Student Judicial Programs (SJP) works to enforce the expectations and standards of behavior for students outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. SJP also advises the Honor Council and University Court. SJP staff members understand that students have questions about how the disciplinary process works at Rice. The purpose of this document is to answer some of those questions that we hear most often.
These are very general answers that may not apply directly to your specific disciplinary case. You should not rely on these answers as your sole source of information on the subject, but rather should email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about your specific issue. These FAQs should be a starting point but not the only step you take to understand the SJP process. If you are involved in a judicial matter, no part of the process should be a mystery to you. Nearly every disciplinary matter is different, and at Rice we have the luxury of being able to consider each disciplinary matter under its unique set of facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your specific case, you should email email@example.com to schedule an appointment to talk about it.
Additionally, if you just want to meet with the staff in SJP to learn more about what the office does, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. We welcome the opportunity to meet with students outside of the disciplinary meeting setting.
Q: I’ve been contacted by someone in SJP. What does this mean?
A: SJP meets with students for a variety of reasons, including concerns that a student has committed a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, or as a potential witness in a disciplinary matter. If you are contacted by SJP, please respond promptly. SJP will primarily communicate with you through your Rice email address. It is the responsibility of every Rice student to check Rice email frequently.
Q: I’ve been found In Violation of a section of the Code of Conduct; will this go on my academic transcript?
A: While most disciplinary violations will not be noted on your academic transcript, they will be maintained in SJP disciplinary records. Expulsions are noted on the official Rice transcript, but other disciplinary sanctions are not. If you apply to graduate or professional school after Rice, those schools will likely ask if you were “found responsible” (or similar language) for a conduct offense during your time at Rice. If you are asked that question on an application, you are obliged to answer “yes.”
Q: I’ve been found In Violation of a section of the Code of Conduct; will this prevent me from getting into law school (medical school, grad school)?
A: Generally, no. If you have been found In Violation, you should have an honest conversation with your academic advisor regarding the best way to address it in applications. Generally, a minor Code of Conduct violation will not prevent you from being admitted to another school, but failing to disclose a violation can. Students with further questions about how disciplinary violations may affect graduate opportunities are encouraged to contact Academic Advising.
Q: What does Rice tell the other school (medical school, grad school, etc.) about my conduct or Honor Code violation?
A: Below is an example of what Rice might be asked about a student’s disciplinary or academic integrity record, along with a sample answer that Rice would provide. Each circumstance may differ slightly, so these questions are only meant to provide examples. An inquiring institution may ask:
Has the student ever been found responsible for any disciplinary misconduct/academic integrity offenses, or are any charges pending?
If the answer is yes, the inquiring institution may ask Rice to provide an explanation. An example of that explanation might look like:
[Student Name] was found in violation of the Rice University Code of Student Conduct [or Honor Code, as applicable] during Fall [or Spring] 20XX. This student has complied with all sanctions and penalties and is in good judicial standing.
Q: When does amnesty apply, as described in the Alcohol Policy?
A: The Amnesty Policy is designed to encourage students to make good choices to look out for themselves and each other, and to prioritize student safety and wellbeing. SJP encourages students to be a part of Rice’s culture of care, and that includes looking out for your friends that may have had too much to drink or may need medical attention for any reason. Amnesty from disciplinary action applies when one student calls REMS for help when either the caller or another person may be dangerously intoxicated from alcohol or other drugs. The student that called for help and the student in need of medical attention will not be charged with Code of Student Conduct violations involving possession or use of alcohol or drugs, regardless of age. If you have any concern as to whether another person may need medical care, you should call REMS for help.
Q: Can you tell me step by step how the process works?
A: Generally, SJP is notified of potentially problematic behavior by a report from RUPD. Typically, the first step is to meet with the student to discuss the behavior described in the RUPD report. If it is determined that enough information exists to charge the student under the Code of Student Conduct, the next steps might follow one of two different paths:
- Accept responsibility/contest the charges:
In some cases involving straightforward facts and/or minor level offenses, the student may be given the opportunity to accept responsibility for the violation and sanctions. The student will be presented with a letter detailing the alleged behavior, the charges for that behavior, and SJP’s proposed sanctions. The student may accept responsibility for the behavior and sign the letter, agreeing to the sanctions. By signing the letter, the student also agrees not to appeal the decision. If the student contests the charges and/or sanctions, then a more thorough investigation will be conducted, similar to the process described below in second path.
- Charge, investigation, and adjudication:
For more serious alleged violations, or if there are factual questions that require clarification, the student will be informed of charges pending under the Code of Student Conduct. Generally, this information is communicated in a charge letter. The student will be notified of the information available to SJP at that time, the details of the concerning behavior, and the specific sections of the Code that the student is accused of violating. The student will be given an opportunity to review the file and to respond to the charges. SJP may perform additional investigation as necessary to gain a sufficient understanding of the incident. Based on all the information available following the investigation, SJP will make a determination as to whether—more likely than not—the student violated the Code of Student Conduct in the ways charged. If a violation did occur, SJP will determine an appropriate sanction. In general, the student is notified of this decision in a letter. The student may appeal the decision to the Dean of Undergraduates.
Note that depending on the behavior at issue, the procedural steps might be different. When the allegation involves another student (e.g., assault, theft, intimate partner violence, sexual assault) the process will have additional steps as compared to when only one student is involved (e.g., public intoxication, public urination, disorderly conduct). For each student involved in the discipline process, SJP will explain the specific procedure applicable to that student. This answer is meant to give a broad overview to the entire community, but if you have specific questions about your matter, you should email SJP to set up a time to talk.
Meetings with SJP will generally include the student involved and two staff 3 members from SJP. If a student specifically requests that two staff members be present, every effort will be made to schedule accordingly.
Q: I have been offered the chance to “accept responsibility” for my behavior. What does this mean?
A: While every situation is unique, some alleged Code violations are factually simple, for instance, a public intoxication situation where the student involved admits that he/she had too much to drink. In these types of cases, SJP may offer the student a chance to sign a letter accepting responsibility as well as the proposed sanctions. There is no difference in the disciplinary record between a student who accepts responsibility and a student who is found In Violation for the behavior. Accepting responsibility is an opportunity for the student to admit to the problematic behavior, avoid a longer investigation process, and move forward with fulfilling the sanctions. Once the student has accepted responsibility and signed the letter, the decision is not appealable.
Q: Will my meeting with SJP be recorded?
A: Generally, yes. SJP audio records disciplinary meetings as a matter of practice. This includes all meetings with reporting students, accused students, and witnesses.
Students with charges pending against them may want to access the content of the audio recordings of their meetings with SJP, and the content of the audio recordings of meetings with others who are reportedly witnesses to the behavior at issue. The university will provide access to students with charges pending; in its discretion, the university may make this access available either by allowing the student with charges pending to listen to the recording(s), or by providing a transcript of the recording(s). As applicable, complaining students alleging violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy may also access the content of the recordings. This access is by appointment only, and may be scheduled by emailing SJP@rice.edu.
The university may redact portions of the audio recording or transcript before allowing such students to review it, such as when the recording/transcript contains information that is irrelevant to the disciplinary charges AND that information is private, potentially embarrassing, or discusses another student.
Audio recordings will generally be maintained at least 12 months, and deleted during the summer months.
Q: After meeting with SJP I received a letter charging me with violations of the Code of Conduct. Now what?
A: Read the letter carefully. Pay close attention to the date listed by which you must submit a written response and any materials you want SJP to consider as SJP adjudicates the charges against you. If you find the response date difficult to meet, feel free to email email@example.com to request an extension, including a brief description of the reason you would like an extension. Whenever practical, SJP is happy to work with students on reasonable requests for extensions
Q: What kinds of information does SJP gather during an investigation and how is it gathered?
A: The purpose of an investigation is to gather all information that is relevant or helpful to determine what more likely than not happened during a reported incident. Information from witnesses may often be helpful when recreating a moment in time. SJP will request to speak with witnesses named in the report, or brought forward by reporting and accused students, when it is believed that the witnesses’ testimony is relevant to the behavior at issue.
SJP may request the accused student or the reporting student to produce other types of evidence, such as Facebook messages, text messages, emails, or photographs, that would help to determine whether it is more likely than not that the reported behavior occurred.
Q: Can I view the file SJP has for my disciplinary matter?
A: Yes. Students can view their own disciplinary files by appointment. To schedule an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the date and the time you would like to come in and we will try to accommodate your request.
Q: How do I review my file?
A: First you must make an appointment by emailing email@example.com, and receive confirmation that your proposed time is available. When you review the file, you will be asked to sit at a table within the sightline of a staff member. You may make notes on paper if you choose, but you may not photocopy or take pictures with your phone or any other device. You will be asked to leave your bag some short distance away so there is no concern about accessing a phone, camera or other device during your review.
Q: I’ve made a report to SJP that I experienced a sexual assault or sexual misconduct by another student; may I review that judicial file?
A: Yes. You will be required to make an appointment and follow all the same procedures described above.
Q: My roommate (friend, classmate) got in trouble with SJP. Can I review his/her file?
A: No. Federal law, as well as SJP’s respect for student privacy, prohibit the sharing of student information under most circumstances. However, the student involved is free to share any letters received from SJP and may speak to others about their experience during the disciplinary process.
Q: Do I need a lawyer?
A: If you feel you would benefit from the advice of legal counsel when addressing your university disciplinary matter, you should consult with the professional of your choice. SJP does not enforce federal or state laws; rather it investigates and adjudicates alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct. SJP investigations are not legal matters and lawyers may not participate in the process. Your communications with SJP (including, for instance, your response to any charges) must come from you directly.
Q: Can my parents call you?
A: Generally, no. Rice University has high expectations for its students, and as a result, treats students as adults. Any allegation of a Code of Conduct violation is between you and the university. Any communication about your disciplinary matter, therefore, will be between you and SJP directly. If you have questions or if there is a part of the process you don’t understand, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to talk through your questions or concerns. We are always happy to meet to make sure you understand the process. Pursuant to federal law, if your parents call, we will not speak with them about your case, and will generally not even confirm that you have a disciplinary matter pending. Instead, we will direct them to speak with you, and suggest you (the student) make an appointment with SJP to discuss the questions directly. The university’s relationship is with you. We encourage students to seek support from their families (and friends, college masters, R.A.s, etc.), but any questions about the process or the case should come directly from the student whose behavior is at issue.
Q: Can I bring someone with me to my meeting with SJP?
A: Students are permitted to bring someone with them to the SJP offices, however in general that person will be asked to wait in the lobby while the meeting takes place. In cases involving dating violence or sexual misconduct, reporting and accused students may have the support person of their choice in any disciplinary meetings related to the case. For information about the role of a support person in SJP meetings, please see the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Q: Can I appeal a decision?
A: Yes. Under the Code of Student Conduct, decisions in disciplinary matters can be appealed. A decision made by University Court may be appealed to the Director of SJP by emailing email@example.com within 10 business days of the decision. Generally, you can appeal a decision of SJP to the Dean of Undergraduates (or Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, for graduate students) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com within 10 business days of the decision. The appeal should include a written statement explaining the reasons for your disagreement with the initial decision. The Code of Student Conduct allows four grounds for an appeal:
- Initial decision was not reached fairly,
- Request to consider new information not available at the time of the initial decision,
- Initial decision was not supported by the evidence, and
- Sanctions imposed were inappropriate.
While this FAQ is meant to provide basic information regarding the appeal process, you should not rely solely on this information, but rather should also review the Code of Student Conduct for elaboration on the grounds for appeal and complete information about how to appeal a decision.
Q: How long will it take for SJP (or University Court) to reach a decision?
A: There is no set time for most matters. Alleged disciplinary violations range from very simple cases where the student admits the violation, to very complex fact situations involving multiple witnesses and descriptions of events. While we work to resolve each matter quickly, we also balance speed with sufficient investigation. If your case is being adjudicated by University Court, a UCourt representative will be in contact with you through email regarding the timeline of your case. If you have specific questions about the timing of your disciplinary matter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to talk about your specific situation.
Q: What about University Court (U Court)?
A: There is often great value in having a student’s behavior examined by a group of his/her peers. SJP recognizes the need for students of the Rice community to set the tone for acceptable behavior and the expectations of students. In light of this, SJP often refers matters directly to University Court for resolution. In some instances, the student may be asked for his or her preference to have the matter decided by University Court or SJP. Because not all cases are appropriate for University Court resolution, discretion regarding which cases are referred lies with SJP. For more information, please review the Code of Student Conduct, or you can talk to the University Court Representative in your residential college.
Q: Does Rice Counseling Center share information with SJP?
A: RCC does not share information with SJP unless the student has signed an authorization allowing RCC to do so.1 When a student has committed a Code violation involving drugs or alcohol, in general SJP requires the student to have an assessment at RCC, and requires that the student sign a release. When the assessment is complete (and if the student has signed a release), RCC shares with SJP a report of the assessment only as it relates to the student’s alcohol and drug use, and whether RCC has any recommendations for further education and treatment. That information is shared with SJP in a letter, and the student also receives a copy.
Q: I have a hold on my account. How can I get that lifted?
A: In general, the best way to begin communication with the office regarding holds is to email email@example.com. Using that email address (rather than calling or emailing any individual) will reach the person best able to address your concern.
Q: I heard a rumor that SJP suspended or expelled my friend for a very minor reason. How can you do that?
A: The information you heard likely does not represent the full complexity of the actual case. Federal law, as well as SJP respect for individual privacy, prevents SJP from discussing the specifics of any particular case with anyone other than the student involved. This puts the office in an awkward position; a student can leave the office and say anything he or she wants about the process and result. SJP, on the other hand cannot explain to others (not even college presidents, CJs, or other student leaders) the facts and reasoning behind a decision.
When SJP sanctions a student as a result of a disciplinary matter, the student receives a detailed letter describing the facts of the case and explaining the reasoning behind the decision. If you have heard rumors that SJP action toward your friend is unreasonable, you should remember that you are hearing only one side of the story. Alternatively, you could ask your friend if he or she will share with you the correspondence from SJP. While federal law governs what the university can disclose, the student involved in the disciplinary process is free to share the letters from SJP.
Q: I don’t understand what is going on in my disciplinary matter. What are my options?
A: The best way to have your questions answered and your concerns addressed is to email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to meet with students and answer any questions.
Q: I am involved in a disciplinary matter and I feel overwhelmed and scared about what that means for me. Who can I talk to?
A: The Student Wellbeing Office and the Rice Counseling Center offer support to students during various challenges students may face, including going through a disciplinary process. Students can call to schedule an appointment with a Wellbeing advisor or a counselor by calling (713) 348-3311. Even after hours, that phone is answered by trained counselors. During business hours, students can go to the Gibbs Wellness Center and request to meet with someone on a walk in basis.
1 There are some very limited exceptions to this general rule. In cases when a student indicates there is an imminent threat of harm to the student or to someone else, RCC must, by law, contact emergency personnel. If you have specific questions about these very limited exceptions, you should make an appointment to talk to someone at RCC.