The University of South Florida (USF) is one of the dozen member institutions of the State University System of Florida and the fourth-largest public university in the Sunshine State. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions (USF in Tampa, USF St. Petersburg, and USF Sarasota-Manatee) and the University’s main campus in northeast Tampa is comprised of 14 colleges.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) at USF receives referrals regarding alleged Student Code of Conduct violations, and Code of Conduct referrals go through an initial review, followed by hearings. In certain cases, the university may impose such sanctions as cancellation of a USF student’s housing contract, suspension, or expulsion.

Lawyer for University of South Florida Disciplinary Hearings

If you are a USF student who was recently arrested or might be under investigation for an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, it may be in your best interest to retain legal counsel. While USF does not allow an advisor to speak for the charged student, act as attorney, nor otherwise participate, an attorney at Galigani Law Firm can still speak to you and provide advice to help you protect your rights throughout the disciplinary process.

Dean Galigani is an experienced criminal defense lawyer. He can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (352) 375-0812 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

University of South Florida Code of Conduct Violations Information Center

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Types of University of South Florida Student Code of Conduct Violations

The USF Student Code of Conduct states that each student is expected to abide by the Rules of Conduct. The commission, aiding, abetting, attempting, or inciting of any of the following actions constitutes an offense for which a student or a student organization may be subject to the student conduct process:

  • (4.02) Misuse of Property
  • (4.03) Misuse of Materials
  • (4.04) Weapons, Firearms, or Explosive Devices
  • (4.05) Harassment
  • (4.06) Stalking
  • (4.07) Hazing
  • (4.08) Disorderly Conduct
  • (4.09) Disruptive Conduct
  • (4.10) False Alarm
  • (4.11) Threats of Violence
  • (4.12) Injurious Behavior
  • (4.13) Reckless Injurious Behavior
  • (4.14) Sexual Harassment
  • (4.14)(a) Sexual Exploitation
  • (4.14)(b) Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse
  • (4.14)(c) Non-Consensual Sexual Contact
  • (4.14)(d) Unwanted or Unwelcome Sexually Oriented Attention
  • (4.16) Gambling
  • (4.17) Misuse of Alcohol
  • (4.18) False Information
  • (4.19) Bribery
  • (4.20) Failure to Respond to Instructions
  • (4.21) Violation of University Policy and/or Local Ordinance, State or Federal Law (as determined by the University)
  • (4.22) Violation of Probation
  • (4.23) Complicity
  • (4. 24) Specific Acts of Violence
  • (4.24)(b) Dating Violence
  • (4.25) Retaliation

USF6.0023 specifically prohibits any form of hazing of its students, including hazing by students or other persons associated with any student, organization, or group, at any time, and at any location.

Hazing is defined as any action or situation created by a member of the University community, or acting in the capacity as such, against another member of the University community for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation, admission into, or affiliation with an organization or group that:

  • Is negligent or reckless in nature; or
  • Is humiliating or endangers an individual’s mental or physical health; or
  • Unreasonably interferes with academic or employment activities.

Actions and situations that may constitute hazing include, but are not limited to:

  • Forced or coerced consumption of food, alcohol, beverage, drugs, or other substance;
  • Paddling, hitting, slapping, branding, or physical brutality in any form;
  • Creation of unnecessary fatigue;
  • Personal servitude;
  • Physical or psychological shocks;
  • Wearing of apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste;
  • Degrading or humiliating games or activities;
  • Sleep, food, or beverage deprivation;
  • Isolation and exclusion from social contact;
  • Calisthenics;
  • Unreasonable exposure to the elements;
  • Kidnapping or abandonment;
  • Line-ups and berating behaviors;
  • Undue interference with academic pursuits; and
  • Pressuring or coercing involvement in activities that are illegal, lewd, or in violation of University Policy.

Considering that sexual assault has been known to occur on college campuses in the U.S. at an alarming rate, many Florida universities, including USF have taken strong precautions against sexual harassment. USF aggressively investigates sexual harassment allegations

Under USF Policy 0-004, sexual harassment (which includes sexual violence) is any of the following types of conduct:

  • Sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion, means physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either: Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational experience; Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting that individual; or Such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of, or have the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with, an individual’s work or academic performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment (may include off-campus acts of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, that have effects on campus which may contribute to a sexually hostile environment);
  • Specific Acts of Violence defined by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking.

Specific prohibited actions under USF Policy 0-004 include:

  • Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, by or between any faculty member, staff, or student, including individuals of the same sex, in all academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs of the University, whether those programs take place in University facilities, at a class or training program sponsored by the University at another location, or elsewhere;
  • Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, by any faculty member, staff or student while assigned to duties or academic programs within the USF System (regardless of their work location) against any individual who is not a faculty member, staff or student, including USF System program invitee(s).
  • Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, by any vendor or individual external to the USF System against any faculty member, staff, student, or USF System program invitee during the transaction of business with the USF System, during any program or activity coordinated through the USF System, and/or while on USF System premises;
  • Retaliation by any faculty member, staff or student against any individual who, in good faith, has made any allegation of sexual harassment (including sexual violence) or who has testified, assisted, or participated in any way in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted under this Policy or any federal or state law. For a more detailed discussion of the University’s anti-retaliation provisions, please refer to Policy # 0-020, Retaliation, Retribution, Or Reprisals Prohibited;
  • Knowingly making false accusations or allegations of sexual harassment (including sexual violence), or knowingly making false statements regarding alleged sexual harassment (including sexual violence) in any investigation, proceeding, or hearing conducted under this Policy or any federal or state law; and
  • Gender-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, non-verbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

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University of South Florida Conduct Process

When a USF student is arrested or given a notice to appear for an alleged criminal offense, the information is usually provided to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR). Upon receipt of the referral, the OSRR conducts an Initial Review involving the students involved in the possible policy violation.

After the Initial Review is complete, the Initial Review Officer will issue a Disposition Letter to the involved student that is usually delivered to the student via his or her official USF student email address. If formal charges move forward, the charged student has three business days to decide whether to accept responsibility for all of the charges and the suggested educational sanctions within the letter or request a Formal Hearing if he or she does not want to accept responsibility for the charges and/or disagrees with the suggested educational sanctions.

A Formal Hearing can result in charges being upheld or dismissed, and sanctions may be more severe or less severe than the sanctions originally provided by the Initial Review Officer. USF provides two choices of forum for the Formal Hearing:

  • Administrative Hearing Officer Formal Hearing — OSRR assigns an Administrative Hearing Officer to conduct the Formal Hearing and the charged student (as well as the complainant in cases of sexual harassment and specific acts of violence) will be notified of the person appointed to be the Administrative Hearing Officer.
  • University Conduct Board Formal Hearing — OSRR assigns a panel where students will make up at least one-half of the membership, except in cases of sexual harassment. Board members will be selected from a bank of faculty/staff and students. Any Board member assigned to hear the case, but who is not present for the presentation of information at the Formal Hearing may not further participate. However, the Charged Student has the right to choose to proceed or to request that the Formal Hearing be rescheduled if the University Conduct Board present does not have at least one-half of the membership made up of students. After the Formal Hearing, the Board will reach its decision in executive session. A simple majority of the quorum is required for decision.

After hearings, students are notified of outcomes through their USF student email accounts within five business days after the hearings. If a charged student is found responsible for the formal charge(s), he or she receives notification of the educational sanctions assigned in his or her Formal hearing decision letter. Students can appeal Formal Hearing decisions through the links provided in their Decision Letters within five business days of the dates of the letters.

An appeal must be written to the Dean of Students or appropriate designee at the member institution or separately accredited institution. If an appeal is granted, the burden of proof rests with the charged student or the complainant to show, by a preponderance of the evidence presented, that the grounds for an appeal have been made. Except as required to explain the basis of new information, the Dean will limit the review of the verbatim record of the Formal Hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To determine if there were due process errors involving the University’s failure to provide the Charged Student or organization with notice or an opportunity be heard;
  • To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed was extraordinarily disproportionate for the violation of the Student Code of Conduct, which the Charged Student was found to be responsible; or
  • To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision or other relevant facts not brought out in the Formal Hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the Formal Hearing. Outcomes of criminal or civil cases have no bearing in any aspect of the process, including the appeal.

The Dean’s Decision on Appeal Letter will be rendered within 10 days of receipt of the appeal, except in extraordinary cases as determined by the Dean of Students.

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Student Sanctions at University of South Florida

USF may impose of the following sanctions on a student or a student organization:

  • Warning Letter — Official notice stating that a repeat violation of University policy, rules or regulations, can result in additional conduct sanctions;
  • Restrictions — Conditions imposed on a student that would specifically dictate and limit future presence on campus and participation in University activities;
  • Restitution — Payment for injury or damage;
  • Financial Aid Impacts — Restriction on or revocation of financial aid where appropriate pursuant to law or NCAA policy;
  • Alcohol and/or Substance Use Educational Sanctions — Educational sanctions possibly comprised of online educational modules, in person assessments and follow-up meetings, or external assessments;
  • Other Appropriate Sanctions — May include mandated community service, fines, educational programs (payment of associated fees), and written assignments;
  • Conduct Probation — Official sanction that places student’s enrollment dependent upon maintenance of satisfactory citizenship during the period of probation;
  • Housing Cancellation — Immediate cancellation of charged student’s housing contract, restricting charged student from all USF residential facilities (not including dining halls) although charged student is responsible for any fees associated with the cancellation of the housing contract;
  • Deferred Housing Cancellation — Cancellation of a student’s housing contract imposed at a definite future date or time. Upon the termination of the contract, the charged student is restricted from all USF residential facilities (not including dining halls) although charged student is responsible for any fees associated with the cancellation of the housing contract;
  • Suspension — Termination of student’s privilege to attend the University for a specified period of time, which may include a restrictive order that excludes the person from campus;
  • Deferred Suspension — Suspension imposed at a definite future date or time; or
  • Expulsion — Permanent termination of a student’s privilege to attend the University, which may include a restrictive order that would exclude the person from campus.

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Galigani Law Firm | University of South Florida Code of Conduct Violations Defense Attorney

Do you think you could be under investigation for an alleged violation of the USF Code of Conduct or were you arrested for an alleged criminal offense?

Make sure that you seek legal representation for help achieving the most favorable outcome to your case. Dean Galigani and the Gainesville criminal defense lawyers of Galigani Law Firm represent students at colleges all over Florida.

Call (352) 375-0812 or fill out an online contact form to let our attorneys review your case and discuss all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.

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