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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a list of frequently asked questions from across Student Affairs collected here in one place for your convenience. You can browse by topic/department or search by keyword.

Frequently Asked Question From Students, Student Conduct and Community Standards

1. Does the disciplinary process affect my grades?

Professors reserve the right to determine the grades that his/her student receives. The grading process, even in cases involving alleged academic dishonesty, is determined separately from that of the disciplinary process.

2. Can I postpone my hearing?

Yes. A student may postpone the hearing if there is an academic conflict (for example, a class, a midterm or a final examination).  Please contact the OJA staff for assistance.

3. What happens if I do not attend the hearing?

The hearing will proceed in the student's absence.

4. Who will be at the hearing?

Two hearing officers from the Dean of Student Affairs staff and the accused student will be present for the hearing.  The student's Advising Dean may also be present in cases of Academic Dishonesty to support the student.

5. Can I bring someone else to the hearing with me (for example, an attorney)?

No. As the Dean’s Discipline hearing process is not a legal or adversarial process, neither attorneys nor other advocates are permitted in the hearing. However, there are a variety of University resources available to assist students with questions or concerns about the hearing or the Dean’s Discipline process in general.

• A student can speak with a Dean’s Discipline Process Resource Person. These individuals are trained to assist students with many aspects of the Dean’s Discipline process. They can answer questions about the Dean’s Discipline process, the hearing, as well as provide guidance regarding general preparation for the hearing. However, it is the student’s primary responsibility to prepare for his or her hearing.

• A student can speak with their Advising Dean. An Advising Dean's participation as a support for the student is required in cases of alleged academic dishonesty/misconduct. This participation is optional for cases of alleged behavioral misconduct.

• A student can contact the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards and request to meet with a staff member to discuss general information about the Dean’s Discipline process prior to your hearing.

Students are also encouraged to speak with staff members in Counseling and Psychological Services should one begin to feel overwhelmed while going through this process. Family and friends or others in their personal support network may also serve as helpful points of contact.

6. Can I bring witnesses to the hearing?

No. Witnesses are not permitted to attend the hearing. A student may provide the hearing officers with the names and contact information of individuals who may help the hearing officers determine whether or not a violation took place. The hearing officers will determine whether or not they need to speak with said individuals. Students are permitted to present statements from witnesses during the hearing.

7. Will the person who accused me attend the hearing as well?

No. The written report, sometimes called an incident report, or a written complaint by the accuser will serve as the statement for the person who has brought forward a report of a policy violation. However, if deemed appropriate (by the hearing officers or the student), the hearing officers will contact the accuser in order to obtain additional information when necessary.

8. Do I have to dress up for my hearing?

No, students are not required to dress up for a Dean's Discipline hearing.

9. What will I be asked at the hearing?

The hearing officers will ask a student for his/her account regarding the incident report. They may also ask students to provide thoughts on the incident itself.

10.Who will know about this (the hearing and/or decision)?

Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, also called the “Buckley Amendment”). There are several important exceptions to FERPA that will allow the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards to release information to third parties. For example, it is important to note that the release of student disciplinary records is permitted without prior consent to: University officials with legitimate educational interest such as a student's Advising Dean, the Office of Preprofessional Advising, faculty members in academic dishonesty cases, and Columbia Athletics for student athletes; victim/s of an alleged crime of violence or of an alleged sexual assault; and parents of a student who is financially dependent.

Please refer to Essential Policies for the Columbia Community for a complete list of exceptions under FERPA.

11.Can I review the information OJA has (my file) prior to my hearing?

Yes. File information shared with the accused student during the hearing may also be accessed before and after the hearing.  An appointment may be scheduled by contacting the OJA staff at least 24 hours in advance. 

12.What is a file/record?

A file/record contains information related to the incident. Minimally, the contents will include the incident report, correspondence with/from the OJA, hearing notes, and an outcome letter. A student's file/record is maintained by the OJA.

13.What if I disagree with the contents of my file?

• If a student has a disagreement with the incident report itself, he/she may inform the hearing officers during the hearing.

• If a student has a disagreement with the notes taken during the hearing, he/she may speak with the OJA staff. If the OJA hearing officer chooses not to change the notes, students are permitted to make a written addendum and have this information added to the file.

14.Can anyone view my file?

Please refer to question #10.

15.Can I have the violation expunged from my record?

No. Columbia College and Columbia Engineering do not have a policy regarding expunging a students' records.

16.Will this go on my transcript?

A transcript notation may be placed on a student’s transcript if the student has been expelled.

17.Will this go on my record?

A student's record in this case is their judicial file. Many students believe that a judicial record equates to your transcript however, this is not the case. A transcript represents a different type of record. Please refer to the answer to the previous question.

18.What does the appeals process entail?

The appeal is considered a review of the record and the process, not a new hearing. Therefore, the appeal officer will not conduct an in-person meeting.  Appeals should be typed and submitted electronically.  Specific instruction is provided on the outcome letter if a student is found responsible. 

There are three grounds upon which a review of a decision of responsible may be made:

  1. If a student has new information, unavailable at the time the hearing
  2. If a student has concerns with the process that may change or affect the outcome of the decision
  3. If a student feels that the sanction issued is too severe.

The student will be contacted if further clarification is needed.  The appeal officer will contact the student in writing once a decision is made.  It is possible for the decision to sustain, overturn, or modify the original decision made by the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.  The decision of the appeal officer is final. It is important to note that a modification of the original decision may result in a sanction that is more severe.


19.Will the appeal officer accept letters of character?

It is not necessary to submit character reference letters unless the person writing on your behalf has direct information about the actual incident that was not originally submitted as part of the hearing process.

20.Will graduate schools, medical schools, law schools, dental schools, or my future employers find out about this incident?

Please refer to the answer to question #10. You may also speak with a staff member in the Office of Preprofessional Advising for questions related to medical schools, law schools, dental schools, and with the OJA for all other inquiries.