files and Records
The files of students found responsible for of any prohibited conduct will normally be retained as a student conduct record in the Office of the Dean of Students & the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development, under the authority of the Associate Vice President, as outlined in the University policy governing student records. University officials may use the record as a reference; however, the record will be retained for no more than five (5) calendar years from the student’s terminating date from the University.
¹ While this definition is derived from applicable law, the University’s offenses encompass more than conduct proscribed by law.
² Defined by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) and the District of Columbia Code.