Code of Student Conduct

PREAMBLE
 
This Western Governors University (WGU) Code of Student Conduct is premised on the belief that respect for individuals, ideas, and the authenticity of student work are all critical to a thriving academic community. Accordingly, WGU holds that all members of the WGU community have a shared responsibility for ethical, responsible, and respectful behavior and should comply in every respect with all applicable laws in addition to the rules WGU has set forth in this Code of Student Conduct.
 
ARTICLE I: DEFINITIONS

1. The term “WGU” means Western Governors University. 

 

2. The term “student” includes all persons in all locations taking courses at WGU either full time or part time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies. Persons who withdraw after allegedly violating the Student Code, those who are not officially enrolled for a particular term but who have a continuing relationship with WGU or those who have been notified of their acceptance for admission are considered “students”.

 

3. The term “faculty member” means any person hired by WGU to conduct learning activities or who is otherwise considered by WGU to be a member of its faculty.

 

4. The term “WGU official” includes any person employed by WGU performing assigned administrative or professional responsibilities.

 

5. The term “member of the WGU community” includes any person who is a student, alumni, faculty member, WGU official and any other person employed by WGU including proctors, graders, coaches, and clinical supervisors.

 

6. The term “WGU premises” includes all land, buildings, facilities, portals, communities, and other property, whether online or physical, in the possession of or owned, used, or controlled by WGU. 

 

7. The term “Student Conduct Board” means any person or persons authorized by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibiliites to determine whether a student has violated the Student Code and to decide sanctions that may be imposed when a rules violation has been committed. The chair, or co-chairs, of the Student Conduct Board shall be appointed by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities. 

 

8. The term “Student Conduct Administrator” means a WGU official authorized on a case by case basis by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities to investigate complaints, to advise the Student Conduct Board, and to carry out sanctions imposed upon any student(s) found by the Student Conduct Board to have violated the Student Code.  

 

9. The term “Appellate Board” means any person or persons authorized by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities to consider an appeal from the Student Conduct Board’s determination as to whether a student has violated the Student Code or from the sanctions imposed by the Student Conduct Administrator.

 

10. The term “shall” is used in the imperative sense.

 

11. The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.

 

12. The Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities is that person designated by WGU’s President to be responsible for the administration of the Student Code.

 

13. The term “policy” means the written regulations of WGU as found in, but not limited to the WGU Student Handbook including this Student Code of Conduct and any student handbook specific to a WGU degree program. All WGU policy is made continuously available to students on the University’s website.

 

14. The term “cheating” includes, but is not limited to: (1) using any information found, requested or purchased on the Internet (or elsewhere) containing WGU assessment materials or responses to those materials (i.e., answers to exam questions or projects responses created by someone else); (2) creating or transmitting responses to WGU assessments or projects if you have reason to know those responses may be submitted to WGU by someone else; (3) copying, recording and disclosing WGU assessment or project material for others’ use; (4) accessing any device or materials not specifically approved in advance, or communicating with anyone except the proctor when taking a proctored WGU assessment; and (5) working with others on assessments or projects unless specifically directed by WGU; and (6) representing the work of others as your own without proper citation.

 

15. The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.

 

16. The term “harassment” means the use of words, gestures, imagery, and other communication that creates a hostile and intimidating environment to the degree that other members of the WGU community would choose not to participate in communications, programs, or activities.

 

17. The term “identity misrepresentation” means the use of false, stolen or borrowed identification materials (e.g., driver’s license) to obtain: i) admission to WGU, ii) access to student financial aid, or iii) access to WGU programs, assessments and other activities.

 

18. The term “Complainant” means any person who submits a charge alleging that a student violated this Student Code. When a student believes that s/he has been a victim of another student’s misconduct, the student who believes s/he has been a victim will have the same rights under this Student Code as are provided to the Complainant, even if another member of the WGU community submitted the charge itself.

 

19. The term “Accused Student” means any student accused of violating this Student Code.

 

20. The term “Advisor” includes any member of the WGU community but the Advisor cannot be acting as an attorney.

 

21. “Education Records” are broadly defined to include all records directly related to a student and are protected from disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Disciplinary Records and Academic Records are considered to be Education Records and as a result are kept confidential in accordance with this law.  

 

22. The “Disciplinary Record” includes a statement of charges, summary of information considered by or presented to the Code of Conduct Board, findings or sanctions, records of appeals, and rationale for the decisions.

 

23. The “Academic Record” is defined as information relating to a student’s academic performance including transcripts, narrative notes of the student’s academic progress as documented by the student’s mentor(s), assessment and evaluation results, external exam scores, and results of any appeals filed by the student.   

 
ARTICLE II: STUDENT CODE AUTHORITY 

1. The Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities shall determine the composition of the Student Conduct Board and Appellate Boards and determine which Student Conduct Board, Student Conduct Administrator and Appellate Board shall be authorized to hear each matter.

2. The Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities shall develop policies for the administration of the student conduct system and procedural rules for the conduct of Student Conduct Board Hearings that are not inconsistent with provisions of the Student Code.

3. Decisions made by the Student Conduct Board and/or Student Conduct Administrator designated by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities shall be final, pending the normal appeal process.


ARTICLE III: JURISDICTION OF WGU STUDENT CODE

WGU Student Code of Conduct shall apply to conduct that adversely affects the WGU Community and/or the pursuit of its objectives. Each student shall be responsible for his/her conduct from the time of application for admission through the actual awarding of a degree, even though conduct may occur before courses begin or after courses end, during periods between terms of actual enrollment, and conduct that is not discovered until after a degree is awarded. The Student Code shall apply to a student’s conduct even if the student withdraws from school while a disciplinary matter is pending.


ARTICLE IV: DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, STALKING AND RETALIATION​

In addition to the Code of Student Conduct, all students at WGU are also subject to the University’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking and Retaliation Policy and accompanying Discrimination Grievance Procedures which are separate from the Student Conduct Code standards and procedures. The University’s Discrimination and Harassment policy covers behaviors related to discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, inducing incapacitation for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation, relationship violence, stalking, and retaliation. 

In cases where the provisions in the Student Conduct Code and the provisions in the Discrimination and Harassment policy and accompanying Discrimination Grievance Procedures are different or inconsistent, the Discrimination and Harassment policy and Discrimination Grievance Procedures supersede. Therefore, all students are expected read the Discrimination and Harassment policy and Discrimination Grievance Procedures, as well as the Code of Student Conduct, to gain a thorough understanding of the expectations and procedures set forth in both processes and the differences between the two. Differences include, but are not limited to, the evidentiary standard used to determine whether a violation has occurred (“preponderance of the evidence” in the Discrimination Grievance Procedures and “clear and convincing evidence” in the Code of Student Conduct), and the procedures for appeal. 

When a student has been found in violation of the Discrimination and Harassment policy, the Title IX Coordinator is charged with imposing disciplinary sanctions. Possible sanctions that may be applied are the same as those described in the Student Conduct Code. Disciplinary records for Discrimination and Harassment violations are maintained in the same manner as other disciplinary records under the Student Conduct Code.


ARTICLE V: PROSCRIBED CONDUCT

A. Conduct—Rules and Regulations
 
Any student found to have committed or to have attempted to commit the following misconduct is subject to the disciplinary sanctions outlined in Article VI:

 

1. Acts of dishonesty, including but not limited to the following (See Academic Authenticity):

 

  • Cheating, plagiarism, or other forms of academic dishonesty.
  • Identity misrepresentation.
  • Furnishing false information to any WGU official, faculty member, or office.
  • Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any WGU document, record, or instrument of identification.

2. Disruption or obstruction of advising, facilitation, instruction, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings or other WGU activities.

 

3. Unprofessional conduct including harassment, threatening, bullying or verbal abuse of any member of the WGU community by any means (conduct, speech, written notes, electronic mail, etc.). This includes, but is not limited to, the use of threats, profanity, and demeaning or intimidating comments.

 

4. Physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person.

 

5. Illegal use, possession or distribution of alcohol or any controlled substance on University premises or at University sponsored events.

 

6. Attempted or actual theft of and/or damage to property of WGU or property of a member of the WGU community.

 

7. Failure to comply with directions of WGU officials or law enforcement officers acting in performance of their duties and/or failure to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so.

 

8. Failure to conform to the standards of professional conduct outlined in the Teachers College Code of Ethics, Professional Behaviors and Dispositions​, the WGU Nursing Programs Standards of Professional Conduct and Process for Dispositional Disciplinary Ac..., and similar standards of professional conduct associated with other WGU field experience programs.

 

9. Violation of any WGU policy.

 

10. Violation of any federal, state or local law.

 

11. Illegal or unauthorized possession of firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals on WGU premises or use of any such item, even if legally possessed, in a manner that harms, threatens or causes fear to others.

 

12. Theft, abuse  or misuse of WGU computing, information and communication systems (“WGU systems”) and/or protected WGU information, files and resources (“WGU resources”) including but not limited to:

 

  • Unauthorized entry into WGU resources to use, read, or change the contents, or for any other purpose.
  • Unauthorized transfer of WGU resources.
  • Use of another individual’s user name and/or password.
  • Use of WGU systems to interfere with the work of another member of the WGU community.
  • Use of WGU systems to send obscene or harassing messages.
  • Interfering with the normal operation of WGU systems and WGU resources.
  • Use of WGU resources in violation of WGU’s Student License Agreement for use of learning resources.
  • Any violation of the WGU Systems Use Policy.
  • Unauthorized use of WGU systems and WGU resources to obtain or disclose the personal details of another member of the WGU community.
  • Tampering with communications.

 

13. Abuse of the Student Conduct System, including but not limited to:

 

  • Failure to obey a notice from the Student Conduct Board or WGU official to appear for a meeting or hearing as part of the Student Conduct System.
  • Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information before Student Conduct Board.
  • Disruption or interference with the orderly conduct of a Student Conduct Board proceeding.
  • Institution of a student conduct code proceeding in bad faith.
  • Attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participating in, or use of, the student conduct system.
  • Attempting to influence the impartiality of a member of the Student Conduct Board prior to, and/or during the course of, the Student Conduct Board proceeding.
  • Harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of a member of the Student Conduct Board prior to, during, and/or after a student conduct code proceeding.
  • Failure to comply with the sanction(s) imposed under the Student Code.
  • Influencing or attempting to influence another person to commit an abuse of the student conduct code system.


B. Attempts and Complicity

Attempts to commit acts prohibited by the Student Conduct Code, and/or knowingly or willfully encouraging or assisting others to commit any of these acts, are also prohibited and may be adjudicated in the same manner.
 
C. Violation of Law and WGU Discipline
 
WGU disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both the criminal law and this Student Code (that is, if both possible violations result from the same factual situation) without regard to the pendency of civil or criminal litigation in court or criminal arrest and prosecution. Proceedings under this Student Code may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings at the discretion of the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities. Determinations made or sanctions imposed under this Student Code shall not be subject to change because criminal charges arising out of the same facts giving rise to violation of University rules were dismissed, reduced, or resolved in favor of or against the criminal law defendant.


ARTICLE VI: STUDENT CONDUCT CODE PROCEDURES
 
A. Charges and Student Conduct Board Hearings
 

1. Any member of the WGU community may file charges against a student for violations of the Student Code. A charge must be submitted in writing and directed to the Student Conduct Administrator. Any charge should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place or is discovered, preferably within the same academic term or 90 days, whichever is later. The Student Conduct Board retains the right to review all work submitted to WGU. The Student Conduct Administrator may conduct an investigation to determine if the charges have merit and/or if they can be disposed of administratively by mutual consent of the parties involved on a basis acceptable to the Student Conduct Administrator. Such disposition shall be final and there shall be no subsequent proceedings. If the student admits violating institutional rules, but sanctions are not agreed to, subsequent process, including hearing if necessary, shall be limited to determining the appropriate sanction(s).

 

2. All charges shall be presented to the Accused Student in written form. A time shall be set for the Student Conduct Board Hearing, not less than five (5) nor more than fifteen (15) calendar days after the student has been notified. Maximum time limits for scheduling of Student Conduct Board Hearings may be extended at the discretion of the Student Conduct Administrator.

 

3. Student Conduct Board hearings shall be conducted by telephone conference according to the following guidelines:

 

  • Student Conduct Board Hearings normally shall be conducted in private.
  • The Complainant, Accused Student and their advisors, if any, shall be allowed to attend the entire portion of the Student Conduct Board Hearing at which information is received (excluding deliberations). Admission of any other person to the Student Conduct Board Hearing shall be at the discretion of the Student Conduct Board and/or its Student Conduct Administrator.
  • In Student Conduct Board hearings involving more than one Accused Student, the Student Conduct Administrator, in his or her discretion, may permit the Student Conduct Board Hearings concerning each student to be conducted either separately or jointly.
  • The Complainant and the Accused Student may, upon five (5) days advance written notice to WGU, be assisted by an advisor they choose. The advisor must be a member of the WGU community and may not be acting in the capacity of an attorney. If the Complainant and/or the Accused Student fail to provide a minimum of five (5) days notice the Student Conduct Board hearing may be rescheduled. 
  • The Complainant and/or the Accused Student is responsible for presenting his or her own information, and therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any Student Conduct Board hearing. A student should select as an advisor a person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the Student Conduct Board Hearing; delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor.
  • The Complainant, the Accused Student and the Student Conduct Board may arrange for witnesses to present pertinent information to the Student Conduct Board. At the discretion of the Student Conduct Administrator, WGU will try to arrange the attendance of witnesses who are members of the WGU community, provided such witnesses are identified by the Complainant and/or Accused Student at least five business days prior to the hearing. Witnesses will provide information to, and answer questions from, the Student Conduct Board.  Questions may be suggested by the Accused Student and/or Complainant to be answered by each other or by other witnesses. This will be conducted by the Student Conduct Board with such questions directed to the chairperson, rather than to the witness directly. This method is used to preserve the educational tone of the hearing and to avoid creation of an adversarial environment. Questions of whether potential information will be received shall be resolved in the discretion of the chairperson of the Student Conduct Board.
  • Pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration by the Student Conduct Board at the discretion of the chairperson.
  • All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the chairperson of the Student Conduct Board.
  • After the portion of the Student Conduct Board Hearing concludes in which all pertinent information has been received, the Student Conduct Board shall determine by majority vote whether the Accused Student has violated each section of the Student Code which the student is charged with violating.
  • The Student Conduct Board‘s determination shall be made on the basis of whether it is more likely than not that the Accused Student violated the Student Code.
  • Formal rules of process, procedure, and/or technical rules of evidence, such as are applied in criminal or civil court, are not used in Student Code proceedings.

 

4. There shall be a single verbatim record, such as an audio recording, of all Student Conduct Board Hearings, however the Board’s deliberations shall not be recorded. The record shall be the property of WGU and will become part of the Accused Student’s Disciplinary Record and will be maintained on file for seven (7) years following the last date of academic activity. Records for students that are suspended or expelled from the University will be kept indefinitely 

 

5. If an Accused Student who has been provided appropriate notice, does not attend the Student Conduct Board Hearing, the information in support of the charges shall be presented and considered even if the Accused Student is not present.

 

6. The Student Conduct Board may accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the Complainant or witnesses during the hearing by permitting participation by separate meeting, separate telephone line, written statement, or other means, where determined to be appropriate by the Student Conduct Administrator.  

  

B. Sanctions

 

1. Depending upon a student’s history of misconduct and the severity of the conduct at issue, the Student Conduct Board may direct the Student Conduct Administrator to impose any of the following sanctions upon a student found to have violated the rules of conduct described in Article V(A):

 

  • Level 1 Warning - A written (email) notice that a student’s conduct is violating or has violated the rules of conduct. 
  • Level 2 Warning - A written notice indicating that a student’s conduct is violating or has violated the rules of conduct and includes an improvement plan that will demonstrate conduct conforming to the Student Code of Conduct within a specified time period. A Level 2 Warning includes the probability of more severe sanctions for any subsequent violation of the rules of conduct .
  • Loss of Privileges - A written notice of the denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.
  • Restitution - Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.
  • Discretionary Sanctions - Work assignments, essays, service to WGU or other related discretionary assignments.
  • Disciplinary Suspension - Separation of the student from WGU for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified. 
  • Removal from Academic Program - Removal of the student from her/his chosen academic program for behaviors not conforming to the standards of professional conduct outlined in the WGU Teacher’s College Code of Ethics, the WGU Nursing College Code of Ethics, and similar standards of professional  conduct associated with other WGU licensure programs. WGU may, in its discretion, suggest one or more alternative academic programs. If an alternative program is not acceptable to the student, he or she will be subject to administrative withdrawal.
  • Disciplinary Expulsion - Permanent separation of the student from WGU without the possibility of readmission.
  • Revocation of transcripted grades and/or assessment results - Grades or assessment results that are considered part of the student’s Academic Record may be amended. 
  • Revocation of Admission and/or Degree - Admission to, or a degree awarded from WGU may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of WGU standards in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation.
  • Withholding Degree - WGU may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Conduct Code, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

 

2. More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation.

 

3. (a) Disciplinary expulsion, removal from academic program or revocation or withholding of a degree are part of the student’s permanent academic record.  Other disciplinary sanctions shall not be made part of the student’s permanent academic record, but shall become part of the student’s disciplinary record. (b)  In situations involving both an Accused Student and a student claiming to be the victim of another student’s conduct, the records of the process and of the sanctions imposed, if any, shall be considered to be the academic records of both the Accused Student(s) and the student(s) claiming to be the victim because the educational career and chances of success in the academic community of each may be impacted.

 

4. Following the Student Conduct Board hearing, the Student Conduct Administrator shall advise the Accused Student and the Complainant in writing of the Board’s determination and of the sanction(s) imposed, if any.

  

C. Administrative Holds
 
If a student fails to respond to a complaint or complete educational sanctions as required, an administrative hold shall be placed on the student’s record by the Office of Student Conduct to ensure cooperation with the disciplinary process. In most cases an administrative hold will not prevent a student from completing coursework in the current term, but the student will be prevented from registering in additional courses or obtaining a degree. Depending on the severity of the charges, the Conduct Administrator may also institute an administrative hold pending the outcome of proceedings.
 
D. Interim Suspension
 
In certain circumstances, the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities, or a designee, may impose a WGU suspension prior to the Student Conduct Board Hearing before the Student Conduct Board.
 
Interim suspension may be imposed: (a) to ensure the safety and wellbeing of members of WGU community or preservation of WGU property; (b) to ensure the student’s own physical or emotional safety and wellbeing; or (c) if the Accused Student poses an ongoing threat of disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of WGU.


During the interim suspension, an Accused Student shall be denied access to some or all WGU systems or privileges for which the Accused Student might otherwise be eligible, as the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities or the Student Conduct Administrator may determine to be appropriate for the purposes of investigation.


The interim suspension does not replace the regular process, which shall proceed on the normal schedule, up to and through the Student Conduct Board Hearing, if required.
 
The Accused Student shall be notified in writing of this action and the reasons for the suspension. The notice shall include the time, date, and place of a subsequent hearing at which the Accused Student may show cause why his or her continued use of the WGU systems or privileges does not constitute a threat [and at which they may contest whether a WGU rule was violated]. Time lost within the term while the student is on interim suspension may not be added back to the end of the term in the form of a term extension or incomplete grade.
 
E. Appeals

 

1. A decision reached by the Student Conduct Board or a sanction imposed by the Student Conduct Administrator may be appealed by the Accused Student(s) or Complainant(s) to the Appellate Board within five (5) business days of the decision. Such appeals shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the Student Conduct Administrator or his or her designee.

 

2. Except as required to explain the basis of new information, an appeal shall be limited to a review of the verbatim record of the Student Conduct Board Hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:

 

  • To determine whether the Student Conduct Board Hearing was conducted fairly in light of the charges and information presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures giving the complaining party a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present information that the Student Code was violated, and giving the Accused Student a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present a response to those allegations. Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice results.
  • To determine whether the decision reached regarding the Accused Student was based on substantial information, that is, whether there were facts in the case that, if believed by the fact finder, were sufficient to establish that a violation of the Student Code occurred. To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed were appropriate for the violation of the Student Code which the student was found to have committed.
  • To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original Student Conduct Board Hearing.

 

3. If an appeal is upheld by the Appellate Board, the matter shall be returned to the original Student Conduct Board and Student Conduct Administrator for reopening of Student Conduct Board Hearing to allow reconsideration of the original determination and/or sanction(s). If an appeal is not upheld, the matter shall be considered final and binding upon all involved.

 
ARTICLE VII: INTERPRETATION AND REVISION

 

1. Any question of interpretation or application of the Student Code shall be referred to the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities or his or her designee for final determination.

 

2. The Student Code shall be reviewed every two (2) years under the direction or discretion of the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities. In the interim this code may be amended at any time upon appropriate notice to students. Suggested revisions may be made to the Student Conduct Administrator to be reviewed by a panel assigned by the Senior Manager of Student Rights & Responsibilities.

 

 

Revised July 26, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article: 20496, 1895

 

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