Nov 29, 2020  
2020-2021 Student Handbook 
    
2020-2021 Student Handbook

Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process



Responsibility for Knowledge of Policies, Rules, and Regulations

The Student Standards of Conduct and Disciplinary Process is subject to change by action of the Board of Trustees. Each student should be familiar with all published policies, rules and regulations of the college. The Student Handbook and Catalog are published on the college website. Each student is expected to comply with the college’s established policies, rules and regulations as well as federal, state, and local laws. This principle extends to conduct off campus which is likely to have adverse effect on the college, or on the educational process, or which characterizes the offender as an unfit associate for the other students.

Inappropriate Behavior

The college provides evaluation, referral, and appropriate treatment (within the parameters of available college resources) for students displaying inappropriate behavior. In some instances, a student’s behavior may be beyond the scope of these services and require consideration of termination of enrollment for medical reasons.

  1. Definitions

a.    Inappropriate behaviors are overt actions, omissions to act, or verbal or written statements that would not be consistent with the actions or statements of a reasonable, prudent person under similar circumstances.

b.    Inappropriate problems include, but are not limited to, behaviors resulting from possible physical, alcohol or drug related, or psychological disorders which may pose a potential harm to the physical wellbeing of the student or others, and/or cause significant disruptive activity to the normal functions of the college.

c.    Inappropriate behaving student is interpreted to include, but not be limited to, a student exhibiting any of the behaviors described above.

  1. In any instance where the judicial officer, in consultation with other college officials, determines that a student’s behavior is disruptive to normal college functions, and/or presents a threat of harm or bodily injury to himself or herself or others, the judicial officer may recommend to the Administrative Dean that the student be temporarily suspended from the college.
  2. If the Administrative Dean concurs with this recommendation, the student will be temporarily suspended until a hearing can be held to determine whether the suspension should be made permanent or until certain medical conditions for reinstatement are met.
  3. When a student is suspended or withdrawn for health reasons, a registration hold will be placed on the student’s readmission to the college. This registration hold will remain in the student’s records until the Administrative Dean approves the student’s request for readmission.
  4. Re-admission Procedures and Appeals

a.    A student who has had a registration hold placed on his or her readmission, preventing readmission for health reasons, must request readmission clearance from the judicial officer at least three (3) weeks prior to the first day of classes of the semester or summer session in which the student wishes to re‑enroll. The student may be required by the judicial officer to submit medical evidence supportive of his or her present health and emotional stability to function properly in a college environment.  The judicial officer, in consultation with other college officials, shall evaluate the student’s request and supporting evidence. Primary consideration will be given to the satisfying of all conditions specified at the time of suspension or withdrawal for the readmission of the student to the college. If approval is granted for the removal of the registration hold, the student must then complete the regular readmission procedures required by the Registrar’s Office.

b.    If approval for readmission is not granted, the student may appeal that decision to the Administrative Dean. The appeal must be made in writing, within five (5) college working days of the date the student was notified by the judicial officer that his or her request for readmission was denied.

c.    The Administrative Dean will inform the student that he or she is entitled to a hearing. This hearing shall be held within five (5) college working days if at all possible. The Administrative Dean or his or her designated representative will conduct the hearing. The Administrative Dean may use discretion as to the hearing procedures and may ask relevant college faculty or staff to participate. Following the hearing, the Administrative Dean shall either sustain the decision of the judicial officer, or shall overrule the decision and allow the student to re‑enroll in the college. The Administrative Dean shall notify all parties of this decision, in writing, within three (3) college working days following the completion of the hearing.

Student Misconduct

College officials are charged with the responsibility for maintaining law and order on college-owned or college-controlled property and at college sponsored events. Each student is expected to act in a manner consistent with the college’s functions as an educational institution. Any individual or student organization found to have committed the following misconduct while classified as a student or as a registered student organization is subject to disciplinary sanction(s), condition(s) and/or restriction(s). Misconduct or prohibited behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Academic Dishonesty/Misconduct (see Academic Integrity and Disciplinary Process)
  2. Alcohol

a.    Use, possession, sale, delivery, manufacture or distribution of alcoholic beverages and/or containers, except as expressly permitted by college policy.

b.    Being under the influence of alcohol and/or intoxication as defined by federal, state, and/or local law.

  1. Narcotics or Drugs

a.    Use, possession, sale, delivery, manufacture or distribution of any narcotic, drug, medicine prescribed to someone else, chemical compound or other controlled substance, except as permitted by federal, state, and/or local law.

b.    Possession of drug-related paraphernalia, except as expressly permitted by federal, state, and/or local law.

c.    Being under the influence of narcotics, drugs, medicine prescribed to someone else, chemical compound or other controlled substance, except as permitted by federal, state, and/or local law.

4.   Firearms, Weapons and Explosives

a.   Unauthorized use or possession of ammunition, firearms, or other illegal weapons on college property.

b.   Unauthorized possession, ignition, or detonation of any explosive device, fireworks, liquid or flammable object which could cause damage by fire or explosion to persons or property on college property.

c.    Unauthorized use or possession of a “fake” gun, with or without the intent to pass it off as a real firearm.

d.   Any use of electrical devices such as a “Taser” or “stun gun” on other students or employees without the immediate need for self-defense.

e.   Any use of a chemical spray such as “Wasp Spray”, “Pepper Spray”, or “Mace” on other students or employees without the immediate need for self-defense.

5.   Flammable Materials/Arson

a.   Use or possession of flammable materials, including incendiary devices or other dangerous materials, or substances used for fire.

b.   Attempting to ignite and/or the action of igniting college and/or personal property on fire either by intent or as a result of reckless behavior which results in damage of college premises/property.

6.   Theft, Damage or Unauthorized Use

a.   Attempted or actual theft of property or services of the college, of other college students or other members of the college community or of the campus visitors.

b.   Possession of property known to be stolen or belonging to another person without the owner’s permission.

c.   Attempted or actual damage to property owned or leased by the college, of other college students, of other members of the college community or of campus visitors.

d.   Attempted or actual unauthorized use of credit card, debit card, student identification card, cell phone, personal identification number, test number, campus connect account and/or personal check.

e.   Alteration, forgery or misrepresentation of any form of identification. 

f.    Possession or use of any form of false identification.

7.   Actions against Members of the College Community

a.   Physical harm or threat of harm to self or others.

b.   Intentional or reckless conduct which endangers the health or safety of self or others.

c.   Behavior that disrupts the normal operation of the college including its students, faculty and staff.

d.   Sexual misconduct that involves, but not limited to:

i.   Deliberate touching of another’s sexual parts without consent.

ii.  Deliberate sexual invasion of another without consent.

iii.  Deliberate constraint or incapacitation of another, without that person’s knowledge or consent, so as to put another at substantially increased risk of/or sexual injury.

iv.  Unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that expressly or implicitly imposes conditions upon, threatens, interferes with, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for an individual’s academic pursuits, college employment, participation in activities sponsored by the college or organizations, or groups related to the college or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of college life.

e.   Excessive pressure, threats or any form of conduct, coercive tactics or unwanted mental coercion techniques used to retain or recruit a student for membership in an organization/club.

8.   Gambling, wagering, gaming or bookmaking on college premises or with college equipment as defined by federal, state and/or local law is prohibited.

9.   Hazing

a.   Engaging in hazing or submitting to hazing by volition. Hazing is considered an act that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of getting into or staying in an organization including physical brutality, physical activity such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, calisthenics, etc., any activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, drug or other substance that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm, any activity that intimidates or threatens with ostracism, subjects to extreme mental stress, shame or humiliation and/or any activity that induces, causes or requires a student to perform a duty or task that involves a violation of the Penal Code. Hazing is a Class B misdemeanor (fine not to exceed $1500, jail term not to exceed 180 days or both) if a person participates, permits hazing to occur or knows of a plan and fails to report. If hazing causes serious bodily injury, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor (fine not to exceed $3000, confinement in jail not to exceed one year or both). If an offense causes death, it is a state jail felony (confinement in community correctional facility for any term of not more than 1 year; possibility of community service under community supervision in lieu of confinement in county jail; and possibility of fine not to exceed $10,000 in addition to confinement). An organization can be fined.

b.   Initiation by an organization which includes any harmful, dangerous, or degrading act to a student.

10. False Alarms or Terroristic Threats

Intentional sounding of a false fire alarm, falsely reporting an emergency or terroristic threat in any form, issuing a bomb threat, constructing mock explosive devices, destruction or activation of fire sprinklers/hydrants, filing false police reports, improperly possessing, tampering with, or destroying fire equipment or emergency signs on college premises.

11. Failure to meet financial obligations owed to the college, or components owned or operated by the college, including, but not limited to, the writing of checks on accounts with insufficient funds.

12. Unauthorized Entry, Possession or Use

a.   Unauthorized entry into or use of college premises or equipment.

b.   Unauthorized possession, use, duplication, production or manufacture of any key or unlocking device, college identification card or access code for use in college premises or equipment.

c.   Unauthorized use of the college name, logotype, symbols of the college; however, registered student organizations are permitted to use the college name as part of their organizational name.

d.   Unauthorized use of the college’s name to advertise or promote events or activities in a manner which suggests sponsorship and/or recognition by the college.

13. Traffic & Parking

a.   Violation of college Traffic and Parking regulations.

b.   Obstruction of the free flow of pedestrian traffic on college premises.

14. Violation of rules that govern behavior in the residence halls and/or dining halls are stated in the Residence Hall Supplement.

15. Student Recreation and Intramural Regulations

a.   Violations of rules that govern behavior in the recreation centers, including the Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.

b.   Please see Intramural Regulations for specific procedures and policies governing intramurals.

16. Failure to Comply

a.   Oral or written avocation or recommendation of conscious and deliberate violation of any federal, state, or local law.

b.   Failure to abide with a college or campus official’s directive that is given within the official’s acting capacity.

c.   Failure to notify the Registrar’s office of change in official mailing address or giving false or fictitious address to such office.

d.   Failure to present student identification on request to any college official and/or identify himself/herself to any college official acting in the performance of his/her duties.

17. Knowingly furnishing false information to the college, or to a college official in the performance of his/her duties, either verbally or through forgery, alteration or misuse of any college document, record or instrument of identification.

18. Use of skateboards, rollerblades, scooters, bicycles or other similar devices in college buildings and on college premises in such a manner as to constitute a safety hazard or cause damage to college or personal property.

19. Violation of any published college policies, rules or regulations that govern student or student organization behavior, including, but not limited to, violations of College Operating Policy and Board of Trustees Policy and Procedures and College Rules.

20. Violations of Federal, State and/or Local Laws

a.   Misconduct which constitutes a violation of any provisions of federal, state, and/or local laws.

b.   Conviction of Misdemeanor or Felony - Obedience to the law being a primary duty of the citizen, the conviction of a student for violation of law renders the student also subject to disciplinary action on the part of the college. Institutional authority will not be used to duplicate the function of general laws. Students who have been convicted of misdemeanors that come to the official attention of the college can expect to have their status within Howard College reviewed if their behavior has brought discredit upon themselves, fellow students, or the college. Publicity of the behavior and association of the name of the college with the act or the student involved enhances the possibility of college disciplinary action. A student who endangers one’s life or the lives of others while violating the law will be subject to disciplinary action from the college.  If a student pleads guilty to a charge or is convicted of a felony offense, the student will automatically be subject to having one’s status at the college reviewed and may face disciplinary action in the process.

c.   Students who are under indictment by a grand jury and have posted an appeal bond may remain in the college pending the verdict of the trial. If the college has an interest in the case, action taken by the college will be delayed until after the trial has been held. When a student’s situation warrants special consideration, one’s status will be reviewed as to the appropriateness of remaining on campus as a member of the student body.

21. Abuse of the Discipline System

a.   Failure to respond to an administrative official’s summons within the designated time.

b.   Falsification, distortion or misrepresentation of information in disciplinary proceedings.

c.   Disruption or interference with the orderly conduct of a disciplinary proceeding. 

d.   Filing an allegation known to be without merit.

e.   Discouraging or attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in or use of the discipline system.

f.    Influencing or attempting to influence the impartiality of a member of a disciplinary body prior to and/or during the disciplinary proceeding.

g.   Harm, threat of harm or intimidation either verbally, physically or written, of a member of a disciplinary body prior to, during and/or after disciplinary proceeding. 

h.   Influencing or attempting to influence another person to commit an abuse of the discipline system. 

i.    Retaliation against any person or group who files grievances or provides evidence, testimony or allegations in accordance with the Student Handbook.

j.    Failure to comply with the sanction(s), condition(s) and/or restriction(s) imposed under the Student Standards of Conduct & Discipline Policy and/or other college policies.

k.   No student suspended from the college shall be permitted on a college campus during the entire period of the suspension, except when summoned by an administrative official of the college or by previously arranged official appointment.

22. Citizenship

a.   Bad Checks and Unpaid Bills - Each student should be honorable in all financial dealings with businesses and individuals off campus. The college views financial dealings between students and businesses as a private transaction between the two parties. The college will not collect bad checks or bad debts that students have incurred for businesses or individuals; however, businesses will be provided with the names and addresses of students upon written request according to District Policies.

b.   Representing Howard College - Students of Howard College should remember that when groups of individuals are off campus, one’s acts are viewed as the acts of Howard College students and not as the act of private individuals. Students who come to the official attention of the college as a result of misbehavior may be subject to disciplinary action. Students come to the official attention of the college in several ways. Most often, outraged citizens call a member of the administrative staff and complain about something students have done. Sometimes newspapers publish accounts of the misdeeds of Howard College students.

c.   Students Visiting Other Campuses - Students who visit other campuses are expected to be circumspect in their behavior. When it becomes necessary for an official of another school to register a complaint about the behavior of a Howard College student, that student can expect to become involved in disciplinary proceedings.

d.   Campus Visitors - Non‑members of the college community, who have not been duly invited nor authorized to use college facilities, who repeatedly visit or spend a large portion of their time on the college campus, are not welcome and will be asked to leave. Loitering, by non‑members of the college community, in the facilities of the college or on the college campus, substantially interferes with the normal activities of the college.

i.  Non‑members of the college community are required while on the campus to observe and comply with the rules and regulations adopted by the college and/or Board of Trustees. Non‑members of the college community are also required while on the campus to identify themselves upon the request of a college official or security officer or other law enforcement officer in the performance of his or her duty.

ii.  The college campus is not a sanctuary and any person who violates any state law shall not be protected nor given any preferred status in the eyes of the law by reason of the fact that the violator is a member of the college community.

iii.  When it appears to the President, or any college official who has been authorized and designated by the President to maintain order, that any non‑member of the college campus has violated, on the campus, any state or federal law or any college rule or regulation, such person or persons may be ordered by such official to leave the college campus, and should the college see fit, charges may be filed against such person or persons. The President may make due application to any court for injunction or other judicial relief in regard to the threatened or actual violation of any of the above mentioned rules and regulations.

23. Smoking or other use of tobacco products and use of electronic cigarette devices is prohibited in all Howard College entrances/doorways, facilities and vehicles. Individuals must not smoke or use other tobacco products within twenty (20) feet of doorways and entrances to buildings and within fifty (50) feet of day care facilities. Prohibited products and devices include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and tobacco-like products. All materials used for smoking in designated smoking areas, including cigarette butts and matches, should be disposed of in appropriate containers.

24. Animals on campus must be on a leash or be otherwise under the direct and positive control of the owner.  Animals are not allowed in the residence halls without approval of the residence hall administrator.

General Disciplinary Action

Violations of the Student Standards of Conduct refer to a student’s failure to meet his/her responsibility. Violations are subject to either General Disciplinary Action or Academic Integrity Disciplinary Action, depending on the nature of the allegations. This section outlines General Disciplinary Action. See Academic Integrity Disciplinary Action for discipline procedures related to academic dishonesty/misconduct cases.

The judicial officer on each campus or their appointed official shall have primary authority and responsibility for the administration of student discipline.  The Bureau of Prison disciplinary procedures will be enforced with students at Correctional Facilities. Investigations or allegations that a student has violated Board policy, college rules or regulations, or administrative official’s specific orders and instructions issued in the course of official duties will be the judicial officer’s responsibility or a designated appointee’s responsibility.

The general disciplinary procedure follows these steps:

  1. The alleged violation is reported to the judicial officer using a Student Discipline Form.
  2. The judicial officer will hold separate conferences with the implicated student, the complainant, appropriate college employees, and any other individuals as needed, characterized by active listening, to understand the nature of the alleged violation. It is helpful for the judicial officer and the implicated student to discuss the circumstances and issues of the alleged violation and to identify possible resolutions.
  3. After completing the preliminary investigation, the judicial offer may (a) dismiss the allegation or (b) summon the student for a discipline conference at which time the student will be informed of the charges against him/her and have the opportunity to present evidence to support his/her version of the facts. Failure of a student to report after two notices may result in discipline sanctions, including suspension from the college.
  4. Following the discipline conference with the student, the judicial officer may choose to continue the investigation if facts presented during the conference warrant further review of the alleged misconduct.
  5. At any point in time, and depending on the severity of the alleged misconduct, a student may be temporarily suspended from the college and/or the residence halls (if living on campus) pending completion of disciplinary proceedings, criminal proceedings, or a psychological/medical evaluation.
  6. The judicial officer’s ruling regarding responsibility and any consequent sanctions will be communicated in writing to the student within 10 business days following completion of the investigation.

Disciplinary Sanctions

The judicial officer has the authority to issue sanctions including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Verbal or written warning.
  2. Completion of a special project which may include, but is not limited to, writing an essay, attending a special class or lecture, attending counseling sessions, or studying in the library. The special project may be imposed only for a definite time.
  3. Notify parents of students who are 21 years of age or under when the student is found in violation of the Student Standards of Conduct due to alcohol and/or drugs.
  4. Cancellation of residence hall or apartment contract.
  5. Ineligibility for election to student office for a specified period of time.
  6. Removal from student or organization office for a specified period of time.
  7. Prohibition from representing the college in any special honorary role.
  8. Restitution whether monetary or by specific duties or reimbursement for damage to or misappropriations of college, student, or employee property.
  9. Suspension of rights and privileges, including participation in athletic, extracurricular, or other student activities, for a specified period of time.
  10. Withdrawing from a course with a grade of “W” (recorded on the permanent transcript).
  11. Failing or reduction of a grade in test, course, or other academic work and/or retaking of test, course, or other academic work and/or performing additional academic work not required of other students in the course (course action recorded on permanent transcript).
  12. Loss of or ineligibility for student grant or loan.
  13. Disciplinary probation imposed for a definite period of time, which stipulates that future violations may result in disciplinary suspension.
  14. Withholding of official transcript or degree.
  15. Bar against readmission.
  16. Denial or non-recognition of degree.
  17. Blocking a student from enrolling until the student performs a specific act.
  18. Suspension from the college for a specified period of time. During suspension, a student shall not attend classes or participate in any college campus activities (recorded on the permanent transcript).
  19. Expulsion from the college (recorded on the permanent transcript).

Mediation

Mediation is encouraged as an alternative means to resolve problems or disputes before beginning formal complaint procedures. College officials, including advisors and/or counselors, are available to consult with students to help mediate problems and disputes. Mediation may help facilitate quick resolutions while minimizing the need for formal complaints and lengthy, potentially unnecessary disciplinary investigations. For mediation to proceed, both parties must agree to use mediation as a means to reach resolution. To be binding in a disciplinary case, the agreement must be approved by the judicial officer.

Hold on Student Records

In pending cases that could result in disciplinary action, the judicial officer may place a hold on the student’s records and notify the student in writing.

Cases Involving Criminal Charges

Students may be accountable both to local, state, or federal authorities and to the college for acts that violate the law and the Student Standards of Conduct. The college’s disciplinary process will proceed without regard to criminal proceedings and their outcome.

Disciplinary Records

Disciplinary records can be shared with college officials having a legitimate educational interest in a specific disciplinary case. These records will be maintained in accordance with the Texas Records Retention Laws. Except in the cases of legally sanctioned requests, student records may be disclosed outside the college only with signed consent from the student.

Interim Suspension

At any point during disciplinary proceedings, the judicial officer may choose to notify the student that his/her right to be present on campus has been suspended. Interim suspension may be exercised to ensure the physical or emotional safety and well-being of the student and others and/or to prevent the student from engaging in any disruptive or destructive activity on property owned or controlled by the college or at any college-sponsored activity. The judicial officer may suspend a student pending completion of disciplinary proceedings, criminal proceedings, or psychological/medical evaluation. The interim suspension will become effective immediately.

Right to a meeting: A student issued an interim suspension will be given prompt opportunity to meet with the judicial officer. The conference is limited to discussion about the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, and whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence poses a substantial and immediate threat to himself or herself or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal college functions.

Justifying the interim suspension: The judicial officer’s disciplinary ruling must include justification for the interim suspension. The student will be allowed to return to classes and/or the residence hall following the ruling unless it is determined there is a continued threat.

Appealing an interim suspension: The student may appeal the interim suspension to the Administrative Dean. The Administrative Dean will affirm or rescind the interim suspension. If the student does not appeal the interim suspension or if the Administrative Dean upholds the interim suspension, the judicial officer will proceed with an investigation.