Purpose and Use

Purpose of Sanction Guidelines

Community Standards issues these Guidelines to reflect the University’s desire to educate students and the University community about the conduct system. An important purpose of higher education is to help students understand the consequences (both positive and negative) of the choices they make. Students should understand the potential consequences of their behavior so they have the opportunity to make informed choices, and the University community should have an understanding of what to expect from the conduct system. Also, students who have been charged with a conduct violation should have some idea of what outcome to expect so that they can fully understand their rights. Accordingly, the Guidelines provide information about the individual violations and the typical sanctions administered if a UNH student is found responsible.

While our intent in creating these guidelines is to be as transparent as we possibly can, in no way does this document restrict Community Standards to any sanction outcome. For a disciplinary system to be fair, it must be flexible enough to respond to each student as an individual and the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Sanctions should reflect the severity and nature of the violations, any high-risk behaviors, and several other aggravating and mitigating factors (where present). Accordingly, some violations may not have a single typical sanction and instead have a range of typical sanctions.

Using the Guidelines

Find the “Typical Sanction”

  1. Go to the “Table of Typical Sanctions.”
  2. Find the rule that was violated. The violations are listed by rule number (e.g.“Rule 8: Hazing”).
  3. Look to see which “Conduct” most accurately describes the circumstances of the violation. Each rule may have more than one category of “Conduct.” For example, Rule 14 has several, including “14a.1 Use of alcohol by an individual under legal age” and “14a2.1 Possession of alcohol by individuals under legal age.”
  4. The “Typical Sanction” will be in the column directly adjacent to the category of “Conduct” you selected.

Multiple Rule Violations for the Same Incident?

Generally, for students charged with multiple violations arising from the same incident, the starting point is the typical sanction for the most serious violation. Then a determination is made whether the other violations warrant imposing a more serious sanction.

The University defines serious violations as misconduct:

  • Caused physical harm to others.
  • Jeopardized the safety and/or well-being of others.
  • Caused an adverse impact on the residential or University community.
  • Caused serious damage to University property or the property of others.
  • Violates conditions of probation or indicates repeated violations.
  • Involves hosting a gathering where prohibited drinking has occurred/common sources.
  • Is a violation of the University Drug Policy.
  • Harms others because of their particular race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other category protected by law or University policy.

Aggravating or Mitigating Factors?

Aggravating factors generally serve to increase the severity of a typical sanction. Students should be aware, for example, that even though a typical sanction for a violation might not include eviction from University housing, the presence of an aggravating factor may result in a sanction that does include eviction.

The Student Code defines an aggravating factor as, “a circumstance attending the commission of misconduct that adds to its seriousness.” There are certain factors that Community Standards almost universally consider aggravating. Examples include an incident causing an adverse or negative impact to an individual or the community, prior misconduct, violence, use of force, dishonesty, premeditation of a violation, malicious intent of violation, and the presence of any high-risk behaviors.

The Code defines a mitigating factor as “a circumstance that may be taken into consideration to reduce a sanction.” Common examples of mitigating factors include accident, provocation by others, self-defense, remorse, sincere insight into the nature of the harm caused and a willingness to reduce or heal the effect of that harm. A mitigating factor does not constitute a justification or excuse for misconduct.

A mitigating factor that may be considered in the sanctioning of conduct cases is the level of involvement of a student. It is the desire of UNH that, upon graduation, all of our students will have the strength of character to challenge their peers or find appropriate staff when they see violations of the Student Code. We recognize, however, that our students are in different developmental spaces and challenging their peers may be difficult. If a student chooses to remain in their room or apartment and is aware that a conduct violation is occurring, but actively seeks to avoid the violation or find appropriate staff, sanctioning may be mitigated. This means a student may be charged or sanctioned, but if they are, it may be to a lesser degree.

Sometimes students are confused about what Community Standards will consider as a mitigating factor. That confusion most commonly arises when it comes to the individual student’s character. Many students believe that if they present evidence of their good character, their sanction should be reduced. That is not the case. Character is not considered in conduct cases. We want to believe that all UNH students have good character. We are incredibly proud that many of our students choose to volunteer their time for worthy causes, participate actively in their halls, and are “A” students. To be fundamentally fair to all UNH students, we focus on behavior (misconduct) and we understand a single choice in a student’s life does not define who they are nor their character.

Students also mistakenly consider honesty and cooperation as mitigating factors. They are not. The University expects that all students will be honest and cooperative with hall staff, University officials, and police. When honesty and cooperation are missing, it may very well be considered as an aggravating factor in a case.

Finally, a student’s educational plans or desires are not mitigating factors. While the desire to study abroad or participate in an organization is admirable and encouraged by the University, that desire is not considered a mitigating factor.

“Second Offense”/Prior Finding of Misconduct?

For several offenses, you will find a typical sanction listed under “Second Offense.” Misconduct should be considered a “Second Offense” when it is similar in nature to the prior offense (it does not have to be a second offense for the same violation). For example, the “Second Offense” sanctions would generally apply when the first incident is an alcohol use violation and the second incident is a marijuana use incident.

A prior conduct violation that is not similar to the current violation should simply be considered as a general “aggravating factor” when determining the sanction for the current violation.

Student Already on Probation?
If a student commits a policy violation when the student is already on probation, an additional sanction of 10 hrs. of community service will be added to sanction for the current violation.

If the student receives additional probation for the current offense, that probation will be added to the end of the existing probation period.

Alcohol at UNH

Alcohol violations are some of the most common violations committed at the University of New Hampshire.  Typical sanctions for first offense alcohol violations may include but are not limited to, fines, Health Services education program(s), probation and could result in eviction from University housing.  Bing on probation could result in the loss of privileges such as studying abroad, participation in a student organization or an athletic team.  The facts outlined below, from the April 2015 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication on College Drinking, illustrate why sanctions are needed. 

  • Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
  • Assault: More than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • Drunk Driving: Each year an estimated 4,860,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • Alcohol Abuse Disorder: 19% of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 met the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but only 5% of those students sought treatment for the alcohol problems in the year preceding the survey.
  • Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
  • Unsafe Sex: Each year an estimated 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 students in the same age group report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to have sex.
  • Other Consequences: Include suicide attempts, health problems, vandalism, property damage and involvement with the police/conduct offices. 

Drugs at UNH

The University also takes any violation of the drug policy very seriously.  Drug use and drug abuse have serious consequences for both individuals and society and as an institution, we want to do our best to stop illegal drug use and protect our students from the ramifications of such use.  Therefore, a violation of the drug policy may result in eviction from University housing at the very least, and depending on the nature of the violation, it may lead to dismissal from the institution.

A few notes on Marijuana:

Marijuana has been decriminalized in the State of New Hampshire; however, it is still illegal to possess or use. The University of New Hampshire is also an institution that receives federal funding.  As such, the University will continue to be bound by Federal regulations in the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the possession and use of marijuana, including for medical reasons, is prohibited on any UNH campus and will be considered a violation of the Student Code.

There is a large volume of misinformation about the effects of Marijuana on the brain.  This office encourages parents and students to seek out research-based and peer-reviewed information about how marijuana affects the development and long term growth of the adolescent (the developmental space of most UNH students) brain so they may make the best and most informed choices around marijuana use.