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BCA Guide to the Penalty Code

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The following pages reflect Board on Conduct Affairs (BCA) guidance regarding the Student Conduct Penalty Code.

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  •  Guidance Approved & Adopted: Spring 2005

Introduction to the Penalty Code

The Penalty Code provides a wide variety of sanctions to redress student misconduct. While the Code may serve many purposes, its three main purposes are punishment, redressing injury to and protecting the Stanford community from future injury, and educating the offending student. Judicial Panels imposing sanctions for violations of University policies must consider all three purposes. Although all three purposes are important, each may be a factor of varying significance in any particular case.

Sanctions & Their Practical Effects

Students’ interests are best served if they take the time and effort to educate themselves about all phases of the judicial process, and particularly about possible sanctions and the impact those sanctions may have on their Stanford careers. Responding students have the responsibility to provide all documentation to their respective Judicial Panels regarding the impact of potential sanctions. With the exception of a recommendation for expulsion, sanctions cannot be challenged by students after the hearing or changed by anyone without following the formal appeal procedures.


To retain the respect of the Stanford community and to get community buy-in, the student judicial process must be in fact and in appearance a reasonable, fair and transparent one. Judicial Panels play a major role in the process. While recognizing their obligation to craft solutions tailored as much as possible to each individual case, panels also recognize that while cases may have different details, many are similar both factually and circumstantially.

Sanctioning Factors: Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances

Judicial Panels take many factors into account when they consider what sanctions would be the most appropriate, given the facts and circumstances of the violation.

Impact of Sanctions on an Individual Student

In order to protect and uphold the integrity of the judicial system, Judicial Panels strive for consistency and evenhandedness in the sanctioning phase of the process—tempered, of course, by the particular facts and circumstances (mitigating or aggravating) in each case. But panels cannot ensure that all students are equally affected/impacted by a sanction. For instance, if four students are suspended, one may go home and work for the company he/she interned with the previous summer; one may be forced to leave the country; one may miss preseason practice or actual competition with his/her varsity team; and one may decide to study abroad or at another school, even though no academic credits earned elsewhere during a suspension can be transferred to Stanford.

Impact of Outside Proceedings

Judicial Panels are responsible for upholding Stanford University’s policies, rules and regulations related to student conduct in determining whether a student has violated a policy, rule or regulation. Panels may not factor into their decision-making whether the same alleged misconduct has been, is being, or will be addressed by another entity—such as federal, state or local government, Residential Education, Housing Assignment Services, academic departments, professional organizations, the Athletic Department, or future schools or employers. Proceedings involving the same incident/conduct heard in different forums, addressing different interests, do not constitute "double jeopardy."

Writing a Sanction Statement

If you intend to ask your Judicial Panel to consider sanctions that deviate or depart from a standard sanction(s) should you be found responsible for a violation, you are strongly advised to submit a written sanction statement detailing the reasons why a deviation or departure should be granted. Such written documentation makes it easier for the Panel to consider each facet of your argument, and it ensures that the Panel is hearing your position in your words once it begins its deliberations. In particular, you should outline the impact the standard sanction(s) would have on you.