2.5 University Discipline

2.5.1 Jurisdiction

The Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline, comprising students, faculty members, and administrators, is responsible for the administration of the stated rules and regulations governing undergraduate student conduct, for assessing reported violations, and, when necessary, for assigning appropriate penalties.

Cases Involving Undergraduates

All alleged academic violations involving undergraduates that do not implicate the honor system (section 2.3) fall under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline. The Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline also adjudicates any other potentially serious alleged infraction (except allegations of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct; see section 1.3) involving undergraduate students for which the penalty might interrupt the student’s academic career. Where an undergraduate student is alleged to have committed a behavioral infraction and for which the penalty will not interrupt the student’s academic career, the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline delegates jurisdiction to the Residential College Disciplinary Board. (See section 2.5.3 regarding the resolution of infractions that do not result in separation.)

Under no circumstances will a student whose disciplinary matter is pending be permitted to receive a degree.

Cases Involving Graduate Students

Alleged violations of academic and nonacademic rules and regulations (except allegations of sex discrimination or sexual misconduct; see section 1.3) involving graduate students are discussed in section 2.6.7.

Cases Involving Both Undergraduates and Graduate Students

In the event that one or more undergraduate students and one or more graduate students are alleged to have violated University policy, where the facts and circumstances of the case are inextricably intertwined, special procedures apply. See section 2.5.7.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

The Title IX coordinator, in consultation with appropriate University officials, may direct a Title IX panel to investigate and adjudicate charges normally handled by the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline or by other judicial authorities described in section 2.5.3 and section 2.6.7, when those charges are raised in connection with an investigation under the policies on Title IX Sexual Harassment and University Sexual Misconduct (section 1.3).

2.5.2 The Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline

Membership

The committee consists of the following voting members: six members of the faculty (no more than four of whom may be present during any hearing); a dean from the Office of the Dean of the College; and eight undergraduate students (no more than five of whom may be present during any hearing). The dean of undergraduate students serves as chair and votes only in the event of a tie as set forth below, and an associate or assistant dean of undergraduate students serves as secretary without vote. A quorum consists of at least three student members and at least two faculty members. The representative from the Office of the Dean of the College shall have the duties and powers of the dean of undergraduate students in the dean’s absence.

Investigation of Alleged Infractions

An assistant or associate dean or University investigator will normally investigate alleged infractions under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline. Other representatives of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (including investigators retained for this purpose) may assist in the investigation of such matters.

Following the investigation, the student may obtain from the committee’s secretary all documents pertaining to reports of the alleged misconduct and the names of the members of the committee. The student has the option of submitting any additional written materials that may assist the committee in reaching a decision.

Other than complaints related to sexual misconduct, where the alleged behaviors are those of a student, complaints of discrimination or harassment, including both complaints regarding discrimination or harassment based on a protected characteristic and complaints regarding harassment that does not involve a protected characteristic, are normally investigated and resolved through the student disciplinary process, administered by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students as described in this section. 

For complaints of discrimination and/or harassment based on a protected characteristic, an initial assessment will be made by the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity. (Information relating to the University’s Policy on Discrimination and/or Harassment, including available resources and how to file a complaint under the policy, can be found at https:/inclusive.princeton.edu/addressing-concerns/bias-discrimination-harassment). If that office makes a determination that the complaint should proceed to an investigation, it will be forwarded to the associate or assistant dean responsible for disciplinary matters in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

All disciplinary cases involving allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are investigated and adjudicated in accordance with the procedures outlined in section 1.3.

Notice and Convening of Hearings

Matters shall be presented to the committee with all reasonable promptness. In all cases referred to the Committee on Discipline, the student involved will be informed in writing of the charge(s) and of the specific day and time when the student is to appear before the committee. Where a matter is first presented to the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students within one week of the end of an academic term, it may be held for consideration until the following term.

In certain circumstances, an undergraduate student whose case falls under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline may request that the dean of undergraduate students adjudicate the matter, waiving the right to a hearing by the committee. If the dean agrees to hear the case, the student retains the right to appeal the decision except on procedural grounds. There are no procedural appeals in such cases.

Enrollment and Residence Status

Normally, pending action on the charges by the committee or pending an appeal, the student will be permitted to remain in residence on campus, attend classes, and make use of some or all University facilities, except for circumstances relating to the physical or emotional safety or well-being of a member (or members) of the University community, or the ability of the University to carry out its essential functions.

The student should understand that if the committee’s decision proves adverse, or if an appeal proves unsuccessful, the decision of the committee will normally be considered effective as of the date of the original decision. In cases adjudicated prior to the last day of classes, if the final decision is a separation from the University (i.e., suspension, suspension with conditions, or expulsion), the student will normally not earn credit for the semester in which the infraction occurred. If the case is adjudicated during reading period obtaining credit for the semester will be at the discretion of the committee. If the case is adjudicated during exam period and the final decision is a separation from the University the student must complete the term and the committee’s penalty will take effect immediately thereafter.

Pending a hearing or the student’s decision about whether to appeal a separation from the University or the withholding of the degree, and/or while an appeal is in process, an administrative hold will be placed on the student’s University transcript. Should the student decide not to appeal a separation or the withholding of the degree, or should an appeal not result in an alteration of the committee’s decision to dismiss the student or withhold the degree, the registrar will record the fact of the penalty on the student’s transcript.

Conduct of Hearings

The student may be accompanied at the committee hearing by an adviser, who must be a current member of the resident University community, and who may participate in the hearing in accordance with instructions issued by the chair.

At the hearing, any person with information about the matter before the committee may be requested to appear by the student, the dean of undergraduate students, or the committee, subject to reasonable limits agreed on by the committee. In an opening statement the student has an opportunity to explain the circumstances from a personal point of view and may also question individuals who have provided information and may in turn be questioned by the committee members. At the chair's discretion, an individual who has brought forward a charge may also ask questions.

The student may make a closing statement and is then excused while the committee deliberates in closed session.

There may be some occasions in which, because of external legal proceedings, the student believes that there are compelling reasons for refusing to speak or to answer questions. In the event that (1) legal proceedings—including but not limited to arrest, summons, and indictment—have been instituted against a student in state or federal courts as a result of alleged involvement in the matters that the committee is considering and (2) the alleged misconduct is more serious than a disorderly person offense, the student will be granted permission not to speak or to answer questions without prejudicing the committee’s decision. In the case of other external proceedings, the dean will consider the student’s reasons for declining to speak, and if these reasons are deemed legitimate, will excuse the student from giving information without prejudice to the disposition of the case. In instances as set forth above, when a student has chosen not to speak and when in the dean’s judgment the committee does not have enough information to come to a conclusion without the student’s testimony, at the dean’s discretion the hearing may be postponed until more complete information is available. In such instances, when the dean believes that circumstances are present that seriously affect the health or well-being of any person, or where physical safety is seriously threatened, or where the ability of the University to carry out its essential operations is seriously threatened or impaired, the dean normally will bar the student from campus, pending disposition of the legal proceedings and recommencement of the hearing. This decision will be subject to review in accordance with section 1.1.8, and without prejudice to the committee’s eventual consideration of the charges. If a hearing proceeds before external legal matters are resolved, the chair of the committee must explain to the student the risks either of speaking freely or of not speaking at all.

Deliberations and Findings

In order to determine that a student has violated a University rule, a majority of the voting committee members present must conclude that the evidence presented constitutes a clear and persuasive case in support of the charges against the student. If the student is found responsible for one or more of the violations charged, the committee will consult applicable rules and precedents to determine the proper penalty. If the student is found to have misled the committee during the hearing, the committee may take that fact into account in reaching a conclusion and assigning a penalty.

If the voting members are evenly divided on a particular case, the case must be reconsidered at the next meeting of the committee. If at the second meeting at which the case is considered the regular voting members are still evenly divided, the dean of undergraduate students votes to break the tie.

The chair or the secretary of the committee informs the student promptly of the decision. If a penalty is imposed, special effort is made in this discussion to ensure that the student fully understands why the penalty was imposed and its nature and consequences. The student has the right to receive a summary report of the proceedings upon request.

Appeals in Behavioral Cases

If a student is found by the Committee on Discipline to have violated University policy, the student found responsible (sometimes referred to as the “respondent”) has the right to appeal the decision.

The appellate body has the following five members: the dean of the college, the dean of the Graduate School, the vice president for campus life, the chair of the Judicial Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community, and another faculty member appointed by the president. The members will be impartial and unbiased. One member will be appointed by the president to serve as its chair.

Each appeal will be heard by three members of the appellate body (i.e., appeal panel). The chair will assign the appeal panel for each case. All decisions shall be made by a majority of the appeal panel.

Grounds for appeal are:

  1. The procedures have not been fair and reasonable. The period of time under review starts when a student is formally charged with a violation and ends when the committee issues a final decision. Neither the choice of venue nor the nature of the investigation is grounds for appeal.
  2. There exists substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented to the committee.
  3. The imposed penalty does not fall within the range of penalties imposed for similar misconduct.

The purpose of an appeal is not to initiate a review of substantive issues of fact or a new determination of whether a violation of University rules has occurred. The appeal panel may decide to uphold the original decision of the committee; to reduce the imposed penalty; or to return the case to the original hearing body for additional proceedings, a rehearing or other action. If a student requests a review of a penalty, it cannot be increased on appeal.

The deadline for filing an appeal in a behavioral case is one week from the date of decision by the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline.

Appeals in Academic Cases

A student wishing to appeal a decision of the Committee on Discipline in a case involving an academic infraction may appeal to the dean of the college, seeking a review of a decision or penalty on the grounds that (1) there exists substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented, to the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline, or (2) the imposed penalty does not fall within the range of penalties imposed for similar misconduct. The purpose of such an appeal is not to initiate a review of substantive issues of fact, or a new determination of whether a violation of rules has occurred. If the dean concludes after such a review that additional proceedings or a rehearing is warranted, the original hearing body will normally perform these functions. Also, if the dean determines that a penalty of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline (or the dean of undergraduate students) should be altered, the dean will make a recommendation to the president, describing the reasons for the proposed modification, and the president will decide whether or not to implement the recommendation. If a student requests a review of a penalty, it cannot be increased on appeal.

A student has the right to appeal questions of procedural unfairness only to the Judicial Committee of the Council of the Princeton University Community, in accordance with the appeal procedures defined by the Judicial Committee (see section 1.9.4).

The associate secretary of the University will serve as secretary for all appeals of decisions by the Committee on Discipline and will have primary responsibility for interactions with the parties and for the gathering of information needed for the appeal.

The deadline for filing an appeal in an academic case is one week from the date the decision is communicated to the student by the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline.

2.5.3 Adjudication of Infractions That Do Not Result in Separation (Undergraduate)

General Procedures

Normally, if a student is alleged to have committed a behavioral infraction, other than sex discrimination or sexual misconduct, for which precedents are available and for which the penalty will not interrupt the student’s academic career, the matter will be resolved by the Residential College Disciplinary Board (RCDB), comprising deputy, associate and assistant deans of undergraduate students responsible for discipline and the seven assistant deans of student life. General procedures are as follows:

The student will first be asked to meet with the appropriate assistant dean for student life, dean, or a University investigator. All complaints will be investigated promptly. Before the case is adjudicated, the student may read all statements, reports, or other information relevant to the allegation. The facts of the case will be discussed and the student given ample opportunity to present the student’s own account of the incident in question, including a written account, witnesses, or other relevant information, or to request clarification of any relevant information submitted by other parties. The student will be notified of the specific violation the student is alleged to have committed before the case is considered by RCDB.

The assistant dean for student life will then bring the case, with a recommendation regarding the student’s responsibility for the alleged infraction, to the RCDB. The RCDB will consider the case and determine the appropriate action, up to and including disciplinary probation (including housing and/or campus service sanctions or other restrictions on access to space, resources, or activities).

Other representatives of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (including investigators retained for this purpose) may assist in the investigation and/or resolution of infractions under the jurisdiction of the RCDB.

Appeals

A student has the right to appeal to the dean of undergraduate students any disciplinary decision of the Residential College Disciplinary Board. The appeal should be submitted in writing. The purpose of the appeal is to seek a review of a decision or penalty on the grounds that (1) there exists substantial relevant information that was not presented, and reasonably could not have been presented, to the dean or the RCDB; (2) the imposed penalty does not fall within the range of penalties imposed for similar misconduct; or (3) a procedural irregularity occurred in the adjudication of the incident in question. The purpose of such an appeal is not to initiate a review of substantive issues of fact, or a new determination of whether a violation of rules has occurred. The deadline for filing such an appeal is one week from the date the student was informed in writing of the penalty. The decision of the dean of undergraduate students shall be final.

2.5.4 Records of Proceedings (Undergraduate)

Confidential records of all disciplinary proceedings involving undergraduate students are maintained by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. The use of these documents is restricted according to the rules and procedures concerning the confidential nature of student records.

Disciplinary procedures normally involve only the student and the University. Generally, the student’s family is not informed while disciplinary procedures are underway. When, however, in the judgment of the University the welfare of the student or the community warrants communication, family members may be contacted during the disciplinary process. All disciplinary decisions resulting in serious penalties (especially, but not exclusively, withholding of degree, suspension, suspension with conditions, and expulsion) will be communicated to the student’s family or other legal guardian, unless the student has before the commencement of the term in question filed a statement certifying that the student is not financially dependent as defined by the federal income tax laws.

2.5.5 Penalties

Penalties that may be applied by all University disciplinary bodies are set forth under section 1.1 “University Principles of General Conduct and Regulations.”

2.5.6 Grievance Procedures

Students are also afforded certain protections under federal and state laws and, in addition to or in the alternative of filing an internal complaint, may elect to file a harassment or discrimination complaint with a federal or state agency authorized to investigate such complaints. The appropriate agency will depend on the nature of the complaint and the status of the parties involved. One such agency is the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

Information concerning grievance procedures is available under section 1.7.

2.5.7 Special Procedures in Cases Involving Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

In the event that one or more undergraduate students and one or more graduate students are alleged to have violated University policy, where the facts and circumstances of the case are inextricably intertwined, the following special procedures apply.

In such situations, an ad hoc joint committee comprising representatives from the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline and the Subcommittee on Student Life and Discipline of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School will adjudicate all alleged academic infractions that do not implicate the honor system (see section 2.3) and all other potentially serious alleged infractions (except allegations of sex discrimination or other sexual misconduct; see section 1.3) for which the penalty might interrupt any student’s academic career. The joint committee will be appointed by the deans of the undergraduate students and the Graduate School. The joint committee will be comprised of one faculty member and two undergraduate students from the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline and one faculty member and two graduate students selected in accordance with the procedures of the Subcommittee on Student Life and Discipline of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School. The chair of the joint committee will be drawn from either the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline or the Subcommittee on Student Life and Discipline of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School, and the secretary of the joint committee will be drawn from the other. The joint committee will conduct hearings and render decisions according to the procedures and standards of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline (see section 2.5.2).

Students whose cases fall under the jurisdiction of an ad hoc joint committee may request that the dean of the Graduate School and the dean of undergraduate students alone adjudicate the matter, waiving the right to a hearing by an ad hoc joint committee. All students who would fall under the jurisdiction of an ad hoc joint committee in such a case would need to agree to the request. If the deans agree to hear the case, the students retain the right to appeal the decision except on procedural grounds. There are no procedural appeals in such cases.

Where one or more undergraduate students and one or more graduate students are alleged to have committed a behavioral infraction for which precedents are available and for which the penalty will not interrupt the students’ academic career, the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline and the Subcommittee on Student Life and Discipline of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School delegate jurisdiction to an associate dean of the Graduate School and one of the chairs of the Residential College Disciplinary Board, who will jointly investigate and adjudicate the case, assisted by other deans, investigators and directors in the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Graduate School as necessary and appropriate. In investigating and adjudicating such cases, the associate dean of the Graduate School and the chair of the Residential College Disciplinary Board will follow the procedures and standards of the Residential College Disciplinary Board (see section 2.5.3).