Code of Student Conduct

1.00 General Provisions

1.01 Applicability

This Code of Student Conduct, hereafter also referred to as this code, is applicable to any student currently enrolled; enrolled in the previous semester/session and eligible to enroll in the next consecutive semester/ session; or newly or readmitted and eligible to enroll in the next semester/session. A student who withdraws from school is subject to disciplinary action for any conduct that occurred while the student met the aforementioned criteria. Students involved in misconduct that would subject them to disciplinary action while not enrolled may be required to appear before the Dean of Students or designee before being readmitted to the university. This code is adopted pursuant to authority granted by The Texas State University System Board of Regents.

1.02 Awareness of Policies

Each student is expected to be fully acquainted and comply with all published policies, rules, and regulations of Lamar University and of The Texas State University System, copies of which shall be available to each student for review online. The university will hold each student responsible for compliance with these published policies. A violation occurring off campus while participating in a university-sponsored program may be as if the violation occurred on campus. Students are also expected to comply with all federal and state laws. Any student who violates any provision of those laws is subject to disciplinary action, notwithstanding any action taken by civil authorities. This principle extends to conduct off campus that is likely to have an adverse effect on the university or the educational process.

1.03 Definitions

  1. Disciplinary action means proceeding under Section 3.00.
  2. Designee refers to the individual charged with an administrative responsibility to be performed in the absence of the staff member originally charged with responsibility. All individuals, including the President, may have a designee act on his or her behalf.
  3. Hazing means those activities defined in Section 37.151-37.157 of the Texas Education Code.
  4. Complainant refers to the person making a complaint of sexual misconduct.
  5. Respondent refers to the person accused of sexual misconduct.
  6. Hearing refers to a formal meeting between a hearing officer and a student.
  7. Hearing officer means that person appointed by the Vice President for Student Engagement to determine in a hearing whether or not this code has been violated.
  8. Hearing panel is composed of the hearing officer, students, and faculty and/or staff and may be assembled to determine in a hearing whether or not this code has been violated.
  9. Notice means correspondence sent by mail addressed to a student at the local address, as shown on university records; or personally delivered to the address; or sent electronically from a Texas State University System email to the student's email address.
  10. Preponderance of the evidence means whether it is more likely than not. In finding responsibility of the respondent under this standard of proof, the hearing panel/conduct officer must be convinced, based solely upon the information presented in the course of the hearing, that the conduct alleged is more likely than not to have occurred.
  11. Record means all documents, forms, copies, reports, statements, recordings, or other information.
  12. University policy means any provision of the Board of Regents Rules and Regulations, order, or any official university policy/procedure statement, rule, or regulation of the university.
  13. University official means a person who has been given the responsibility and authority by the appropriate agency or person, including regents, officers, faculty, and administrative staff.
  14. University property means property owned, controlled, or occupied by the university.
  15. VPSE means the Vice President for Student Engagement.

2.00 Prohibited Conduct

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Specific examples of misconduct for which students may be subject to disciplinary action include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Committing an act that would constitute an offense under appropriate federal, state, or municipal law.
  2. Violating any published university policy, including policies or contracts relating to residential living in university-owned or operated facilities.
  3. Failing to comply with the direction of a university official acting in the performance of his or her duties, including an official summons to the office of an administrative official at a designated time.
  4. Furnishing false testimony or other evidence at a campus disciplinary or other administrative proceeding.
  5. Issuing a check to the university without sufficient funds or otherwise failing to meet financial obligations to the university.
  6. Endangering the health or safety of other persons, including, for example, throwing an object, without authorization, in or from university facilities.
  7. Misusing fire extinguishers or other safety equipment on university-owned or controlled property.
  8. Interfering or disrupting university teaching, research, or other activity, including administrative disciplinary or public service activities.
  9. Endangering the physical or mental health or safety of any person or intentionally or recklessly causing injury to any person.
  10. Possession of or use of university keys without authorization.
  11. Engaging in or submitting to hazing (see Hazing Policy), including hazing associated with an initiation by an organization using dangerous, harmful, or degrading acts.
  12. Violating published university policies on the possession or use of alcoholic beverages.
    1. Underage drinking of alcoholic beverages, driving under the influence of alcohol, and/or public intoxication is prohibited.
    2. The consumption of any alcoholic beverage in public places on the campus is prohibited except where specifically authorized by the University. All buildings, lobbies, walkways, and grounds of the campus are, for the purpose of this rule considered to be public places. Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in any residence hall.
    3. Any violation of published university policies regarding the possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages will result with disciplinary actions.
  13. Gambling on university property.
  14. Possessing, using, selling, or distributing any illegal drug, controlled substance, and/or drug paraphernalia as defined by Texas Law.
  15. Possessing or using ammunition, firearm(s), illegal knives (knives with blades longer than five and one-half inches, hand instruments designed to cut or stab another by being thrown, stilettos, poniards, Bowie knives, swords, and/or spears), or other illegal weapons on university property (see, TSUS Policies, Chapter VII, paragraph 4).
  16. Possessing, igniting, or detonating an explosive device, firework, or flammable object on university-owned or controlled property that could damage a person or property.
  17. Stealing, destroying, defacing, damaging, vandalizing, or misusing university property or property belonging to another person.
  18. Forging, altering, or misusing university documents, forms, records, identification cards, or admission records.
  19. Violating a published university policy governing residence life or breaching a Residence Life contract.
  20. Advocating, either orally or in writing, the conscious and deliberate violation of any federal, state, or local law. Advocating means addressing an individual or group for imminent action and steeling it to such action, as opposed to abstractly espousing the moral propriety of such action.
  21. Entering university buildings or facilities or using university equipment or resources without authorization.
  22. Failing to maintain a current official mailing address in the Registrar's Office or giving a false or fictitious address to a university official.
  23. Initiating, communicating, or circulating a false report of a present, past, or future bombing, fire offense, or other emergency that would cause action by an agency organized to deal with emergencies, placing a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or presenting or interrupting the occupation of a building, room, vehicle, other mode of conveyance.
  24. Harassing or threatening (by any means) to take unlawful action against any person, causing or intending to cause annoyance or alarm.
  25. Engaging in disorderly conduct on property owned or controlled by the university, or at a university function, that interferes with the university's programs or activities.
  26. Using authority granted by state law, system rule, or university policy to deprive a person of his or her civil rights.
  27. Engaging in or making life-threatening gestures that endanger others or disrupts the learning environment.
  28. Violating any published university policy relating to computer resources, electronic network facilities, or the internet.
  29. Violating the university's Policy on Sexual Misconduct, including engaging in, but not limited to:
    1. dating violence
    2. family (domestic violence)
    3. retaliation
    4. sexual assault
    5. sexual exploitation
    6. sexual harassment
    7. sexual intimidation
    8. sexual violence
    9. stalking
  30. Possessing and/or using, without authorization according to university policy, intoxicating beverages in a classroom building, laboratory, auditorium, library building, faculty or administrative office, residence hall or apartment, intercollegiate and intramural athletic facility, or any other public campus area, or being intoxicated in any public area of the campus.
  31. Campus disruptive activities. Disruptive activity means:
    1. Obstructing or restraining the passage of persons to the campus or an area of the campus or to an exit, entrance, or hallway of any building without the authorization of the administration of the university;
    2. Seizing control of an area of a campus, any building, or portion of a building for the purpose of interfering with any administrative, educational, research, or other authorized activity; or
    3. Disrupting and/or preventing or attempting to prevent, by force or violence or the threat of force or violence, any lawful assembly authorized by the university administration. A lawful assembly is disrupted when a person in attendance is rendered incapable of participating in the assembly due to the use of force or violence or a reasonable fear of force or violence.
    4. Pursuant to Education Code, Subsection 51.935 (Disruptive Activities), the university shall adhere to the following rules and regulations: No person or group of persons acting in concert may intentionally engage in disruptive activity or disrupt a lawful assembly on the university campus. Any person who is convicted the third time of violating this statute shall not thereafter be eligible to attend any school, college, or university receiving funds from the State of Texas for a period of two years from such third conviction. Nothing herein shall be construed to infringe upon any right of free speech or expression guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the State of Texas.
  32. Attempting to commit any of these prohibited acts.

2.01 Medical Amnesty Protocol

  1. The Lamar University Medical Amnesty Protocol ensures that a student's safety and health comes first in cases of underage possession and/or consumption of alcohol and/or illicit drugs use. The Dean of Students Office and Housing and Residence Life will not pursue conduct action if:
    1. The intoxicated student reports the incident, and/or
    2. If the intoxicated or other student(s) involved is actively seeking medical and/or health assistance from a university official or medical provider.
  2. This Protocol applies only to the LU Code of Student Conduct, Housing and Residence Life Handbook, LU Student Organizations Handbook, Greek Life: Fraternity and Sorority Life policies, and any other applicable Texas State University System and Lamar University regulations, rules and policies. This Protocol does not exempt students from being charged criminally by any law enforcement agency. Lamar University students cannot be covered under the Protocol if one of the following conditions is met:
    1. An intoxicated student and/or other students involved allegedly committed any other violation(s) of the student code of conduct (i.e., sexual misconduct, assault, vandalism, dealing drugs, furnishing alcohol to minors, etc.) during the incident in which they are seeking amnesty.
    2. An intoxicated student and/or other students involved have been previously found responsible for possession of alcohol and/or drugs.
    3. An intoxicated student and/or other students involved have already been covered by the Medical Amnesty Protocol for a previous underage possession and/or consumption of alcohol charge while a student at Lamar University.
  3. The Dean of Students Office will decide on a case by case basis if conduct action will be pursued for those seeking assistance for others on more than one occasion.

3.00 Administration of Student Conduct

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3.01 Authorization to Adjudicate Conduction Violations

Under the direction of the Vice President for Student Engagement, the Dean of Students or designee shall be primarily responsible for the administration of the Student Conduct process. The Director of Residence Life or designee will work closely with the Dean of Students in resolving minor disciplinary problems resulting from the alleged violation of regulations involving residence hall residents.

3.02 Disciplinary Procedures

  1. Investigation: The Dean of Students or designee will investigate information that a student may have violated a university policy. During the investigation, the Dean of Students or designee will give the student an opportunity to explain the incident, unless the student is unavailable. The Dean of Students or designee may conduct an investigation and make an administrative determination in the absence of a student if the student does not respond within the time period specified in any notice to the student. The Dean of Students or designee may place a registration hold, preventing a student from registering for additional courses, until the student responds to a summons or a decision is finalized.
  2. Administrative Review: If the Dean of Students or designee concludes, based on the preponderance of evidence, that the student has violated the Code of Student Conduct, the Dean of Students or designee will determine an appropriate disciplinary penalty.
    1. The Dean of Students or designee will discuss the findings and determination of an appropriate penalty with the student, if the student is available. In cases where the Dean of Students or designee determines that the allegations against the accused student are true but the only sanction assessed is a warning, the student may not request a hearing. For sanctions other than warnings, the Dean of Students or designee will give the student an opportunity to either accept or reject the Dean of Students' or designee's decision.
    2. If the student accepts the Dean of Students' or designee's decision, the student shall so indicate in writing and waive his or her rights to a hearing. The designee may then assess the disciplinary penalty.
    3. If the student does not accept the Dean of Students' or designee's decision, the Dean of Students or designee will initiate the hearing procedure.
    4. In cases of sexual misconduct, the complainant will have the same right to request a hearing or appeal a decision as the respondent. The complainant will be afforded the same rights as the respondent, including the ability to attend the hearing and present relevant information.

3.03 Disciplinary Penalties

  1. Sanctions: Mitigating or aggravating factors in assessing the proper level of discipline may include, but not be limited to: the student's motive for engaging in the behavior; disciplinary history; effect of the behavior on safety and security of the university community; and the likelihood that the behavior will recur. The following penalties comprise the range of official university actions that may be taken when, based on the preponderance of the evidence, a student is determined to have engaged in prohibited conduct. These penalties are not exclusive and may be imposed with other sanctions.
    1. Warning: A written notice to the student that a violation of a published university policy has occurred and that the continuation of such conduct or actions could result in further disciplinary action.
    2. Restricted privileges: Denial or restriction of one or more university privileges granted to students. These may be, but are not limited to: parking privileges; dining facility privileges; visitation privileges; use of the recreational sports center; use of university computers, computer facilities, or systems; and participation in athletics or other extracurricular activities. Loss or restriction of privileges does not entitle a student to a refund of fees, paid or due.
    3. Special project: The requirement that the student complete a special project; for example, writing an essay or attending a special class or lecture.
    4. Restitution: Paying for physical or property damage, losses, or misappropriation, either monetarily or by the performance of specific duties.
    5. Cancellation of residence hall contract.
    6. Disciplinary probation: An indication that the student is not in good standing, and that his/her continued enrollment is conditioned upon adherence to published university policies. Probation automatically restricts the following privileges:
      1. A student on disciplinary probation is ineligible to be elected or hold any executive office of any student organization recognized by Lamar University; and
      2. A student on disciplinary probation may not represent the university in any special or honorary role.
    7. Withholding an official transcript or degree.
    8. Cancellation of pre-registered courses, prohibition against readmission, or restriction from pre-registration.
    9. Denial or non-recognition of a degree.
    10. Loss of or ineligibility for a student grant or loan.
    11. Suspension: Separation from the university for a definite term during which the student shall not be permitted to earn university credit at Lamar University, be on university-owned property, participate in any university activity, or use any university service.
    12. Expulsion: Permanent separation from the university. A student who has been suspended or expelled from any Texas State University System institution shall be ineligible to enroll at any other system institution during the period of suspension or expulsion. The registrar of each institution is authorized to make an appropriate notation on the student's transcript to accomplish this objective and to remove the notation when the student's disciplinary record has been cleared. In addition to Lamar University, the Texas State University System includes Texas State University, Lamar State College - Port Arthur, Lamar State College - Orange, Lamar Institute of Technology, Sam Houston State University, Sul Ross State University, and Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College.
  2. Recording of Penalties: The penalties provided in Subsections 3.03.1.83.03.1.93.03.1.11, and 3.03.1.12 can be noted on the student's permanent transcript. Any record of penalty, except for expulsion, not noted on the transcript shall be expunged no later than five years after the penalty is assessed.
  3. Finality of Penalties: No penalty shall take effect until disciplinary action becomes final. Disciplinary action becomes final when:
    1. during administrative disposition:
      1. upon acceptance by the student of the designee's decision if the only sanction is a warning; or
      2. upon notification to the student of the decision of the designee and the expiration of the time in which to file a notice of appeal to the Vice President for Student Engagement.
    2. in the event of a hearing:
      1. the sanction assessed is a warning or probation; or
      2. upon notification to the student of the decision of the hearing panel and the expiration of the time in which to file a notice of appeal to the Vice President for Student Engagement.
    3. in the event of review by the Vice President for Student Engagement:
      1. upon notification to the student of the decision of the Vice President for Student Engagement.

3.04 Interim Disciplinary Action

  1. The President or Vice President for Student Engagement or their designee may take immediate interim disciplinary action, including suspension, pending a hearing, against a student for allegedly violating a university policy when the student's continuing presence constitutes:
    1. a danger to persons or property;
    2. or an ongoing threat of disrupting the academic process.
  2. The university official involved shall notify the student of the interim disciplinary action by the most expeditious means available. Thereafter, the Dean of Students or designee may offer the student an opportunity to have an administrative review or to immediately initiate the hearing procedures provided in this code. If the latter option is chosen, a hearing shall be held no later than 12 class days after the temporary disciplinary action was taken. In the event that the interim disciplinary action includes suspension, the university official involved shall, as soon as possible, notify the President of Lamar University and the Vice Chancellor and General Counsel of the Texas State University System of such action.

3.05 Hearings

  1. Hearing Panel: At the beginning of each fall semester, the Vice President for Student Engagement will appoint an at-large hearing panel composed of faculty, staff, and student members. Student members must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. The hearing panel shall be the Dean of Students, two student members, and a faculty and/or staff member, hereafter collectively referred to as the hearing panel. The panel shall be scheduled to serve based on availability and scheduling constraints. If two student members are not able or willing to hear a case, the Dean of Students or designee may appoint new members to the panel so that every case may be heard within a reasonable time period. During hearings, new appointments, whether appointed for one hearing or the remainder of the current academic year, shall have all the qualifications, authority and responsibilities of a panel member appointed at the beginning of the fall semester. The Dean of Students or designees will serve as the hearing officer and shall preside over the disciplinary hearing.
  2. Students' Rights: Each student who requests a hearing or who is given an interim disciplinary sanction shall be afforded:
    1. Notice: Written notification at least five class days before the hearing specifying:
      1. the university policy alleged to have been violated;
      2. a summary of the facts alleged to constitute the violation;
      3. the date, time, and location of the hearing;
      4. the names of expected witnesses;
      5. a description of other evidence that the designee will present at the hearing;
      6. notification if the designee intends to use legal counsel for other than advisory purposes as provided in Subsection 3.05.2.3; and
      7. a statement that the student must provide a list of witnesses and a summary of their expected testimony to the Dean of Students or designee at least 48 hours before the hearing.
    2. Hearing: This is an opportunity for the respondent and complainant to attend the hearing and present relevant evidence. If the respondent or complainant fails to attend, the hearing may proceed. The student may present his or her own response to the charges and may produce either oral information or written affidavits of witnesses on his or her behalf.
    3. Representative: This is an opportunity for the student to have an advisor or counsel present at meetings with the designee during hearings. The student will provide the representative at his or her expense. The university is not obligated to arrange for or provide a representative. In addition, the student may also have parents or a legal guardian present.
      1. To the extent that the designee uses legal counsel for other than advisory purposes during the hearing, the student shall be afforded the same opportunity. The designee will notify the student of the designee's intent to use legal counsel when providing the notification described in Subsection 3.05.2.1.
      2. The student's representative may not address the panel, question witnesses or the designee, or participate in the hearing except to offer advice and counsel to the student.
    4. Challenge to Impartiality: This is an opportunity for the student to challenge the impartiality of the hearing officer or a member of the hearing panel. This challenge must be made at any time before the introduction of information or other evidence. The person challenged will be the sole judge as to whether he or she can serve with fairness and objectivity. If the person challenged chooses not to serve and an alternate is not readily available, the designee may appoint a special replacement for that case.
  3. Notification of Evidence: At least 48 hours before the hearing, the designee will provide the student/respondent and complainant with the names of witnesses, summaries of information, documents, and other evidence to be presented at the hearing.
  4. Burden of Proof: The designee has the burden of going forward with the information on the violation by the preponderance of the evidence.
  5. Questioning Witnesses: The designee, the student/respondent, the hearing officer, and members of the hearing panel may question witnesses regarding relevant matters.
  6. Recording: The hearing, with the exception of the panel's deliberation, will be recorded. If the student/respondent, the complainant (if sexual misconduct), or the designee desires to appeal the panel's findings, a copy of the hearing recording and records presented at the hearing will be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Engagement. The student/respondent and/or complainant (if sexual misconduct) may request to listen to the recording prior to writing an appeal.
  7. Postponement: The designee may postpone a hearing for good cause. A request for postponement must be filed with the Dean of Students at least 24 hours before the hearing.
  8. Hearing Officer: The hearing officer will determine the procedure to be followed, rule on the admissibility of evidence, and control decorum in the hearing.
  9. Attendance: Upon the request of the student/respondent or the designee, or upon his or her own initiative, the hearing officer may issue a written request for a witness to appear and testify or to produce documents at a hearing. Requests shall be personally delivered, sent by certified mail, or sent from a TSUS email address to the witness' designated university email account or personal email account. Students who are requested to appear at hearings are expected to comply.
  10. Confidentiality: During the hearing, only the members of the hearing panel, the designee and his/her counsel, the student/respondent and his/her advisor, the complainant (if sexual misconduct) and his/her advisor, the student's parents or legal guardians, and the witness currently testifying will be allowed in the hearing room. After testifying, a witness may not remain in the hearing room. All persons present at the hearing shall treat matters discussed with confidence.
  11. Relevant Evidence: Legal rules of evidence shall not apply to hearings. Any relevant information shall be admitted if it is credible and is the sort that reasonable people would rely upon in the conduct of their affairs.
  12. Not Compelled to Testify: The respondent may not be compelled to speak against himself or herself.
  13. Procedural Rules:
    1. The hearing officer will invite all parties entitled to be present into the hearing room.
    2. The hearing officer will read a statement of confidentiality.
    3. The hearing officer will state the university policy alleged to have been violated.
    4. The designee will present evidence of the student's violation of the policy.
    5. The student may present his/her own defense against the charges.
    6. The hearing officer and/or hearing panel may question the witness(es).
    7. Both parties may present rebuttal evidence.
    8. Both parties may present brief summations.
    9. The hearing officer will dismiss both parties and the hearing panel will deliberate and determine, by a majority vote, whether the respondent has violated a university policy. Deliberations are not recorded. If the panel finds that the student/respondent did violate a university policy, it will assess the penalty. The hearing officer shall report in writing the panel's findings and the penalty, if any, to be assessed.
    10. The hearing officer will send the panel's report to the VPSE, with copies to the student and to the designee. If the student is found to have violated a university policy, and if a disciplinary penalty has been assessed, the hearing officer will inform the student of his/her right to appeal to the VPSE.

4.0 Appeals

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4.01 Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSE)

In cases in which the sanction assessed is a verbal or written warning or probation, the decision of the hearing officer or hearing panel is final. In cases in which the sanction assessed is beyond a warning or probation, either the student/respondent or complainant may appeal to the VPSE based on:
  1. whether or not a fair hearing was afforded. A fair hearing includes notice of the alleged misconduct, and an opportunity to present information.
  2. whether or not the sanctions levied were appropriate to the offense.
  3. whether or not the finding was supported by the information.
  4. whether or not new evidence is introduced that was not available at the time of the hearing.
An appeal is not a rehearing of the original case. The VPSE's review will focus on arguments addressing the basis, listed above, of the appeal.

4.02 Notice

Either party appealing to the VPSE must give written notice to the Dean of Students no later than five business days after the hearing officer or hearing panel's decision. All supporting documentation, when appropriate or requested, shall be filed with the VPSE no later than five business days after notice of appeal is given. Both parties, at the discretion of the VPSE, may submit oral or written statements to support their positions.

4.03 Action

Upon appeal, the VPSE will review the materials presented at the hearing and may require the parties to submit written material or oral statements. The VPSE shall respond to the appeal within ten business days after all the documentation is received and all testimony is reviewed. The VPSE may postpone a decision for good cause.
  1. If the student is required to appear in person before the VPSE, the student may have a representative present as provided in Subsection 3.05.2.3.
  2. The VPSE may approve, reject, or modify the decision of the hearing panel or may require that the committee reopen the hearing to hear additional evidence or to reconsider the decision.
  3. The VPSE will inform the student/respondent, complainant (if sexual misconduct), and the hearing officer of his/her decision in writing. The VPSE's decision is final except for the discretionary review described below. The Dean of Students will prepare the decision of the appeal by the VPSE and send to the student/respondent and complainant (if sexual misconduct).

4.04 Discretionary Review

The VPSE, the President, or the Board of Regents may, on their initiative, review any disciplinary case, and upon such review may approve, reject, or modify the lower decision, or may remand the decision to the hearing officer or hearing panel for presentation of additional evidence and reconsideration of the decision.