Student Misconduct Policy

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Teachers College, Columbia University
Printer-friendly Version
Teachers College, Columbia University Logo
Diversity

The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs

Civility Policies

Student Conduct Code: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct

Conduct Standard Defined/Statement of Public Order

Teachers College (TC or the College) expects members of the College community to observe traditional norms of scholarly discourse, academic integrity, and fairness. All members of the College community are expected to exhibit the high level of personal integrity which society must demand of professionals.

Teachers College insists on the greatest degree of freedom of inquiry, teaching, learning, and expression for all of its members. Thus activities which disrupt the regular and essential operation of the College or Columbia University are not permitted.  For matters of gender-based misconduct involving students (listed below under General Misconduct 3.2.4) including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students found at http://sexualrespect.columbia.edu is the Student Conduct Code. 

Students or other members of the College community may charge students with violating these standards. Students found guilty of violating these standards of conduct may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, ranging from reprimand to disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion.

1. Definitions and Organization of the Disciplinary System

1.1 Student: For purposes of this policy, any person enrolled in a degree program or as a non-degree student at Teachers College is a student. All persons taking courses or participating in activities at TC as students fall under the jurisdiction of the Student Conduct Code. Any alleged infraction that was committed by an individual while that person was a student or on the TC campus may be addressed under this policy. If an accused student is enrolled at another institution, that student may also be referred to his or her primary institution at the discretion of TC. Students accused of misconduct under this Code may be called “respondents.”

1.2 Jurisdiction: This document addresses misconduct committed by students. Students who also serve as TC employees may be subject to separate disciplinary proceedings by virtue of their employment status. TC has other policies that relate to staff and faculty as well as policies (such as the Policy on Protection from Harassment) that apply to all members in this community. Nothing in this Code shall prevent an investigation or discipline under other applicable College policies. 
Accusations of gender-based misconduct subject to the Columbia University Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students will be addressed under that policy rather than this Student Conduct Code.

1.3 Office of the Vice Provost: The Office of the Vice Provost has overall responsibility for overseeing proceedings and all matters related to the enforcement of the College’s Academic Integrity or General Misconduct policies. These responsibilities are carried out by the Vice Provost or designee.

1.3.1 The duties of the Office of the Vice Provost include determining whether complaints warrant referral to the SCC, resolving complaints by voluntary agreements, bringing charges of violations to the SCC for a disciplinary hearing, monitoring and enforcing the fulfillment of sanctions imposed, maintaining records of all disciplinary matters, providing administrative support for all aspects of the disciplinary process (including hearings), preparing reports, and compiling statistics.

1.4 Student Conduct Committee (SCC): The SCC is responsible for hearings related to alleged violations of TC policies by students.

1.4.1 The jurisdiction of the SCC extends to both areas of the TC disciplinary system: Academic Integrity and General Misconduct.

1.4.2 The SCC shall be comprised of three students, three professional staff members, and three faculty members. Its members shall serve staggered three-year terms to ensure continuity as members of the SCC rotate on and off the committee.

1.4.3 SCC hearings are conducted by a three-member panel of the SCC convened by the Office of the Vice Provost.

1.5 Advisors: Advisors can help students involved in disciplinary proceedings to understand the disciplinary process, respect and comply with the provisions of this policy, and deal with all aspects of the process.

1.5.1 An advisor may accompany any complainant, witness, or respondent to, and may participate in any meeting regarding a disciplinary complaint. Advisors also may accompany complainants, respondents, and witnesses to hearings, but may not participate in such hearings. An advisor to a respondent may quietly advise the respondent during the hearing and may also make a brief statement at the conclusion of the hearing.

1.5.2 An advisor must be a TC faculty member, staff member, or student in good academic and disciplinary standing. An attorney may also serve as an advisor but only under the following conditions: (a) the attorney may not speak at or otherwise participate in the hearing but is limited to quietly advising the respondent, (b) the respondent must advise the Office of the Vice Provost in writing, no less than 5 calendar days before the hearing if an attorney will serve as the respondent’s advisor, and (c) the General Counsel or a designee will be present at the hearing to advise the SCC regarding procedural matters. If the respondent or attorney fails to comply with these restrictions, the attorney will not be permitted to attend the hearing.

1.5.3 Generally, a student must select an advisor whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled hearing dates and times. Delays will not be allowed due to advisor scheduling conflicts.


2. Academic Integrity

2.1 Professional and Ethical Standards: TC is an academic community whose most fundamental purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. High principles of academic integrity are essential to the functioning and continued growth of this community. Students, as well as faculty, are responsible for adhering to these principles, and TC will not tolerate any abuse of academic integrity. Students who intentionally or recklessly submit work either not their own or without clear attribution to the original source, fabricate data or other information, engage in cheating, or misrepresentation of academic records may be subject to charges. Those who violate academic and professional ethics should expect sanctions up to and including dismissal from TC.

2.2 Responsibilities of Community Members: Every member of the TC academic community is responsible for upholding the standards of professionalism and ethics declared in this policy.

2.2.1 If a student is unsure whether actions might constitute a violation of academic integrity, he or she has the responsibility to consult with the instructor in advance about any ambiguities.

2.3 Violations of academic integrity include but are not limited to:

2.3.1 Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized assistance, material, or study aids in examinations or other academic work;

2.3.2 Plagiarism: using the ideas, data, or language of another without specific or proper acknowledgement;

2.3.3 Fabrication: submitting contrived or altered information in any academic exercise, such as making up data, citing nonexistent articles, contriving events and sources of information;

2.3.4 Duplicate submissions: submitting any work submitted to fulfill another assignment without appropriate revision to meet the instructional goals of the current course. In cases of uncertainty or ambiguity, a student should check with his/her instructor;

2.3.5 Misrepresentation of academic records, or attempting to tamper with transcripts or any portion of a student’s academic record;

2.3.6 Facilitating academic dishonesty by knowingly helping another student to violate academic integrity;

2.3.7 Unfair advantage through attempting to gain unauthorized access to examination materials, or obstructing another student’s efforts;

3. General Misconduct

3.1 Any member of the TC or Columbia University community may bring a complaint about student conduct to the attention of the Vice Provost. Doing so in no way limits the complainant’s rights or obligations to bring such matters to the attention of other College offices, officers, or resources, including the Office of the Ombudsman, or to seek recourse outside TC through civil or criminal legal proceedings.

3.2 Violations of general misconduct include but are not limited to:

3.2.1 Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, TC procedures and activities, or other authorized activities on TC premises, including public service functions on or off the premises.

3.2.2 Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, stalking, harassment, coercion or other conduct that may endanger the health or safety of members of the TC community. This includes threats of violence against another person, stalking, and physical or verbal intimidation that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another person. See also the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students, http://sexualrespect.columbia.edu/

3.2.3 Discriminatory harassment including sexual harassment/gender-based misconduct. Please see the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment,www.tc.edu/policylibrary/Protection_from_Harassment, and the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students, http://sexualrespect.columbia.edu/

3.2.4  Gender-based misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Please see the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment,www.tc.edu/policylibrary/Protection_from_Harassment, and the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students, http://sexualrespect.columbia.edu.

3.2.5 Unauthorized entry or use of TC facilities or unauthorized possession or use of TC property or property of others.

3.2.6 Disorderly conduct or obscene conduct or expression.

3.2.7 Forgery, alteration, or misuse of TC documents, records, or identification, furnishing false information to TC, or possession of any false identification or identification belonging to another person.

3.2.8 Identity theft: Possessing or using another person’s name, address, Social Security number (SSN), bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information without that person’s knowledge, and with the intent to commit fraud or other crimes.

3.2.9 Theft or other abuse of computer facilities and resources including but not limited to: any violation of College or Columbia University computer use policy, using computing facilities and resources to send obscene or abusive messages, or other unauthorized use of computing facilities and resources.

3.2.10 Violations of copyright law by unlawful copying, distributing, sharing, or storing copyright-protected information or material, including but not limited to music, film, and video on the Internet.

3.2.11 The unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs, unlawful drug paraphernalia, and alcohol, including public intoxication.

3.2.12 Failure to comply with authorized directions of, or furnishing false information to, TC officials or representatives of the SCC acting in performance of their duties.

3.2.13 Failure to engage in responsible social conduct that reflects credit upon TC and to model good civil conduct and citizenship.

3.2.14 Violations of any other TC policy, rule or regulation, or of federal, state or local law.

4. Informal Procedures

4.1 When an issue arises involving the academic integrity or general misconduct of a student, the Student Conduct Code provides informal avenues by which the complaint may be resolved:

4.2 Personal Resolution: It is recommended that a complainant begin by addressing the person against whom the complaint is being made.

4.2.1 Academic Integrity: A faculty member or other instructor who believes that a student has engaged in academic misconduct will apprise the student of the suspected academic misconduct and refer the student to the Student Conduct Code. The instructor shall also provide the student with the opportunity to meet with him or her to discuss the nature and validity of the charges and the possible institutional responses to the charges. If, in discussion with the student, the instructor decides that the violation was unintentional, the instructor and student may agree upon appropriate sanctions.

4.2.2 General Misconduct: In cases of alleged general misconduct, parties are encouraged to pursue personal resolution where appropriate, but a complainant may bypass this or any step if she or he would feel uncomfortable or unsafe taking it. In particular, individuals who believe that they have been threatened or injured are encouraged to seek assistance before pursuing personal resolution. Such an individual may wish to pursue mediation, file a request for a formal resolution, speak with the Vice Provost or visit the Ombuds.

4.3 Mediation:

4.3.1 TC encourages mediation whenever practical and appropriate. Mediation may take place only if the complainant and respondent agree to participate; a matter is resolved through mediation only if all parties agree on a resolution.

4.3.2 Academic Integrity: If, after following the procedure above, a resolution is not reached, the instructor and student may approach the program coordinator (or department chair if the instructor is the program coordinator) following their discussion and decision to move forward with mediation. The program coordinator or department chair may then convene a meeting to discuss possible resolution of the matter. If sanctions are imposed and agreed upon, these should be communicated in writing to the student by the program coordinator or department chair.

4.3.3 General Misconduct: In situations involving alleged general misconduct, any involved party may contact the Office of the Vice Provost with a request for mediation. A representative of the Office of the Vice Provost may then convene a meeting to discuss possible resolution of the matter. If, as part of the mediation, a resolution is agreed to that involved the imposition of sanctions, these will be handled by the Vice Provost.

4.3.4 The parties may, if they agree, ask the Ombuds to mediate a dispute. The Ombuds is independent from the College’s administration and determines the procedures under which he will mediate matters.

5. Formal Procedures

5.1 If attempts at personal resolution or mediation fails or any member of the community wishes to bypass informal procedures and file a formal complaint, the complainant shall notify the Vice Provost in writing. At the Vice Provost’s direction, the Director of Student Affairs will then convene a Hearing Panel from the members of the SCC. The Vice Provost will deliver a statement of the charges being brought, and the Student Conduct Code to the charged student.

5.2 The statement of the charges being brought will identify the reasons for the proposed disciplinary actions with sufficient particularity to insure an opportunity to prepare for the hearing. At least 7 calendar days notice of the hearing will be given to the charged student and to the complainant.

5.3 A hearing may be expedited in appropriate circumstances, including disciplinary matters involving students who have been placed on mandatory temporary suspension or conditional attendance, graduating students, or students who are about to take a leave of absence or to leave campus to study elsewhere. Students who withdraw from TC remain subject to this Code and a hearing.

5.4 The SCC Hearing Panel will be comprised of one student, one professional staff member, and one faculty member, one of whom will serve as chair. The chair is, in consultation with the Vice Provost, responsible for ensuring that the process occurs in a timely fashion. No member of the Hearing Panel who is otherwise interested in the particular case shall sit on the Hearing Panel for that case.

5.5 All members of the TC community are required to cooperate with these policies and procedures. Individuals who are interviewed or called as witnesses (including respondents and complainants) are obligated to provide honest and complete statements during the process.

5.6 Disciplinary hearings are not trials, and they are not governed by rules of procedure, evidence, or judicial formality. They are designed to encourage open discussion among the participants that promotes the Hearing Panel’s understanding of the facts, the individuals involved, the circumstances under which the alleged incident occurred, the nature of the conduct, and the attitudes and experience of those involved. Information, including hearsay evidence, may be considered if it is relevant, not unduly repetitious, and the sort of information on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely upon in the conduct of serious affairs.

5.7 These procedures and standards apply to all hearings:

5.7.1 Participants in the process may be accompanied by advisors as described in the section on advisors above.

5.7.2 No less than three business days prior to the hearing, the parties shall submit to the Vice Provost or designee all documents that they anticipate submitting as evidence and the names and anticipated areas of testimony of any witnesses. The Vice Provost or designee shall provide the materials submitted by each party to the other(s). The Hearing Panel may exclude any evidence that is not submitted in accordance with this provision, but may consider such evidence if the party offering it demonstrates a good reason for failing to provide it in advance of the hearing.

5.7.3 The attendance of the witnesses at the hearing is generally the responsibility of the complainant or respondent. The panel may also call witnesses.

5.7.4 The complainant and the respondent may each make a brief opening statement and a brief closing statement.

5.7.5 All matters upon which the decision may be based must be introduced into evidence at the proceeding. The decision shall be based solely upon such evidence.

5.7.6 The burden of proof rests upon the person bringing the charge. The Hearing Panel will presume a respondent innocent unless proven responsible for a violation by a preponderance of the evidence.

5.7.7 There shall be a single official record, such as a tape recording or transcribed notes, of all hearings. SCC deliberations shall not be recorded. The record shall be the property of TC.

5.7.8 If the accused fails to appear at the hearing, proceedings will continue. Evidence may be presented and considered even if the accused is absent.

5.7.9 After the hearing concludes, the SCC Hearing Panel shall deliberate in private. Upon reaching decisions on the charges and any recommended sanctions, the Hearing Panel will promptly advise the respondent of its decision. The SCC Hearing Panel will then promptly deliver a brief written decision and any recommended sanctions to the Vice Provost.

5.7.10 All decisions of the Hearing Panel require a majority vote.

5.7.11 The Vice Provost will communicate in writing a decision and any sanctions to be
imposed to the respondent.

5.8 A student who wishes to appeal a decision must submit a written appeal, including any evidence supporting the appeal, to the President within 14 calendar days following written notification of the decision from the Vice Provost. The Office of the President will be given access to any evidence submitted at the hearing. After review, the Office of the President will notify the student in writing of its decision, which will be final. The decision on appeal is the final decision of TC.

5.8.1 If the President brought the action against the student, his/her function with respect to that appeal shall be discharged by a full professor who will be selected by lot from professors of that category.
Subject to the special provision for emergency or other extraordinary situations, there shall be no change in the status of the accused until the appeals process is complete.

5.8.2 In an emergency or other extraordinary situation, the President or Provost may take such interim disciplinary action as is necessary to deal appropriately with the situation pending a hearing by the SCC or a decision on appeal, which shall take place as soon as practicable.

6. Disciplinary Sanctions. Disciplinary sanctions may include but are not limited to one or more of the following:

6.1 Reprimand: an admonition and an official written warning, course or grade failure.

6.2 Restitution: repair or replacement of property when loss or damage is part of the offense.

6.3 Restriction: loss of privileges that are consistent with the offense and the rehabilitation of the student.

6.4 Disciplinary probation: placing a student in a probationary status that takes away the privilege of holding office and may also include social restrictions.

6.5 Suspension: dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls for a specified time. Suspension, pending a hearing, may be imposed when there is reason to believe the action is necessary to maintain TC functions or to protect the safety of individuals.

6.6 Expulsion: permanent dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls.

6.7 Revocation: withholding or repealing admission, course credit or a degree award based on fraud or misrepresentation.

6.8 Counseling, evaluation, and treatment programs: in some cases of misconduct, such as those committed under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, participation in an evaluation and/or treatment program by an approved counseling service may be required as a part of a sanction. Such treatment may also be a condition of readmission to TC or a condition for remaining at TC.

7. Disciplinary Records and Confidentiality

7.1 Records of disciplinary proceedings are maintained by the Office of the Vice Provost. No record of the disciplinary proceedings will be entered in the student’s official College file until a final disciplinary sanction is rendered and any appeals are concluded.

7.2 All disciplinary proceedings, the identity of individuals involved in particular disciplinary matters, and all disciplinary files, testimony, and findings are kept confidential to the extent possible.

Columbia University Rules of Conduct  http://www.tc.columbia.edu/policylibrary/Columbia University Rules of Conduct

Columbia University has separate Rules of University Conduct which apply to all those who visit its campus or use its facilities. Violations of these Rules can lead to sanctions including the eradication of permission to visit the Columbia campus or use of its facilities and suspension or dismissal from Columbia courses in which a Teachers College student may be enrolled.

For more information please visit http://www.essential-policies.columbia.edu/university-regulations



Responsible office: Vice Provost 
Last updated: March 2016