Criminal vs. Student Conduct Process

The Elon student conduct system differs from the criminal system in philosophy, procedure and outcome. The student conduct system is founded upon the values described in our Honor Code: honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect. Students may be referred through the Elon student conduct system if they fail to uphold the honor code by violating a university policy. The following is a comparison of some key aspects of the legal system and the Elon student conduct system.


Student Conduct System

Legal/Criminal System

Foundation Founded upon the values of the Elon honor code and university policies.  Founded upon federal, state and local laws. 
Level of evidence Level of evidence necessary for a finding of "responsible" is a "preponderance of evidence" - a showing that it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.  Level of evidence necessary for a finding of "guilty" is "beyond a reasonable doubt." 
Types of evidence permissible All evidence may be presented, including anonymous reports, hearsay, photographic evidence, etc. The credability and accuracy of the evidence will be considered as part of the decision-making process.  Strict rules of evidence apply. Evidence must be gathered, held and presented according to strict legal guidelines. 
Retention of records Maintained until graduation or, in more serious situations (when suspension or permanent separation occurs), for five years from the incident date.  Records may be maintained in perpetuity. 
Release of records Records are private and may be released only as outlined in the Family Education Records Privacy Act (FERPA).  Records are public and may be viewed by anyone. 
Hearings Private hearings. Trained university hearing officers will conduct the meetings in a manner that is respectful to all involved. Advisors are present for support but are not actively involved in the process.  Family members and attorneys may not typically be present during these meetings or the hearing.  (In cases involving sexual misconduct, students may have an advisor of their choice.) Usually public hearings. Attorneys may actively participate in questioning, cross-examination, etc.