Reporting and Disciplinary Process

As part of the process of educating students about the potential impacts of their actions on their individual lives and the University community at-large, The Mailman School has partnered with Columbia University’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS).

SCCS assists the Columbia community with the maintenance of a safe, honest, and responsible campus environment. The office may contact students if it is alleged that they have engaged in behavior that is inconsistent with University, affiliated school, or program policies and/or federal, state, or local laws. When such an allegation is made, students may be referred to and Honor Board or the Dean’s Discipline process.

Students, faculty, and staff may file a report directly to Student Conduct and Community Standards for any incident involving a member of the Columbia University community.

Disciplinary Charges

Students, faculty members, or Columbia staff who have concerns or complaints about a student's behavior, should file a report with Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS). Based on the information available, the Dean of Students, in consultation with SCCS, will determine the appropriate follow up and may refer the student(s) alleged to have violated policy to a formal disciplinary hearing. If a formal disciplinary hearing is to be held, a representative from SCCS will contact the student, explain the procedure, and set up an appropriate time and place for the disciplinary hearing.

Disciplinary Hearing

A disciplinary hearing is held to discuss the allegations with the student, and when necessary, to determine appropriate sanctions. Present at the hearing are the charged student, a member of Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS), and a representative from the Mailman School. On the strength of the evidence and the student's response, the SCCS representative and the representative from the Mailman School will reach a determination based on the preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., what is more likely than not). The student will be notified of the decision within 10 business days after the hearing has concluded.

Sanctions

If a student is found responsible for a policy violation, sanctions will be issued in consideration of the specific circumstances of the case, institutional precedent, disciplinary history, aggravating circumstances and community impact. Potential sanctions include: warning, disciplinary probation, suspension, dismissal. As the disciplinary process is also an educational one, students may be referred to resources and campus support services or asked to complete additional projects.

A violation of academic integrity compromises the intellectual foundation of our institution. To violate that principle is one of the most serious offenses a student can commit at Columbia University. Irrespective of the disciplinary outcome, faculty members reserve the right to assign grades as they deem appropriate.

If a student is found responsible for a second policy violation, the student can expect that the likely outcome will further disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the program.

A student found responsible for violating policy has the right to request an appeal of the decision and the resulting sanction(s). This appeal must be completed by the student and should be submitted electronically within five business days from the date of the decision (or as indicated in the hearing outcome letter) and addressed to the Dean of the School. There are three grounds upon which a request for appeal may be considered:

  • A procedural error affecting the determination or sanction
  • New information that was not available at the time of the investigation or hearing and that may change the determination or sanction
  • Excessiveness of the sanction

Requests for appeal are considered at the discretion of the Dean of Students and disagreement with the finding or sanction is not, by itself, grounds for appeal. Requests that do not appropriately address the ground(s) for appeal may be denied. If the appeal is considered, the appeal officer will determine if a change in decision is warranted. The appeal officer reviews the request and entirety of the student’s file and does not meet with the requestor nor does the appeal officer personally rehear the case. The appeal officer may change the sanction making it either less or more severe or may request a re-hearing of the case based upon information that is provided in the appeal request.

Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the appeal officer will notify the student of the final decision in writing. This final decision is not appealable.

Confidentiality

In general, under University policy and federal law, information about Dean's Disciplinary proceedings against a student is confidential and may not be disclosed to others.

Informal Complaints Concerning Misconduct

Any instructor, officer, staff member, or student who chooses not to put a complaint in writing can instead make an informal complaint. In these cases, the Associate Dean for Students Affairs and Dean of Students (or designee) usually discusses the matter with the student. In these situations, the student will receive a formal warning, which will be noted in the student's educational file, along with any recommendations made to the student. Such warnings will be taken into account if and when similar complaints are made in the future, and a pattern of informal complaints may lead to formal disciplinary action.

More information can be found at the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office website.