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Community Standards and Judicial System

Philadelphia University is committed to providing an atmosphere of academic freedom where students can achieve academic success and personal growth. Commitments by all community members to integrity, civility and respect are essential to achieving this goal. Those commitments are embodied in The Community Standards, the values, policies and procedures governing student behavior designed to create a safe environment which promotes the free and open exchange of ideas for all community members. All students are responsible for knowing their rights and responsibilities stated within The Community Standards.

Philadelphia University promotes self-governance; each student bears the responsibility for his/her own conduct. Students are recognized as adults. The University does not seek to occupy a parental role. In order for our community to thrive, all students and their guests must conduct themselves lawfully and responsibly in a manner that preserves the integrity of the learning environment. As befits an institution of higher education, standards of behavior and social conduct are generally more demanding than those required of the general public.

Students may find themselves experiencing conflicts with fellow students, administrators, or faculty. Conflict is inherent in any collegiate setting; managed properly, it can be a positive opportunity encouraging dialogue, fostering personal growth, and promoting understanding. In every conflict lies an opportunity to strengthen relationships and creatively solve problems. Students are encouraged to resolve conflicts among themselves. However, any student who feels uncomfortable or unable to do so may seek counsel from the Office of the Dean of Students, advisors, faculty members, or other staff who are available to assist and support students.

By accepting admission and registration, students accept responsibility for compliance with academic regulations, course syllabi, classroom policies as determined by the classroom instructor, and The Community Standards, along with other policies and regulations listed in The Student Handbook, The University Catalog, departmental websites, and policies, manuals or guidelines pertaining to any specific operation or programs within the University. In addition, students are expected to abide by all local, state, and federal laws. When a student fails to abide by the above, the University will investigate and resolve those concerns through the University Judicial System described below

Consistent with the educational mission of the University, the Judicial System is primarily educational and developmental rather than punitive in nature, encouraging students to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes. When a concern regarding student behavior comes to the attention of University officials, judicial hearing officers or hearing boards will review the incident with the student, assess student responsibility under The Community Standards, and when appropriate, assign sanctions commensurate with the student behavior. Certain academic programs have specific procedures pertaining to student behavior occurring within the purview of those programs: students should consult the manual provided by the faculty within their programs for details.

Students and their guests are responsible under The Community Standards for conduct on campus or in any University facility, while attending or participating in any University-related activity, e.g. athletic contest, study abroad programs, field trips, or social activities sponsored by a recognized student organization. Visitors, licensees, and invitees on a University facility shall be subject to The Community Standards of the University. Further, the University reserves the right to hold students accountable for their conduct whenever and wherever it occurs, if the conduct is reasonably related to their membership in the University community. Unlawful acts of violence, violations of another's civil rights, sexual misconduct, hazing, the unlawful sale or possession of drugs, the unlawful use of alcoholic beverages, and crimes against persons or property are examples of conduct that may subject a student to the University Judicial System regardless of where the conduct occurs.

The University also reserves the right to maintain concurrent jurisdiction in the event that a student's conduct also constitutes an act in violation of local, state, or federal law. The University will hold students accountable under The Community Standards and proceed with judicial processes whether or not the conduct is subject to criminal or civil adjudication.

The Community Standards
Set forth below is a brief listing of the various standards, policies and regulations generally governing student behavior at the University. The listing is not exhaustive and, where appropriate, reference is made to where each particular policy can be found in its entirety.


1.  The Academic Integrity Policy


The following incidences provide examples of the most common types of academic dishonesty, but other instances may occur outside of the definitions defined here.

(a) Cheating

(b) Fabrication

(c) Plagiarism

(d) Facilitating Academic Dishonesty

(e) Denying Others Access to Information or Material

2. Non-academic dishonesty: Actions including, but not limited to:

(a) Providing false, misleading, or misrepresented information to any University official or office;

(b) Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any University document, record, or instrument of identification.

3. Alcohol Policy. The University’s alcohol policy can be found here . Additional rules regarding alcohol are set forth in the Office of Residence Life (ORL) rules and regulations and rules governing other University programs. Examples of prohibited behavior include:

(a) Consumption, distribution, transportation, or possession of alcoholic beverages by any person less than 21 years of age, either on or off-campus;

(b) Presence of alcoholic beverages in a residence hall room where any of the occupants are less than 21 years of age;

(c) Providing alcoholic beverages to any person less than 21 years of age;

(d) Being less than 21 years of age and in the presence of alcohol;

(e) Public intoxication as indicated by appearance or behavior, such as: slurred speech, unstable walk, unconsciousness, destruction of property, use of abusive language, alcohol on breath, vomiting, or disturbance to others;

(f) Distribution, sale, or trade of alcoholic beverages on campus property or to members of the Philadelphia University community;

(g) Possession of kegs or similar bulk containers, or any apparatus associated with drinking games;

(h) Possession by any person less than 21 years of age of paraphernalia associated with consumption of alcoholic beverages including, but not limited to, beer bongs and empty alcoholic beverage bottles;

(i) Consumption, distribution, or possession of alcoholic beverages in public areas of the campus not designated as a permitted area or in said areas without a permit;

(j) Use of alcohol to the extent that the safety to self or others on the campus is jeopardized.


4. Drug Policy. The University’s drug policy can be found here. Additional rules regarding drugs are set forth in the Office of Residence Life (ORL) rules and regulations and rules governing other University programs. Examples of prohibited behavior include:

(a) Consumption, use, distribution, manufacture, transportation, or possession of illegal drugs on or off campus;

(b) Being under the influence of illegal drugs as indicated by appearance or behavior, such as: slurred speech, unstable walk, unconsciousness, destruction of property, use of abusive language, smell, vomiting or disturbance of others;

(c) Sale or trade of illegal or prescription drugs;

(d) Possession of drug or drug-related paraphernalia.


5. Harassment: Abusive, dangerous, or harmful behavior which threatens or endangers the health and safety of self or any other person, including, but not limited to:

(a) Physical abuse/assault or placing another in reasonable apprehension thereof;

(b) Verbal abuse;

(c) Rape and/or Sexual Violence (see Sexual Misconduct Policy below);

(d) Expressed or implied threats and/or intimidation, including bullying;

(e) Violation of the University’s policy on the use of electronic and other recording devices;

(f) Active discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation or disability.

6. Violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, which can be found here .

7. Unauthorized possession of any property, actual or attempted of the University, of a member of the University community, or other personal, public, or intellectual property, either on or off campus.

8. Unauthorized entry into, or use of, University facilities including computing networks which are restricted in access.

9. Damage and/or vandalism to public, private, personal, or University property.

10. Intentional obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, other University activities or activities authorized to take place on University property.

11. Disorderly conduct, including acts which breach the peace and/or are lewd, indecent, or obscene.

12. Failure to comply with the reasonable directions of University, local, state, or federal officials performing official duties, including but not limited to:

(a) Failure to give proper identification;

(b) Failure to complete assigned judicial sanctions or;

(c) Failure to vacate any premises when requested.


13. Being complicit with, present during, or having actual knowledge of any act which violates the Community Standards.

14. Illegal or unauthorized possession or use of firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals on University premises.


15. Violations of University policies as described in The Student Handbook and the University Catalogue and all other rules governing University facilities, programs and services, including but not limited to:

(a) Academic policies

(b) Financial policies

(c) Information Resources Services (OIR) policies

(d) Office of Residence Life polices & procedures

(e) Student Life policies & procedures

(f) Parking policies and regulations

16. Violations of statutes, laws, ordinances and/or regulations of the City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States of America.

Judicial Processes


Alleged violations of The Community Standards are adjudicated by judicial hearing officers or judicial hearing boards, depending upon the type of alleged violation, and other factors, such as the seriousness of the charges, the location of the event, the number of students involved, and/or the potential sanction at issue.


Types of Judicial Officers and Judicial Hearing Boards


1.  Judicial Officers:

(a) Professional staff members: Designated members of the Division of Student Life are authorized to conduct hearings, determine responsibility, and, if applicable, assign sanctions for allegations for non-academic and non-sexual cases. (see Sanctions below).  The Director of Judicial Affairs has the authority to appoint a panel of judicial officers to hear cases of a non-academic and non-sexual matter that are not of a serious nature or involve prior offenses.

(b) Faculty members: Faculty serve as judicial officers for their classes and are empowered to resolve violations of the Academic Integrity Policy occurring within their classes. Faculty have the authority to administer sanctions within their courses, including failure on the assignment in question to failure for the course. Faculty have the prerogative to refer any case to the Academic Integrity Board (see below).


2.  The Student Conduct Board:

The Student Conduct Board hears non-academic and non-sexual cases that are serious in nature or involve prior offences. Composition: three students selected by the Director of Judicial Affairs; three administrative staff or faculty members appointed by the Director of Judicial Affairs; and a presiding officer (the Chair of the Student Experience Committee or a faculty delegate). The Committee is advised by the Director of Judicial Affairs (or designee), who serves as the recording secretary.


3.  The Academic Integrity Board (a subcommittee of The Student Experience Committee):

The Academic Integrity Board hears alleged violations of the Academic Integrity Policy referred by faculty members. Composition: three faculty members from The Student Experience Committee; three student representatives selected by the Director of Judicial Affairs; and a presiding officer (the Chair of the Student Experience Committee or faculty delegate). The Committee is advised by the Director of Judicial Affairs (or designee), who serves as the recording secretary.


4.  The Sexual Misconduct Board:

The Sexual Misconduct Board hears complaints of student sexual misconduct. The committee is selected from a pool of faculty, staff and students trained in matters related to sexual misconduct. Composition: one faculty member, one student, and one administrative staff member. The Board in advised by the Title IX Coordinator. The Director of Judicial Affairs (or designee) serves as the recording secretary.


The Complaint Process


Any University community member who has witnessed or been victim of a violation of The Community Standards may file a complaint in writing to the Director of Judicial Affairs or Dean of Students. This includes incident reports from Safety and Security and the Residence Life staff. (For allegations of the violations of academic integrity, see The Academic Integrity Policy; for allegations of sexual misconduct, see The Sexual Misconduct Policy). Complaints from citizens outside the University community or the law enforcement officials may be grounds for adjudication under The Community Standards.


Written complaints should contain the following:

1.  A description of the alleged violation with specific details re: date, time, location and incident.

2.  The Community Standard alleged to have been violated.

3.  The judicial officer will then arrange a meeting with the complainant to provide an overview of the University Judicial System and collect other information as needed.

Judicial Procedures for Complaints Referred to Judicial Officers


1.  Notice:

Students who are accused of violations of The Community Standards will be contacted via University e-mail by a judicial officer to set up an appointment to discuss the allegation and advise the respondent of his/her rights under The Community Standards. The hearing will be established for a reasonable time thereafter. Students must respond to the judicial notice within 48 business hours to schedule an appointment. Failure to comply with the summons or failure to attend one's own hearing does not preclude the case from being heard and a decision being rendered in absentia.


2.  Hearing Protocols

(a) Hearings shall be conducted in private. Admission of any person to the hearing shall be at the discretion of the judicial officer.

(b) In hearings involving more than one accused student, the judicial officer may conduct hearings concerning each student separately.

(c) The judicial officer will conduct an investigation of the complaint, gather evidence, and interview any parties involved in or witness to the matter.

(d) The judicial officer will present to the respondent any evidence pertaining to the allegation of the violation of The Community Standards.

(e) The respondent will be asked to present a statement regarding responsibility for the alleged violation.


3.  Standard of Proof: The decision of the judicial officer shall be made on the basis of the preponderance of evidence; that is, whether it is more likely than not that the respondent committed the violation.


4.  Determination of Responsibility and Sanctions: Once the judicial officer is satisfied that the necessary procedures have been completed and a hearing is held, as applicable, the judicial officer will make a determination whether the respondent is in violation of The Community Standards, and if so, will assign the appropriate sanctions (see Sanctions below).


Judicial Procedures for Complaints Referred to Judicial Hearing Boards:


1.  Notice

Students who are accused of violations of The Community Standards will be contacted via their University e-mail account by a judicial hearing officer to set up an appointment to discuss the allegation and advise the respondent of his/her rights under The Community Standards. Students must respond to the notice within 48 hours to schedule an appointment. If the case advances to a judicial hearing board, the respondent will be provided the hearing procedure guidelines which describe in full the procedure for the hearing. Failure to comply with the summons or failure to attend one's own hearing does not preclude the case from being heard and a decision being rendered in absentia.



2.  Advisors

If the complaint is advanced to a judicial hearing board for adjudication, the respondent and the complainant will be assigned advisors from the Student Life staff or other faculty or staff from the University community. The advisor’s role is to assist the student in understanding the judicial procedure. The advisor may accompany the respondent or complainant throughout the judicial process. The advisor does not advocate on behalf of the complainant or respondent, or address the judicial board in any way, but may, with the permission of the presiding judicial hearing officer, consult with the advisee.


3.  Personal support

Because cases are often stressful and overwhelming, both the respondent and the complainant may request that a personal friend or associate accompany them at the hearing. This person has no role other than to advise and to provide moral support to the student and may not address the judicial hearing board.


4.  Pre-Hearing Procedures

(a) The respondent and the complainant have an equal opportunity to present and cross-examine witnesses at the discretion of the Director of Judicial Affairs or the judicial hearing officer.

(b) Only those witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the alleged incident or having material information will be permitted to offer testimony. The decision to hear testimony from witnesses will be made by the judicial hearing board in consultation with the Director of Judicial Affairs.

(c) The Director of Judicial Affairs or the judicial hearing officer will establish the procedure for the parties to exchange information prior to the hearing. The exchange will occur generally and no later than five days prior to the hearing unless the judicial hearing officer sets an earlier date for the exchange. The parties will exchange copies of all information relevant to the incident to be shared at the hearing and a list of possible witnesses. The release of information pursuant to this Section may be subject to limitations imposed by state and Federal law. The judicial hearing officer may exclude any information from the hearing that a party fails to include in this exchange of information or fails to exchange according to these procedures.



5.  Hearing Protocols:

(a) All hearings shall be conducted in private and are confidential. Participants may not disclose any part of the proceedings outside the hearing. Admission of any person to the hearing is at the discretion of the judicial hearing board. Hearings are limited to the respondent, complainant, advisors, any authorized support persons, approved witnesses, the judicial hearing board members, and support staff.

(b) In hearings involving more than one respondent, the Director of Judicial Affairs determines whether the hearings will be held jointly or separately.

(c) All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Director of Judicial Affairs in consultation with the Chair of the judicial hearing board. Technical rules of evidence associated with criminal and civil courts are not applicable to University judicial hearings.

(d) Hearings will be conducted in a timely manner, as determined by the Director of Judicial Affairs or the Dean of Students.


6.  Evidence

(a) Pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as evidence for consideration by a judicial hearing board at the discretion of the Director of Judicial Affairs in consultation with the Chair of the judicial hearing board. Both the complainant and the respondent shall have an ample opportunity to review all evidence prior to the hearing. Such reviews are restricted to the privacy of the Dean of Students Office. No copies of any part of the case file may be reproduced or removed from the Dean of Students Office. No cell phones or other electronic devices are allowed in the review process. Violations of this policy will result in further charges.

(b) All materials introduced as evidence will be available to all parties during the hearing. Only presented evidence shall be considered during the hearing.

(c) References to prior incidents will not normally be permitted unless they are materially related to the matter at hand.



7.  Standard of Proof:

The decision of the judicial hearing board shall be made on the basis of the preponderance of evidence; that is, whether it is more likely than not that the respondent committed the violation.


8.  Determination of Responsibility & Sanctions

(a) After all parties have testified and all evidence is considered, the respondent and complainant will be asked to make closing statements. The Respondent and Complainant and any witnesses will then be dismissed, and the judicial hearing board will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the student is responsible for violation of The Community Standard in question.

(b) In the case of a finding of responsible, the judicial hearing board will assign the appropriate sanctions. If the respondent has prior violations of the Community Standards, they will be introduced in the consideration of appropriate sanctions.

(c) Decisions made by a judicial hearing board shall be final, pending the appeal process delineated below. Following the hearing, the respondent and the complainant will be recalled and told of the decision of the hearing and of the sanctions imposed. The respondent will receive the written decision via e-mail and conventional mail within three business days, or whenever reasonably practical. In sexual misconduct cases, the complaint also receives written notification of the outcome of the proceeding.



9.  Sanctions:

The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated The Student Community Standards:

(a) Warning and/or Censure: A written notice to the student that he or she is violating or has violated The Community Standards, and that such conduct will not be tolerated within the University community.

(b) Probation: Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe judicial sanctions if the student is found to be in violation of The Student Community Standards during a probationary period. Probationary status may affect the student’s eligibility for some University programs or activities, including but not limited to study abroad, varsity athletic competition, and summer housing.

(c) Suspension: Removal from classes and other privileges or activities as a student for a designated period of time. A suspended student must turn in campus photo ID, University keys, and all other University property at the time the suspension goes into effect. Students on suspension are considered persona non grata, i.e. loss of all privileges of enrolled students. The University may specify conditions prior to reinstatement.

(d) Expulsion: Permanent removal from classes and other privileges or activities as a student. Expelled students must turn in their campus photo ID, University keys, and all other University property at the time expulsion goes into effect and are considered persona non grata at the University.

(e) Educational Sanctions

  1. Referral to counseling or other support services or educational programs.
  2. Community Service or other service-work at or for the University.
  3. Assignments as determined by the judicial hearing officer or judicial body.

(f) Other Sanctions

  1. Loss of Privileges: Denial or restriction of specified privileges or use of specified facilities for a designated period of time.

  2. Fines

  3. Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage or injury through the payment of money or through appropriate work requirement related to the offense.

  4. Room/building reassignment: Immediate relocation of the student to another campus residence.

  5. Termination of the Housing Agreement; removal from campus residence halls and/or restriction from access to campus housing;

  6. Failing assignment or course grade (in cases of academic dishonesty only). If the sanction is failure of the course, an “F” will be given and will appear on the transcript; the student will not be allowed to drop the course, even within the drop period.

  7. Persona Non Grata status: Prohibition from a specific area or all campus property and/or activities. Violation of a persona non-grata sanction may subject the violator to arrest for trespassing;

More than one of the above sanctions listed may be imposed for any single violation. Other than University expulsion, disciplinary sanctions shall not be made part of the student's academic transcript, but shall become part of the student's permanent judicial record. A student's record is, therefore, subject to review by those authorized to request it on a “need to know basis, other higher education institutions, and future employers, in cases where the student initiates the disclosure or waives his right to privacy.

(g) Student Organization & Other Group Sanctions

When a student organization engages in some act(s) of misconduct, the University may take action not only against the student(s) involved, but also against the organization itself. Options for sanctioning are outlined below. Sanctions may include deactivation or loss of privileges, including University recognition, for a specified period of time.

(h) Interim Sanctions

Should a student's presence on campus create a threat to the safety or well-being of members of the Philadelphia University community, the University reserves the right to immediately suspend that student from campus until a judicial hearing can he convened. The University shall provide the student notice of interim suspension as soon as practical. The University reserves the right to resolve a case and sanction a student, including suspension, without a hearing where such action is deemed necessary or appropriate by the Dean of Students.


Interim suspension may be imposed to help ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community or preservation of University property; to help ensure the student's own physical or emotional safety and/or well-being; to help prevent disruption or interference with the normal operations of the University.


During interim suspension, students may be denied access to the residence areas and/or to the campus (including classes) and/or all other University activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible. Whenever interim sanctions are imposed a hearing will be convened at the earliest possible time. The interim sanction(s) may remain in effect until a final decision has been reached, including any appropriate appeals process.


10.  Appeals

A decision reached by a judicial hearing officer or a judicial hearing board may be appealed by the respondent(s) or the complainant(s). A request for an appeal must be submitted in writing to the Director of Judicial Affairs (or designee) within two business days of the decision. The Director of Judicial Affairs will direct the appeal to the appropriate appellate judicial officer or judicial hearing board. Appeals are heard as follows:

(a) Appeal of a decision of a judicial hearing officer: Director of Judicial Affairs or delegate.

(b) Appeal of suspension from housing or of campus privileges: Dean of Students.

(c) Appeals of academic integrity violations: The academic program director, or Executive Dean of the School in which the violation occurred.

(d) Appeal of suspension or expulsion from the University: The President’s Office.


Appeals must be submitted in writing and must meet at least one of the following criteria:

(a) Violation of University judicial procedures.

(b) Misinterpretation of the policies alleged to be violated.

(c) New evidence not reasonably available at the time of the hearing.

(d) Improper or excessive sanction(s).

(e) Decision not supported by a preponderance of evidence.


Upon receipt of the appeal, the appellate officer or judicial hearing board take the following action:

(a) Deny the appeal for lack of sufficient reason for appeal.

(b) Agree to re-hear the case.

(c) Investigate and amend the decision and/or sanction.


In appeals involving claims of improper or excessive sanctions, an appeal cannot result in more severe sanctions for the respondent. Review of the audio transcript or other supporting materials will be available to the appellate board upon request.


 11.  Judicial Records

(a) The written decision is filed in the confidential Judicial File maintained in the Dean of Students Office and disclosed to third parties only with the student’s permission or on a “need to know” basis. Access to the file is granted by the Dean of Students or delegate. A full explanation of the privacy of student records may be found in the Philadelphia University Family Rights and Education Act (FERPA) policy available in the Student Record policy in The University Catalogue.

(b) The complete hearing file, including, audio transcripts of hearing, is maintained in The Dean of Students Office and is not accessible once the hearing is concluded unless subpoenaed by a court of law.