Frequently Asked Questions

Information for: Students | Student Organizations | Advisers | Guardians and Family Members


The letter you received from the Office of Student Conduct should indicate the date that the alleged misconduct took place. If the date of the alleged misconduct happened before August 1, 2020, the set of expectations for behavior and resolution can be found here:

If the date of the alleged misconduct happened on or after August 1, 2020, the set of expectations for behavior and resolution can be found here:

The Office of Student Conduct resolves allegations of prohibited conduct as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. There are 33 policies in the code of conduct that govern student’s social and academic behaviors. These policies include but are not limited to academic misconduct, alcohol and other drug use, hazing, contempt, and sexual harassment. 

The letter states the alleged policy violation(s) and the summary for why you are receiving the letter. The Office of Student Conduct (OSC) received a report alleging that you violated the ISU Student Code of Conduct. The letter will state whether it is a separation level or non-separation level case, by the ISU Student Code of Conduct case classifications. You can find more details about the charges and prohibited conduct by visiting the Student Conduct Code.

The letter also gives the name of the OSC staff handling your case, provides a date deadline for you to schedule your conduct conference, and information about how to schedule.  

A conduct conference is a meeting with an administrator from the Office of Student Conduct. During the meeting, the staff will discuss the incident with you, and you will have an opportunity to provide an explanation, ask questions, and receive information about the student disciplinary process. You will also have an opportunity to state whether or not you take responsibility for the incident. If you are found responsible, based on the information in the file and the information you provide during your hearing, there are various sanctions that could be imposed. Sanctions are impacted by the seriousness of the incident and if there are prior student disciplinary considerations. All students have the right to appeal any decision by a student conduct administrator based on certain grounds outlined in the Code of Conduct.

The Student Conduct Conference is your opportunity to share information and evidence that is relevant to your alleged policy violation. If you have any information, including physical evidence or names of others involved, you should bring those to your conference. For example, if you have been charged with academic misconduct and you have evidence (such as a cheat sheet for the exam) that is relevant for determining responsibility, you should bring that to your conference.

Refusing to schedule a meeting or neglecting to attend a previously scheduled meeting means that your voice is not heard in the matter and the case may be decided in your absence. In some cases, failure to respond may result in an Administrative Hold being placed on your university account, preventing you from changing your course schedule, obtaining transcripts, etc.

It is not uncommon for students to be navigating a University and criminal case simultaneously. The criminal process and University process are separate and distinct. It is important to note that the University and criminal process have a number of differences including the standard of proof, policies/law being charged, representation, and the overall process. 

If you've already been to court for the alleged incident, then you have fulfilled your obligation to any violation of Iowa Law. You have not, however, met your obligation for Iowa State University policy. Even if the courts found you "not guilty" or determined there was not sufficient evidence to hear your case in court, you must still meet with an Office of Student Conduct staff member to resolve the matter with the university.

If students are concerned about navigating their criminal and University process at the same time, they are encouraged to seek advice from their attorney and, as needed, request a reasonable extension from the Office of Student Conduct. 

Students have the right to have any two persons of their choosing present at any meeting, conference, or hearing during the disciplinary process, which can include an attorney. The role of an adviser is limited during the conduct process to advising the student, not to actively participe in the process. While some students choose to have an attorney present at their hearing, many students participate in the hearing without the use of an adviser. 

Read more about the role of an adviser in the Code of Conduct.

Respondents, complainants, and witnesses are each permitted to have up to two (2) advisers with them during the hearing. This person may be from within the University community (faculty, staff, student) or outside the University community. However, this person may not speak for you or on your behalf. Rather, the purpose of an adviser is to assist you in preparing for the initial hearing and for any appeal procedure.

Read more about the role of an adviser in the Code of Conduct.

For all disciplinary cases, the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence.

Preponderance of the evidence means "the greater weight of the evidence, not necessarily established by the greater number of witnesses testifying to a fact but by evidence that has the most convincing force; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other." [Bryan A. Garner, Editor, “Black’s Law Dictionary,” Second Edition, St. Paul, MN: West Group: 2001.]

In student disciplinary matters, this concept means both accounts of an incident are perceived evenly/equitably. Both students carry the burden of persuading the fact-finder that their claim is valid. This differs from a criminal case where the burden of persuasion always rests with the prosecution.

Conduct off-campus which violates the Code of Conduct and presents a clear and distinct interest of the University is subject to disciplinary sanctions. Section 3.7 of the Code of Conduct provides further explanation.

The main distinction between a separation and non-separation case is the potential sanctions resulting from the hearing. Separation level cases can result in suspension or expulsion, while non-separation level cases do not result in the option of removal from the university, unless additional alleged violations occur while the case is pending.

There is a range of sanctions used by the Office of Student Conduct from a disciplinary reprimand to expulsion. Many times, other educational sanctions may be imposed, such as educational referrals for an alcohol assessment or referral to the Academic Success Center. If damage to property is involved, restitution may be required as a part of the sanction. This list is not inclusive of all sanctions. Sanctions can be reviewed by visiting the Code of Conduct, sections 7.6h and 7.7b.

Included among the purposes of the conduct process are promoting civility, respect, and integrity; providing a safe environment for members of the University and Ames communities; and addressing behaviors that contradict expectations of an Iowa State University student. Sanctions are the outcomes resulting from a violation in which a student is found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct. The purpose of sanctions are to provide students with an opportunity to learn from experience and bring greater awareness of the impact of choices on themselves, others, and the communities of Ames and ISU.

For a separation level case, the default process for resolving a case is a Student Conduct Hearing Board (SCHB) hearing. When the student initially comes in to meet with an administrator, this option will be discussed. The student/campus organization may decide to waive the SCHB hearing, and instead request an Agreed Resolution.

In an agreed resolution, the student/organization is found responsible and mutually agreeable sanctions are determined.  The agreed resolution must be signed by the Dean of Students, the administrator, and the student/organization. The possible sanctions from an administrative hearing in separation level cases include any sanctions that may have been imposed in a SCHB hearing.  If sanctions cannot be agreed upon, the case would move to a Student Conduct Hearing Board. 

Prior violations are only considered during sanctioning for a student who is found in violation of university policy for the present incident. Prior violation are not considered when making determinations regarding students' responsibility for a violation.

As members of the Iowa State University community, students have both rights and responsibilities which are described in the Student Code of Conduct. Your rights in the student disciplinary process are also included in the "Alleged Code of Conduct Violation" letter.

The appeals process is outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, section 8. There are specific criteria upon which an appeal may be filed. Depending on the type of hearing in your case, the appeals process will be different. Your student conduct administrator is available to answer questions regarding the appeals process.

Student Disciplinary records are considered "educational records" and are normally maintained in the Dean of Students Office for a period of seven (7) years, after which the file records may be purged.

Disciplinary files are protected under a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Iowa State University does not generally disclose information regarding disciplinary hearings/situations with parents/guardians without your written permission to do so.

According to the Student Code of Conduct, only cases determined to be a separation level case could result in a suspension or expulsion from the institution.

Unless a student is suspended or expelled, individual student disciplinary records are kept confidential, and nothing from them appears on a student's academic transcript. If a student is suspended or expelled, a notation will be placed on the transcript that the student was dropped due to disciplinary action and is not eligible to enroll at Iowa State.

There are two primary reasons you may have a transcript and/or registration hold on your account from the Dean of Students Office: (1) failure to schedule a meeting or respond to a letter from the Office of Student Conduct and (2) failure to complete sanctions as a result of a previous student disciplinary decision. To address the hold and make arrangements for it to be released, please contact our office at (515) 294-1020. You may be asked to schedule a meeting for a later date.

If your internet has been blocked, there is a good possibility that you have not responded to an email sent to you by the Office of Student Conduct to address an allegation that you have shared or downloaded copyrighted material without permission. To resolve this issue, contact a member of the Student Conduct staff at (515) 294-1020.


All registered student organizations are expected to follow the policies outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. Disciplinary records for organizations are kept for seven (7) years.

Sanctions for student organizations do not necessarily differ from those imposed on individual students. Sanctions for student organizations can be found in sections 7.2.9 and 7.3.2 of the Student Code of Conduct.

Allegations of prohibited conduct are typically addressed to the President on record for the student organization, who is responsible for responding to the allegations during the disciplinary process.

The organization is permitted to have up to two (2) advisers with them during the conference and other associated meetings. An adviser may be from within the University community (faculty, staff, student) or outside the University community. An adviser may not speak on behalf of the organization. Rather, the purpose of an adviser is to assist the organization in preparing for the initial hearing and for any appeal procedure.

The Office of Student Conduct addresses prohibited conduct, including substance use, hazing, etc. that occurs as a part of student organization events. 

  • Events for sororities and fraternities served by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement (SFE) are determined by that office.
  • Events for other organizations are determined in cooperation with student activities, risk management, and other university offices that have jurisdiction to approve events with alcohol.

Section 3.8 of the Code of Conduct provides additional information about organizational responsibility concerning individual and collective behaviors that could represent a policy violation under the Code of Conduct. 

Hazing is defined in the Code of Conduct under Prohibited Conduct. In addition to the Code of Conduct, student organizations should review the resource page on hazing that addresses additional questions and clarifications. 


Your student or advisee may simply ask you to help them better understand the student disciplinary process. If you have questions or do not fully understand the process, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Conduct at (515) 294-1020. Although the process is not intended to be stressful or surprising, the reality is that it may cause concern for some students. Listening to their story, providing support to them, and seeking information may be the best way to assist in this process.

Any two persons from within the university community (faculty, staff, or student) or outside the university community may advise the accused student or student/campus organization. University hearings are not court proceedings. The adviser may:

  • Advise the student/org. on the preparation and presentation of the case;
  • Accompany student/org. to all student conduct hearings; and
  • Advise the student/org. in preparation and presentation of any appeal.

The adviser may not:

  • Present any part of the case for the student/org. However, a student with a disability affecting communication or a student who cannot effectively communicate in the English language may seek a reasonable accommodation from the OSC to allow an advisor or interpreter to present or translate the case for the student;
  • Directly examine or cross examine witnesses; or
  • Disrupt or delay the proceedings.

Advisers not complying with university hearing procedures may be removed from the student disciplinary proceedings.


Generally, the only way you will know if your student is facing disciplinary action will be if your student shares that information with you. Communicating with your student about how they are doing academically and socially is a helpful method of showing your student that you are supportive and concerned with their progress and adjustment to college life.

With few exceptions, FERPA protects the privacy of all students' "education records." Education records are defined as any records which are directly related to a student and are maintained by an educational agency or institution. Common examples of student records protected by FERPA include grade reports and disciplinary files.

Any two persons can serve as an adviser for students in the student disciplinary process. Parents, family members, academic advisors, and friends are the most typical individuals asked by students to serve as advisors.

The most important way you can help your student is by being supportive while holding them accountable for their decisions if they were involved in the alleged incident. You can also help identify and encourage them to seek resources on campus for intervention opportunities regarding alcohol or drug use and abuse, anger management, and others so that your student can be successful at Iowa State. Finally, allow and expect your student to make the necessary arrangements to have this matter resolved. This includes setting appointments, attending meetings, and completing sanctions. When family members intervene and "take over" it is not generally educationally beneficial for the student or for effectively resolving the matter.

Review of these common questions does not substitute for reading and understanding the Student Code of Conduct. This list is meant to answer questions students, organizations, advisers, and parents often have about the student disciplinary process at Iowa State University.