Conduct and Discipline

Policy Overview

Students of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are responsible for knowing and observing the University regulations concerning student conduct and discipline.

A student is defined as a person who:

  1. Is enrolled at MD Anderson.
  2. Is accepted for admission or readmission at MD Anderson.
  3. Has been enrolled at MD Anderson in a prior semester or summer session and is eligible to continue enrollment in the semester or summer session that immediately follows.
  4. Is engaged in prohibited conduct while meeting one or more of the criteria listed in 1-3.

The terms "dean" and "program director" as used in this policy refer to the administrative officer(s) responsible for the administration of the disciplinary process. Primary responsibility and authority for student discipline lie with the dean and the program director, who are responsible for investigating charges of misconduct as well as assessing disciplinary sanctions, if appropriate. The dean is authorized by The University of Texas Board of Regents to proceed with an investigation and disciplinary process as outlined in this policy, notwithstanding any action taken by other authorities. [Board of Regents, University of Texas System, Rules and Regulations, Rule 50101]

The term "hearing committee" refers to a fair and impartial committee that has been selected to hear disciplinary charges, to make findings of fact and, upon the finding of a violation, to impose appropriate sanctions.

The MD Anderson campus is defined as all real property, buildings or facilities owned or controlled by MD Anderson.

All MD Anderson students are expected and required to:

  • Obey federal, state and local laws.
  • Comply with the Regents' Rules and Regulations.
  • Comply with MD Anderson and The University of Texas System rules and regulations.
  • Comply with directives issued by administrative officials of MD Anderson or The University of Texas System in the course of their authorized duties.
  • Observe standards of conduct appropriate for an academic institution.

Any student who engages in conduct that violates the above standards is subject to discipline whether the conduct takes place on or off campus and whether or not civil or criminal penalties are imposed for such conduct.

Provisions: Conduct

Unacceptable conduct that would subject a student to disciplinary action includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Engaging in scholastic dishonesty such as cheating, plagiarism, collusion, submitting another person's work or materials for credit, taking an examination for another person, acting in a manner that would give unfair advantage to himself or herself or another student or attempting to commit such act.

  • Engaging in unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, including peer-to-peer file sharing, that may also subject students to civil and criminal penalties. (17 U.S.C. 506).

  • Illegally using, possessing or selling alcohol, drugs or narcotics.

  • Endangering the health or safety of another.

  • Obstructing, disrupting or interfering, individually or in concert with others, any teaching, educational, research, administrative, disciplinary, public service or other activity or public performance authorized by MD Anderson to be held on campus or on property or in a building or facility owned or controlled by MD Anderson or The University of Texas System. Such behavior includes but is not limited to interrupting, modifying or damaging utility service or equipment; communication service or equipment; and computer hardware, programs, records or networks accessible through the university's resources.

  • Engaging in speaking or writing that is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and that is likely to incite or produce such action.

  • Engaging in the unauthorized use of property, equipment, supplies, buildings or facilities owned or controlled by MD Anderson or The University of Texas System.

  • Engaging in hazing, singly or in concert with others, with or without the consent of a student, either on or off campus, is prohibited by state law [Texas Education Code, Section 51.936]. Both the person submitting to the hazing and the person inflicting the hazing are subject to discipline. Knowingly failing to report hazing can subject one to discipline. Initiations or activities of organizations may not include features that are dangerous, harmful or degrading to any student and a violation of this prohibition renders both the organization and participating individuals subject to discipline.

  • Altering or assisting in the altering of any official record of MD Anderson or The University of Texas System, or submitting false information or omitting information required for or related to application for admission, award of a degree or any official record. A former student who engages in such conduct is subject to a bar against re-admission, revocation of degree and withdrawal of diploma.

  • Defacing, mutilating, destroying or taking unauthorized possession of property, equipment, supplies, buildings or facilities owned or controlled by MD Anderson or The University of Texas System.

  • Possessing or using any type of explosive, firearm, imitation firearm, ammunition, hazardous chemical or weapon as defined by state or federal law, while on campus or on any property or in any building or facility owned or controlled by MD Anderson or The University of Texas System, unless authorized by federal, state or local laws.

A student is also subject to discipline for prohibited conduct that occurs while participating in off-campus activities sponsored by MD Anderson or The University of Texas System, including field trips, rotations or clinical assignments.

A student who receives a period of suspension as a disciplinary penalty is subject to further disciplinary action for prohibited conduct that occurs during the period of suspension. A former student expelled or suspended for disciplinary reasons is prohibited from being on any campus of The University of Texas System institution during the period of expulsion or suspension without prior written approval of the chief student affairs officer of the institution at which the suspended student wishes to be present. In a request for such approval, the former student is required to disclose in writing each institution from which the individual has been suspended or expelled and the conduct leading to the disciplinary action.

For more information related to this topic, "Provisions and Conduct", please refer to the Examinations policy outlined in the Academic Policies and Procedures section of "Policies and Procedures".

Provisions: Sanctions

The following sanctions may be assessed by the dean or the dean's designee:

  • Disciplinary probation.
  • Withholding of grades, official transcript and/or degree.
  • Bar against readmission.
  • Restitution or reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of institutional or The University of Texas System property.
  • Suspension of rights and privileges, including participation in extracurricular activities.
  • Assignment of a failing grade for an examination, assignment or course and/or cancellation of all or any portion of a prior course credit.
  • Denial of degree.
  • Suspension from the institution for a specified period of time or until the student meets specified conditions. Students who are currently enrolled will be administratively withdrawn from all courses and refunds will not be issued.
  • Expulsion (permanent separation) from the institution. Expulsion creates a permanent notation on the student's academic transcript.
  • Revocation of degree and withdrawal of diploma.
  • Other penalties as deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

If a student is found to be guilty of the illegal use, possession and/or sale of a drug or narcotic on campus, the minimum penalty must be suspension from the institution for a specified period of time and/or suspension of rights and privileges.

Procedure: Investigation

As stated in the Policy Overview, the dean is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct, namely, that a student has engaged in conduct that violates the Regents' Rules and Regulations, the rules and regulations of MD Anderson or The University of Texas System, instructions issued by an administrative official of MD Anderson or The University of Texas System in the course of his or her authorized duties or federal, state and/or local laws.

If there is a more specific policy that specifies the procedures for investigation, such as the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct policy, that policy will govern; however, all the powers provided herein to the dean for investigations involving student witnesses, including summons, interim disciplinary action, and withholding transcripts, grades and degrees may be exercised by the investigator designated in that policy in consultation with the dean.

Any student may be summoned by written request of the dean for a meeting for purposes of the investigation and/or to discuss the allegations. The written request shall specify a place for the meeting and a time at least three weekdays after the date of the request if the request is sent regular mail, or at least two weekdays after the date of the request if the request is sent by e-mail or hand delivered. The written request may be mailed to the address appearing in the records of the registrar, e-mailed to the student at the student's MD Anderson issued e-mail address or hand delivered to the student. If the student fails to appear without good cause, as determined by the dean, the dean may bar or cancel the student's enrollment or otherwise alter the status of the student until the student complies with the summons. If the student failing to appear as directed in a summons is the student against whom charges are being reviewed, in addition to the above, the dean may proceed with disciplinary action based upon other information available using the disciplinary procedures below. A student's refusal to accept delivery of the notice, failure to maintain a current address with the registrar or failure to read mail or e-mail are not considered good cause for failing to respond to a summons.

The dean will review the evidence, determine whether to proceed with charges, and, if so, determine the sanction appropriate to the charges. Before proceeding with disciplinary action, the dean will offer the student the opportunity to meet to provide a response to the charges and, upon request, to review the available evidence supporting the charges.

Procedures: Interim Measures

If the dean finds the allegations against a student are not unfounded and pending a hearing or other disposition of the allegations against a student, the dean may take such immediate interim disciplinary action as is appropriate to the circumstance when such action is in the best interests of the institution. This includes, but is not limited to, a suspension and bar from the campus when it reasonably appears to the dean from the circumstances that the continuing presence of the student poses a potential danger to persons or property or a potential threat for disrupting any activity authorized by the institution.

The dean may also withhold the issuance of an official transcript, grade, diploma or degree to a student alleged to have violated a rule or regulation of The University of Texas System or its institutions which would reasonably allow the imposition of such a sanction. The dean may take such action pending disposition of the allegations or charge if the dean has provided the student an opportunity to provide a preliminary response to the allegations and in the opinion of the dean, the best interests of The University of Texas System or the institution would be served by this action.

When interim disciplinary action has been taken by the dean, a hearing of the charges against the student will generally be held within 10 days after the interim disciplinary action was taken; however, at the discretion of the dean the 10-day period may be extended for a reasonable time period.

Procedures: Disposition of the Charge

In any case, except in a case finding a violation of the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct Policy, where the accused student elects not to dispute the facts upon which the charges are based and agrees to the sanctions the dean assesses, the student may execute a written waiver of the hearing procedures and waiver of any appeals under the policy. This administrative disposition shall be final and there shall be no subsequent proceedings regarding the charges.

In any case finding a violation of the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct Policy, the case will proceed under the hearing procedures of this policy unless both the accused and the accuser agree to the terms of the administrative disposition and thus waive the hearing and appeals.

In any case where the accused student does not dispute the facts upon which the charges are based but does not agree with the sanctions proposed by the dean, the student may execute a written waiver of the hearing procedures yet retain the right to appeal the decision of the dean only on the issue of sanction (see Appeal section below). The appeal regarding the sanction must be made to the Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, the president's designee.

If the student disputes the facts on which the charges are based, the dean will arrange for the facts to be heard and determined by a Hearing Committee.

Procedures: Hearing

In those cases in which the accused student disputes the facts upon which the charges are based, such charges shall be heard and determined by a fair and impartial Hearing Committee.

In any case involving a violation of the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Misconduct Policy, the accuser will be provided the same rights and responsibilities outlined in this section as the accused including the right to have notice of the hearing.

The School of Health Professions is committed to providing fair and unbiased representatives each academic year to serve as hearing committee members in the school.  Those persons will be selected from a nomination pool, in which the program directors make the nominations.  Members can be selected as the nomination pool may consist of School of Health Professions Faculty, MD Anderson Staff, or Clinical Affiliates staff.  Generally, each Hearing committee will contain at least (3) members from opposite program representation. The Hearing Committee pool will be populated annually. In the event of an appeal, Hearing committee participants Members will be drawn randomly from the pool to serve on the hearing committee. The dean and the individual requesting an appeal will be allowed to strike names if demonstrated conflict of interest exist.  The Hearing committee will serve the entire academic year for each term.  During the first meeting, the chair of the Hearing Committee is selected based upon agreement within the committee a chair.  The Chair will conduct all facets of the hearing committee and make the final recommendation to the Dean.

When interim disciplinary action has been taken by the dean, the student will be given the opportunity to have a hearing of the charges in accordance with the procedures below within 10 days after the interim disciplinary action was taken; however, if the dean determines that there is good cause, the 10-day period may be extended for a reasonable period.

In cases other than those in which immediate interim disciplinary action has been taken, the accused student will be given at least a 10-day notice of the date, time and place for the hearing, the name of the Hearing Committee Members, a written statement of the charge(s) and a summary statement of the evidence supporting such charge(s). The hearing notice may also set a deadline by which the student must notify the dean if he or she intends to be assisted by an advisor at the hearing. The notice will be delivered in person or mailed to the student at the address appearing in the registrar's records. A notice sent by mail will be considered to have been received on the third day after the date of mailing, excluding any intervening Sunday. The date for a hearing may be postponed by the Hearing Committee Chair for good cause or by agreement of the student and dean.

The accused student may challenge the impartiality of a Hearing Committee Member(s) up to three days prior to the hearing by submitting the reasons for the challenge in writing to the Hearing Committee Member(s)  through the office of the dean. If the Committee Member disqualifies himself or herself, a substitute will be appointed in accordance with the school's procedures.

On a hearing of the charges, the dean or other institutional representative has the burden of going forward with the evidence and proving the charges by the greater weight of credible evidence.

The Hearing Committee Chair is responsible for conducting the hearing in an orderly manner and controlling the conduct of the witnesses and participants in the hearing. The Hearing Committee Chair  will rule on all procedural matters and on objections regarding exhibits and testimony of witnesses; may question witnesses; and is entitled to have the advice and assistance of legal counsel from The University of Texas System Office of General Counsel (OGC). The Hearing Committee will render and send to the dean and the accused student a written decision that contains findings of fact and a conclusion as to whether the accused student is responsible for the violations as charged. Upon a finding of responsibility the Hearing Committee shall assess a penalty or sanctions as noted in the Provisions: Sanctions section.

The hearing will be conducted as follows:

  1. Each party shall provide the other party a list of witnesses, a brief summary of the testimony to be given by each and a copy of documents to be introduced at the hearing at least five days prior to the hearing.

  2. Each party has the right to appear, present testimony of witnesses and documentary evidence, cross-examine witnesses as permitted by the Hearing Committee Chair and be assisted by an advisor of choice. The advisor may be an attorney. If the accused student's advisor is an attorney, the dean's advisor may be an attorney from The University of Texas System OGC. An advisor may confer with and advise the dean or accused student, but may not question witnesses, introduce evidence, make objections or present argument to the Hearing Committee. In sexual harassment/sexual assault cases, the alleged victim shall have the right to be present throughout the hearing, to have an advisor present, to have irrelevant past sexual history with third parties excluded from the evidence; and to have a closed hearing.

  3. The dean may recommend a penalty to be assessed by the Hearing Committee, and may base the recommendation on past practice for violations of a similar nature, the student's past disciplinary record or other factors the dean deems relevant. The accused student is entitled to respond to the dean's recommendation.

  4. The hearing will be recorded. If either party wishes to appeal the Hearing Committee's decision, the official record will consist of the recording of the hearing, the documents received in evidence and the decision of the Hearing Committee. At the request of the chief academic officer, the recording of the hearing will be transcribed and both parties will receive a transcript.

The Hearing Committee will send a written decision to both parties that will contain findings of facts, conclusions as to a violation of standards of conduct, and the disciplinary sanction, if any.

Procedures: Appeal

A student may appeal a sanction assessed by the dean following the student's waiver of the hearing procedures, and either party may appeal the decision of the Hearing Committee. In sexual harassment/sexual misconduct cases, the alleged victim may pursue an appeal under the same procedure as the accused student. An appeal will be in accordance with the following procedures:

  1. The appealing party must submit a written appeal stating the specific reasons for the appeal and any argument to the Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs, the president's designee ("Appeal Official") with a copy to the other party. The appeal must be stamped as received by the Appeal Official's office no later than 14 days after the appealing party has been notified of the sanction assessed by the dean or the decision of the Hearing Committee. If the notice of sanction or decision is sent by mail, the date the notice or decision is mailed initiates the 14-day period for the appeal. The non-appealing party and in sexual harassment/sexual misconduct cases, the alleged victim, may submit a response to the appeal which must be received by the Appeal Official's office no later than five days after receipt of the appeal, with a copy to the other party.

  2. In cases of appeal of the sanction assessed by the dean following the student's waiver of the hearing procedures, the Appeal Official will review only the written arguments of the student and the dean. In cases of appeal of the Hearing Committee decision, the Appeal Official will review only the record from the hearing. The dean will submit the record from the hearing to the Appeal Official as soon as it is available to the dean. At the discretion of the Appeal Official, both parties may present oral argument in an appeal from the decision of the Hearing Committee.

  3. The Appeal Official may approve, reject or modify the decision in question or may require a reopening of the original hearing for presentation of additional evidence and reconsideration of the decision. It is provided, however, that upon a finding of responsibility in a case involving the illegal use, possession, and/or sale of a drug or narcotic on campus, the sanction may not be reduced below the required minimum.

  4. The action of the Appeal Official will be communicated in writing to the student and the dean within 30 days after the Appeal Official receives the appeal and related documents. The decision of the Appeal Official is final.

Records

The academic transcript of a student suspended or expelled for disciplinary reasons shall be marked with "Disciplinary Suspension" or "Expulsion" as appropriate.  A permanent written disciplinary record will be kept for each student assessed a penalty of suspension, expulsion, denial or revocation of degree and/or withdrawal of diploma.

A record of scholastic dishonesty will be maintained for at least five years, and disciplinary records required by law to be maintained for a certain period of time, i.e. Clery violations, will be maintained for at least the time specified in the applicable law, unless the record is permanent in conjunction with the above stated sanctions.

A disciplinary record will reflect the nature of the charge, the disposition of the charge, the penalty assessed and any other pertinent information. This disciplinary record will be maintained by the office of the dean. It shall be treated as confidential and will not be accessible to or used by anyone other than the dean or other university official with legitimate educational interests, except on written authorization of the student or in accordance with applicable state or federal laws, court order or subpoena.