This policy on student conduct has been adopted to comply with Education Law § 6450 for the maintenance of public order on college campuses.
Teachers College (TC or the College) expects students to observe traditional norms of scholarly discourse, academic integrity, and fairness. All students should engage in responsible social conduct and model good civil conduct and citizenship. Thus, activities that disrupt the regular and essential operations of the College or Columbia University are not permitted.
Members of the College community may charge students with violating these standards of conduct. Students found responsible for violating these standards may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action ranging from reprimand to disciplinary probation, suspension and/or expulsion from the College.
When students are accused of gender-based misconduct including but not limited to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy and Procedures for Students found at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/policylibrary/diversity-and-community-affairs/gender-based-misconduct-policy-for-students/ applies. All other academic and general misconduct involving students falls under this student conduct code.
Nothing in these standards of conduct shall replace professional codes of ethics applicable to students in various programs.
1. DEFINITIONS AND ORGANIZATION OF THE DISCIPLINARY SYSTEM
1.1 Student: For purposes of this Code, any person currently enrolled in a degree program as a matriculated student and any person currently enrolled in a non-degree program in a for-credit course (including an online course) at TC is a student.
Non-credit offerings may be instructional programs or stand-alone courses that do not require extensive assessment or examinations and do not offer academic credit. Non-credit programs are a series of non-credit courses that may lead to a culminating non-credit certificate of attendance. Non-credit courses are usually offered as a 1 or 2-day course, workshop, or conference. For purposes of this Code, any person currently participating in a non-credit program at TC is a student subject to all of the provisions of this Code. Any person currently participating in a non-credit course, as defined above, must abide by Sections 2. Academic Integrity and 3. General Misconduct, but is not entitled to a Student Conduct Committee Hearing. Instead, alleged Academic Integrity and General Misconduct by persons participating in non-credit courses will be reviewed by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, who will be responsible for determining the outcome.
1.1.1 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 that apply to all members of the community. All TC policies may be found in the Policy Library. Nothing in this Code shall prevent an investigation or discipline under other applicable College policies.
1.1.2 If an accused student is also enrolled at another institution, that student may be referred to that student’s primary institution at the discretion of TC.
1.2 Jurisdiction: This Code addresses misconduct committed by students including:
1.2.1 Any alleged violation that is committed by a student that adversely affects the safety and security of the College (or Columbia University), College (or Columbia University) property or an individual member of the College (or Columbia University) community;
1.2.2 Any alleged violation that is committed by a student that substantially disrupts the functions or operations of the College (or Columbia University).
1.3 The Vice Provost for Student Affairs has the overall responsibility for overseeing proceedings and all matters related to the enforcement of this Code but may identify a designee to carry out any of these responsibilities.
1.3.1 The duties of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs include: determining whether to resolve complaints by voluntary agreements, determining whether complaints warrant referral to the Student Conduct Committee (SCC), bringing charges of violations to the SCC for 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. In cases of admission fraud, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs will work with Enrollment Services and other offices as necessary to discipline those who violated the College’s admission certification of accuracy statement.
1.3.2 Interim Measures: In cases where the Vice Provost for Student Affairs determines that a student’s presence on campus endangers the health, safety and/or well-being of self or any person, or of the College property, or disrupts the normal operations of the College, including classes or events, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs has the authority to take immediate interim measures before the start of any formal or informal discipline process. Interim measures may include, but are not limited to, restricting a student from contacting another person or persons; restricting a student from accessing the residence halls or other buildings on campus; or suspending a student from participation in classes or events and/or organizations within the campus community.
1.3.3 Investigations: In cases in which the Vice Provost for Student Affairs determines it necessary, a pre-hearing investigation may be undertaken in order that appropriate evidence is obtained and witnesses are identified that may be presented at a Hearing. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will initiate an investigation for all serious or repeated Code violations including but not limited to any allegations involving actual or threatened injury to College Community members or visitors and allegations of theft or fraud covered under this Code . In the event that the investigation concludes that the allegations are unfounded, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs may decide not to proceed. Neither an investigation nor a hearing is required in the event of a criminal conviction related to alleged Code violations. The College may rely on such conviction as a finding of responsibility and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs may apply an appropriate sanction without a Hearing.
1.4 Student Conduct Committee (SCC): The SCC is responsible for conducting hearings related to alleged violations of this Code.
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 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 Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
1.5 Complainant and Respondent. Any member of the TC or Columbia University community who alleges an academic or general misconduct violation is called a complainant. Students accused of academic or general misconduct violations under this Code are called respondents.
1.6 Advisors: Advisors can assist students involved in disciplinary proceedings to understand the disciplinary process, respect and comply with the provisions of this Code, and manage all aspects of the process.
1.6.1 An advisor may accompany any complainant or respondent to a meeting regarding a disciplinary complaint. Advisors also may accompany complainants or respondents at hearings, and in both cases, may quietly advise but may not participate in such meetings or hearings.
1.6.2 An advisor must be either a TC faculty member, staff member or student and must be in good academic and disciplinary standing.
1.6.3 Generally, the 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.
1.7 Any member of the TC or Columbia University community may bring a complaint about student conduct to the attention of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. Doing so in no way limits the complainant’s rights or obligations to bring such matters to the attention of College offices, officers, or resources, including the Office of the Ombuds or to seek recourse outside TC through civil or criminal legal proceedings.
1.8 All time periods and deadlines referred to in this Code are intended as guidelines and may be, at the discretion of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, extended for a reasonable period of time as circumstances warrant, with due consideration of fairness and equity.
2. ACADEMIC INTEGRITY
2.1 TC is an academic community whose 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 failure to adhere to the College’s principles 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, misrepresent academic records or other violations noted below are subject to discipline under this Code. Those who engage in academic misconduct 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 academic integrity declared in this Code.
2.2.1 If a student is unsure whether actions might constitute academic misconduct, the student has the responsibility to consult with the instructor in advance about any ambiguities.
2.3 Academic misconduct includes but is 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 and 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 the student’s instructor;
2.3.5 Misrepresentation of academic records or attempting to tamper with transcripts of any portion of a student’s academic record;
2.3.6 Facilitating academic dishonesty by knowingly helping another student to engage in academic misconduct;
2.3.7 Unfair advantage through attempting to gain unauthorized access to examination or other course-related materials or obstructing another student’s efforts.
3. GENERAL MISCONDUCT
3.1 Violations of general misconduct include but are not limited to:
3.1.1 Obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, TC procedures and activities, or other authorized activities;
3.1.2 Physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct that may endanger the health and/or safety of others. This includes threats of violence against another person and physical or verbal intimidation that unreasonably impairs the security or privacy of another person;
3.1.3 Discrimination and harassment. Prohibited discrimination is adverse treatment of any student on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship status, veteran status, disability, pregnancy, gender expression or any other criterion specified by federal, state, or local laws. Prohibited discrimination is subjecting an individual to humiliating, abusive, or threatening conduct, whether verbal or physical, that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work, educational or living environment; alters the conditions of employment, education, or residential life; or unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or educational performance or living environment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship status, veteran status, disability, pregnancy, gender expression or any other criterion specified by federal, state or local laws.
Please see the TC Policy on Protection from Harassment;
3.1.4 Unauthorized entry or use of TC facilities or unauthorized possession or use of TC property assigned to others;
3.1.5 Disorderly conduct or highly offensive conduct or expression;
3.1.6 Forgery, alteration or misuse of TC documents, records or identification, furnishing false information to TC or Columbia University or use of any false identification or identification belonging to another person;
3.1.7 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/or with the intent to commit fraud or other crimes;
3.1.8 Theft or other abuse of computer facilities and resources including but not limited to: any violation of TC or Columbia University Computer Use Policy, using computing facilities and resources to send offensive or abusive messages or other unauthorized use of computing facilities and resources;
3.1.9 Violations of copyright law by unlawful copying, distributing, sharing or storing copyright-protected information or material, including but not limited to music, film and internet video;
3.1.10 The unlawful manufacture, possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs, unlawful drug paraphernalia, and alcohol. Please see the TC Drug-Free Campus Policy;
3.1.11 Failure to comply with authorized directions of or furnishing false information to TC or Columbia University officials or representatives of the SCC acting in performance of their duties;
3.1.12 Failure to engage in responsible social conduct and to model good civil conduct and citizenship;
3.1.13 Violations of any other TC or Columbia University policy, rule or regulation, or of federal, state, or local law that reflect upon or are related to the Student’s activities or status as a TC student.
4. INFORMAL PROCEDURES
4.1 When an issue arises involving the academic or general misconduct of a student, the Code provides informal avenues by which the complaint may be resolved.
4.2 Personal Resolution:
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 and the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. The instructor shall also provide the student with the opportunity to meet with the instructor to discuss the nature and validity of the allegations and the possible institutional responses. After a discussion with the student, the instructor will decide whether the alleged violation was intentional or unintentional. The instructor will then propose a resolution to the student and discuss possible sanctions with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, as appropriate. If a resolution is agreed to that involves the imposition of sanctions, these will be issued by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
4.2.2 General Misconduct: A complainant may wish to communicate directly with the person against whom the complaint is being made in order to address the issues involved. However, a complainant may bypass personal resolution if the complainant would feel uncomfortable or unsafe doing so. In particular, individuals who believe that they were threatened or who was injured by a student are encouraged to speak with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs or visit the TC Ombuds to seek assistance before pursuing personal resolution. Such an individual may wish to pursue other options such as a facilitated conversation, mediation or to file a request for a formal resolution.
4.3 Facilitated Conversation:
4.3.1 TC encourages a facilitated conversation whenever practical and appropriate. A facilitated conversation may take place only if the complainant and respondent both agree to participate. A matter is resolved through a facilitated conversation only if all parties agree on the resolution.
4.3.2 Academic Integrity: If, after following the procedure for personal resolution above, a resolution is not reached, the instructor and student may approach the Program Director (or Department Chair if the instructor is the Program Director) following their discussion and decide to move forward with a facilitated conversation. The Program Director or Department Chair may then facilitate a conversation between the instructor and the student to discuss the allegations and a possible resolution of the matter. If as part of the facilitated conversation, a resolution is agreed to that involves the imposition of sanctions, these will be issued by the Program Director or Department Chair and should be communicated in writing to the student.
4.3.3 General Misconduct: In situations involving alleged general misconduct, any involved party may contact the Vice Provost for Student Affairs with a request for a facilitated conversation. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs may then facilitate a conversation between the parties to discuss the allegations and a possible resolution of the matter. If as part of the facilitated conversation, a resolution is agreed to that involves the imposition of sanctions, these will be issued by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
4.3.4 Ombuds Office Mediation: The parties may ask the TC Ombuds to mediate a dispute. The mediation must be agreed to by both parties. The TC Ombuds is independent from the College’s administration and determines the procedures under which the mediation will take place.
5. FORMAL PROCEDURES
5.1 If attempts at personal resolution, facilitated conversation or mediation fail or are inapplicable due to the nature of the alleged violation, and if any party involved wishes file a formal complaint, that complainant shall notify the Vice Provost for Student Affairs in writing. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will then convene a Hearing Panel from the members of the SCC. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will provide notice of the hearing and a statement of the allegations to the complainant and the respondent within 10 calendar days of receipt in writing of the complaint by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. A primary hearing date will be scheduled along with a follow-up date, about seven days later. This follow-up date is to be used, should it be necessary, for the Hearing Panel to review additional evidence or witnesses if additional evidence or witnesses are requested by the Hearing Panel.
5.2 The statement of the allegations will identify the reasons for calling the hearing with sufficient particularity and rationale to ensure the parties have an opportunity to prepare for the hearing. The statement of the allegations also will contain the names of the proposed hearing panelists. Either party should notify the Vice Provost for Student Affairs of any hearing panelist that is known to them and/or who could present a conflict in the case. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs will review the potential conflict and decide whether or not the hearing panelist should be replaced. No member of the Hearing Panel who is otherwise interested in the particular case shall sit on the Hearing Panel for that case.
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.
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, in consultation with the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, is responsible for ensuring that the hearing process occurs in a timely fashion.
5.5 All members of the TC community are required to cooperate with these formal procedures. Individuals who are interviewed or called as witnesses (including complainants and respondents) are obligated to provide honest and complete statements during the process.
5.6 Disciplinary hearings are not trials or legal in nature, and they are not governed by rules of legal procedure, evidence, or judicial formality. They are designed to encourage open discussion among the participants to promote the Hearing Panel’s understanding of the facts, the individuals involved, and the circumstances under which the alleged incident occurred, the nature of the conduct, and the attitudes and experiences 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 relying upon in the conduct of serious affairs.
5.7 These procedures and standards apply to all hearings:
5.7.1 The complainant and respondent in the process may be accompanied by advisors as described in the section on advisors above.
5.7.2 At least three (3) business days prior to the hearing, or as otherwise instructed by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, the parties shall submit to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs all documents to be submitted as evidence and the names and anticipated areas of testimony of any witnesses.
5.7.3 Witnesses and Additional Documentation: The Hearing Panel has the discretion to determine which witnesses if any, they wish to interview during the hearing and may request additional documentation or witnesses when the Hearing Panel determines it is necessary for their decision.
5.7.4 Both the complainant and the respondent may make opening and closing remarks of not more than five minutes each.
5.7.5 The Hearing Panel’s findings are based on the statements of the complainant, respondent, and/or witnesses and any evidence submitted.
5.7.6 The Hearing Panel will determine a violation of the Code by a preponderance of the evidence.
5.7.7 All documents presented to the SCC Hearing Panel shall become the official property of TC.
5.7.8 If either the complainant or the respondent fails to appear at the hearing, proceedings will continue. Evidence may be presented and considered even if a party is absent
5.7.9 After the hearing concludes the SCC Hearing Panel shall deliberate in private.
5.7.10 All findings of the Hearing Panel require a majority vote. At the conclusion of the deliberations, the SCC Hearing Panel shall deliver a brief written statement of their findings and any recommended sanctions to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs.
5.7.11 The Vice Provost for Student Affairs shall communicate to the respondent the Hearing Panel’s decision and any sanctions imposed. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs shall also inform the complainant of the decision. These communications shall be in writing.
5.8 Appeals. Both parties have the right to appeal. The appeal must be submitted to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs within seven (7) business days following written notification of the decision from the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. Grounds for appeal include (1) Substantive procedural error, (2) the adequacy or severity of the recommended sanction or, (3) additional evidence or information, if it is not possible to reconvene the Hearing Panel. Appeals must be in writing, must state the ground for appeal, and must provide evidence to support the appeal.
5.8.1 The Provost of the College, or their designee, acts as the appellate officer and shall be provided with all information regarding the case. After review, the designated appellate officer may (1) render a decision, or (2) remand the case back to a Hearing Panel for additional consideration. The designated appellate officer will notify both parties in writing of the appeal decision.
5.8.2 If the Provost is the complainant, a witness, or has any other significant conflict of interest with respect to the case, the appellate officer function shall be discharged by an unconflicted faculty member.
5.8.3 Subject to the special provision for emergency or other extraordinary situations, there shall be no change in the status of the respondent until the appeals process is complete.
5.9 In an emergency or other extraordinary situation, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs shall take such interim disciplinary action as is necessary to appropriately manage an incident pending a hearing by the SCC or a decision on appeal.
6. DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS
6.1 Disciplinary sanctions may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
6.1.1 Reprimand: a verbal admonition and an official written warning, course or grade failure;
6.1.2 Restitution: repair or replacement of property when loss or damage is part of the offense;
6.1.3 Training: formal or informal training, coaching or instruction relevant to the violation;
6.1.4 Restriction: loss of privileges that are consistent with the offense and the rehabilitation of the student, except that in cases involving assault, personal injury or other disruptive or threatening behavior, the College retains the independent right to limit campus access or to restrict a student’s activities to those that are essential to a student’s academic progress;
6.1.5 Disciplinary Probation: the student is no longer in good disciplinary standing for a specified period of time;
6.1.6 Suspension: dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls for a specified time. Suspension, pending a hearing, maybe imposed when there is reason to believe the action is necessary to maintain TC operations and/or to protect the safety of individuals;
6.1.7 Expulsion: permanent dismissal from TC and/or its residence halls;
6.1.8 Revocation: withholding or repealing admission, course credit or a degree award;
7. COUNSELING, EVALUATION, AND TREATMENT
7.1 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 a condition of readmission to TC or a condition of continued enrollment.
8. DISCIPLINARY RECORDS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
8.1. Records of disciplinary proceedings are maintained by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. No record of the disciplinary proceedings shall be entered in the student's official College file until a final decision, and if appropriate disciplinary sanctions are rendered and any appeals are concluded. Disciplinary records shall be maintained as specified in TC's Document Retention Policy.
8.2. All disciplinary proceedings, the identity of individuals involved in particular disciplinary matters, and all disciplinary files, testimony, and findings shall be kept confidential to the extent possible.
9. STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS
9.1. There are several recognized and approved student organizations at TC in any academic year. To assume a student leadership role in any student organization, a student, as defined above, must be enrolled in a degree program and must be in good academic and conduct standing.
9.2. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs has the authority to restrict any student from membership in a student organization for academic or general misconduct.
9.3. Student organizations are collectively responsible for any action committed by members on behalf of the organization that violates TC policy. Disciplinary action against student organizations is separate from actions taken against individuals. An incident may necessitate action against both a student organization and the individual members of that organization who were found to have violated TC policy. Disciplinary sanctions against a student organization may include but are not limited to, the dissolution of the student organization.
Responsible Office: Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Effective Date: July 23, 2020
Last Updated: March 2022