Guide for Advisors in the Student Conduct Process

The Oklahoma State University Student Code of Conduct stipulates that a student may select an advisor to advise him/her during student conduct proceedings. The following information is intended to inform advisors of their role in OSU’s student conduct process.

What is an advisor?
An advisor is any person who has been selected by and agreed to assist a complaining or responding student during the university conduct process.

Who can serve as an advisor?
An advisor may be an OSU faculty or staff member, another OSU student, a friend, a parent, an attorney or any other person of the student’s choosing (provided they are not involved in the situation). The student must notify Student Conduct Education and Administration two university working days in advance of the hearing if he/she will be accompanied by an advisor who is an attorney. In instances where an attorney is present as an advisor, an attorney from the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents Office of Legal Counsel may be present. Please be aware that when the university has its attorney in attendance during a committee hearing, he or she will advise the hearing panel and will not participate in the presentation of evidence.

What is the role of an advisor during a conduct meeting?
The role of an advisor in a conduct meeting is to:

  • support the student.
  • consult with the student during the meeting.
  • suggest questions for the student to ask.
  • assist the student in clarifying his/her response to questions.

The role of an advisor is not to act as a participant in the hearing, which comports with due process requirements. Students are allowed to have one advisor present with them during their meeting.  Advisors are limited to advising the student and may not present information, ask questions or make statements during the meeting. An advisor may not speak for or on behalf of a student. During a meeting, an advisor may quietly converse with or write notes to a student. It is asked that the advisor be mindful that communication with the student does not disrupt the meeting.

What is the role of an advisor during a conduct or committee hearing?
A conduct hearing/conduct committee hearing differs from a conduct meeting as the respondent is facing possible suspension or expulsion from the university.

The role of an advisor in a hearing is to:

  • Support the student.
  • Consult with their student during the hearing.
  • Suggest questions for the student to ask.
  • Assist the student in clarifying his/her response to questions.

In a hearing, advisors may:

  • Participate only to the extent and in the same manner as afforded to the student they are advising.

Advisors may not:

  • Delay, disrupt or interfere with the proceedings.
  • Present information not relevant to the issues being discussed at the hearing.
  • Disrespect others in the hearing by badgering or harassing the other student(s) involved including, but not limited to, making victim blaming statements.

Advisors are expected to:

  • Act in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Be mindful that the Student Conduct process is educational in nature, not penal.

What happens if an advisor does not act within the limitations outlined for him/her?
In conduct meetings, if an advisor does not act in accordance with the limitations set forth, then the conduct officer will warn him/her that if noncompliance persists, the advisor will be required to leave the hearing. If the advisor continues to act outside the limitations set forth, the advisor may be required to leave the meeting.

In conduct hearing/conduct committee hearings, participation is a privilege which, if abused, may be withdrawn by the hearing officer or hearing panel chair. If the privilege is withdrawn, the advisor may continue to advise the student, but may not participate directly in the hearing. If the advisor fails to act in accordance with hearing procedure and with the standards set forth herein, the hearing officer or hearing panel chair may require the advisor to leave the hearing.

What is the difference between the university student conduct process and the legal system?
The university’s philosophy on student discipline is educational in nature. Student Conduct Education and Administration strives to help students learn from their choices in addition to holding them accountable for their behavior. The standards set forth by the university in the Student Code of Conduct are considered much higher than the obligations imposed by civil and criminal law for all citizens. The following chart depicts the main differences between the legal system and the university student conduct process.

Legal System University Student Conduct Process
Prosecutes criminals who violate the law Discipline students who violate institutional rules

Higher standard of proof — “beyond a reasonable doubt”

Lower standard of proof — “more likely than not.” (Also referred to as the "preponderance of the evidence.")

“Rules of evidence” often applied in state and federal courts “Rules of evidence” do not apply to Student Conduct Meetings or Hearings. [1] The conduct officer, hearing officer or panel will weigh all evidence — including issues of credibility and relevance — when making a determination

More severe punishment

Educational and corrective accountability

Can imprison people

Maximum consequence is expulsion

State and federal laws set minimum standards for the safe and orderly operation of society

Set standards requiring ethical and moral behavior of students to create and maintain a productive University living and learning community

Legal system may choose not to prosecute a certain action or behavior

Campus resolution may proceed before, during or after civil or criminal actions are concluded. Civil and criminal processes do not affect the Student Conduct process.

Punishment Action Plan/Assignments/Sanctions
"Guilty" or "not guilty"

"Responsible" or "not responsible"

"Plaintiff" and "Defendant"

"Complainant" and "Respondent"

When will I have the opportunity to depose witnesses?
There are no depositions in a Student Conduct process. Neither the complainant nor respondent should approach the other party’s witnesses prior to the hearing. All questions for either party or their witnesses take place during the hearing proceeding.

When will I receive discovery?
There is no formal discovery in the Student Conduct process. Both the complainant and respondent may review the hearing file in Student Conduct Education and Administration office three days prior to the hearing. If the advisor would like to review the file they will need to either be accompanied by the student or have a signed record release from the student on file with Student Conduct Education and Administration

Both the complainant and respondent have the opportunity to submit information and a witness list for the hearing file. This information must be submitted at least three university working days prior to the hearing to be included in the hearing file and addressed in the hearing.

Can I request that the hearing be postponed?
The student may request a postponement, but pending criminal proceedings will not serve as a basis for postponing a student’s hearing. The student should make the request at least three days prior to the hearing and will generally only be granted in cases of serious illness, family emergency or for academic reasons. The university schedules hearings around the involved students’ academic schedules. Advisors will not be consulted regarding scheduling hearings. An advisor’s unavailability for the hearing will not serve as a basis for postponement.

How can an advisor obtain information about a case?
In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Student Conduct Education and Administration cannot release information about a case without written consent from the student. If written consent from the student is provided, Student Conduct Education and Administration can disclose information about the case directly to the advisor as indicated in the release. Record release forms can be completed by the student in Student Conduct Education and Administration office, 328 Student Union.

Can the university send communications to the advisor? 
At all times, Student Conduct Education and Administration will correspond and communicate directly with the student involved. It is the responsibility of the student to relay all information to their advisor.

How can advisors best prepare for their role in the student conduct process?
Advisors assisting students as they navigate the student conduct process are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Student Code of Conduct. This document outlines university standards, procedures, prohibited conduct and possible sanctions. If you have any further questions or concerns about this information or the role of an advisor in the Oklahoma State University student conduct process, please contact Student Conduct Education and Administration at (405) 744-5470 or student.conduct@okstate.edu.


[1] See Nash v. Auburn Univ., 812 F.2d 665 (11th Cir. 1987) (holding that “student disciplinary hearings follow flexible rules and need not conform to formal rules of evidence”); Boykins v. Fairchild Bd. of Educ., 492 F.2d 697, 701 (5th Cir. 1974); Wasson v. Trowbridge, 382 F.2d 807, 812 (2d Cir. 1967).