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Student Organizations Conduct Process

I. General Provision

Section A: Student Organizations

Any group of St. John’s University students united by a common mission are referred to as a “student organization.” This includes all organizations recognized by Student Government, Incorporated, all organizations affiliated with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL), and all other groups with membership partially or fully comprised of St. John’s students.

All recognized student organizations are expected to act in accordance with the Mission Statement and Core Values of St. John’s University.

A fundamental pillar of the success of any student organization is the election of officers, all of whom, among their other duties, strive to ensure that the activities of the organization are conducted properly. It is the responsibility of the officers of each student organization to ensure that the organization complies with the Student Organizations Conduct Process and to actively oppose and/or prevent any planned or impromptu organizational activity that would violate this process. Any organizational officer who allows their organization or a member of that organization to violate the Student Organizations Conduct Process without taking steps to prevent the violation also commits a violation of this Process.

Additionally, any organizational officer who knows of an unreported violation of the Process that has been committed and does not report it to appropriate University officials is in violation of the Process. The organization may also be sanctioned as a collective if an organizational officer is found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct while serving as an officer.

Section B: Statement on Authority

The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) reserves the right to address the behavior of all student organizations, regardless of whether that behavior occurs on-campus or off-campus.

Student organizations and its members may be found collectively responsible for any action committed by members that violate University policy. Disciplinary action taken against student organizations may be separate from action taken against individual members. Facts of an incident may necessitate action taken against both a student organization and the individual members of that organization who were found to have violated University policy.

Section C: Statement on Prohibited Conduct

Student organizations and their members shall be required to adhere to the standards and regulations outlined in the policies below. A violation of any of these policies by a student organization or its members may result in disciplinary action. Attempted violations, or complicity on behalf of the organization or its members, may also be treated as a violation. Any person having knowledge of any activity or conduct which may constitute an organizational violation should contact the OSC or Public Safety immediately.

Although the OSC reserves the right to address alleged violations of FIPG policies, policies maintained by St. John’s University always supersede FIPG policies. For example, a behavior or activity that is permissible by FIPG, but prohibited by a St. John’s University policy, shall be treated as an alleged violation.

Section D: Statement on Unrecognized Organizations

An unrecognized student organization is any fraternity, sorority, or other student organization which was previously recognized by the University but is no longer recognized. This includes groups with a membership and/or a purpose substantially identical to a previously recognized student organization, even if operating under a different name. 

A student who facilitates participation in an unrecognized student organization may be charged with violations of the Student Code of Conduct and referred to the student conduct process. The accused student may be subject to the full range of disciplinary sanctions available at the University, up to and including expulsion.

Section E: Definitions

The term “University” means St. John’s University.

The term “student” includes all persons taking courses at the University, full-time or part-time.

The term “member of the University community” includes any person who is a student, faculty member, University official, employee of a University vendor, or any other person employed by the University.

The term “University premises” includes all land, buildings, facilities, and other properties in the possession of or owned, used, leased or controlled by the University (including adjacent streets and sidewalks). The term includes property the University leases from third parties or contracts with third parties, including shuttle buses.

The term “Student Conduct Administrator” means a member of the University community authorized by the Senior Student Affairs Officer or designee to impose sanctions for University policy violations. 

The term “Conduct Board” means persons authorized by the Senior Student Affairs Officer or designee to determine whether a student has violated University policy.

The term “member” shall mean person(s) affiliated with the organization listed on their official roster with the University, actively participates in organization activities, or is an alumni member of the organization.

The term “shall” is used in the imperative sense.

The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.

Section F: Organizational Rights

The following are the rights of student organizations involved in the student conduct process:

Notice: The president (or analogous position) of a student organization will be informed via their St. John’s e-mail account when an investigation begins and the outcome of the investigation.

Unbiased Hearing: Student organizations have the right to have their conduct matter heard by a fair and impartial process.

Appeal:  Once the organizational conduct process has been completed, a student organization may appeal the decision of the OSC if it is found in violation of any policy listed in Section C of the General Provision. More information about this can be found in the “Appeals” section of this document.

II. Organizational Conduct Process

Initiation of the Conduct Process: Any person may file a complaint against a student organization with the OSC or Public Safety. The OSC may review and/or investigate all suspected or reported violations.

Investigation:  Investigations obtain facts about the behavior in question, and may consist of gathering witness statements, evidence, or other relevant information. The student organization president may be notified of the investigation by the OSC. An organization’s advisor or liaison may also be notified of the investigation by the OSC.

Investigations may result in the OSC presenting charges of a University policy violation, or may result in the closure or dismissal of a complaint based on the information available. If charges are brought, they shall be communicated in writing (via SJU Email) to the president of the organization.

Interim Actions: At his or her discretion, the Dean of Students or designee may implement interim actions to preserve the safety and integrity of the SJU community prior to the completion of the Student Organizations Conduct Process. Once imposed, an interim action takes effect immediately and cannot be appealed.

Interim actions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Interim Restriction: Specific restrictions of organizational functions/activities (on- or off-campus); and
  • Interim Suspension: A complete halt to all student organization functions and activities (on- or off-campus).

Response to Formal Charges: A Student Conduct Administrator (SCA) shall hold a meeting with the president or designee of a student organization that has been charged with a University policy violation. The organization’s president or designee shall have the opportunity to respond to the charges and either accept responsibility or deny the violation. The organization president or designee shall also have the opportunity to present any relevant information and evidence on behalf of the organization.

The SCA may make a determination of responsibility based on the information provided, or may refer the matter to the Conduct Board.

If the matter is referred to the Conduct Board, the organization president or designee shall represent the organization at the hearing, which shall follow the process outlined in Section V of the Student Conduct Process. An organization’s advisor or liaison may attend (but not actively participate in) any meeting or hearing attended by the organization’s president or designee.

III. Sanctions

The sanctions listed below are imposed by the OSC. Previous violations may be considered by student conduct administrators in determining sanctions. More than one (1) of the sanctions listed below may be imposed for any single violation.

Formal Warning: A formal written warning.

Fine: The University may impose a financial penalty.

Restitution: Financial compensation for losses or damages.

Discretionary Sanctions: The OSC may assign educational or service-centered sanctions related to the actions of the student organization so that its members may better understand the impact of their actions on the community.  

Probation: Student organizations placed on probation are not in good standing with the University. Probation is for a defined amount of time. Student organizations found responsible for a University policy violation while on probation may be suspended or have their recognition revoked.

Probation may include specific restrictions, including but not limited to:

  • prohibition of social events (on- or off-campus);
  • recruitment of new members;
  • participation in campus activities; and
  • completion of specified educational programs.

Suspension: A complete separation of the student organization from the SJU community for a specified period of time. Suspended organizations may not operate or engage in activity, use University funds or resources (including SGI budgets), recruit new members, engage in student activities, or represent SJU in any fashion. Suspended organizations shall forfeit all reserved space, University funds and other resources back to SGI.

After the specified suspension period has elapsed, the Dean of Students or designee shall review the status of the organization. The Dean of Students or designee may impose conditional restrictions on organizations upon the end of their suspension, including, but not limited to, a probationary period to ensure safe and successful re-acclimation to the community.

Loss of Recognition: In instances where a student organization’s misconduct is constant or severe, the University may revoke all recognition, which serves as a permanent separation of the organization from the University community. This Loss of Recognition shall prohibit the use of the SJU name, recruitment of new members, University or SGI funding, and the ability to host events on campus or in any way interact with or represent SJU.

Any group of St. John’s University students who continue to function as a student organization after a Suspension or Loss of Recognition, or who continue to engage in prohibited behavior, shall be subject to the full range of disciplinary sanctions available at the University through the Student Conduct Process, up to and including expulsion.

IV. Appeals

Any sanction imposed shall be effective immediately and shall remain in effect through the conclusion of the appeal process. Organizations shall have the right to one (1) appeal, which is to be submitted by the president or designee of the student organization. The Office of Student Conduct shall not recognize or respond to appeals submitted by any other persons from the organization, or from former members of the organization who are no longer St. John’s students.

A decision set forth by the OSC may be revised or overturned only when it is demonstrated that:

  • the organization has submitted or presented information that indicates an omission in the Student Organization Conduct Process that may have affected the final outcome; or
  • there is new evidence which did not exist at the time of the hearing that would have a bearing on the findings or sanctions.

An organization wishing to appeal must provide notice to the Dean of Students or designee in writing within seven (7) days of delivery of the decision letter. Appeals submitted after this time shall not be accepted. The Dean of Students or designee shall determine if the appeal submitted within the appropriate time frame meets the standards identified above.

The Dean of Students or designee may render any of the following decisions:

  • Affirm the decision of the OSC;
  • Modify the sanctions assigned; and
  • Refer the case back to the OSC for a new hearing.

The president of the organization shall be notified of the appeal decision via their SJU email. All appeal decisions are final.

Updated July 2017. Language from this policy was adopted from the University of Alabama and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.