COAM Procedures and Rules

This document contains a summary of the rules and procedures used by the Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM), as excerpted from The Ohio State University's Code of Student Conduct (version as of May 31, 2019).

3335-23-04 Prohibited conduct

Any student found to have engaged, or attempted to engage, in any of the following conduct while within the university's jurisdiction, as set forth in section 3335-23-02 of the Administrative Code, will be subject to disciplinary action by the university. For the purposes of this section, attempt shall be defined as conduct that, if successful, would constitute or result in the prohibited conduct.

  1. Academic misconduct

    Any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the university or subvert the educational process. Examples of academic misconduct include, but are not limited to:

    1. Violation of course rules as contained in the course syllabus or other information provided to the student;
    2. Knowingly providing or receiving information during examinations such as course examinations and candidacy examinations; or the possession and/or use of unauthorized materials during those examinations;
    3. Knowingly providing or using unauthorized assistance in the laboratory, on field work, in scholarship or on a course assignment;
    4. Submitting plagiarized work for an academic requirement. Plagiarism is the representation of another's work or ideas as one's own; it includes the unacknowledged word-for-word use and/or paraphrasing of another person's work, and/or the inappropriate unacknowledged use of another person's ideas;
    5. Submitting substantially the same work to satisfy requirements for one course or academic requirement that has been submitted in satisfaction of requirements for another course or academic requirement without permission of the instructor of the course for which the work is being submitted or supervising authority for the academic requirement. This includes submitting the same work for courses that the student is retaking pursuant to the university's grade forgiveness rule;
    6. Falsification, fabrication, or dishonesty in creating or reporting laboratory results, research results, and/or any other assignments;
    7. Serving as, or enlisting the assistance of, a substitute for a student in any graded assignments;
    8. Alteration of grades or marks by the student in an effort to change the earned grade or credit;
    9. Alteration of academically related university forms or records, or unauthorized use of those forms or records;
    10. Engaging in activities that unfairly place other students at a disadvantage, such as taking, hiding or altering resource material, or manipulating a grading system;
    11. Violation of program regulations as established by departmental committees and made available to students; and
    12. Providing falsified materials, documents, or records to a university official in order to meet academic qualifications, criteria, or requirements, including but not limited to submitting falsified doctor's notes and/or falsified transcripts.

       …

  1. Student conduct system abuse

    Abuse of any university student conduct system, including but not limited to:

    1. Failure to obey the summons or directives of a student conduct body or university official;
    2. Falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information before a student conduct body;
    3. Disruption or interference with the orderly conduct of a student conduct proceeding;
    4. Knowingly instituting of a student conduct proceeding without cause;
    5. Discouraging an individual's proper participation in, or use of, a university student conduct system;
    6. Influencing the impartiality of a member of a student conduct body prior to, and/or during the course of a student conduct proceeding;
    7. Harassment and/or intimidation of a member of a student conduct body prior to, during, and/or after a student conduct proceeding;
    8. Failure to comply with one or more sanctions imposed under the code of student conduct; and
    9. Influencing another person to commit an abuse of a university student conduct system.

Judicial procedures

3335-23-05 Initiation and investigation of code violations
  1. Initiation

    Person(s) witnessing or experiencing what they believe to be a possible code violation should provide an authorized university official with the information.

       …

    1. Complaints regarding academic misconduct should be reported to the committee on academic misconduct; and

       …

 

  1. Investigation

       …

    1. Role of the university.

         …

      1. The coordinator of the committee on academic misconduct is authorized to investigate allegations involving academic misconduct. [see rule 3335-23-14]

         …

    1. Role of participants.
      1. During the investigation, the student allegedly involved in misconduct may be:
        1. notified of the alleged violation,
        2. requested to make an appointment to discuss the matter, and
        3. provided a date by which the appointment must be made.
      2. Any person believed to have information relevant to an investigation may also be contacted and requested to make an appointment to discuss the matter.
    2. Failure to comply with a request to make and keep an appointment relevant to an investigation may result in a disciplinary hold being placed on a student's registration and records and/or the initiation of charges for student conduct system abuse.
    3. Upon completion of an investigation, the investigator will decide upon an appropriate course of action, which may include, but is not limited to:
      1. Taking no further action,
      2. Deferring further action with or without conditions, or
      3. Seeking informal resolution; or
      4. Initiating charges by the appropriate university official, when a finding of jurisdiction has been made and there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the code may have occurred. Reasonable cause is defined as some credible information to support each element of the violation, even if that information is merely a credible witness or a victim’s statement. Charges will not be issued where a complaint is unsupported by any credible information or does not meet the elements of a code violation.
3335-23-07 Filing of complaint and initiation of charges

A complaint alleging a violation of the code of student conduct should be made to the university as soon as practicable in accordance with paragraph (A) of Rule 3335-23-05 of the Administrative Code. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the university will not take action on complaints filed more than six months from the discovery of non-academic misconduct (paragraphs (B) to (S) of rule 3335-23-04 of the Administrative Code) or one month for academic misconduct (paragraph (A) of rule 3335-23-04 (A) of the Administrative Code). These time limitations do not apply to complaints of sexual misconduct or other protected class discrimination and harassment.

Absent extraordinary circumstances, the university must initiate charges, if any, within one year of the filing of the complaint. This time limitation does not apply to complaints of sexual misconduct or other protected class discrimination and harassment. In all cases, a student charged with one or more violations of the code of student conduct has the right to be heard, subject to the student conduct procedures.

3335-23-08 Notice of charges
  1. Notification
    Students shall be notified of university charges in writing, unless a more effective form of notification is deemed appropriate. Charges may be presented in person, by placement in a student's residence hall mailbox, by email to the respondent’s official university email address (which may direct the student to view the notice on a secure website) or by mail to respondent's local or permanent address on file in the office of the university registrar.
  2. Current address
    All students are required to maintain an accurate and current local and permanent address and phone number with the University Registrar.
  3. Meeting with university official
    Following notification of charges, students are strongly encouraged to and shall be afforded the opportunity to meet with a university official for the purpose of explaining the university student conduct process and discussion of the charges.
  4. Options for resolution
    Charges may be resolved by administrative decision pursuant to 3335-23-09 or a hearing pursuant to 3335-23-10.
  5. Failure to respond
    Failure of the respondent to respond to the initiation of charges or schedule a preliminary meeting within the deadlines provided by the university shall in no way prevent the university from scheduling and conducting a hearing in the absence of the respondent.
3335-23-09 Administrative decision

In a case where a respondent admits to a violation(s) in writing, the student may request in writing to have a decision as to appropriate sanction made administratively by a hearing officer rather than have the charges referred to a hearing body. In such situations, the student waives the right to a hearing and the related procedural guarantees provided by a hearing body. Administrative decisions in academic misconduct cases involving graduate students may be made in consultation with the graduate school. Following an administrative decision, the student retains the right to request an appeal (see Administrative Code section 3335-23-18) of the original decision, but may do so only upon the ground that the sanction is grossly disproportionate to the violation committed.

When a respondent fails to respond to the initiation of charges and information exists to support finding a violation, the hearing officer may issue an administrative decision so long as sanctions do not include suspension or dismissal. In this circumstance, the respondent retains the right to request an appeal of the decision under all grounds found in Administrative Code Section 3335-23-18. If the respondent is suspended or dismissed in a subsequent case, the respondent may appeal both the outcome in the subsequent case and an administrative decision issued due to a failure to respond.

3335-23-10 Hearing bodies
  1. The respondent has the right to accept responsibility for the charges, which will result in an administrative decision, or choose to have a hearing.
  2. In addition to the committee on academic misconduct and the university conduct board, the following university employees/officials are considered official university hearing bodies and may conduct administrative hearings of alleged violations of the code affording the respondent the same procedural guarantees as provided in the hearings conducted by a committee or board:
    1. The director of student conduct, or designee;
    2. The coordinator of the committee on academic misconduct, or designee;
    3. University housing professional staff, and;
    4. The chief conduct officer for the regional campuses.
  3. Students will be afforded the right to request a separate hearing and choose an administrative or board hearing, except under special circumstances when, in order to ensure a fair and just process, the hearing officer may determine the appropriate hearing body. Special circumstances include but are not limited to situations when multiple respondents are charged out of the same factual circumstances or in multiple incidents involving the same respondent. The university reserves the right to combine hearings for respondents.
3335-23-11 Notice of hearing and request for postponement
  1. Notice
    If a hearing is to be held, written notification will be provided to the respondent. The notice may be hand delivered, placed into a student’s residence hall mailbox, sent by email to the student’s official university email address or text message, which may direct the student to view the notice on a secure website, or mailed to the last known address of the student, by first class mail, no fewer than ten calendar days prior to the hearing. Unless already provided to the student, the notification will include the charge(s), date, time, and location of the hearing, the designated hearing body, a statement of the student’s rights, and information on the hearing procedures.
  2. Postponement
    The respondent may request a postponement for reasonable cause, which may be granted at the discretion of the university. A request for a postponement for reasonable cause must be made in writing, include supporting rationale and be received by the person sending the hearing notification at least two business days before the scheduled hearing. The university reserves the right to reschedule a hearing for the first appropriate available date.
3335-23-12 Hearing procedures

Although the procedural requirements are not as formal as those existing in criminal or civil courts of law, to ensure fairness, the following procedures will apply and, unless already provided to the student, be included within the hearing notice:

  1. Attendance
    Attendance at hearings is limited to those directly involved or those requested by the hearing body to attend. The hearing body will take reasonable measures to assure an orderly hearing, including removal of persons who impede or disrupt proceedings.
  2. Timelines
    Except as expressly provided by this code, the university may set deadlines related to the investigation and hearing process. Absent extraordinary circumstances, respondents must submit all witness names and evidence for submission at least two business days prior to a scheduled hearing.
  3. Advisor
    The respondent may choose to bring an advisor for support throughout the disciplinary process. The advisor (i.e., support person) may be any person other than a witness. The advisor may only counsel the student and may not actively participate in the disciplinary process, unless clarification is needed as determined by the hearing body.
  4. Witnesses
    1. The respondent may invite relevant factual witnesses to attend, ask questions of witnesses called by others, and will be notified of potential witnesses to be called. 
    2. The university may present witnesses as well as question those presented by the respondent and will notify the respondent of invited witnesses.
    3. Respondents may also invite up to three character witnesses to submit written statements for the hearing body’s review. A character witness is considered to be a person who attests to another's moral conduct and reputation. Character witness statements will only be considered during sanctioning process if a violation is found.
    4. Expert witnesses are not permitted. In cases requiring special expertise, the hearing body may appoint individuals with appropriate expertise to serve as consultants to the hearing body. The consultant may be present and provide information as called upon during the hearing but will not vote.
  5. Standard of evidence
    A student will only be found in violation if a preponderance of evidence supports the charges.
  6. Majority vote required
    A student will not be found in violation unless a majority of the hearing body finds the student in violation. In the event of a tie, the hearing body will continue to deliberate. If after the hearing body determines that exhaustive deliberations have occurred and a majority decision is not reached the student will be found not in violation.
  7. In cases where prompt review is essential (e.g., when graduation or the end of the academic year is imminent) the respondent may be offered the option of an administrative review consisting of an administrative decision or administrative hearing. The respondent may decline such expedited review without the expectation that the process can be completed on an expedited timeline.
3335-23-13 Attendance

Because the most accurate and fair review of the facts can best be accomplished when all parties are present, the respondent and invited witnesses are strongly encouraged to attend and participate. If an individual does not choose to attend a hearing, the charges will be reviewed as scheduled on the basis of the information available, and a decision will be made. Although no inference may be drawn against a student for failing to attend a hearing or remaining silent, the hearing will proceed and the conclusion will be based on the evidence presented. No decision shall be based solely on the failure of the respondent to attend the hearing or answer the charges. In special circumstances, written statements may be considered by the hearing body when a respondent or witness does not attend or fully participate in a hearing.

3335-23-14 Record of proceedings

A single record consisting of written notes, audio recording, or other method selected by the hearing body, will be made of all hearings. Such record will remain the property of the university, but will be made available to the respondent for review during the appeal period. A written notice of the decision will be provided to the respondent. If the respondent is found in violation, information regarding appeal procedures will be provided to the respondent.

    3335-23-15 Committee on academic misconduct
    1. On behalf of the committee, the coordinator may investigate and resolve all reported cases of student academic misconduct that fall under the committee’s jurisdiction. The coordinator and chair shall establish procedure for the investigation and resolution of cases. The committee does not hear cases involving academic misconduct in professional colleges having a published honor code. These colleges shall follow their own codes and procedures which can be obtained in their respective central offices. Some allegations against graduate students that fall under the committee’s jurisdiction may also implicate the university policy and procedures concerning research misconduct and/or graduate school policy on the investigation of allegations of research misconduct by a graduate student. Upon receipt of such an allegation, the coordinator shall meet with the dean of the graduate school or designee, and/or the senior vice president for research or designee, and these parties shall mutually agree on the appropriate procedure for adjudicating the case. Notice of this decision and a description of the procedure to be used shall promptly be given to the student who has been charged. The coordinator or chair may refer complaints to the student conduct system if it is determined that the academic misconduct allegation is incidental to some other misconduct.
    2. The committee on academic misconduct is constituted according to rule 3335-5-48.7 of the Administrative Code.
    3. All complaints of academic misconduct shall be reported to the coordinator of the committee.
    4. Students have an obligation to report suspected misconduct.
    5. A quorum for a hearing shall be no fewer than four voting members of the committee which shall include no fewer than one student member and two faculty members.

    For cases involving graduate students, reasonable efforts will be made to have graduate students serve as the student members of the hearing committee.

    University sanctions

    3335-23-17 General guidelines for sanctions

    If a student is found to be in violation of the code, sanctions should be commensurate with the violations found to have occurred. In determining the sanction(s) to be imposed, the hearing body should take into account any mitigating circumstances and any aggravating factors including, but not limited to, any provocation by the subject of the conduct that constituted the violation, any past misconduct by the student, any failure of the student to comply fully with previous sanctions, the actual and potential harm caused by the violation, the degree of intent and motivation of the student in committing the violation, and the severity and pervasiveness of the conduct that constituted the violation. Misconduct motivated by bias for classes protected by university policy, other than constitutionally protected expression, may be considered an aggravating factor for sanctioning. Impairment resulting from voluntary use of alcohol or drugs (i.e., other than medically necessary) will also be considered an aggravating, and not a mitigating, factor. One or more of the following courses of action may be taken when a student has been found to have violated the code of student conduct.

    1. Disciplinary sanctions
      1. Formal reprimand.
        A written letter of reprimand resulting from a student's misconduct.
      2. Disciplinary probation.
        This probationary condition is in effect for a specified period of time and may involve the loss of specified privileges. Further violation of university rules, policies, standards, or guidelines during the probationary period will additionally be viewed as a violation of the probation, which shall result in further action up to and including suspension or dismissal.
      3. Suspension.
        Suspension is a sanction that terminates the student’s enrollment at the university for a specified period of time. Satisfactory completion of specified stipulations may be required for reenrollment at the end of the suspension period. Under special circumstances, the hearing body may hold the imposition of suspension in abeyance, which would allow for the student's continued enrollment so long as the student adheres to all stipulations, restrictions, or conditions imposed by the hearing body.
      4. Dismissal.
        Dismissal is a sanction which permanently separates a student from the university without opportunity to re-enroll in the future.
    2. Conditions of suspension and dismissal
      Unless a student is otherwise notified in writing, a suspension or dismissal will not take effect until after the appeal period. A student who has been dismissed or suspended from the university shall be denied all privileges afforded a student (including, but not limited to, participation in university sponsored or sanctioned events and activities) and shall be required to vacate campus as determined by the hearing body. In addition, after vacating campus property, a suspended or dismissed student may not enter upon campus and/or other university property at any time, for any purpose, in the absence of expressed written permission from the vice president for student life or designee. To seek such permission, a suspended or dismissed student must file a written petition to the vice president for student life for entrance to the campus for a limited, specified purpose or to have the terms of this condition modified or reduced.
    3. Failing or lowered grades
      In cases of academic misconduct, a hearing body may authorize the instructor to award a failing or lowered grade in the course and a loss of credit on the graded coursework.
    4. Other sanctions
      Other appropriate sanctions may be imposed by a hearing body singularly or in combination with any of the above-listed sanctions. Examples include, but are not limited to, making restitution for property damage or misappropriation of university property or services, or the property of any person, residence hall contract termination or reassignment to another room, restriction of access to specified campus facilities and/or property, research assignments, community service projects, special workshop participation, referral to medical resources or counseling personnel, and/or other educational sanctions.

    Appeal process

    3335-23-18 Appellate process
    1. Right to appeal
      1. A student found to have violated the code of student conduct has the right to appeal the original decision. The appeal is not intended to re-hear or re-argue the same case and is limited to the specific grounds outlined in this rule. The appeal must state the specific grounds for the appeal and should include all supporting documentation. The appeal must be postmarked or hand delivered to the appropriate appeal officer, or sent via email, as provided below, within five working days after the date on which notice of the decision is sent to the student. Each student shall be limited to one appeal of a decision of a hearing body. The decision of the appeal officer is final.
      2. Any extensions to the appeal date may be made at the discretion of the director of student conduct, residence life, or the office of academic affairs or their designee;
      3. A student who has accepted responsibility for violating the code of student conduct waives the right to appeal, except on the basis that the disciplinary sanction is grossly disproportionate to the violation(s) committed.
      4. When found in violation of the code of student conduct, a respondent shall be limited to one appeal. The decision of the appeal officer is final.
    2. Grounds for appeal
      1. An appeal may be based only upon one or more of the following grounds:
        1. Procedural error that resulted in material harm or prejudice to the student (i.e. by preventing a fair, impartial, or proper hearing). Deviations from the designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless material harm or prejudice results;
        2.  Discovery of substantial new evidence that was unavailable at the time of the hearing and which reasonably could have affected the decision of the hearing body; or
        3.  Disciplinary sanction imposed is grossly disproportionate to the violation(s) committed, considering the relevant aggravating and/or mitigating factors.
      2. Non-attendance by the respondent or the complainant may not be the sole grounds for an appeal.
    3. Appropriate appeal officers

         …

      1. Appeals of decisions of the committee on academic misconduct or its coordinator will be submitted for decision to the executive vice president and provost or designee.
    4. Appeal proceedings
      1. The appeal officer will dismiss the appeal if the appeal is not based upon one or more of the grounds set forth in paragraph (B) of this rule.
      2. The appeal officer will decide the appeal based upon a review of the record and supporting documents (e.g. prior disciplinary history).
    5. Possible dispositions by the appeal officer
      The appeal officer may, after a review of the record:
      1. Uphold the original decision and/or sanction(s);
      2.  Dismiss the case or individual charge(s) against the student and vacate any portion or all of the sanction(s);
      3.  Modify or reduce the sanction(s); or
      4.  Remand the case to the original hearing body to consider a specific issue as directed by the appeal officer or refer the case to a new hearing body to be reheard. If possible, a new hearing body should be different from the one that originally decided the case. If a case is reheard by a hearing body, the sanction imposed can be greater than that imposed at the original hearing.
    3335-23-19 Deviations and other procedures

    A student and hearing officer may agree in advance to deviations from procedure. Such deviations are not then subject to appeal. Other deviations are acceptable as long as such deviations are not found upon appeal to be materially harmful to the respondent. The office of student life, student conduct and the committee on academic misconduct may create additional procedures in alignment with this code.

    Records of the Committee on Academic Misconduct

    Records are considered confidential. Copies of sanction letters are sent only to those University officers with a valid need to know, such as the Office of Student Conduct, which retains notations of records of students found in violation of academic misconduct for a minimum of ten years (fifty years for dismissals).

    If a student enrolled in the Graduate School is found “in violation” of the Code of Student Conduct, the Graduate School is notified of the nature of the violation and the sanction imposed.

    If a student is suspended or dismissed from the University, the Office of the University Registrar is informed and an appropriate notation (“disciplinary suspension” or “disciplinary dismissal”) is added to the student’s transcript.

    Confidentiality and release of records

    The Federal and State governments have adopted legal requirements designed to protect the privacy of students’ educational records maintained by various University offices and to provide for the students’ right to access the educational records. Generally, any information from these records may not be released to individuals outside the University community by the custodian of the records without permission of the individual whose record it is, and any individual has the right to see his or her own educational records.

    Regional campus hearings

    Regional campus and Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) students may request to have cases heard in Columbus or by an ad hoc panel at the regional campus/ATI. With a request to be heard on a regional campus or ATI, the student waives the right to have the case heard by a panel of the Committee on Academic Misconduct in Columbus. The decision of the ad hoc panel is final, subject to the regular appeal procedures. All rules and procedures outlined in this document are to be followed.