Statement on Recent Student Conduct Notices

Many members of the USF community have expressed their support and concern for the approximately 25 USF students who received conduct notices from the Office of Student Conduct, Rights, and Responsibilities (OSCRR) on Tuesday, May 21, in relation to events and activities associated with the encampment on Welch Field.

It is important to note that all students who participated in the encampment were offered amnesty from any violations related to the encampment if they departed by 3 p.m. May 14. Some students accepted that offer.

None of the students who received conduct notices were cited for peacefully protesting, demonstrating, or making their opinions known. Protests and demonstrations have a long history at USF, and continue to take place frequently on our campus. It is evident, especially over these past few weeks, that our institution is committed to fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom. USF values the expression of diverse perspectives and encourages students to engage in constructive dialogue on various socio-political issues, including those concerning the Middle East.

Freedom of expression is a right that the university protects and values, but it does not come with a right to violate university expectations, disrupt operations in violation of stated rules, or disrespect other members of the community. Some of the conduct that the university is investigating includes spray-painted graffiti, damage to the artificial turf, disruptive behavior during commencement exercises in St. Ignatius Church, targeted harassment of USF students and staff, and disruptive behavior in administrative offices. No conclusions have been made at this time.

The purpose of our Student Code of Conduct is not to suppress dissenting voices or stifle political activism but to ensure that our campus remains a safe, inclusive, and conducive learning environment for all members of our community. Violations of the code are addressed not because of the content of one's beliefs or opinions but because of the manner in which those beliefs are expressed.

Students who received the notices on May 21 are now in an administrative process that is reviewing violations of USF’s community standards, or other violations of the Student Code of Conduct. They have been placed on “interim suspension” while the conduct process is taking place, which could take several weeks. Students are given the opportunity to respond to the allegations of conduct code violations and take accountability for their behavior as appropriate or deny their involvement.

USF’s conduct process is intended to be an educational and developmental process to hold students accountable while upholding the academic nature of the university and protecting the rights of all students at the university.

USF’s conduct process is modeled on fundamental fairness, education and accountability. It is a process that allows for dialogue, evidence, discussion, and resolution. Also, the established process allows for students to continue their academic pursuits through conversation with the Office of the Dean of Students and a commitment to abide by all university rules and regulations.

In fairness to all our students and the process itself, USF staff members cannot comment on any case during the process. The outcomes of cases are not made public.

You can read more about USF’s student conduct process, including students’ rights and responsibilities on myUSF.

Thank you for your concern for our students.

Eileen Fung
Vice President, Academic Affairs and Provost

Julie Orio
Vice President, Student Life

Shannon Gary
Associate Vice President, Student Life and Dean of Students