Community Standards

Suffolk University serves to provide students with a living and learning environment that reflects the values of the Suffolk community and supports the university’s commitment to developing the intellectual, social and civic competencies of our students.

To achieve this goal, Suffolk University looks to students to be partners in this process with the hope of creating an environment that is respectful of the rights of all individuals within the community. Therefore, we expect that students become familiar with the expectations outlined in the Community Standards and Student Conduct Section of the Undergraduate Student Handbook and the Graduate Student Handbook, as they are the standards to which students will be held during their time here at the University. Students can pay their conduct fines using this form.

Off-Campus Student Behavior Policy

Suffolk University students have a responsibility as members of both the Suffolk community and the neighborhood community to demonstrate respect and concern for their neighbors. Suffolk University imposes an obligation upon all its students, both resident and non-resident, to demonstrate responsible citizenship in their local neighborhoods.

Therefore, the University reserves the right to refer any student identified as being involved in disruptive, disorderly, or destructive behavior, or any other behavior that is disruptive of the University’s community/neighborhood relations; interferes with or obstructs the lawful missions, processes, and functions of the University; or that is found by the University to be abhorrent or offensive to generally accepted standards of social conduct, to the Student Conduct System.

The Off-Campus Student Behavior Policy may be viewed in the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Handbooks.

The video “A Student’s Guide to Living in Boston” provides more information about the University’s Off-Campus Student Behavior Policy and being a good neighbor.

Suffolk University students have a responsibility as members of both the Suffolk community and the neighborhood community to demonstrate respect and concern for their neighbors. Suffolk University imposes an obligation upon all its students, both resident and non-resident, to demonstrate responsible citizenship in their local neighborhoods.

Therefore, the University reserves the right to refer any student identified as being involved in disruptive, disorderly, or destructive behavior, or any other behavior that is disruptive of the University’s community/neighborhood relations; interferes with or obstructs the lawful missions, processes, and functions of the University; or that is found by the University to be abhorrent or offensive to generally accepted standards of social conduct, to the Student Conduct System.

The video, “A Student’s Guide to Living in Boston,”* provides more information about the University’s Off-Campus Student Behavior Policy and being a good neighbor. We hope you find this video informative.

*Please note: Real Player is required to view the webcast.

Information for Families

Your son or daughter has begun yet another phase in his or her life, which can prove to be both exciting and challenging. It is a period of joy, pain, relationships, discovery and, sometimes, disappointments.

Your involvement as a parent can enhance the learning process as students go through these moments of disappointment and success. This section is designed to assist parents in understanding Suffolk's expectations for our students and for the disciplinary process that addresses alleged violations of University policy.

We have also included some answers to questions commonly asked by parents, and some hints that might help you and your son or daughter to prepare for what lies ahead.

Parental notification of student disciplinary matters

Suffolk University recognizes that students and parents are our partners in promoting a healthy and productive educational experience. We believe parents assist students in fulfilling their educational goals through open dialogue. Therefore, in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Suffolk University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students when a student is under 21 and is found responsible for an alcohol or other drug violation or if a resident is in danger of losing his or her ability to live in on-campus housing.

Helping your son or daughter through the disciplinary process

Before your student begins the semester:

  • Have an open discussion with your student about the process of making right choices, peer pressure, and taking responsibility for their actions.
  • Make sure that your student is clearly informed about your expectations and the values you hold. Be open to discussing difficult topics such as substance abuse, alcohol use, intimate relationships, and other risky behaviors.
  • If your student is documented for an alleged violation of the Community Standards or another policy of the University, make sure that your student knows the disciplinary process.
  • Have your student review the Community Standards and Student Conduct System, which is published in the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Handbooks.
  • Encourage your student to speak with you about the incident and help them to process all the information.
  • Have an open discussion with your student about the expectations the University has in regard to their behavior. Discuss ways to modify their behavior to meet those expectations. Encourage your student to seek help and support and direct them to the available resources on or off campus. Challenge them to ask questions and take the initiative in the process and continue to support your student emotionally while they resolve the issue.

Talking about alcohol or illegal drugs

*(This section has been adapted from the Century Council.)

In speaking with your son or daughter about drug and alcohol use, please share realistically your own experiences, both positive and negative. Keep in mind, however, that it may not be helpful to boast about amounts used. In addition, be clear in what you expect from your son or daughter about things such as:

  • Attending class
  • Drinking and driving
  • Financial responsibility
  • Choices regarding drinking
  • Study time vs. social time
  • Staying in touch

To assist with this process, below are some conversation starters:

  • How will you decide whether or not to drink, smoke pot, or use other drugs?
  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you do if someone offers you illegal drugs?
  • What will you do if your roommate only wants to party?
  • How will you handle it if a friend is drunk or high and you think he/she needs medical attention?

Student Confidentiality

Student conduct records are considered education records and are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

For additional information, please contact Ann Coyne, Dean of Students, by email or 617-573-8239. The Student Affairs Office is located at 73 Tremont Street, 12th floor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the Community Standards & Student Conduct System?

Suffolk University serves to provide students with a living and learning environment that reflects the values of the Suffolk Community and supports the University’s commitment to developing the intellectual, social and civic competencies of our students. To achieve this goal, Suffolk University looks to students to be partners in this process with the hope of creating an environment that is respectful of the rights of all individuals within the community.

How do I file a complaint?

Any member of the Suffolk University community may submit a complaint. Complaints should be submitted as soon after the event as possible to ensure an accurate recollection as well as a prompt response. Complaints can be reported to the Student Affairs Office. Written complaints may be submitted in person at the Student Affairs Office, 12th floor, 73 Tremont Street or via email.

The following information must be provided in the complaint:

  • Name and contact information of the person submitting the complaint with their status at the University: student, faculty or staff
  • Email address of the person submitting the complaint
  • Date of complaint
  • Date, time and location of the event
  • Name and contact information (if available) of the student the complaint is about
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses
  • Detailed explanation of the event.

If you would like to speak with one of the deans in the Student Affairs Office about your complaint prior to its submission, contact the Student Affairs Office at 617-573-8239 or by email for an appointment.

I received a letter that I have to attend an administrative hearing or schedule an administrative hearing? Do I have to respond?

Depending on what the Notice to Appear for a Conduct Hearing says, students are required to attend an administrative hearing at a predetermined date, time and location. Or, students are required to schedule an administrative hearing by calling the Residence Life & Housing Programs staff member or Student Affairs Office to schedule the disciplinary hearing. The hearing officers for Administrative Hearings are members of the Residence Life & Housing staff, or Deans in the Student Affairs Office or other administrators.

What happens at an administrative hearing?

Generally, but not always, the order of an administrative hearing will proceed as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Honesty statement
  • Reading of the charges
  • Opening statement from the charged student
  • Questioning by the hearing officer
  • Closing statement from the charged student
  • Hearing closure

What are my rights within the Student Conduct System?

A charged student will be entitled to:

  • Receive written notice of charges;
  • Receive a copy of the incident report within one (1) business day of the written request for a copy.
  • Names of other individuals in the report will be removed consistent with applicable law.
  • Be notified of the date, time, and place of the charged student’s administrative hearing;
  • Receive notice of the fact that the charged student’s failure to schedule an administrative hearing by the due date or appear for an administrative hearing may result in the administrative hearing being conducted in the absence of the charged student;
  • Provide the names of up to four (4) witnesses with knowledge of the incident at least one (1) business day prior to the administrative hearing. The hearing officer will decide, in his/her sole discretion, whether to seek to obtain information from witnesses;
  • Decline to answer any questions or make any statements during an administrative hearing. The outcome of the administrative hearing will be based on the information or lack thereof presented at the administrative hearing and information gathered through an investigation (if applicable);
  • Be informed in writing of the decision and sanction, if any; and
  • Request in writing an appeal of the decision resulting from an administrative hearing no later than two (2) business days after the date of the determination letter.

How can I find out the details of a complaint?

A student must contact the hearing officer whose name appears on the Notice to Appear for an Administrative Hearing to make arrangements to obtain the written complaint in the Residence Life & Housing Office or Student Affairs Office in the presence of a staff member during normal business hours. All names (other than the student requesting the report) will be blocked out to protect the privacy and confidentiality of other individuals.

What if I was not aware of the particular policy for which I am being charged?

Every student is responsible for knowing University rules and regulations as outlined in the Student Handbook. Therefore, it is important to ask questions if you are unsure of the policies.

Can I be held accountable for my behavior off-campus?

Yes. The Community Standards and Student Conduct System applies to off-campus conduct that adversely affects the University community or the pursuit of its objectives or calls into question the suitability of a student as a member of Suffolk University Community.

What should I do to prepare for an administrative hearing?

  • Familiarize yourself with the Community Standards and other University policies
  • If required to do so, schedule the Administrative hearing within the required time frame. Make arrangements to be there on time
  • Learn the details of the complaint
  • If you are having an administrative hearing and plan to have witness(es) submit information about the incident, submit their names to the hearing officer within 1 business day of the hearing and inform your witness(es) that the hearing office may be contacting them to discuss the incident
  • Prepare opening and concluding statements
  • Dress appropriately by avoiding overly casual attire (e.g., hats, sandals, torn clothing, etc.)

How many witnesses can I bring?

Students may bring up to four witnesses to an administrative hearing who have knowledge of the incident. The names of the witnesses should be submitted to the hearing officer, or designee, indicating the names of the additional witnesses and why their testimony would be beneficial. The request must be submitted to the hearing officer, or designee, at least one business day prior to the administrative hearing. Character witnesses are not permitted.

Can legal counsel represent me during the hearing process?

Legal counsel may not represent you at a hearing.

What happens if I cannot attend the administrative hearing?

If you cannot attend the hearing due to an unavoidable circumstance then you should immediately contact the hearing officer. Obtain the name of the person with whom you speak and make efforts to reschedule the hearing. However, it is not always possible or likely that this will occur. You should be aware that a hearing could proceed in your absence.

What will happen if I am found responsible for violating University policy?

If you are found responsible for violating University policy, you will be assigned a sanction(s) that you will be required to complete. The types of sanctions will depend upon the seriousness of the violation and your disciplinary history.

When and how can I appeal a decision?

The outcome of an administrative hearing may be appealed within two days of the date of the determination letter. An appeal will be considered if there was a failure to follow the process or procedures outlined in the Student Conduct System or if new information, not available at the time of the hearing, is now available. An appeal is not a new hearing on the matter.

Will my parents/guardian be notified of an incident?

Your parents/guardian will be notified of an incident if you are under 21 and you are found responsible for an alcohol or other drug violation.

What goes on my record if I am found responsible for violating University policy and how might that impact me in the future?

Records of disciplinary proceedings involving students are maintained in the Residence Life and Housing and Student Affairs Offices. Your disciplinary record is not part of your academic transcript. Repeated violations of the Community Standards may affect your active participation in some University activities. If you transfer to another institution, you may be required to submit a dean’s certification as part of the application process. If that is the case, the incident may be discussed by Suffolk’s Dean of Students. You may also be required by employers to provide a letter from the Dean of Students that you had a clear disciplinary record disciplinary record in college.