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Student Handbook: School of Law Section

Judicial Procedures for the Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct governs non-academic student behavior.  The Student Code of Conduct policies are located in the following: (i) Ethics Policy; (ii) Student Life Policies; and (iii) Substance Abuse Policy.

Philosophy of Student Discipline

The judicial process is based on the assumption that disciplinary procedures, when required, should be an educational process. Disciplinary sanctions are imposed to help students develop individual responsibility and encourage self-discipline, to foster a respect for the rights of others, and to protect the safety of members of the University community. Students who fail to follow School of Law and/or University conduct policies will be treated in the same manner as one who has failed academically.

An institution of higher learning is authorized by law to establish and administer codes of conduct and to suspend, expel, or dismiss students whose actions negatively impact the campus community. The University and the School of Law reserve this right.

Student disciplinary proceedings are not analogous to criminal court proceedings. No particular model of procedural due process is required. However, the procedures should be structured in order to facilitate a reliable determination of the truth and to provide fundamental fairness. Procedures can be very informal in cases where suspension, expulsion, or dismissal is not a probable penalty; more procedural formality should be observed in serious disciplinary cases. In all situations, fairness requires that students be informed of the nature of the charges and be given a fair opportunity to respond to them.

Reporting Misconduct

Anyone may report a perceived violation of the Code of Conduct by contacting the Dean of Students at 310.506.7695. Normally, the person reporting the violation will be asked to submit a written report. The report should be a brief written statement citing the section of the Code of Conduct allegedly violated and providing a summary of the facts deemed to constitute a violation. Reports should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place. The School of Law reserves the right to take action against an individual for violating the Code of Conduct regardless of how much time has passed since the incident.

Anonymous reports may be made on the Anonymous Crime Tips Hotline by calling voice mail at 310.506.7634. Students living in the residence halls may also notify the resident advisor. For any campus emergency, call 911, and then dial 310.506.4441.

Sources of Information

Information about a student's misconduct may come from a variety of sources including, but not limited to, reports from faculty, staff, students, departments (e.g., Housing and Residence Life, Department of Public Safety), law enforcement agencies, or community members. Other sources of information may include, but are not limited to electronic communications, photographs, social media, and audio or video recordings.

Authority and Responsibility for Student Discipline

The Dean of the School of Law is responsible for the overall oversight of rules and regulations regarding student discipline for misconduct and serves as the final appeal for student disciplinary decisions. The Dean of Students is primarily responsible for the operational details of the disciplinary process. The Dean of Students will review reports of misconduct and may conduct an investigation. If the Dean of Students considers the report, if accurate, to indicate a conduct violation, the incident will be heard through either an administrative hearing with the Dean of Students (or designee) or a hearing with the Faculty Student Life Committee.

Jurisdiction

The conduct policies listed in the Code of Conduct apply to conduct that occurs on University premises, at University-sponsored activities, and off-campus that adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its objectives. Each student is responsible for his/her conduct from the time of application for admission through the actual awarding of a degree, even though conduct may occur before classes begin or after classes end, as well as during the academic year and during periods between terms of actual enrollment (and even if the conduct is not discovered until after a degree is awarded). The conduct policies apply to a student's conduct even if the student withdraws from school while a disciplinary matter is pending. The Dean of Students will decide whether the policies will be applied to conduct occurring off campus, on a case by case basis, in his or her sole discretion.

When appropriate, some University policy violations may be addressed by other judicial bodies, including, but not limited to the Honor Board, Non-Academic Grievance Officer, or Seaver College Administrative Hearing/Student Disciplinary Committee. Violations that occur in the on-campus residential community will be investigated and adjudicated by Seaver College pursuant to Seaver College's Judicial Procedures (see the Seaver College Student Handbook, Judicial Procedures section).  If conduct violates both residential community policies and the Code of Conduct, the Dean of Students, in his or her sole discretion, can participate, as a non-voting member, in the Seaver College disciplinary proceedings and can impose additional Code of Conduct sanctions based upon those proceedings. However, the Dean of Students reserves the right to pursue Code of Conduct violations in a separate proceeding pursuant to the procedures set forth below. Sanctions imposed pursuant to the Seaver College Judicial Procedures can be appealed to the Seaver College Dean of Students (see the Seaver College Student Handbook, Judicial Procedures section). Sanctions imposed by the  Dean of Students can be appealed as set forth below. If students from different schools of Pepperdine University are involved in a Code of Conduct violation, the matter will be investigated and adjudicated by the school of the accused student. The Department of Public Safety works in cooperation with these offices in the reporting of violations and the conducting of investigations.

Administrative Hearings with the Dean of Students

When the violation is of a less serious nature and the misconduct would not result in suspension or dismissal, the student will generally attend an administrative hearing with the Dean of Students (or designee) to discuss the incident, the student's involvement in it, and any steps that must be taken or sanction imposed to resolve the matter. Sanctions imposed as a result of an administrative hearing may be appealed to the Faculty Student Life Committee within ten days of the written notice of sanctions.

Student Life Committee Hearings

If, after reviewing a report of misconduct, the Dean of Students (or designee) determines that the incident is deemed sufficiently serious, the incident will be submitted for hearing by the Faculty Student Life Committee. A majority of the Committee must be present for the hearing.  The Dean of Students (or designee) will chair the hearing but is not a voting member unless there is a tie vote.

Before a hearing with the Faculty Student Life Committee, the student will be provided in writing with a summary of the behavior that allegedly violates particular provisions of the Code of Conduct. The notice will also include the date and time of the hearing, not less than five or more than fifteen calendar days after the student has been notified. The limits for scheduling hearings may be extended at the discretion of the  Dean of Students.

Other than as outlined below, hearings need not adhere to formal rules of procedure or technical rules of evidence followed by courts of law. Hearings will be conducted according to the following guidelines:

1.  All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Dean of Students (or designee).

2.  The hearing will normally be conducted in private. Admission of any person to the hearing will be at the discretion of the Dean of Students (or designee). The dean may accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the reporting party, accused student, and/or other witness during the hearing by providing separate facilities, and/or by permitting participation by telephone, video conferencing, written statement, or other means, where and as determined in the sole judgment of the Dean of Students to be appropriate.

3.  Accused students may be assisted at hearings by an advisor. The advisor must be a current student, faculty, or staff member of the University who was not involved in the incident. The advisor cannot speak for the accused student. The role of the advisor is to accompany the student and advise him or her privately during the hearing process.

4.  Hearings will be chaired by the Dean of Students (or designee), and will proceed in the following manner:

a.  Reading of the charges.

b.  The student's denial or admission of the charges. (If the student admits the charges, then the Committee may dismiss the student and deliberate on the appropriate sanctions.)

c.  Presentation of information and/or witnesses supporting the charges and questions by the student charged and the Committee.

d.  Presentation of information and/or witnesses by the student charged that rebuts the charges and questions by the Committee.

e.  Closing statement by the accused student.

5.  The chair and the accused student may call witnesses. The Committee may ask questions of the witnesses. The accused student may not directly question the witness, but may direct questions to the chair after the witness has been excused. The chair will then determine if the questions are appropriate, and, if so, will follow up with the witness as necessary. Witnesses may only be present at the hearing while giving testimony. Accused students must present a list of witnesses and purposes of their statements to the chair 24 hours in advance of the hearing.

6.   A list of witnesses called by the School of Law should be presented to the accused student 24 hours before the hearing.

7.  Pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration by the Committee at the discretion of the chair. This information must be submitted to the chair at least 24 hours before the hearing.

8.  If, during the course of the hearing, additional charges are discovered, the accused student will be notified of the new charges and will be granted additional time, if needed, to prepare a defense of the new charges. The accused student may waive the additional time and the hearing can proceed with the new charges taken under consideration by the Committee. A record should be made in the hearing notes of additional charges and whether or not the student desires additional preparation time.

9.  Information about the misconduct of other students shared at the hearing may be used as the basis for disciplinary action.

10.  The Committee's determination will be made on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence standard (whether it is more likely than not that the accused student violated the Code of Conduct).

11.   After the hearing, the Committee will determine by majority vote whether the student has violated each section of the Code of Conduct that the student is charged with violating.

12.   If the student is found to have violated the Code of Conduct, the Committee will determine by majority vote the appropriate sanction that will be imposed.

13.  The Dean of Students (or designee) will notify the student in writing of the Committee's decision and the sanctions issued, if any.

14.  There will be a single written record of the hearing, which normally consists of the statement of alleged misconduct, a summary of the information presented in the hearing, a summary of the statement of the accused, statement of the decision, and the sanctions issued, if any. The hearing will not be transcribed or otherwise recorded.

15.  If the accused student fails to appear at the hearing, the Committee may make a decision based on the available information. If the Dean of Students (or designee) determines that good cause exists for the accused student not appearing at the hearing, a new date may be set for the hearing.

Sanctions

Conduct which violates School of Law or University policies may result in the imposition of one or more sanctions. Sanctions which may be imposed are not limited to those listed below. Such disciplinary action will depend upon the gravity of the offense, the nature of attendant circumstances, and the merits of a particular case. In certain limited situations, University and/or School of Law officials may impose a sanction but suspend or postpone its actual implementation. In addition to the sanctions that follow, in certain circumstances, the Seaver College Dean of Students or a designee may impose a University or residence hall suspension prior to a meeting with the Student Disciplinary Committee (see the section on "Interim Suspension" later in the Student Handbook).

Loss of Privileges

Such loss may include, but is not limited to the following: Pepperdine financial aid; eligibility to represent the University and/or School of Law in various capacities, including moot court competitions (and similar events), and seeking or holding an elected student office; university housing; and use of specific university facilities, equipment, or services.

Assessment of Damages

Requirement to pay for the repair and/or replacement of damaged property. Failure to pay such charges may result in additional sanctions including, but not limited to, denial of re-enrollment, or refusal to release official transcripts and records.

Fines

Such fines may include, but are not limited to, payment of charges for violations of vehicle, campus, or housing regulations. These charges will be added to a student's account. Failure to pay such charges may result in additional sanctions including, but not limited to, denial of re-enrollment or refusal to release official transcripts and records.

Reprimand

Censure, verbal, and/or in writing.

Probation

A status that indicates that a student's relationship with the School of Law is tenuous and that the student's records will be reviewed periodically to determine suitability to remain enrolled. Students on disciplinary probation cannot participate in student government, student organizations, moot court, or otherwise officially represent the University or School of Law.

Suspension

Temporary separation of the student from the School of Law, and hence, from the University for a definite period of time. Conditions for readmission may be specified.

Dismissal

Permanent separation of the student from the School of Law, and hence, from the University. In certain cases a dismissed student may, after a designated period of time, petition the University for re-admission.

Permanent Dismissal

The University's most severe sanction, requiring permanent separation of the student from Pepperdine University without any possibility of future re-enrollment.

When students are dismissed or suspended for disciplinary reasons, there will be no refund of tuition or room charges for the semester, and all financial aid will be canceled. Upon permanent separation from university housing, students may apply to the Residential Life Office for unused board charges.

If a violation occurs just prior to a student's scheduled graduation, sanctions may be imposed even if all academic requirements are completed. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, community service, research or reflective paper, restitution, loss of privilege to participate in the graduation ceremony, deferment of degree, and a transcript hold. The University may withhold issuing a degree until all sanctions are fulfilled. In the rare case of a serious violation (e.g., sexual assault, DUI, illegal drug sales), the University may permanently withhold a degree.

Appeals Process

The School of Law has implemented procedures for student appeals with the intent of assuring fundamental fairness. Students who believe they were not treated fairly in the disciplinary process can submit a written appeal to the Dean of the School of Law. The appeal letter must be submitted within seven calendar days of the issuance of the sanction.

The written appeal must specify grounds that would justify consideration. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the decision or an appeal for mercy is not an appropriate basis for an appeal. The written appeal must specifically address at least one of the following criteria:
a.  Insufficient information to support the decision.
b.  New information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing.
c.  Procedural irregularity that undermined the student's ability to present a defense (see "Judicial Procedures" above)
d.  Inappropriateness of the sanction for the violation.

Generally the appellate process does not require a hearing, nor does it require the dean to make personal contact with the student or the Faculty Student Life Committee. The dean may, but is not required to, convene an ad hoc appeals committee to assist in making a recommendation to the dean regarding the appeal. The Dean shall not be bound by the ad hoc appeals committee's recommendation.

The Dean of the School of Law may affirm, reverse, or modify the sanction. The dean may also return the case to the Dean of Students or Student Life Committee for further consideration. The Dean of the School of Law's decision shall be final and effective immediately.

Retention of Disciplinary Records

All disciplinary records, including Honor Code sanctions, will become a part of the student's permanent record.

Immunity for Victims

Sometimes victims of physical or sexual assault or domestic violence are hesitant to report to University officials because they fear that they themselves may be charged with policy violations, such as visitation, underage drinking, or sexual activity at the time of the incident. To encourage reporting, Pepperdine offers victims immunity from policy violations related to the assault except for intentionally making a false report.

Immunity for Good Samaritans

Pepperdine encourages students to offer assistance to other students in need, both on and off campus.  When a student seeks medical assistance for a student in need, both parties will receive immunity from disciplinary action. This policy was created because students are sometimes hesitant to offer assistance to other students for fear that they themselves may be charged with policy violations (for example, an underage student who has been drinking might hesitate to get help from Public Safety for someone who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, or might be hesitant to provide important information about a sexual assault incident).

Forfeiture of Financial Assistance

Every student who has accepted a scholarship, loan, fellowship, grant-in-aid, or any other financial assistance by the University or the government is deemed to have agreed to observe the rules and regulations of the University. The University shall review the record of each recipient of financial assistance who has been placed on University disciplinary probation, is suspended, expelled, or dismissed from the University, or arrested and convicted as a result of a violation of University policy. In such cases students who have accordingly violated the Code of Conduct may forfeit their financial assistance. For further information regarding this policy, please contact the Office of Financial Assistance.

Expectations for Student Organizations

Student groups and organizations may be charged with conduct violations. A student group or organization may be held collectively responsible when violations of this code occur either during an event sponsored by the organization or when a sufficient number of members are in attendance at the event in question. Sanctions that may be imposed upon groups or organizations include but are not limited to warning, reprimand, probation, fines, loss of privileges, restitution, other educational sanctions, and deactivation. Deactivation includes loss of all privileges, including University recognition, for a specified period of time. See the Student Organizations Manual for additional information.

Expectations for Student Leaders

As role models to other students and ambassadors for Pepperdine University, student leaders are expected to embody the institution's highest ideals, values, and aspirations, and to uphold its community standards. Therefore, students placed on University probation will lose privileges, including their ability to apply for, campaign for, or hold leadership positions during the time they are on probation.

Interim Suspension

In certain circumstances, the Seaver College Dean of Students or a designee may impose a University or residence hall suspension prior to a meeting with the Student Disciplinary Committee. Interim suspension may be imposed: a) to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community or preservation of University property; or b) if the student poses a definite threat of disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of the University. During the interim suspension, the student may be denied access to the residence halls and/or to the campus (including classes) and/or all other University activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible, as the dean of students or the designee deems appropriate. The interim suspension does not replace the regular disciplinary process, which will proceed on the normal schedule, up to and through a Student Disciplinary Committee hearing, if required.

Social Media Privacy

The University complies with all local, state, and federal laws governing social media privacy. Although the law prohibits the University from asking students, prospective students, or student groups to disclose a user name or password for accessing personal social media, requesting access to personal social media, or divulging any personal social media to or in the presence of a University employee or representative, the University may lawfully require disclosure, access or view personal social media if necessary to investigate and take disciplinary action against any student, prospective student, or student group utilizing social media in ways that are unlawful, violate the Code of Conduct, or pose a threat to the safety of the campus community.