FAQs - Coastal Carolina University
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Student Conduct

Guidelines for Advisers and Attorneys

In order to best serve our students involved in a disciplinary matter at Coastal Carolina University, the following information is provided for advisors participating in the student conduct process, including but not limited to parents, faculty, staff, students, legal counsel, etc:

As an institution, Coastal Carolina University works to educate students through the student conduct process operating under the direction of the Dean of Students Office. Additionally, as stated in the Code of Student Conduct:

University rules and regulations are designed to protect individual liberties, and other values stated in the University's mission statement, especially the commitment to: "develop students who are both knowledgeable in their chosen fields and prepared to be productive, responsible, healthy citizens with a global perspective… while adopting the highest standards of integrity and accountability, and committing itself to excellence through continuous self-improvement." (CSC. I)

University policies and regulations as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct are available online at http://www.coastal.edu/conduct. Moreover, as an adviser, you can reference these sources for more specifics on the rights and responsibilities of any student brought through our process.

As it pertains to your role in the process described under Section II, Students Rights and Responsibilities, and Section II-B, Rights of the Accused, of the Code of Student Conduct (hereinafter “CSC”):

Persons alleged of violating the University's rules and regulations have the following rights:
The right to a personal adviser whose role is to advise the student rather than actively represent. (CSC. II. A.)

Furthermore, specifics regarding the role of an adviser are explained under (CSC. IV. D.) Disciplinary Hearing Process and the Addendum to the Student Code of Conduct, which state:

  • The personal adviser provides the student moral support and may or may not be a member of the University community. The University has the right to disqualify a particular adviser when participation of that adviser allows the potential for disruption of the student conduct process.
  • Upon request of a student, the personal adviser may:
    • a) Advise the student concerning the preparation and presentation of the case. The adviser may not speak for the student, except in exceptional circumstances with the discretion of the conduct officer.
    • In incidents where an alleged violation of the Code of Student Conduct results from a criminal charge, the student may choose to retain counsel, at their expense, to provide full legal representation in all proceedings including, but not limited to, allowing counsel to appear on behalf of the student, speak on behalf of the student, question witnesses, protect the statutory and constitutional rights of the student, and to otherwise fully participate in all proceedings on behalf of the student. Counsel is defined as an individual enrolled as a member of the South Carolina Bar, pursuant to applicable court rules, or an individual otherwise authorized to perform prescribed legal activities by action of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

      Students intending to utilize counsel as defined above must provide the Dean of Students Office with written notice at least 24 hours prior to any meeting. The University reserves the right to manage the timeline and efficiency of the student conduct process and will communicate directly with students regarding the time, place, and manner of all proceedings, regardless of counsel involvement
    • b) Accompany the student to all student conduct proceedings whenever possible.
    • c) Not also serve as a witness. (CSC. IV. D. 2c)

To assist you in working with a University student conduct officer or the Student Conduct Board, consider the following, and refer to the CSC.

  1. The CSC is available at http://www.coastal.edu/conduct. Paper copies of the CSC are available at the Dean of Students Office.
  2. Review the CSC and related documents and procedures first with the student and discuss the limitations of your involvement in the on-campus proceedings. Specifically with legal counsel, please be aware that unless concurrent criminal charges have been filed, the University's process only allows you to advise the student, your client, but not to represent your client in disciplinary procedures at any time during either an Administrative Resolution or a Student Conduct Board.
  3. For further clarification, one may contact the Dean of Students Office (843-349-4161) to confirm information regarding the role of an adviser as well as other procedures of the student conduct process.
  4. If advising a student for a student conduct issue that is also being heard in municipal or district court, understand that the University’s disciplinary process is separate and distinct. Court dates and other issues do not and will not delay the University's process.
  5. In some cases, students involved in University related conduct cases, whether they occur on or off campus, have been charged through the CSC and may or may not have violated the law.
  6. Students will be informed of their need to appear for disciplinary proceedings via e-mail to their University email account. As allowed by the CSC, if a student fails to attend the scheduled date and time of the proceedings, the case may be held in the student's absence.
  7. During the hearing, unless criminal charges are concurrent, an attorney adviser may only consult with the student and/or exchange written notes to assist the student. It is not the role of the adviser to tell the student and/or client (in cases involving legal counsel) what to say during the hearing or disrupt the University's process.
  8. During the hearing, if criminal charges are concurrent, an attorney adviser may appear on behalf of the student, speak on behalf of the student, question witnesses, protect the statutory and constitutional rights of the student, and to otherwise fully participate in all proceedings on behalf of the student. It is always the preference of the University that the involved student be present and actively involved in the conduct process, in order to provide the most accurate information and positive educational outcome.
  9. Lastly, within the student conduct process, unless criminal charges are concurrent, an attorney adviser may not address the hearing body. As student conduct proceedings are a part of a student’s academic record, he or she is always preferred to represent him or herself throughout the process.

FAQs for Advisers and Attorneys

If criminal charges are concurrent (per SC 2022-2023 South Carolina State Budget Proviso 117.162):

I have been asked to represent a student in the Disciplinary Proceeding (student conduct) process. How do I establish this with the University?

The student must notify the Dean of Students Office in writing of their decision to have counsel represent them in the Disciplinary Proceeding. This notice must be on file no later than 24 hours prior to any hearing. All correspondence related to matters of the Disciplinary Proceeding will be sent directly to the student using their official CCU email account. It will be the student’s responsibility to provide copies of that correspondence to their chosen counsel.

At what point can counsel begin to participate in the student conduct process?

Counsel may begin participating in the Disciplinary Proceeding process once the accused student has received official notice of charges for alleged violations based on a criminal charge from the Dean of Students Office.

Can anyone serve as counsel for a responding student?

No. Counsel retained by the student must be an individual who is enrolled as a member of the South Carolina Bar, pursuant to applicable court rules, or an individual otherwise authorized to perform prescribed legal activities by action of the Supreme Court of South Carolina. (SC Code Ann. § 40-5-310)

Who can be present with the responding student during the student conduct process?

The student has the right to be accompanied by one individual in an advisory capacity at any conduct meeting. If the student chooses to retain counsel, that individual satisfies the advisor role. If a student chooses to not retain counsel, the advisor may be any individual of the student’s choice and may assist the student in all phases of the student conduct process. Only one (1) advisor is permitted. The University maintains the right to disqualify a particular advisor when participation of that advisor allows the potential for disruption of the student conduct process. The advisor may not also serve as a witness.

Can the hearing for the University be delayed until after the criminal trial?

The disciplinary process at the University is not to determine if a student violated the law; it is to determine whether student’s behavior was in violation of the University regulations and standards as stated in the CSC. The goals of the criminal justice system and the University's student disciplinary processes are substantially different. As it is the role of the University process to educate the student through his or her decisions as they pertain to the CSC, the University will not delay its investigative and decision-making process based on the timeline of any criminal proceedings.

What is the standard of proof utilized in the student conduct process?

The standard of proof that must be met for an accused student to be found responsible for a Code of Student Conduct violation is "preponderance of the evidence", where “preponderance of the evidence” means the evidence is more likely than not to be true.

Isn’t this student disciplinary process double jeopardy for someone who is also facing criminal charges?

The answer to this question is “No.” “Double jeopardy” is a legal concept that applies solely to criminal proceedings. The University's process is educational and administrative in nature.

Why isn't the student afforded the same due process protections that would be provided in a criminal proceeding?

The student conduct process does not determine criminal guilt; rather, it determines whether a student has violated the University's Code of Student Conduct. There are basic concepts of fairness that apply to student disciplinary proceedings, but this process serves administrative and educational functions relating to the mission of Coastal Carolina University. Therefore, many of the intricate rules and processes that apply to the criminal and civil court system are not applicable to university student conduct processes and are therefore not required. The aim of the student conduct process is to educate students through their decision-making; no individual’s civil liberties are infringed through the process.

If criminal charges are not associated:

I am advising a student facing disciplinary charges with the University. How do I work with the University disciplinary system?

Students are expected to speak for themselves in all University disciplinary proceedings. Whether or not a student is facing criminal charges for the same behavior that is being addressed by the University, the role of the adviser (including legal counsel) is limited. During the hearing, you may only consult with the student or exchange written notes to assist the student. Advisers who do not comply with this will be asked to leave the hearing. Disruption of the University's hearing process will be grounds to excuse any adviser. The conduct officer will correspond and communicate directly with the student involved. The conduct officer may answer general questions about the process but will communicate about the specifics of the incident only with the student, unless a release is signed and on file with designated officer.

My student or client was not on campus when this happened. Why is the University even involved?

The jurisdiction of the Code of Student Conduct (CSC) is applied based on an individual's relationship with the University. As a member of the University, any student of the University represents the institution regardless of his or her geographic location. The University expects students, whether they are on or off campus, to be productive members of our surrounding communities. Specifically, our CSC specifies: "Cases of alleged misconduct by any student, on or off campus, are within jurisdiction of the student conduct process if the behavior conflicts with the mission of the University." (CSC. IV. B.)


What will happen if my student or client refuses to participate in this process?

The student disciplinary process will continue to move forward regardless of a student's participation in it. Within the process, the student will be notified of and referred to the CSC for a complete description of his or her rights in the process. Among them, the student has the right to remain silent and forgo participation all together in the process. However, a student’s refusal to participate and/or remain silent in the process will not delay the University process. The University will work to gather as much information and make a decision based on the majority of information presented. As members of the University community, students are encouraged to fully participate in the student conduct process.


Can my student or client withdraw from the University to avoid the hearing?

Students may withdraw within the established University procedures. While the Dean of Students Office will not deny your client's ability to withdraw from classes with the disciplinary charges pending, the investigations will continue and a campus hearing can still occur to resolve the matter.


Is the hearing outcome confidential? Can information provided during the hearing regarding my student or client be made available to the prosecutor’s office if he/she chooses to participate in the student disciplinary process?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or “FERPA,” provides the right of ownership of student records to the student and prevents the University from disclosing this information without the signed written consent of the student. Thus, the University will not forward the information received in a hearing to the prosecutor’s office. However, there can be no guarantee of privacy as all student conduct records are subject to lawful subpoenas. Records include tape recordings and oral and written statements made during the process. Additionally, in accordance with legislation under Title IX, a complainant student is entitled to know the outcome of a hearing when there are allegations of sexual discrimination or harassment, including acts of sexual violence.


Why isn't my student or client given the same due process protection as he or she would receive in the criminal process?

The courts recognize and support the differing goals and interests of higher education communities from those of the judicial process. Basic expectations of University disciplinary proceedings have been well established and are met by the student conduct process.


What is the standard of proof in the student conduct process?

All decisions of the University student conduct process will be made based on a preponderance (majority) of the information presented. The designated hearing body will use that information to determine whether or not there is a violation of one or more charges assessed.


Who serves on the formal Student Conduct Board (hereinafter “SCB”)?

The SCB consists of ten (10) elected faculty members; six (6) faculty/staff members, and twelve (12) students. Each individual Student Conduct Board Hearing will be heard by a total of four (4) faculty/staff members, and two (2) students. The hearing is led by the Chair or Vice Chair of the SCB. Additionally, more specific information regarding the proceedings of the SCB can be found in the CSC. (CSC. IV. E.)


Can my student or client appeal the decision and sanctions of the hearing body?

Yes, a student may appeal the decision of both an Administrative Resolution and a Student Conduct Board Hearing. The student must submit the appeal in writing and should be specific about which decision(s) and/or sanction(s) is being appealed. The appeal must be submitted within three (3) business days of the decision. At the conclusion of either hearing, the conduct officer, Chair or Vice Chair will reiterate this with the student if he or she is found in violation. (CSC. IV. G.)


If I cannot attend the hearing at the time the University has established, how can the hearing be rescheduled?

The University will attempt to schedule a hearing that is convenient for the alleged student, the complainant, the advisers, witnesses, and the Board members who will hear the information and make a decision. With so many people involved, it is not always possible for all schedules to coincide. In order to resolve complaints in a timely manner, advisers will not be directly consulted about scheduling matters. However, the University will try to make reasonable adjustments to the schedule while communicating directly with the student at all times. If an adviser is unavailable for the scheduled hearing time, the student or client is welcome to choose another adviser.


Who can be present with the student at the hearing?

A maximum of one (1) adviser may accompany the alleged student. If a student chooses an Administrative Resolution he or she will be permitted to bring a reasonable amount of signed witness statements. However, if a student chooses the Student Conduct Board Hearing, he or she may bring a reasonable amount of physical witnesses to question through the process. While students may bring character witnesses through the process, the University encourages them to bring witnesses that can speak to the actual behavior and charges to which they are being called to respond.


Are there resources available for me to learn more about the law as it relates to campus disciplinary proceedings?

The following resources for attorneys are recommended:

The Law of Higher Education (4th ed.) Volumes 1 & 2, William A. Kaplin and Barbara A. Lee, published by Jossey-Bass Publications, (2006).

The Rights and Responsibilities of the Modern University: Who Assumes the Risks of College Life? Robert D. Bickel and Peter F. Lake, published by Carolina Academic Press, (1999).

Navigating Past the “Spirit of Insubordination”: A Twenty-First Century Student Conduct Code with a Model Hearing Script, Edward N. Stoner II and John W. Lowery, published by the Journal of College and University Law, Volume 31, Number 1, (2004).

This document has been adapted for advisers from “Attorney Guidelines for Student Representation” prepared by the Dean of Students Office at the University of North Dakota.