Campus Conduct vs. Criminal Justice Process

  • There are significant differences between the campus conduct and criminal justice procedures. The processes are NOT mutually exclusive. In other words, a student may be arrested and charged in the criminal justice system AND under the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Overall, the campus conduct process is less formal than criminal proceedings. The Dean of Students Office strives to provide an atmosphere that is both supportive and welcoming. However students will find that more serious charges tend to be accompanied by more formal processes, in an effort to protect the students' rights.
  • The decision making process in campus conduct processes is that of a hearing, not a trial. Students, and their advisors, should expect a supportive and non-adversarial environment during the hearing process.
  • The campus conduct process is intended to be educational, not punitive. Our goal is to help the student better understand the impact of his or her actions and to help him or her take steps towards repairing the harm done to the University community. Sanctions are not predetermined, but rather accommodating the individual circumstances of a given case.
  • Attendance at Mississippi State University is not a right, rather it is a privilege. As such, removal of a student from campus through a sanction of suspension or dismissal is a possibility in certain circumstances in which the student has endangered themselves, the university community, or engaged in repeated violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
  • Charges for alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct may or may not be violations of local, state or federal law.
  • Findings of responsible in the campus conduct process will not result in any criminal record. Additionally, findings of "guilty" or "not guilty" in the criminal system usually have no bearing on the outcome of campus judicial proceedings.
  • The standard of informaiton in determining a student in violation is not as high as that of the criminal process. At Mississippi State, we use a level of "preponderance of information", as opposed to "beyond a reasonable doubt".
  • Legal rules of evidence, i.e. whether something is "admissible", do not apply in campus conduct cases. The hearing officers will gather and utilize any information that is relevant to the case.
  • Campus conduct cases are confidential, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which is a federal law. Criminal records become public records and information may be shared with the community at large.
  • While students are entitled to an advisor, (friend, parent, any person of their choosing) that advisor may not represent that student. Students are expected to speak for themselves at all times during the process and any advisors disregarding these rules will be asked to leave any meeting or hearing.

*Parts adapted from the ASJA publication, THE STUDENT CONDUCT PROCESS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, copyright 2006.