This BSU Student Handbook is a guide to student's rights, responsibilities and resources.
A significant element of Bridgewater State University's mission is educating students "to act responsibly within a context of personal and professional ethics". The behavior of any individual may bring either benefit or detriment. The BSU Student Code of Conduct identifies the rights and responsibilities of students in order to establish behavioral standards that encourage students to act in ways respectful of the personal dignity and rights of all members of our community. Violations of the Student Code of Conduct are dealt with in a manner to preserve the rights of both the individual and the community and to foster adherence to established responsibilities. The following sections describe the BSU Student Code of Conduct and how reports of violations are addressed.
The rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution
The right to organize one's personal life and behavior and to pursue individual activities except when these interfere with the rights of others or violate established university, local, state and federal laws and policies.
The right to freedom from personal force, violence, threats of personal abuse and harassment either as individuals or groups within the BSU community
The right to be protected from arbitrary or unauthorized search or seizure
The right to privacy of personal information in accordance with state and federal laws
The right to dissent, to carry on individual or organized activity that expresses grievances held against, or changes desired in, society and/or the university. This activity must be within the limits of the democratic process of freedom of speech, assembly and petition. (See the Time, Place, and Manner of Free Expression Policy section in the Policies and Procedures section of this handbook.)
The right to due process. No student shall face disciplinary procedures or be found responsible of charges made under this code without due process. Due process rights of an accused student include: the right to know the charges made against him/her; the right to know the origin of the charges; the right to a hearing; the right to state his/her version of the events; the right to appeal.
The right of access to the university student conduct process.
The right to an education including the reasonable and legal use of those services and facilities intended for students education and development.
The right to review his/her student conduct record. Students may request to inspect/review their student conduct records. Requests must be in writing. The Office of Student Conduct has 45 days to respond to the request.
Statement of Responsibilities
Students at BSU, as individuals and as groups, have certain responsibilities that include:
The responsibility to respect the rights of others and to adhere to all duly established university, local, state and federal laws.
The responsibility to report violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The responsibility to refrain from actions that deny other members of the community their rights as described.
The responsibility to adhere to the instructions of university employees acting within the scope of their employment.
The responsibility to preserve the privacy of other individuals and groups, and to respect the property of individuals, groups, the neighboring community and the university itself.
The responsibility to follow all university published policies.
The responsibility to exhibit behavior that does not interfere with academics, research, administrative, student conduct and other university activities.
The responsibility to adhere to all student conduct procedures including provision of accurate information and the completion of sanctions.
Conduct Code Violations
All members of the Bridgewater State University community should respect the rights of others and adhere to university policies and applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and United States. Membership in the BSU community does not mean a privileged or immune status from the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, criminal charges are not necessarily sufficient cause for a university hearing. Violations of university policy, or state or federal laws, on or off campus, may subject an individual to university student conduct procedures and/or state and federal student conduct procedures.
The following is a complete list of violations under the student conduct system (please click on policies to be directed to the corresponding section of the BSU student handbook.
Disruptive Behavior including but not limited to the following: acts of disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, university sponsored activities, or any other activities that occur on university property. Any act of disruption in the residence halls including quiet hours and hall sports.
Dishonesty including but not limited to the following: cheating, plagiarism, or any other form of academic dishonesty. Furnishing false information to any university official. Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any official document, record, or instrument of identification.
Failure to Comply including but not limited to the following: cooperating with and adhering to instructions of university employees acting within the scope of their employment. Completing any assigned judicial sanctions as the result of a disciplinary proceeding.
Personal/Community Safety including but not limited to the following: causing physical harm; verbal abuse; threats; intimidation; harassment; sexual harassment; sexual assault; coercion; restricted items/fire safety; driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs; tampering with fire safety equipment; key lending; hate crimes; any other conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person.
Stealing which includes attempted or actual theft of BSU property or property of a member of the community.
Unauthorized Use of Premises/Property including but not limited to the following: unauthorized entry or use of any university facility. Any willful damage to university property. Violation of the university's posting policy.
Zero Tolerance Behaviors
Specific behaviors that compromise the safety and security of Bridgewater State University, such as those on the following list, will not be tolerated and may lead to a student’s suspension or dismissal from BSU after a finding of responsibility. Examples include but are not limited to:
Creating or false reporting of bombs
Illegal drug possession and/or distribution
Illegal occupation of a building
Possession or discharge of illegal weapons
Rape or other sexual assault
Destruction of property including electronic property medium
Inciting a riot
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Illegal alcohol distribution
Tampering with fire safety equipment including pulling a false fire alarm
Use of a false identification card or providing false identification to others
If it occurs on the campus or in any campus facility
If it occurs during a university related activity (e.g., athletic contest, field trip, social event, activity sponsored by a recognized student organization)
If it calls into question the students suitability as a member of the university community
If it involves unlawful acts of violence, violation of a person's civil rights, hazing, unlawful sale or possession of drugs, unlawful use of alcoholic beverages and crimes against persons or property regardless of where the conduct occurs
If it constitutes a crime in violation of local, state or federal law, regardless of where the conduct occurs.
Any individual who is aware of a violation of the university's code of conduct may submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct.
Individuals should submit reports as soon as possible, but preferably within five days of the incident. Reports must be in writing and contain a complete description of the incident with names of all parties involved as participants or witnesses. The reporting party must date and sign the report. The administrator hearing the case will make the determination as to whether the presence of the reporting party at a hearing is necessary. In these cases, individuals reporting violations have a right to 72 hours notice of the time and place of a hearing so that they may prepare.
An accused student will receive fair notice of charges, including the time and place of the alleged violation and the origin of the charges. The student must respond to the notice of charges within three days to schedule a conduct conference. If it goes to a hearing, students will receive 72 hours notice to prepare or they may waive that right and request to have the hearing sooner. It is the responsibility of all students to check their on-campus email account.
The university will invoke an interim suspension if a student's continued presence on campus endangers the physical safety or emotional well being of members of the university community, endangers university property or disrupts the educational process. For examples of these types of behaviors, please refer to the university's zero tolerance section. An interim suspension is a temporary suspension from the residence halls or from the university, pending a hearing. The student will receive notification in writing of the interim suspension. The notice will include the reasons for the action and notice of charges. A hearing will be held, usually within five class days.
Resolution of Charges
Students have an opportunity to resolve charges through either a conduct conference or a hearing or both if deemed appropriate. The university makes decisions as to how the case will be handled.
Conduct conferences are not hearings, but informal meetings where accused students meet with a university official to review the reported incident and discuss the alleged conduct code violations. The accused student may present his or her interpretation of the events giving rise to the reported violation. The reporting party may be present for the same purpose. The university official shall act as a mediator between the parties.
The university official will attempt to establish agreement on facts of the incident, responsibility for violations of the code of conduct and appropriate remedies or sanctions. If all parties agree, the accused student will indicate agreement with the decision and sanction.
If an accused student fails to appear for a scheduled conduct conference, then the university official will review the case based on the available information. The university official will decide responsibility and appropriate sanctions, if any. The accused student will receive notice of the decision from the university official, either at the meeting or afterward, and may accept the decision or appear at a scheduled hearing.
Administrative Hearings are formal proceedings where an administrator will meet with relevant parties, report findings and recommend sanctions to the director of Student Conduct or designee. See Hearing Guidelines below for additional information.
Conduct Board Hearings
Conduct Board Hearings are formal proceedings where a board of students, faculty or administrative staff will meet with relevant parties, report findings and recommend sanctions to the director of Student Conduct or designee. Quorum for a conduct board hearing is four.
Each conduct board has an advisor, whose role is to brief all parties before each hearing to ensure a clear understanding of the policies in question and of the hearing procedures. The board adviser shall advise the board chairperson during hearings to see that the board follows procedures correctly. He/she may offer information, ask questions, and assist the chairperson in facilitation. He/she may also offer advice or clarification regarding appropriate sanctions or questions regarding policies and procedures during deliberations in closed session. See Hearing Guidelines below for additional information.
The following guidelines apply to all hearings
A student charged with violating the code of conduct may bring an advisor to a hearing. During the hearing the advisor may only offer advice during recesses granted by the administrator/advisor handling the case and may clarify procedural questions before, during or after the hearing.
A student charged with violating the code of conduct may bring relevant witnesses to a hearing. Witnesses must have been present during the incident in question.
A student charged with violating the code of conduct has a right not to testify against himself/herself in a hearing
Written evidence will be considered in a hearing only if the written evidence is presented directly to a university official by the writer or is signed by the writer and notarized. All parties involved in the hearing will have an opportunity to review the written evidence, either before or during the hearing.
A victim of any violation involving alleged sexual offenses may participate in a hearing without physically appearing before the board through the use of telephone/computer technology. If alleged victims choose not to participate in the hearing process at all, then the university will retain the prerogative to pursue charges out of concern for the best interests of the university. In such cases, designated officials of the university will act as a reporting party for the university.
Hearings are closed to the general public unless all parties involved with the hearing, including the board administrator/advisor, agree to an open hearing. The administrator handling the case may limit the number of spectators and may close an open hearing to maintain order.
There will be a written record kept of the proceedings. Student conduct records are confidential and are available only to persons who have permission from the student or who have a need to know.
Students may request that a hearing be recorded. This request must be made 48 hours in advance of the hearing. The Office of Student Conduct will keep the recording as part of the student's disciplinary record and provide a copy to the student in compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines.
If an accused student fails to appear for a scheduled hearing, the case will be heard based on the available information. The university will not drop charges of misconduct because an accused student leaves the university for any reason (e.g., voluntary withdrawal, academic suspension, etc.).
Under the student conduct code, an accused student can be found not responsible or responsible. Not responsible is a decision that the accused student is not responsible for a violation of policy and charges are dismissed.
Decisions about responsibility and recommended sanction(s), if appropriate, are determined during a closed session. Decisions regarding responsibility are made on a preponderance of evidence, deciding whether it is more probable than not that a violation occurred. Neither party needs to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in a hearing. The decision is forwarded as a recommendation to the director of student conduct or designee. The director or designee will either concur with the recommendation or make appropriate modifications and forward the results to the accused student(s).
The university may inform reporting parties of the responsible or not responsible decision. Information about assigned sanctions will be available to individuals on a need-to-know basis.
Hearings are conducted according to the following procedures:
The accused student(s) are informed of the alleged code of conduct violation(s).The accused student(s) will indicate their claim as to whether they are responsible or not responsible for the violation(s).The accused student(s) and their witnesses (if any) will have the opportunity to make opening statements and offer their account of the incident.The person(s) reporting the violations(s) (if present) and witnesses (if any) may make opening statements and offer their account of the incident.The reporting person(s) and the accused students(s) may question each other and any witnesses.The reporting person(s), the accused student(s) or any witnesses may be questioned by board members or the administrator(s) assigned to the case.
Sanctions are conditions placed upon a student when a decision has been made that the student is responsible for a violation of the student code of conduct as charged. The following guidelines will be used when determining sanctions:
The protection of the BSU community from inappropriate behavior, including negative impact on individuals, groups or organizations that are part of the university.
The attitude of the student, including the students understanding of the impact of their behavior, and the potential for changing that behavior in the future as well as the effect on the community.
The behavioral history of the student, including all documented confrontations with university officials and conduct records. This information will be viewed only to assist in determining sanction(s) once a decision of responsibility has been reached.
Any mitigating circumstance that may have affected the case, including documented medical or emotional issues, death of friends or family members, or illness.
Disciplinary warning: An official written reprimand that includes a warning that further violations of the code will result in more severe sanctions.
Disciplinary probation: A temporary status for a specific period of time during which further violations of the Student Conduct Code may result in suspension or expulsion.
Loss of privileges: Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.
Educational activities: Work assignments, educational service or other related assignments.
Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage, or injury.
Temporary suspension from residence halls:A temporary status in which students may no longer enter into or remain within 50 feet of any residence hall facility or adjacent grounds, including the Great Hill Student Apartments. Persons violating this sanction are subject to arrest for trespassing.
Permanent suspension from residence halls:A permanent status in which students may no longer enter into or remain within 50 feet of any residence hall facility or adjacent grounds, including the Great Hill Student Apartments. Persons violating this sanction are subject to arrest for trespassing.
University Suspension: Removal from the university for particular semester(s) or portions of semesters. The university restricts students from campus, including but not limited to, course registration, class attendance, participation in co-curricular activities and university housing during this time.
Students may appeal the decision of a hearing for the following reasons:
During the hearing process, there was a material deviation from the University’s written procedures that adversely affected the outcome of the hearing.
Information has been discovered that was not reasonably available at the time of the hearing and that could be sufficient enough to alter the outcome of the hearing.
The sanction(s) imposed were grossly disproportionate to the violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct for which the student was found responsible.
Pursuant to Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, in a student conduct case dealing with a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault, both the accused student and the complainant may appeal a decision of a hearing board or officer based on one or more of the reasons stated above.
An appeal must be submitted through the on-line form which can be accessed from the Office of Student Conduct web site at the following URL:
The appeal form must state the reason(s) for the appeal and provide an answer to one or more of the following questions:
What was the material deviation from written procedures and how did it adversely affect the outcome of the hearing?
What is the new information and why was it not available at the time of the hearing?
Why is the sanction inappropriate?
Sanctions imposed upon students found responsible for a Student Code of Conduct violation will not go into effect until there is a final appeal decision in the case. Interim suspensions will remain in effect during the appeal process.
An appellate board or administrator reviews appeals of hearing decisions. Quorum for an appellate board is three. The appellate board or administrator may request to meet with the appellant (the accused student or complainant depending on the circumstances), conduct board chairperson or appropriate parties if they need further clarification of the grounds for appeal. The appellate board reports findings and recommends changes in decisions or sanctions to the assistant vice president, or the vice president of student affairs. The assistant vice president for student affairs or the vice president of student affairs will either concur with the recommendation or make appropriate modifications which may include granting a new hearing or a rehearing of the matter, the assignment of new sanctions, or dismissal of the charges. The assistant vice president or vice president of student affairs will then forward the results to the appellant, and the complainant as required under the Clery Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f). The results of the appeal are final and no further appeals are allowed.