Students at the University of Florida, or any university in the state, are subject to a conduct code that most have never read.
And most never will unless they find themselves being investigated or subject to discipline.
In many cases, students can get through the process just fine by working with the office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (SCCR). But students should not take this process lightly, especially when the allegations are potential criminal offenses or could result in expulsion. Title IX cases, typically accusations of sexual misconduct, are the most common and some of the most dangerous cases that could force a student from UF.
At UF, administrators have adopted a new code. It should be required reading. But if you find an email from SCCR in your inbox, you especially should review the procedures for the disciplinary process.
When a complaint is filed, SCCR may conduct an investigation. (Title IX investigations are conducted by the Office of Title IX Compliance, if the coordinator of that office chooses.) They interview witnesses and may even involve university police when it involves a student organization.
If the SCCR director determines that a hearing body MIGHT reasonably find that a student committed a violation, the office may issue formal charges.
Instead of formal charges, the office could dispose of the complaint through an “educational meeting,” a Conflict Resolution meeting, or through mutual consent of the parties involved.
If not otherwise resolved, the accused student can expect an email from SCCR inviting him to an “Information Meeting.” This is NOT an invitation. The student is expected to attend and would be sanctioned for not responding.
The student will have decisions to make at the Information Meeting. Although the titled purpose is to inform the accused, he also will be expected to decide whether to admit or deny the allegations.
Students are wise to have an advisor at this meeting, because they often feel pressured by the SCCR staff to make admissions and take responsibility.
Sometimes this is the smartest course of action. Sometimes it’s not.
If the student accepts responsibility, then the matter can be resolved by the administrator conducting the meeting. If the student denies responsibility, then there would be a hearing either with an administrator or a hearing panel.
Hearings have their own set of rules delineated in the code. Preparing for a hearing is akin to preparing for a criminal trial except without all the due process protections and evidentiary rules. Because the standard of proof is “preponderance of the information,” it’s a low bar for students to be found responsible.
At hearings, students are permitted an advisor but not a lawyer. Although a lawyer can serve as an advisor, the lawyer may not argue or present evidence on behalf of the student.