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 email us.
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 email us 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:
- 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 direct 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
- 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 direct 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 participation 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 by the Student Affairs Office. Your disciplinary record is not part of your academic transcript. However, both academic and disciplinary dismissals do appear on students’ academic transcripts. 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.