Student Organization Conduct Code and Process for Discipline
Issued Aug. 1, 2023
Table of Contents
.020 Prohibited Behaviors
Kansas State University recognizes the importance of student involvement as a component of student success. There are many ways for students to pursue opportunities at Kansas State University, and student organizations provide one such outlet. While involvement in student organizations adds value to the student experience, it also requires the organizations function responsibly and with autonomy. It is important to outline expectations and methods of accountability for student organizations and their members.
K-State's goal is to create a safe, healthy and impactful student organization experience. This policy outlines how conduct within Kansas State University’s recognized student organizations, or RSOs, as defined in PPM 8540, is addressed and adjudicated. The aim of the policy is to offer several options, depending on outlined factors, for accountability to occur in partnership with RSOs. This flexibility will allow both RSOs and the university to work together, when appropriate, to address behavioral concerns.
This policy, the student organization code, in no way limits the obligations of RSOs outlined in PPM 8540 student organization recognition policy. PPM 8540 includes numerous criteria required for an organization to be recognized as an RSO and a process for revoking an RSO’s registration if it fails to meet or maintain those criteria. The intent of this student organization code is to outline prohibited conduct and provide a process for adjudicating any such conduct. Students who are members of an RSO are responsible for reading and abiding by all relevant policies.
The Kansas State University code of student organization conduct is adapted from The Dyad Strategies Model Code of Student Organization Conduct and is used with permission.
Abuse of Process: An RSO, or someone acting on behalf of an RSO, violates this code by directly or indirectly abusing or interfering with the university investigation/adjudication process by engaging in one or more of the following:
- Falsifying, distorting, or misrepresenting information or colluding to do the same in the investigation/adjudication process; destroying or concealing information.
- Attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in the investigation/adjudication process.
- Harassing or intimidating any person involved in the university processes before, during, and/or following proceedings (including up to, throughout, and after any outcome).
- Unauthorized disclosure of a reporting party’s identifying information.
- Failing to comply with a temporary measure or other sanction.
- Influencing or attempting to influence another person to commit abuse of process.
- Failure to report known or alleged violations of the student organizational conduct policy.
Aiding in Academic Misconduct: The RSO aids, abets, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in behaviors that would constitute cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation or other violations of the K-State Honor Pledge. Evidence of a violation of this policy must demonstrate systemic participation and/or knowledge of misconduct at an organizational level.
Alcohol: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any behavior that would constitute a violation of the university alcohol policy in the code of conduct.
Alleged Violations of Law: Any alleged violations of federal, state and local laws which causes a substantial disruption to university operations, as determined by the university, may be investigated and adjudicated under thestudent organization code of conduct policy.
Arrest Provision: RSO leadership must notify appropriate university officials within 48 hours of learning that a member of an RSO is arrested and/or issued a citation from law enforcement as a result of any actions or behaviors taking place at or arising out of an RSO-sponsored event. Failure to do so may itself be a violation of the student organization code.
Systematic Harassment/Discrimination Based on a Protected Class: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any behavior that would constitute a violation of the PPM 3010. Evidence of a violation of this policy must demonstrate systematic participation and/or knowledge or misconduct at an organizational level.
Damage/Destruction of Property: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any behavior that would constitute a violation of any policies regarding use of university buildings or grounds or any sponsored event, on or off-campus, which would constitute a violation of this policy.
Disruptive Activity/Disorderly Conduct: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in an incident which unreasonably disrupts normal operations, included but not limited to the following examples:
- Infringing on the rights of others.
- Inciting others to disrupt scheduled and/or normal operations.
- Intentional obstruction which unreasonably interferes with freedom of movement, either pedestrian or vehicular.
- Inciting another person to breach the peace.
Drugs or Other Controlled Substances: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in the use, possession, distribution of a controlled substance in an unlawful manner or otherwise in violation of a university policy.
Endangerment: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in or observes any activity that would constitute physical abuse or would endanger the safety, health or well-being of other individuals or groups or would cause reasonable apprehension of such harm.
Failure to Comply: Failure to comply with directions of university faculty, staff, or law enforcement officers lawfully acting in performance of their duties or failure to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so.This would include failure to comply with any interim measures instituted during any investigation/adjudication process, or failure to comply with any outcomes assigned to an RSO at the completion of the conduct process.
Financial Obligations: Failure to promptly meet financial responsibilities to the university as outlined in PPM 8540 Student Organization Recogniton policy. [link to PPM 8540]
Harassment: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any conduct directed towards another person(s) that is intended to and does substantially disrupt or interfere with another’s educational or employment opportunity, peaceful enjoyment of residence, or physical security.
Hazing: Engaging in hazing of a member or third party for the purpose of initiation into, or admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership within an RSO, is strictly prohibited. Hazing includes, but is not limited to any action, activity or situation by which an RSO member intentionally, negligently or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health, welfare or safety of an individual, creates excessive fatigue, consumption of any substance or liquid (including but not limited to alcohol), sleep deprivation, mental or physical discomfort, exposes a person to extreme embarrassment or ridicule, involves personal servitude, destroys or removes public or private property, or implicitly or explicitly interferes with the academic requirements or responsibilities of a student. Apathy, acquiescence or consent to hazing shall not be a defense to this violation.
Retaliation: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any behavior that would constitute retaliation under this policy. Retaliation is defined as any adverse action towards any person for reporting an alleged violation of this policy or for cooperating with or otherwise participating in any university investigation. Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, verbal or implied threats, physical or psychological abuse, intimidation, harassment (verbal or written), or any other action intended to create a hostile environment for the intended target of the retaliation. In addition, isolation may constitute retaliation under this policy if the target of the isolation is deprived of an educational opportunity or benefit as a result of that isolation.
Sexual Misconduct: The RSO aids, abets, incites, organizes, approves or otherwise participates in any behavior that would constitute a violation of PPM 3010 Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment, and Procedure for Reviewing Complaints.
Trademark/Copyright Violations: The RSO engages in unauthorized use, including misuse, of university or organizational names and images.
Violations of University Policies: Violating, attempting to violate, or assisting in the violation of any other university policy, contract, rule, bylaw and/or regulation of the university may constitute a violation of the Code of student organization conduct.
The university has implemented several policies related to conduct expectations when participating in the university’s education programs and activities. These include, but are not limited to, PPM 3010 Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment, and Procedure for Reviewing Complaints, PPM 3015 Threat Management Policy, PPM 8520 Social Media Policy, the Student Code of Conduct. Any behaviors which may fall within the scope of relevant policies will first be reviewed by those respective offices. At the conclusion of the review, any behaviors which require further review under this policy will be referred to the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee.
The student organization conduct code and process for discipline applies to behaviors that take place on the K-State campus and at university or RSO-sponsored events whether on or off-campus. It may also apply to other off-campus behaviors when the university determines there may be a violation of other policies. Any behavior which may fall within the scope of other relevant policies will first be reviewed by those respective offices. At the conclusion of the review, any behaviors which require further review under this policy will be referred to the director of conduct or their designee.
As a general practice, the university defines its education programs and activities as operations of the university, including, but not limited to, in-person and online educational instruction, employment, research activities, extracurricular activities, athletics, residence life, dining services, performances, and community engagement and outreach programs. All activity that occurs on campus or on other property owned or occupied by the university is considered part of the university’s education programs and activities. Conduct that occurs off-campus is part of the university’s education programs and activities to the extent it includes locations, events or circumstances over which the university exercises substantial control over the context in which the conduct occurs.
Any conduct that occurs off-campus and outside the context of a university education program and activity may still be reviewed under PPM 3015 to the extent the conduct presents a substantial risk of harm to person(s) on campus or a university education program and activity.
RSOs which lose university recognition may still be subject to provisions in this code. Members of an RSO are also subject as individuals to other relevant university policies and may be held individually accountable for behaviors also attributed to the RSO, in addition to any actions deemed appropriate under the student organization code. An RSO facing an alleged violation of the student organization code is permitted to dissolve/surrender recognition during the investigation/adjudication process. However, the university may continue the investigation/adjudication process even after the RSO has dissolved.
Student organizations can be found responsible for violations of this policy based on a preponderance of the evidence standard. This standard is used in all student conduct cases.
The student organization code applies to guests of the RSO and the RSO may be held accountable for the misconduct of their guests. Visitors to and guests of the university may seek resolution of violations of the student organization code committed against them by a RSO and/or members of an RSO.
The university may receive notice of an allegation or potential violation of this or other related policies in several ways, including, but not limited to:
- The filing of an incident report with the appropriate university department or official, including self-reporting or secondary reporting.
- A university official with reporting responsibilities, as defined in university policies and procedures, is made aware of any potential violation of this or other related policies.
Those who are aware of misconduct are encouraged to report it as quickly as possible to Student Support & Accountability and/or to relevant law enforcement. There is no time limit on reporting violations of the student organization code; however, the longer someone waits to report an offense, the more difficult it may become for university officials to obtain information and witness statements and to make determinations regarding alleged violations.
Anonymous reports are permitted; however, reporting anonymously may limit the university’s ability to respond to and investigate a report. Upon becoming aware of any potential violations of this policy or other university policies, RSO leadership should immediately report the conduct to Student Support & Accountability or other appropriate office. In doing so, the RSO shall not begin any investigation of its own; rather, it should report the conduct for review under the proscribed university policies. As a reminder, if the information reported indicates only individuals should be held accountable, and not the RSO, the individual’s conduct will be reviewed under the appropriate policy. Complaints made under this policy may have the Student Amnesty Policy (PPM 8550) applied to the individuals involved.
Upon receiving notice of an alleged violation of this or other university policies involving an RSO, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability, or designee, will conduct an initial assessment to determine if there is a reasonable basis for conducting an investigation into the alleged violations of university policies. This initial assessment may include, but is not limited to:
- Interview(s) with the person(s) who made the report.
- Gather information that would corroborate elements of the report and/or review of any materials related to the report.
Once a determination has been made the alleged conduct, if true, would constitute a violation, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will notify the RSO, through its leadership, in writing to outline the alleged violations and resolution options. This notification will also be sent to RSO advisor(s), any relevant university departments, and if applicable, the RSO inter/national governing body.
In certain cases, if the behavior may constitute a violation of policies of inter/national governing bodies that the RSO is affiliated, and the dean or designee is aware of this affiliation, the dean or designee may, at their discretion, forward the information to the appropriate body.
In cases where it is determined that certain continued operations of a RSO constitute a reasonable threat of harm to individuals, damage of university premises, or disruption to the educational mission of the university, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee may issue interim measures, up to and including an interim suspension of all RSO activities, pending final disposition of the matter. Upon issuance of an interim measure, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will notify the RSO advisor, leadership, and any other appropriate parties.
There are three types of resolutions available for alleged violations of this code, which include direct resolution, internal investigation, or university Investigation. An educational conference with the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee and the appropriate RSO leadership may be used when determining the appropriate investigation options. This meeting provides an opportunity to discuss the nature of the allegations, the rights and responsibilities of the RSO, the resolution options available to the RSO based on the nature of the allegations, and the specific steps involved in the different resolution options. At this meeting they will determine the timeline for the RSO to choose the desired resolution process, when applicable. Participation in the educational conference is voluntary; however, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee, may proceed with the process in the absence of participation from the RSO.
The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will make the final determination on the resolution option to be used in investigating and adjudicating the alleged violations. The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee may, at any time, determine a case should be moved from a lower tier to a formal investigation.
Option 1: Direct Resolution
In certain cases, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee may determine the allegations, if true, constitute a violation of policy(ies), and these violations fall under the prescribed outcomes associated with the violations rubric (See Appendix A). In these cases, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee may send an outcome letter to the RSO representative and any other appropriate parties outlining the determination and the outcomes.
Upon receipt of this letter, the RSO may do one of the following:
- Accept the determinations and outcomes – in this case, the RSO will follow the directives outlined in the outcome letter and the matter will be considered closed once the outcomes are completed. Failure to complete the outcomes may result in additional disciplinary action; or
- Decline to accept the determinations and outcomes – in this case, the matter will be forwarded for formal investigation and adjudication.
The RSO must notify the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee of their choice from the above within seven calendars days of receipt of the letter.
In certain cases that might otherwise constitute a violation, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee may determine a different resolution option is warranted. This determination may be based upon the prior history of the RSO or its members, the RSO’s current status, any patterns of behavior, or other factors as deemed relevant.
Option 2: Internal Investigation
Internal Investigation Procedures
The university recognizes the educational benefits to RSOs, when appropriate, to internally review and resolve conduct concerns. To this end, the university may, in its sole judgment and discretion, offer an RSO this opportunity through an internal investigation (for example, led by a governing body such as Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Council).
The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will, in consultation with the RSO representative and RSO advisor and other parties the designee deems appropriate, develop an investigation scope and timeline based on the nature of the allegations. The RSO must conduct an investigation and submit a written investigative report within the agreed-upon timeline or as otherwise specified in writing by the university.
The completed report shall be detailed and specific, including the names of specific individuals involved in the alleged violation, any internal disciplinary action the RSO has implemented relative to those individuals, and an organizational action the RSO self-selects to impose to prevent recurrence.
The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will review the RSO’s investigative report and will make one of the following determinations:
- An agreement the report is complete and a resolution meeting will be scheduled to discuss the report and findings and review next steps.
- An agreement the report is complete, that the behavior in question is individual in nature, and the individuals implicated in the organization report may be forwarded for adjudication under applicable University policies and the case involving the RSO is closed.
- A determination the report is insufficient or incomplete, and provides feedback and instruction for further investigation.
- A determination the RSO has intentionally provided inaccurate or incomplete information, obstructed the process, or is otherwise non-compliant or uncooperative. The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will then determine whether to move forward with investigation and adjudication of the allegations under the formal resolution process.
Internal Investigation Resolution Meeting
Once the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee has determined the report is complete, one of the following determinations will be made:
- No Policy Violation – If the report determines no policies were violated by the RSO, and this determination is accepted, the process concludes for the RSO. Individuals implicated in the report may be forwarded for individual adjudication as outlined in applicable university policies.
- Responsibility Fully Accepted: If the report determines the RSO was responsible for all policy violation(s) that were alleged, and the determination is accepted, the determination of outcomes process will be initiated.
- Responsibility Partially or Not Accepted: If the report determines the RSO was responsible for some but not all, or for none of the policy violation(s) that were alleged, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will make one of the following determinations:
- Accept the determinations from the report and move forward to the outcomes process solely on the allegations for which the RSO accepted responsibility if applicable.
- Not accept the determinations from the report and will move forward in conducting an investigation under Option 3: University Investigation.
If individual students are identified at any point in the partnership process to have potentially violated any university policies, they may be individually referred for investigation and adjudication through appropriate university policies.
Determinations of responsibility through the internal investigation are final and may not be appealed.
Option 3: University Investigation
University Investigation Procedures
If the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee determines at any point a formal investigation is necessary, the case will be assigned to an investigation by a university official, identified by the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee who will notify the RSO leadership and advisor, and other appropriate parties, that the university is initiating a formal investigation. If the complaint has first been reviewed through PPM 3010 or 3015, the university may share the outcome of that investigation prior to starting this process.
During the investigation the RSO may request to provide information to the university for its consideration, including recommending witnesses to the investigator(s). Ultimately, determinations of relevance of information or witnesses will be determined by the university investigator(s).
In completing the investigation, the investigator(s) may:
- Make contact (if possible) with the individual(s) who submitted the initial information.
- Interview any individuals with relevant information.
- Request relevant information from RSO members (i.e. screenshots of text messages or pictures/videos) and note whether or not RSO members were compliant in sharing requested information.
- Provide relevant information at any point during the investigation to the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee related to interim measures.
- Require RSO members, or a select group of RSO members (i.e. all new members of the RSO) to participate in an interview and may restrict communication between RSO members during the interview.
Students participating in a formal investigation process are expected to participate in an active, cooperative and truthful manner. Failing to participate in any fashion, including failure to provide requested information or testimony, may constitute a violation(s) of the student code of conduct. Additionally, the investigators will document these failures as part of the investigative report and university officials may consider them when reaching a final determination regarding the matter and any related sanctions.
The time required for these investigations will vary; however, the goal is to complete reviews as soon as possible. Many factors, such as availability of witnesses and responsiveness of the parties or witnesses, can increase the time required for an investigation. Complainants and respondents may request a status update from the investigator(s) at any time.
At the completion of the investigation, the investigator(s) will provide a written draft of the investigation report to the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee. The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will review that report for accuracy or thoroughness and, once complete, will share the draft of the report (with necessary redactions) with the RSO representative, and any other appropriate parties for review and comment. The RSO must provide any comments related to the investigative report in writing to the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee within 10 calendar days of the receipt of the report. The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will make final determination of the relevance of any information gathered during the investigation. The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will generate the final report and share it with the RSO representative and advisor and any appropriate parties. Outcomes will be communicated in writing by the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee to the RSO and will list sanctions assigned, deadlines for completing sanctions, and other requirements for resolution.
If an RSO loses university recognition, the assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will maintain the outcome letter indefinitely. If applicable, a copy of the outcome letter may be sent to their inter/national organizational governing body or other appropriate parties. The sanctions implemented at the conclusion of the disciplinary process may include a variety of outcomes. See Appendix B.
The assistant vice president of student support and accountability or designee will oversee the completion of sanctions. If the RSO misses any deadlines, fails to complete any sanctions, and/or has a subsequent violation(s) while still completing previous sanctions, the RSO may be subject to additional sanctions and/or disciplinary actions at the discretion of the dean of students/designee.
If the university suspends an RSO as a result of the student organization code and the organization attempts to seek recognition under the guise of a different organizational name, the university reserves the right to deny the request for recognition or withdraw the recognition. This conclusion may be based on any of multiple factors, including but not limited to, overlapping membership, similarity of purpose, and the timing of the dissolution or prior loss of recognition and the request for new recognition.
Continued operation of the RSO after suspension or loss of recognition will result in a violation of Failure to Comply and may result in additional outcomes or restrictions, up to and including an extension of the Suspension beyond the terms originally outlined in the initial outcomes Letter/return agreement.
A RSO that has completed a period of suspension and has met the outlined conditions for return may seek reinstatement by complying with the registration requirements of the appropriate university department.
Grounds for Appeal
The RSO may file an appeal to either the finding issued in the outcomes of either the Internal Investigation or university Investigation, or both, but all appeals are limited to the following grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity in the process that affected the outcome.
- There is new evidence that was not reasonably available during the investigation and hearing that could have affected the outcome.
- A conflict of interest or bias existed with the university officials involved in the investigation and adjudication of the matter, which affected the outcome.
- The sanction imposed is of such a nature that the RSO could not reasonably complete it within the allotted timeframe for doing so.
Requests for Appeal
Requests for appeals must be submitted through the specified method to the dean of students or designee within ten (10) calendar days of the delivery of the written determination from the adjudication and resolution or the outcomes letter. Once sanctions are decided, they shall be implemented immediately, regardless of whether a party intends to appeal. The dean of students or designee may consider modification of a sanction during the appellate process.
For an appeal to be considered, it must meet one or more of the grounds above. The burden is on the appellant to show the grounds are met using the preponderance of the evidence standard. The dean of students or designee will aim to issue their decision within a reasonable timeframe upon receipt of all information and responses. In instances where the appeal officer(s) needs additional time, the appeal officer shall notify the RSO representative, within the allotted time for issuing a decision.
An appeal that affirms the finding of any process is final.
An appeal that is granted for the appellant (or other party, when appropriate) may be referred for further investigation. When an appeal is granted for the appellant (or other party, when appropriate) based on inappropriate outcome(s), the appeal officer may alter the outcome or remand with recommendations, to the original hearing officer(s), as appropriate, to modify the outcome(s). Such outcome determination shall be final.
Once an appeal is decided, the decision is final.
Please review Appendix A: Violation Rubric and Appendix B: Outcomes which are outlined on the student life website.
Any questions regarding this policy or recognition requirements for recognized organizations should be directed to Student Programs and Involvement, 114 K-State Student Union, 785-532-6541.