The Importance of Pitt’s Student Code of Conduct and How to Navigate Disciplinary Proceedings
The University of Pittsburgh, affectionately known as “Pitt,” upholds its community standards through the implementation of its Student Code of Conduct, enforced by the Division of Student Affairs. Its overarching mission is to educate and maintain a safe environment for all. Whether you are a student or staff member, the Judicial Board offers various options to stay engaged with your community. However, if accused of a violation, be prepared to navigate Pitt’s disciplinary process that begins when a judicial referral is made to the Office of Student Conduct.
There are two levels of violations under which sanctions can be imposed: Level I incidents and Level II incidents. The student facing charges will always be called “respondent” during any disciplinary proceedings.
Low-Level Violations – Level I Incidents
Level I incidents refer to minor offenses not resulting in serious sanctions such as suspension or dismissal/expulsion from university. A conduct officer or an appropriate personnel member promptly decides whether it is a Level-I incident after they receive the referral. If necessary, administrative hearings may occur based on this designation.
A hearing official will conduct administrative hearings related to Level I incidents by gathering relevant evidence, reviewing charges against respondents, and conducting an open dialogue between parties before rendering a verdict. Any witnesses presented by both parties may be cross-examined and questioned at length.
Appeals for Level I Incidents
Respondents have five business days from the Administrative Hearing date to submit an appeal if they disagree with given sanctions or feel their rights as students were violated in any way. Appealable grounds include allegations stating misconduct against policies/procedures or insufficient evidence supporting the claims made against them.
Higher-Level Violations- Level II Incidents
Level II refers to more severe violations where sanctions such as suspension or dismissal/expulsion from university may apply along with accumulated offenses under level 1 categories; therefore, respondents receive priority notification of this designation.
A disciplinary conference is held for Level II incidents to discuss charges, provide information and possible options with a Student Conduct Officer who will then present the respondent with two choices:
– Accept sanctions waved hearing
– Proceed before the Pitt Judicial Board for either full or sanction-only hearings.
Judicial Board Hearings
Comprised of members from graduate students’ undergraduate serving groups and university staff/ faculty, Pitt’s judicial board is convened in cases requiring more extensive review than that conducted by administrative personnel. Heres an outline of what you can expect during the formal hearing process:
The Student Conduct Officer or a designee convenes and oversees hearings.
The parties involved are introduced.
Both sides object to any procedures of how the hearing should be conducted or any board members they consider unfit to serve.
The complainant presents evidence first.
Afterward, the respondent gets to question the evidence.
Then the complainant presents their witnesses, followed by questioning from the respondent.
Once both presentations conclude, the Judicial Board deliberates.
Appeals for Level II Incidents
If a respondent receives an unsatisfactory verdict at Level II, they have five working days to make an appeal. Grounds that could justify appeals include arbitrary or capricious sanctions, denial of student rights or procedural errors during conduct proceedings.
Support During Disciplinary Proceedings
Of course, it is always beneficial for anyone facing serious allegations like university code violations to consult experienced legal counsel at every step along the way. However, respondents cannot reasonably delegate these responsibilities solely to attorneys without attending their own hearings.
An attorney can provide valuable assistance in several areas during conduct proceedings beyond advice on presenting your case articulately. For example, discussing what counts as strong versus circulatory evidence to avoid wasting time focusing on irrelevant material; helping students learn how university policies aid their defense strategy and how implicit biases impact court decisions.
At Pitt, the implementation of its Student Code of Conduct ensures a safe and nurturing campus environment for all members while educating them on appropriate behavioral standards. If you or your student is facing disciplinary action from the University of Pittsburgh, contact attorney Todd Spodek today to receive invaluable advice and representation throughout proceedings.