Information for Parents
We view parents as essential partners in the success of our students. Together, we can collaborate to ensure our students are making the most of their educational opportunities at Montana State University. While your relationship with your student may change somewhat now that he or she is at college, you will likely still be the person your student turns to for support or assistance. Some parents' first instinct is to jump in and solve problems for their student. However, we encourage you to adopt more of a coaching role instead of intervening yourself. We want the conduct process to be developmental, teaching students how to take responsibility and learn from their mistakes.
The navigation bar to the left contains links to the full Code of Student Conduct, summaries of potential charges and sanctions your student may face, a flow chart of how the conduct process works, and information on confidentiality and student conduct records. Below are some frequently asked questions that may clarify the processes and procedures related to our student conduct process and how you may help support your student throughout it.
Will I be notified if my student is charged with violating the Code of Student Conduct? What can MSU tell me about the incident in which my student was involved?
Due to the Federal Education Rights and Protection Act (FERPA), the Dean of Students' staff members may be limited in what they can share with you regarding your student's case unless we have a signed FERPA waiver on file from your student. However, the Office of the Dean of Students can answer general questions about the student conduct process and possible outcomes. We will only notify parents if a student's health, safety, or welfare are in imminent risk.
How can I assist my student who has been notified that they potentially violated the Code of Student Conduct?
If your student receives notification from Residence Life or the Office of the Dean of Students that he/she has been reported as possibly violating the Code of Student Conduct, here are some things to keep in mind as you support your student:
- Remember that receiving notice of possible violation does not mean that your student is responsible! There is a process in place to allow your student to share his/her perspective about the incident that was reported to us.
- Encourage your student to promptly respond to all communication concerning student conduct.
- Review our website and the Code of Student Conduct and encourage your student to do the same so he/she has information about the process.
- Encourage your student to be honest and take an active role during the process. Prompt your student to reflect on the incident before the hearing and prepare to share their perspective.
- Remember that this process is not about judging your student's character, it is about assessing specific behavior and considering consequences for those behaviors.
- Recognize that this is not a legal process or criminal process. The conduct process is designed to be educational, not simply punitive, and we want our students to learn that their behavior or choices do not meet the expectations MSU has for members of our academic community. In a majority of cases, students receive educational sanctions that assist them in learning from the experience while they continue with their coursework.
- Be aware that there are decisions your student may make through this process. If it appears there is responsibility for violating a policy, your student can accept an informal resolution or can elect to go to a hearing.
- Finally, allow your student to learn from this experience. Students learn and grow in college outside of the classroom as well as in. This is a great opportunity for your student to learn accountability and reevaluate how they make decisions going forward.
While MSU is limited in what information it can share about your student's conduct, we strongly encourage you to talk with your student about the incident and the conduct process.
Do I need to hire an attorney to represent my student?
Our student conduct process is an educational and administrative process, not a legal process. Students do not need to be accompanied by an attorney. When the incident referred to us as a potential violation of the Code of Student Conduct also results in a pending criminal case (ie- a MIP) or when there is a reasonable likelihood that a criminal complaint will be sought against your student, your student may, at their own expense, be accompanied by an attorney. Please note, however, that the attorney only participates in our student conduct process in a supporting role for your student. Your student is responsible for presenting their information and perspectives in the conduct meeting; attorneys may not participate. An attorney assisting your student must not be an employee of the Student Legal Services Office or supported by University funds.
If a student is charged criminally, why does he/she have to go through the student conduct process, also?
The criminal justice system and the student conduct process are not mutually exclusive. The University reserves the right to take action based on any student conduct, regardless of location, that is contrary to the pursuit of the educational mission of the University or that may adversely affect the University community. Furthermore, the purpose of our conduct process is to reinforce and encourage the development of good decision-making. Meeting with your student through our student conduct process in addition to any interaction your student has with the criminal justice system allows the University to speak with your student specifically about how their behavior may impact their success at MSU as well as how it may impact the broader university community.
If an incident takes place off campus, why does the University get involved?
We set high expectations for our students whether a particular student lives on or off campus and whether the incident in question took place on or off campus. Remember, the student conduct process serves an educational purpose and allows the University to check in with your student to discuss the impact of their choices and behaviors. Furthermore, certain behaviors, even if they happen off campus, impair or infringe on the rights of others or interfere with the educational interests of our academic community and are therefore addressed through the student conduct process.
How are sanctions determined?
Sanctions are assigned on a case-by-case basis. Some factors that may affect sanctioning include your student's role in the incident, the nature of the violation, the number and severity of past conduct violations, and the nature of the conversation the conduct officer has with your student during the conduct process.
My student’s case was dropped in court. Will it also be dropped by the University?
University disciplinary proceedings may precede, follow, or take place simultaneously with criminal investigations or proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced.
Does the outcome of a conduct hearing go on my student's record?
Conduct records are maintained by the Office of the Dean of Students. For more information about these records, visit Confidentiality and Maintenance of Student Conduct Records. A student's conduct record is not reflected on his or her official university transcript, your student's academic record.
What if I have more questions?
Please feel free to reach out to the Office of the Dean of Students at (406) 994-2826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.