The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities works to create educational processes to support the mission of student development. There are several different processes the SRR office coordinates. These processes are intended to provide that all students (whether making a complaint or responding to it) are treated in a manner that is fundamentally fair in accordance with the procedures developed by the university.
Rights For Students
Both the complaining student (“Complainant”) and responding student (“Respondent”) are entitled to the following:
Written notice of the date, time, and place for the meeting and a written copy of the Incident Report being reviewed will be given to the student. This notice may be sent to the student’s PLU email account at least 24 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, prior to the scheduled meeting. The student(s) may agree to shorter notice (See Special Provisions section for exceptions to this Notice provision). Students whose names appear on an Incident Report (Complainants, Respondents, and Witnesses) are required to attend the Review Meeting as deemed necessary by the SRR Office unless prior arrangements have been made with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at least 24 hours before the meeting. The SRR office determines the appropriateness of the request and whether to reschedule the meeting. Conflicts with class schedules are considered when scheduling Review Meetings; however, there may be circumstances that require students to miss a class in order to attend a meeting. Students who fail to attend a meeting without approval may be found responsible for Disrupting University Community violation, in addition to any other conduct violations for which the student was charged, in the student’s absence. Sanctions may also be given in the student’s absence.
PLU reserves the right to impose interim sanctions prior to the Review Meeting if in PLU’s sole discretion they are warranted for the safety and well-being of the university community (See Special Provisions). Risk assessment will be determined by the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association (NaBITA) threat rubric.
Students must submit all written information and supplemental documentation they want considered by the Review Officer(s) prior to the start of the Review Meeting, except written material offered in strict rebuttal of the information offered during the Review Meeting. This material may be received and considered, at the sole discretion of the Review Officers, and when consideration is necessary to maintain fairness. Each student will have the opportunity to review each document before the meeting if that is reasonably possible under the circumstances, as determined by the SRR Office in its sole discretion and subject to disclosure restrictions imposed by law, and if not, then at the time of the meeting. A student may request a copy of each document from the SRR Office. Requests will be considered in light of FERPA requirements.
Students are entitled to an orderly meeting to review and discuss the Incident Report submitted. In special circumstances as determined by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities in its sole discretion, meetings may be conducted via phone conference or other electronic means.
Witnesses with firsthand and relevant information about the incident may be asked to participate in the Review Meeting. Please see Review Meetings – Witnesses for additional information on witnesses.
Students may present their own accounts as to what happened regarding the incident in question. In circumstances where safety may be a concern, as determined by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities in its sole discretion, any student, regardless of their role in the Review Meeting, may be required to attend via phone conference or other electronic means.
The Complainant and the Respondent in an incident that includes Sexual Misconduct or Physical Assault will be assigned a support person to provide guidance through the Review Meeting process. Students may select one support person per conduct process and this support person must be a member of the PLU community, may not be a family member, and may not be a lawyer. A support person who accompanies a student is present for emotional support only and may not speak on the student’s behalf. The student and the support person may confer at reasonable times as determined in the sole discretion of the Review Officer(s). A student involved in another type of incident may have a support person (same characteristics as noted above) upon the approval of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. A request should be made via email to the SRR Office at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled Review Meeting. If the request is approved, all students involved in the Review Meeting will be afforded the same opportunity to have a support person present.
Review Officers are trained to be impartial and objective. Review Officers are able to dismiss themselves from the case if they have prior knowledge of the student, the incident, or do not feel they can adequately hear the case. See Review Officers for additional information on the disqualification of Review Officers.
Both the Complainant and the Respondent and any witnesses as applicable have a right to fair and private review meetings and the ability to have a positive academic learning environment free from retaliation or harassment, regardless of a student’s involvement in the incident. If retaliation or perceived retaliation occurs, the student must contact SRR immediately. Retaliation may be grounds for further conduct violations and/or interim measures.
This document will include a summary of facts, decision(s) of responsibility for alleged violations, and sanction information, if applicable.
See Appeals for more information on the Appeal Process.
Types of Student Rights and Responsibilities Processes
Student Rights and Responsibilities oversees the student conduct process; there are other processes and types of meetings that the SRR Office coordinates as a way to support students in their development. The different types of processes are described below:
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities coordinates conversations that assist students in advocating for themselves, help students understand the impact of their actions, and work to impact their communities in a positive way. Educational Conversations are not a part of a student’s disciplinary record and instead are used to partner with students for student success.
Pre-Conduct meetings are described as incidents in which a student’s behavior has not reached the level of a Student Conduct process, but the behaviors still need to be addressed and redirected. Students will meet with a Review Officer to discuss the incident in cases of Pre-Conduct, and the conversation will not be a part of the student’s disciplinary record.
If a student violates a campus policy and it is deemed non-egregious, students may be issued a warning for the violation. This warning is a part of the student’s disciplinary record, but will not require a Review Meeting. Students may request a Review Meeting if they would like. Warnings do not result in sanctioning.
The purpose of a Review Meeting is to determine whether a student has failed to follow the standards governing student conduct at Pacific Lutheran University. As educators, the Review Officer’s responsibilities within a Review Meeting include:
- Reviewing Incident Reports and determining whether, or to what extent, students were involved in the reported misconduct;
- Assisting students toward responsible conduct; and
- Determining appropriate sanctions when necessary.
Review Meetings are neither formal court trials nor formal administrative hearings. Rather, they are structured educational discussions that focus on the student’s behavior in association with the university community. Review Meetings give all parties the opportunity to identify concerns, explain perceptions, explore behavior, and hear suggestions. The emphasis is placed on student behavior and the relationship of behavior to commitments and responsibilities inherent in accepting membership into the university community. The following is an overview of Review Meeting guidelines and procedures:
The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities notifies students named in an Incident Report of the date, time, and place for the Review Meeting.
The Review process is designed to meet the need for individual investigation and consideration of each Incident Report, so time frames must necessarily be established with flexibility. Most Review Meetings are completed within ten business days, but for more complex cases, the estimated timeline is 60 days. Other time estimates are set out in these procedures for context but are guidelines only. If the deadlines are missed by an individual or PLU, it will not keep the Review Meeting from continuing. Once the timing is established for a Review Meeting, students must either comply with the established timeline or request an extension in writing via email to email@example.com and set forth the reason for needing additional time.
Efforts to process Incident Reports will begin promptly and will be complete as soon as it is practical, given considerations around scheduling, investigation, and other considerations as applicable.
- Review Meetings are usually scheduled within five business days, but this time can vary depending on requests for extension of time by the students involved, Review Officer schedules, campus exigencies, etc.
- Reasonable efforts will be made to provide documents to be used in the Review Meeting at least 24 hours before the Review Meeting begins. Please see below section for more information on the receipt and use of documents during a Review Meeting.
- Reasonable efforts will be made to send out determination letters within 72 hours after the close of a Review Meeting.
- The determination letter for each incident will include information on the appeal process and the deadline to submit appeals. That deadline is typically 72 hours, or three business days, after the determination letter has been sent. A decision on the appeal is usually made within 10 days after the appeal has been filed.
- In cases of alleged violations of the Sexual Misconduct policy, timelines may vary and each student will receive specific timelines for each case. See the Sexual Misconduct policy for information and timelines of the process.
While each Review Officer has the discretion to conduct a Review Meeting in their own manner, certain procedures will be followed for each meeting.
- The Review Officer(s) reviews the written material, including the Incident Report, prior to the meeting and prepares appropriate questions.
- At the beginning of the Review Meeting, the Review Officer(s) will explain the process to the student, including information on FERPA and the student’s ability to appeal any decision.
- The Review Officer(s) will hear from all persons involved in an incident to determine the facts.
- The Review Officer(s) may ask questions to determine what occurred, why it occurred, how others may perceive it, and whether the behavior fits within
- The Review Officer(s) will review all written information submitted with regard to the incident.
- Review Officer(s) have the discretion to assign additional charges to a student, should additional information come up that was not known at the time the charge letter was sent to the student.
- All Review Meetings are audio recorded.
- Review Officer(s) will meet with all involved students before making a determination of responsibility for the incident.
Witnesses may be requested by the Review Officer(s) and/or students who are named in the Incident Report. The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will work with the Review Officer(s) to determine the relevancy of witnesses and invite them to the Review Meeting if applicable. Review Officers may limit witness testimony to the facts of the situation.
Any student wishing to provide witnesses must submit a witness statement form via the SRR website, at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled Review Meeting. SRR and the Review Officer(s) will determine whether the witness should attend the Review Meeting, and will communicate that to the student. If a witness is heard:
- Witnesses will attend Review Meetings at the beginning of the meeting only to hear procedures and to present information. They are excused as soon as their testimony is completed.
- Review Officer(s) may ask clarifying questions to witnesses as deemed appropriate. All questions must be pertinent to the report and the purposes of the meeting.
- Review Officer(s) may invite as witnesses, person who submit Incident Reports, or other persons who may have firsthand information about the incident.
- As a general rule, students alleged to have violated the Student Code of Conduct (responding students) may be present during the Review Meeting when the Review Officer(s) is receiving information from witnesses. Certain exceptions to this general rule may occur, however, when in the discretion of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, circumstances warrant. Examples, without limitation, are as follows:
- Complainant or witnesses may be permitted to attend the Review Meeting via electronic means or may be separated from the Respondent by a screen or other appropriate means.
- Students alleged to have violated the Student Code of Conduct who are alleged to present a threat to the community may be required to attend via alternative means.
- Students who create excessive disruption may be required to attend by alternative means.
- During sexual misconduct investigations. Please see the Sexual Misconduct Policy for further information.
- When more than one student alleged to have violated the Student Code of Conduct is involved in the same incident, the Review Officers may consider each student’s involvement separately and exclude the other students from the meeting. Under this circumstance, each responding student shall be given the opportunity to review and respond to all information considered at the Review Meeting concerning their misconduct.
- While discussing an incident with one student, the Review Officers may receive information that may affect another student. In this event, the Review Officer shall inform the other student and provide the other student with the opportunity to respond before the Review Officer(s) make a decision. If the information received could result in sanctions under the Student Rights and Responsibilities procedures, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office, in their discretion, may complete an Incident Report based on the new information, thus beginning the process for the student who is not the subject of the original meeting.
- During the Review Meeting, the Review Officer(s) may receive information that may result in further violations to be considered for a student involved in the incident. The Review Officer(s) will be honest with the student if this is the case and will allow the student to speak on that violation during the Review Meeting.
- After all witnesses have spoken, the responding student may make a summary statement. The Review Officers may limit the summary based on time and content and may terminate the summary statement if the Review Officer(s) believe the statement is not relevant.
Lawyers and/or legal counsel are not permitted at Review Meetings, with the exception of Sexual Misconduct and Physical Assault processes. However, the university expects all students to speak for themselves during Review Meetings, should legal counsel be present.
- Complainants alleging sexual misconduct or physical assault will be offered the opportunity to be present at all Review Meeting proceedings. Respondents are also offered the opportunity to attend all meetings. If the Complainant and/or the Respondent in such incidents choose not to be present at all proceedings, then both shall be given the opportunity to hear and/or read all information presented during the process. If a student chooses to participate but not attend, arrangements must be made at least 24 hours prior to the Review Meeting time. Complainants of other incidents, including but not limited to: Concern for Self and Others, Property Damage, and Vandalism, may be involved in Review Meetings at the discretion of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
- In any meeting involving PLU’s sexual misconduct and/or physical assault policies, the Complainant will receive information about the outcome of the meeting and any sanctions imposed on the Respondent that directly relates to the Complainant (examples include No Contact Orders, Housing changes, etc.). Such disclosures will be made consistent with the Family Education and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA). Please see the Sexual Misconduct policy and procedures for additional information on specific processes of Sexual Misconduct.
The Review Officers will deliberate privately. Members of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities may be called upon to advise on procedural matters as applicable. Deliberations generally take the following form:
- Review of information obtained during Review Meeting
- Review of all supplemental documentation as applicable
- Decision reached by discussion and collaboration
- If there are more than two Review Officers or a conduct board, a decision may be reached by a majority vote.
- Students who are found responsible for a violation are sanctioned according to the nature of the misconduct, a review of their conduct history, and in consideration of the individual student.
If the Review Officer(s) reaches a decision during or immediately after the Review Meeting, the Review Officer(s) may recall the student(s) and announce the decision accompanied by a brief rationale verbally. A decision however, will not be official until it is in writing to the student. Students will receive their determination letters, which provides the decision of responsibility along with rationale and sanctioning, through their PLU email.
- Students that do not attend the Review Meeting will have their Review Officer(s) make a decision of responsibility in the student’s absence, with the known information. Students will receive notification of the decision via email.
- If the Review Officers do not reach a decision during the meeting, they will generally render a decision within 3 business days at the conclusion of the Review Meeting. In the event that additional time is needed, the student will be notified via email of the revised timeline.
Staff or Faculty members may serve as Review Officers to review any incident as determined by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The Dean of Students will appoint Review Officers at the start of each academic year, and additional Review Officers may be appointed during the year. Review Officers may review incidents individually or as a team. A member of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities may attend Review Meetings or other SRR processes to assist the Review Officer(s) in an advisory capacity. Review Officers are able to impose all sanctions except for Disciplinary Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion. If a violation warrants these sanctions, the Review Officer(s) may make a recommendation to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students may impose Disciplinary Probation, Suspension, or Expulsion if it is recommended to them.
All Review Officers need to adhere to the ethics stated, below:
- Review Officers’ behavior shall be free from impropriety
- Review Officers shall honor standards of confidentiality and shall not comment upon or discuss the merits of a pending or past incident except in direct relation to a Review Meeting
- Review Officers shall not prejudge any incident
- Review Officers shall not be influenced by partisanship, public opinion, or consideration of personal popularity or notoriety
- Review Officers shall regularly attend and actively participate in any reviews, orientations, trainings, and scheduled meetings offered
- Review Officers shall reflect the importance and seriousness of a review by conducting it with dignity and a proper sense of decorum
- Review Officers shall resolve disagreements privately and support the majority decision
There are several reasons the originally assigned Review Officer(s) may be disqualified from a Review Meeting.
- After reviewing the documents related to an incident, any Review Officer who has personal knowledge of the situation must share this knowledge with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The SRR Office will, in its sole discretion, decide whether that Review Officer should be excluded from the meeting. The SRR Office will determine, at its sole discretion, another Review Officer as applicable.
- Review Officers who have prior knowledge of an assigned case must report that knowledge to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. If that Review Officer still reviews that case, they must inform the student prior to the start of the Review Meeting of their knowledge.
- A Respondent or Complainant may, before a Review Meeting, request the disqualification of any Review Officer who they believe to be biased against themselves. The burden of substantiating the charge of bias rests with the student. The final determination of bias is made by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Students are asked to contact the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled Review Meeting to report concerns about bias with respect to the Review Officers. Failure to do so may impact the Review Officer’s determination as to whether the meeting should continue.
- If disqualification results in the loss of a Review Officer, the Review Meeting will be postponed until another Review Officer may be assigned unless the student agrees to proceed with the Review Meeting.