Code of Conduct

Vermont State University Code of Conduct exists both to protect the rights of all students and to hold students responsible for actions that negatively impact the University and its community. All students are expected to be familiar with their rights and responsibilities as set forth below. 

Any reference to the policies and procedures of Vermont State University incorporates the policies and procedures of the Vermont State Colleges system as well. 

A. Definitions in the Code of Conduct

All students are subject to the Code of Conduct, in addition to being responsible for complying with all other University policies. The term “student” refers to all persons taking courses at the University, either full-time or part-time; pursuing undergraduate, graduate certificate, or professional studies; persons who withdraw after allegedly violating the Student Conduct Code; persons who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with the University; persons who have been notified of their acceptance for admission; or persons who are living in University residence halls or apartments, although not enrolled at VTSU.   

The term “student” also includes Vermont Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) students. The University reserves the right to notify a VAST student’s home high school of any charges against and/or disciplinary action taken against a VAST student.  

The term “behavior” encompasses words (written and spoken) and actions. 
The term “member of the University community” includes Vermont State University system trustees, academic/faculty, nonacademic and administrative staff, students, and other persons on University property or at a University function. 
Students who are believed to have assisted others in violating any provision of the Code of Conduct may be charged with violating the Code to the same extent as those persons committing a violation. Attempts to violate this Code, including unsuccessful attempts, are prohibited and shall be treated the same as actual violations. 

B. Complaints

When a Vermont State University faculty, staff, or student member has a complaint or believes a student has violated one or more University policies, they should meet with a member of the Public Safety department to file an official complaint, complete an incident report on the university website, complete the whistleblower process, or meet face-to-face with a university leader such as the Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students, or a Vice President.

C. Policies and Procedures

The Code of Conduct applies principally to conduct that occurs on University-owned, leased, or controlled property, at University-related activities, programs or events, or on University-sponsored trips, as well as inappropriate or unsafe behavior in clinical settings related to University educational programs. Off-campus conduct may also subject a student to disciplinary or other appropriate administrative action when it is reasonably perceived to pose an imminent threat of harm or safety of the student or others or reflects on a student’s fitness to continue in the academic program in which they are enrolled, or when it is perceived to have an adverse effect on University/community relations. This includes violation of state, federal, or local law. Any student convicted of a criminal offense (Misdemeanor or Felony) is expected to notify the Dean of Students of said violation prior to resuming attendance in classes.

VSC Policy 311: Non-discrimination and Prevention of Harassment and Related Unprofessional Conduct and VSC Policy 311-A: Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking cover conduct that takes place on University property, as well as conduct that takes place off campus, or through the use of online, electronic, or digital technologies, that may have a nexus to any University education program or activity, for example by creating a hostile environment on campus or representing a threat to the safety of members of the University community or the continuance of normal University operations.

The University may work with law enforcement agencies, to the extent permitted by law, and it reserves the right to discipline students charged or convicted of criminal activity. 
Impairment due to the consumption of alcohol or other drugs or ignorance of the Code of Conduct or other University policies shall not be a defense to a finding of responsibility.
Although every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information contained in this Student Code of Conduct, laws, rules, and policies do change from time to time. This may be due to legislative action, judicial decisions, new and revised regulations at the state and federal level, as well as the adoption of new or revised policies by the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Colleges system (VSC), the Office of the Chancellor, or by the President or President’s designees. Such changes may alter the information contained in this publication. If there is a conflict between the information in this Code of Conduct and a subsequently amended policy, law, or rule, the subsequently amended policy, law or rule will control.

Students have the opportunity to participate in the formulation of policy directly affecting students through membership on appropriate committees as determined by the President or other recognized groups within the University.

1. Grounds for Discipline

Disciplinary measures may be taken for the following enumerated reasons. However, the following list does not cover every possible circumstance in which disciplinary action may be taken. In general, any act that violates University policies, impermissibly infringes upon the rights of others, or significantly disrupts the normal operation of the University may result in discipline. 

  1. Academic dishonesty, including, but not limited to, cheating or plagiarism.  
  2. Disorderly, lewd, indecent conduct or expression, or other disruptive or obstructive behavior which interferes with the rights of, or jeopardizes the safety or well-being of, any member of the University community.
  3. Behavior which threatens or endangers the health or safety of oneself or others’ person or property. This includes actions, implied actions, and threatened actions. 
  4. Harassment or intimidation including through the use of electronic media. 
  5. Expression that is not protected by the First Amendment, including but not limited to, defamation (libel and slander), obscenity, hate crimes, and fighting words.
  6. Falsifying information to the University, such as forgery, alterations or intentional misuse of University documents, records, or identification.
  7. Failure to comply with directions given by University employees, including resident assistants, acting in the performance of their duties.
  8. Violation of health and safety standards.
  9. Tampering with fire safety equipment.
  10. Presence on campus under the influence of alcohol (for those under 21) or other illegal drugs.
  11. Possession or use of alcoholic beverages on-campus at other than approved events or under approved conditions. Drugs other than those prescribed by a licensed physician for legitimate medical purposes may not be used, stored, manufactured, dispensed, or solicited on University property or at University-sponsored events or trips. 
  12. Possession or display of illegal drug paraphernalia.
  13. Illegal gambling. (Gambling may be permitted in limited circumstances and only with prior University approval as a fund-raising activity for charitable causes).
  14. Theft of, or damage to, University or personal property. 
  15. The use of personal transporters or recreational devices such as skateboards, hoverboards, rollerblades, or bicycles in University buildings or other undesignated areas. 
  16. Possession or storage of firearms or any other weapon, including replicas or facsimiles, on-campus or at University-sponsored events.
  17. Trespassing in any form, including using windows or balconies for entrance or egress.
  18. Possession or use of fireworks or other pyrotechnics on the University campus. 
  19. Solicitation of any form on campus for non-VTSU services or programs.  
  20. Willfully inciting or assisting others to commit any of the acts herein prohibited. 
  21. Discrimination, harassment, or related unprofessional conduct as described in VSC Policy 311
  22. Sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking as described in VSC Policy 311A. 
  23. Hazing as described in VSC Policy 313. 
  24. Tobacco use on University property as described in VSC Policy 314. 
  25. Violations of VSC Policy 502: Computing and Telecommunications Technology Conditions of Use. 

2. Student Conduct Procedures and Due Process 

Students accused of violating the Code of Conduct or other University policies will be provided with written notice describing their alleged offense(s) including the time and place of the alleged policy violations, a specific statement of which policies were allegedly violated and by what actions. Students will be given adequate time to schedule a hearing at which they will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations and provide their side of the story. Students will be given a fair opportunity to present a response to the allegations at the hearing. Students will be notified of the hearing officer’s decision and will have the opportunity to appeal any decision which finds the student responsible and the sanctions imposed. 

The hearing officer assigned to hear a case will have five (5) business days after the incident is reported to contact the individual charged. Business days do not include University breaks. 

The University’s disciplinary process is not equivalent to a criminal prosecution. The University uses the “preponderance of evidence” standard and, accordingly, must determine whether it is “more likely than not” that the violation occurred. If the evidence presented meets this standard, then the student will be found responsible.  

NOTE: The investigatory and adjudicatory process for alleged violations of VSC Policy 311: Non-discrimination and Prevention of Harassment and Related Unprofessional Conduct is set forth at Chancellor’s Implementing Procedures for Policy 311.  Similarly, the adjudicatory process for alleged violations of VSC Policy 311-A; Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking are set forth at Chancellor’s Implementing Procedures for Policy 311-A.  An overview of the investigatory procedures for Policy 311 and Policy 311-A can be found here. See generally RESOLVE website for the most recent information on Policy 311 and Policy 311-A. 

Email Correspondence. University email is considered the official avenue for all written correspondence relating to student conduct. Students are responsible for checking their University email accounts regularly and responding to messages in a timely manner.

3. Student Rights and Responsibilities in Disciplinary Proceedings 

Each student has the right to tell their side of an incident before a sanctioning decision is made, unless the student resists all reasonable and good-faith efforts of the University to obtain the student’s participation in the disciplinary process. 

In those circumstances where a student presents an imminent threat to the health or safety of the student or others, a student may be placed on interim suspension from the residence halls or University pending a hearing. Such decision will normally be made by the Dean of Students, or their designee, in consultation with appropriate University officials. In such cases, the hearing will be held as soon as reasonably possible. 

When questioned about a potential policy violation, students are encouraged to respond politely, provide identification promptly upon request, and comply with the directions of the University officials involved. Failure to cooperate in an investigation into an alleged Code of Conduct or policy violation may be taken into consideration during sanctioning.   Students are expected to respond promptly to any request to meet with or provide information to a University official. Failure to comply with a direction from a University official, or providing false information in connection with an investigation, or failure to appear at any disciplinary hearing may result in disciplinary action. 

Person of Support
During the conduct process, students may have a person of support of their choosing present at any hearing or meeting. Advisors may advise the student privately during hearings and/or meetings and students may request a brief recess to consult with their advisor. However, advisors cannot participate as speaking advocates at any hearings or meetings and may not ask questions directly of anyone, attempt to present evidence, or speak on behalf of the student. A presiding officer may ask any advisor who fails to comply with these instructions to leave the meeting or hearing.

4. Sanctions

Students found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct, other University policies, or VSC system policies may be subject to the imposition of sanctions. The University generally applies progressive discipline, whereby a student’s past disciplinary history and the severity of any violation is taken into consideration in determining the appropriate sanction(s). 

Once a student has been found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct or other University/system policy, the hearing officer may consider both mitigating and aggravating circumstances in deciding on the appropriate sanction. The following factors may be considered. This is not an exhaustive list and consideration may be given to other factors appropriate to particular circumstances, such as:  

  • Prior offenses. 
  • The nature and severity of the offense and any resulting damage or injury.
  • The student’s honesty, or lack of thereof, and level of cooperation with University officials during the investigation of the incident and the disciplinary process. 
  • Potential threat posed to the campus community. 

Disciplinary Sanctions in Order of Severity 
Sanctions can be assigned individually or in combination, as appropriate. Disciplinary sanctions are cumulative and remain on a student’s records throughout their attendance at VTSU.

  1. Verbal Warning: A formal warning of the consequences of continuing a behavior. No other specific action is taken unless further misconduct occurs. 
  2. Written Warning: An official written notification that a student‘s behavior has violated University policies, including expectations for future behavior. Further misconduct may be treated with more serious sanctions. 
  3. Parental Notification FERPA allows parents and/or legal guardians of students under the age of 21 to be notified, without the student’s consent, when a student is found responsible for a violation of the University’s alcohol or drug policy. Vermont State University reserves the right to notify parents if deemed necessary. Disclosure may also be made to parents or legal guardian, or other appropriate parties, without the student’s consent, if there is a concern of imminent risk of health or safety of the student or to the community.  
  4. Educational Sanctions: Educational sanctions may include, but are not limited to: a formal apology, in writing and/or in person; mandatory counseling; a public presentation; reading books; watching videos; reflective essay or research paper on a designated topic; or other options. 
  5. Monetary Restitution: When appropriate, a student may be required to pay restitution for damages or other expenses incurred as a result of the student’s actions. Monetary restitution may be required to the University, a specific department, or an individual. 
  6. Community Restitution: Sanctions may require performance of a specified number of community restitution hours. This sanction may be fulfilled either on or off campus. In some cases, the University may require the student to perform Community Restitution hours with a specific program or in a specific place, as a type of Educational Sanction.
  7. Mandated Assessment: Student may be required to participate in an assessment (typically with a licensed mental health provider) to help determine the student’s ability to be a part of the University community, and/or any special conditions that may be placed on their continued attendance. 
  8. Restriction: Denial of access to classrooms, residence halls, computer labs, campus activities, and/or the elimination of other privileges. 
  9. Residence Hall Probation: An indication that a student is no longer in good standing in the residence hall community. Further violations may result in immediate loss of eligibility to live in or visit the residence halls. Probationary status is issued for a stated period of time and may include specific restrictions on the student (educational sanctions, fines, etc.).
  10. Disciplinary Probation: An indication that a student is no longer in good standing with the University community. Further violations may result in immediate suspension. Probationary status is typically issued for a stated period of time and may include specific restrictions on the student (educational sanctions, fines, etc.).
  11. Suspension from the Residence Halls: A student may be prohibited from residing in or visiting any University residence hall on a temporary basis. Specific restrictions on access to residence halls during the period of suspension may be invoked. Suspension includes forfeiture of any fee rebate for the remainder of the housing contract. 
  12. Termination of Residence Hall Contract: A student will be given due notice to vacate their residence hall room upon termination of contract. The student forfeits any fee rebate for the remainder of the contract. 
  13. Disciplinary Suspension: Suspension separates the student from the University for a specified period of time. While under disciplinary suspension, students are prohibited from entering the University grounds or buildings or attending any classes or University-sponsored events of any kind. The student may not register and/or enroll until the stated period of suspension (a maximum of two [2] years) is completed, and all other requirements are met. Suspended students will receive no refund of tuition, room, board, or other fees as a result of their suspension. 
  14. Expulsion: Student is permanently dismissed from the University and may not re-enroll. 

The University official who assigns any sanction that requires specific action(s) to be taken by the student will follow up to ensure completion. Non-compliance will result in a hold being placed on the student’s records, including those of graduating seniors, until the requirements are satisfied. In extreme cases, this may result in suspension/expulsion. 

Confiscated Items  
Any items, such as weapons or prohibited appliances, confiscated by Residence Life or Public Safety may be claimed by the student at the end of the semester, unless an exception is granted by the University official who confiscated it. It is the student’s responsibility to claim the item. Students may meet with the professional staff and pick up any such items as they leave for break. If an item is not picked up by the end of the semester that it was confiscated, it will be disposed of. Items that are illegal to possess in the State of Vermont will not be returned.

5. Appeals

Grounds for Appeal 
A student may appeal on one or more of the following grounds:  

  • Procedural error which prevented fundamental fairness. 
  • Discovery of previously unavailable evidence that could significantly impact the outcome of the case. 
  • The determination is arbitrary and capricious.
  • The sanction is substantially disproportionate to the findings. 

Appeal process

  • Appeals must be submitted, in writing, to the Dean of Students. 
  • Appeals must be submitted within two (2) business days of receiving the sanction. 
  • Appeals not based on the above-listed grounds for appeal will be denied. 

Appeals will typically be heard by the Dean of Students or their Designee (who could determine that the written request does not meet the standard for an in-person meeting), and except for those matters involving appeals of suspensions or expulsion from the University. 

University Disciplinary Board 
Appeals of a suspension or dismissal (whether academic or disciplinary in nature) will be heard by a University Disciplinary Board (Board) either in-person or by videoconference.  

  • The University Disciplinary Board is a five-member board, composed of two full-time faculty or staff members, two students, and one administrator. The Board will select one of its members to act as its spokesperson.  
  • The Board has access to all student records and material related to the appeal. 
  • Board members with a potential conflict of interest are expected to recuse themselves. 
  • The student shall be notified of the composition of the Board prior to the hearing.
  • The student may raise an objection to the selection of a particular Board member if they believe there is a conflict of interest and/or demonstrable or reasonably perceived bias on the part of the member. Any such objections must be raised upon receipt of notice of the Board’s composition. The Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, shall have final authority in the appointment of members of the Board.
  • The Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, will preside over the hearing as a non-voting Chairperson of the Board.  

The University Disciplinary Board process is as follows: 

  1. The Chairperson of the Review Board shall preside at the hearing as a non-voting member. The hearing does not follow trial court procedure. 
  2. The student has the following rights: 
    • to present their side of the story; 
    • to present relevant witnesses and evidence on their behalf (character references are generally not considered relevant); 
    • to examine witnesses and the evidence against the student; and 
    • to exercise their right against self-incrimination.  
  3. A transcript will be made of the proceedings, which will be retained in the Dean of Students Office.  
  4. The student will have an opportunity to question witnesses who appear against them at the hearing. 
  5. The student will have the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them, including written statements and oral testimony. 
  6. The student shall have the right to invite witnesses to support their position.  
  7. The student must appeal the suspension or dismissal to the Dean of Students, in writing, within forty-eight (48) hours of receiving notice of the sanction. 
  8. The Dean of Students, or the Dean’s designee, then contacts members of the Board to schedule a hearing. Reasonable efforts will be made to schedule a hearing within forty-eight (48) hours of receipt of the notice of appeal, however, this may not be possible if the University is not in normal academic session or when the circumstances indicate that special expertise is necessary to assure fairness.  
  9. No student who has been suspended or dismissed will be allowed to attend classes, be on Vermont State University property, or attend an internship, clinical affiliation etc. while the appeal is in process. 
  10. The student will be notified by email (at their University email account) of the date, time, and location of the hearing. Note: Students are responsible for checking their University email account. Failure to appear at the hearing will result in denial of the appeal, absent extraordinary circumstances.
  11. The student may bring an advisor to the hearing. See above discussion on Advisors. 
  12. The Board may request witnesses to appear and testify in order to provide background information.
  13. At the conclusion of the hearing, the student will be excused and the Board will deliberate the merits of the appeal. On occasion, the Board may conclude that additional information is needed and may schedule a follow-up hearing. 
  14. Once the Board has reached a decision, its chosen spokesperson will notify the Dean of Students, in writing, of the Board’s recommendation(s).  
  15. The Dean of Students is the final arbiter and makes the final determination. The Dean may accept the recommendations of the Board, accept the recommendations with modifications, or reject the recommendations. The Dean of Students will send the final determination to the student, with copies to members of the Board, the Registrar, the Director of Financial Aid, and the Academic Dean. 
  16. Usually, the student will be notified of the decision by email within three (3) business days of the hearing. A copy of the final determination may also be mailed to the student’s last known home address on file. 

D. Guidelines for Students as Citizens in the Community 

Vermont State University students represent the University whether they live on or off campus and are expected to be good citizens and to treat their communities with respect. Specifically, students are expected to

  • Follow all health and safety guidelines and best practices established by the University or federal, state, and/or local authorities.
  • Communicate frequently with their landlord and neighbors, introducing themselves and providing contact information in order to foster clear, mutually beneficial communication.
  • Notify neighbors of any and every planned social gathering. Be respectful of neighbors’ property and comfort. Be responsive to complaints about excessive noise.
  • Avoid noise, no matter what time of the day, which disrupts the comfort of the individuals living within the general vicinity.
  • Be responsive for all problematic and detrimental behavior exhibited by their guests; be willing to cooperate when requests from neighbors are made.
  • Obey all local ordinances (e.g., noise ordinance, leash law, etc.).

In the event that guideline violations are brought to the attention of the Dean of Students, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Substance Abuse 
All community members are encouraged to become informed about substance abuse and its harmful effects. It is a serious problem that may require professional assistance and treatment. Students in need of assistance can seek information and confidential guidance at the Student Affairs office. Staff in this office can also make referrals to outside agencies within the community.

There are significant secondary effects for roommates and friends of those who drink excessively. Roommates and friends report that sometimes they cannot study or sleep because they are worried when a friend gets so drunk that they do not return home until the next morning. If a student is worried about a friend, and this concern affects living habits, they have the right and responsibility to seek help both personally and for that other person without concern for their privacy. 

E. Disciplinary Procedures Specific to Cases of Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking 

In addition to those policies listed above, the following disciplinary procedures will apply in all cases where incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or stalking are reported. Reported incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking will be investigated and adjudicated in a prompt, fair, and transparent manner consistent with VSC policies. Students who believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of a disability may file a complaint, pursuant to VSC Policy 311: Non-discrimination and Prevention of Harassment and Related Unprofessional Conduct and the Chancellor’s Implementing Procedures for Policy 311, with: 

Amy Daviarz (she/her/hers) 
Title IX and Protected Rights Coordinator 
Vermont State University
P.O. Box 500, Randolph Center, VT 05061