University Disciplinary Systems

Guiding Principles

The University of Chicago is a community of scholars dedicated to research, academic excellence, the pursuit and cultivation of new knowledge, and robust intellectual exchange among faculty and students. In support of this mission, every member of the University – student, faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers and staff – makes a commitment to strive for personal and academic integrity; to treat others with dignity and respect; to respect the rights and property of others; to take responsibility for individual and group behavior; and to act as a responsible citizen that is part of our academic community and a larger society. Any student conduct, on or off campus, of individuals or groups, which threatens or violates this commitment may become a matter for action within the University's systems of student discipline.

The University believes that students must take responsibility for their own conduct. Under some circumstances, students also must take responsibility for the conduct of a group, or individual members of the group of which they are part. Misconduct by individual members of a group thus may become a matter for disciplinary action against the individual, the group, and the group leadership. Groups may be informal, such as a study group, or formal, such as a recognized student organization.

The goal of the University’s disciplinary systems is to ensure a fair and orderly process for fact gathering and decision-making regarding matters of possible student misconduct.  In this undertaking, the systems and their various investigative and adjudicatory bodies make no assumptions or presumptions, including about the credibility or culpability of the parties to the proceeding or any witnesses. The parties are not responsible for proving or disproving allegations, as it is the role of the germane system and its investigative and adjudicatory bodies to gather and/or evaluate information, apply an unbiased and transparent process, and determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the respondent violated applicable standards of conduct and/or policies. Resolutions under the disciplinary systems are reached based on the information before those bodies. In incidents where the University is the complainant, the respondent will be presumed innocent until the appropriate disciplinary authority, using the preponderance of evidence standard, determines that a policy violation has occurred.

The University’s disciplinary processes are not legal proceedings and thus do not embody – in structure or spirit – an adversarial framework or adopt the rules that govern civil or criminal legal proceedings. Students are always free to pursue legal remedies by accessing the legal system and its various forums that allow parties with disputes to litigate and adjudicate legal claims.  In those instances, legal proceedings are independent of and notwithstanding the University’s disciplinary processes, which will proceed according to their guidelines.

The University’s disciplinary systems should not be conflated with legal processes, and disciplinary proceedings enjoy neither the advantages nor the limitations inherent in legal adversarial proceedings. Matters reviewed and adjudicated by the systems are not lawsuits in litigation; disciplinary systems are not courts; the Dean of Students and their designees are not prosecutors; the procedures that apply to the process do not include rules of evidence or constitutional principles; students’ support persons are not counsel whose role is to provide zealous advocacy and challenge every aspect of the proceeding for compliance with the evidentiary and procedural rules applicable to legal proceedings; and requests for review are not appeals that are governed by the rules and processes associated with legal appellate practice.  Accordingly, the University will reject efforts designed to inject legal paradigms, including legal standards and processes and rules, into the investigative, adjudicative and review processes set forth in its disciplinary systems.

University disciplinary systems give the complainant and the respondent the opportunity to have an adviser of their choice present during any resolution proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding. The University will not limit the choice or presence of an advisor in any meeting or resolution proceeding; however, the University may establish expectations of advisors related to their participation in proceedings, which will apply equally to both parties. Unless expressly permitted by the germane disciplinary system, the advisor does not function as an advocate or participate directly in any way during the proceeding. If the support person is a lawyer, a representative of the University’s Office of Legal Counsel also will attend the hearing. Regardless of whether a complainant, respondent or witness is represented by counsel, at all times they are expected to speak for themselves, directly communicate with the University personnel involved in the investigatory and resolution processes and submit their own written statements.

As members of the University community, students have special privileges and responsibilities, including the obligation to participate in disciplinary process with candor and truthfulness. Complainants, respondents, and witnesses who are directed to appear before a disciplinary committee should attend and participate in a manner that helps the committee reach a complete and fair understanding of the facts of the incident at issue. Refusal to participate denies committees the opportunity to learn important information that may influence the outcome of the proceedings and will compel the committee to continue with the proceeding and decide the matter based on the information before it.  The University, its academic units, and all persons involved in the investigative and adjudicatory process, bear the responsibility of administering the disciplinary systems with fidelity to process and to making independent and reasoned judgments, and likewise are committed to ensuring that the disciplinary systems are transparent and accessible, and that students who participate in it are treated with fairness and respect.

The University has Four Student Disciplinary Systems:

Area Admission Review Systems in the College, graduate divisions, professional schools, and the Graham School address violations of University policies and regulations and other breaches of the standards of behavior expected of University students who have accepted admission but have not yet assumed the role of a student at the University.

Area Disciplinary Systems in the College, graduate divisions, professional schools, and the Graham School address violations of University policies and regulations and other breaches of the standards of behavior expected of University students.

University-wide Disciplinary System is a procedure for student offenses that involve unlawful discrimination or sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking).

Disciplinary System for Disruptive Conduct provides a set of processes and standards that ensure the fair and impartial investigation of allegations that a student has engaged in disruptive conduct, i.e., conduct that falls outside of the principles of free expression and meets the definition supplied by Statute 21.