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Two female and one male student waling at Waurn Ponds Campus

16 September 2021

What does ‘student misconduct’ actually mean? Understand the rights and wrongs of student behaviour

Deakin welcomes everyone with open arms and we celebrate diversity as one of our greatest strengths. Just as you have the right to feel safe while you’re studying at Deakin, in return you’re expected to behave courteously and responsibly when interacting with others.

You’ve probably heard of the Student Code of Conduct and your Rights and Responsibilities – the principles and behaviours outlined in these resources underpin your enrolment at Deakin. As well as covering academic integrity, which is about producing your work in an honest and fair way, they also outline how you’re expected to behave as a member of the Deakin community.

To sum it up: all students must always act in the best interests of the University and not behave in ways that constitute student misconduct.

Professor Lisa HannaWe understand that sometimes these kinds of guidelines can be confusing, so to help you do the right thing we chatted to Professor Lisa Hanna, the Dean of Students. She works closely with students and staff to ensure that the Deakin experience is a positive one for everybody.

Can you please break down the concept of ‘student misconduct’ for us – what’s it for and when is it used?
Deakin is a thriving community and we want all students to enjoy a safe and happy University experience. A big part of this is ensuring that everyone upholds our values of integrity, diversity, respect and inclusion. We expect everyone to make a positive contribution to our Deakin culture.

If our values aren’t met or are breached in some way by a student, the University can take action. The Deakin Student Misconduct procedure allows the Dean of Students, on behalf of the University, to investigate poor behaviour and take steps to ensure the best outcome for our whole community.

Examples of student misconduct include behaviour like posting inappropriate content online on a Deakin-affiliated site, using threatening or abusive language, or otherwise behaving inappropriately in a residential or teaching space.

Only a very small number of students are dealt with under the Student Misconduct procedure, and most won’t ever have to worry about it. But all students should be aware of their responsibility to uphold our values at all times – it’s up to everyone to keep Deakin a safe, respectful and inclusive place.

What happens to a student who faces an allegation of misconduct?
It’s important to know that students aren’t ‘charged’ under the Student Misconduct procedure – it’s not a legal process. However, Deakin has an institutional responsibility to uphold the collective wellbeing of our community, so if we receive a report of poor behaviour by a student we need to take action to address that behaviour.

If a student is reported to us for poor behaviour, we’ll work closely with both them and the person who made the report to help resolve the incident. If appropriate, we’ll do this as informally and as educatively as possible.

Recently, we’ve been working to find streamlined ways to resolve issues. In some instances, students have the option to accept an allegation made against them rather than be subject to a formal investigation.

In instances of more serious student misconduct, we may hold a more formal process. The student will receive a letter of allegation, and be invited to provide information and attend a Student Misconduct Committee hearing.

Read about the process in more detail in the Student Guide to Student Misconduct.

Can students access representation or an advocate to support them?
Students absolutely can use representation to support them. The DUSA Student Advocacy and Support Service is a free and confidential service that can help students to respond to any allegations and attend any hearings if needed.

What happens if an allegation is substantiated? How does this affect the student’s degree?
A substantiated misconduct allegation will have different outcomes depending on its severity. These can range from a simple apology from the student or the requirement to access education or training to help them understand and improve their behaviour, to limiting their access to campus facilities or contact with other individuals.

In the most severe cases, the student may be excluded from the University. But this happens very rarely.

Is there an appeals process?
Yes, absolutely. As a Deakin student, you can appeal certain faculty or University decisions that impact your studies. The University Appeals Committee hears and determine student appeals.

The DUSA Student Advocacy and Support Service can help students navigate the appeals process.

Where can students find more information or talk to someone?
I encourage all students to look at the information on the Dean of Student’s webpage, which links to information about student conduct, as well as the student complaints and student appeals processes at Deakin.

It also includes information about who to contact if you’d like to talk to someone about a student conduct issue, or what to do if you’d like to report concerning student behaviour that you’ve seen or experienced.

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