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Understanding Your College's Code of Conduct

Whether it’s you who’s going off to college this month or it’s your son or daughter who’s making the trek, it’s important to think about the university’s code of conduct while they are away. The last thing you want is to get into trouble while away from home because you didn’t fully understand the rules.

With so many colleges having a zero-tolerance policy, it’s more critical than ever to actually read those code of conduct documents before signing.


In order for a school to be successful, it must have a student body that is eager to learn but also one that is well behaved. We teach our children the difference between good and bad behavior at a very early age, which, hopefully, they bring into the classroom throughout their lives. Teachers and school administrators serve as role models, taking on the responsibility of ensuring students meet certain conduct expectations.
Student codes of conduct are for the benefit of both the classroom and the individual, outlining students' rights and the consequences of failure to follow the established rules.


"Conduct" covers a large spectrum of behaviors that form the basis for a formal code within any college system. Developing this code of conduct is no easy feat. A violation of conduct rules can cover anything from no chewing gum on school property to no carrying concealed weapons into any school building. The school administration sets these rules and must also enforce them.

Typical College Code of Conduct

This document usually starts off with an outline of rights and responsibilities for the students and faculty, listing various infractions categorized according to severity. Each infraction comes with the appropriate disciplinary measure. The code of conduct should also explain the students’ right to appeal any disciplinary action taken against them.


It’s wise to keep in mind that both students and faculty have rights and responsibilities, including the right to be informed of the college’s policies and regulations, the right to know the academic requirements of each course, and the right to be advised of their progress.
In addition to those academic rights, students also have privacy rights. While in general, students have the right to have personal possessions that are off-limits, the college reserves the right to search any student or school property if it has reason to believe the student is doing something illegal. This could be anything from carrying a knife to keeping drugs in their dorm room. Desks, lockers, and, yes, even dorm rooms, are all school property, and as such, colleges can inspect them without a student’s permission.


Teachers have the right to be able to perform their job without distractions and the right to discipline students in an appropriate manner.
When a student is accused of a serious offense that is in violation of a school's student code of conduct, suspension or expulsion can result. However, the student has the right to appeal that decision under due process. No student can be punished solely on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, disability, or national origin.


Lastly, college jurisdiction applies not only to the actual school grounds, but codes of conduct are still valid when students attend school-related functions off campus.


These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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