Disciplinary Process

Columbia Business School Honor Code and Community Standards 
Essential to the mission of Columbia Business School is community-wide adherence to the highest level of ethical and professional conduct. The Columbia Business School Honor Code calls on all members of the School community to uphold the principles of truth, integrity, and respect. This applies both during their time at the School and throughout their careers as productive, moral, and caring participants in their companies and communities around the world. 

As the CBS Honor Code states,  

As a lifelong member of the Columbia Business School community, I adhere to the principles of truth, integrity, and respect. I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do. 

In alignment with the Honor Code, all University faculty, students, and staff are responsible for compliance with the Rules of University Conduct. Copies of the full text are available in Essential Policies for the Columbia Community. It is the responsibility of any individual who witnesses a deviation from the expected standards of behavior to report it via Student Conduct and Community Standards.  

The goal of such reporting is ultimately to educate students about the potential impact of their actions on both their individual lives and the University community at large. 

Reporting and Disciplinary Process 

As part of the process of educating students about the potential impacts of their actions on their individual lives and the University community-at-large, Columbia Business School partners with Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS). 

SCCS assists the Columbia community with the maintenance of a safe, honest, and responsible campus environment. SCCS may contact students if it is alleged that they have engaged in behavior that is inconsistent with University, affiliated school, or program policies and/or federal, state, or local laws. When such an allegation is made, students may be referred to the Dean’s Discipline process.  

Students, faculty, and staff may file a report directly to Student Conduct and Community Standards for any incident involving a CBS student. 

What is Dean’s Discipline? 

The Dean’s Discipline process is utilized to investigate and respond to allegations of behavioral or academic misconduct. Through this process, SCCS and CBS communicate the expectation that all students act in an honest way and always respect the rights of others. Dean’s Discipline is not meant to be an adversarial or legal process. Through the process, students discuss accountability for their behavior as well as the impact their behavior may have on their own lives and the greater community.   

Disciplinary Charges 

Students, faculty members, or Columbia staff who have concerns or complaints about a student's behavior, should file an incident report. Based on the information available, the Dean of Students, in consultation with SCCS, will determine the appropriate follow up and may refer the student(s) alleged to have violated policy to a formal disciplinary hearing. If a formal disciplinary hearing is to be held, a representative from SCCS will contact the student, explain the procedure, and set up an appropriate time and place for the disciplinary hearing. 

Dean’s Discipline Overview 
The following outlines the steps taken in the Dean’s Discipline Process. For further detail, please refer to Standards and Discipline: Student Conduct and Community Standards.  

Reporting an Allegation of Misconduct  

Community members may submit an incident report with SCCS electronically. When a report is received, SCCS will determine whether Dean’s Discipline is an appropriate response, or if the report should be referred elsewhere.  

Determining Alternative Resolution Options  

SCCS and CBS officers have discretion to refer a complaint for mediation or other forms of appropriate alternate resolution. This determination is made at the onset of receiving a report. Any unsuccessful alternate resolution may be forwarded for formal processing and/or a Dean’s Discipline hearing. Please visit Alternative Resolution Options for a complete list of available resolutions.  

Dean’s Discipline: Notice and Scheduling  

If a Dean’s Discipline hearing is required, notice will be sent via university e-mail to the individual allegedly involved and will list the allegation(s). Dates and times for disciplinary hearings are scheduled by SCCS in consultation with the student’s academic schedule to avoid conflict. The student is also informed of the next steps in the process and their ability to review the allegation(s) prior to the hearing. Students are welcome to meet with a representative from the appropriate degree program office prior to their meeting with SCCS and will be referred to do so.   

Dean’s Discipline: Preparing for the Hearing  

In preparation for the hearing, the student should schedule a file review and prepare a written statement describing their perspective regarding the allegation(s). Students are also encouraged to meet with an Advisor and to speak with staff members from Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) or other healthcare and counseling professionals should they feel the need to speak with someone while going through the process. Students will be able to review their file prior to the hearing. The student can also elect to have an advisor from their degree program office (i.e., academic advisor) accompany them to the hearing. These advisors do not advocate for the student, they are there in a supportive role.  

Dean’s Discipline: The Hearing  

The hearing is the opportunity for a student to learn of and respond to the available information that supports the allegations. The hearing is facilitated by at least two (2) Hearing Officers: one from SCCS and the second from either SCCS, or an administrator or faculty member from the student’s respective school. 

Dean’s Discipline: During the Hearing  

The student is presented with the information pertaining to the allegation that they have violated policy(ies). The student may then submit their statement and present information on their own behalf. Questions may be posed by both the student and the Hearing Officers to clarify or understand the allegations as well as the student’s perspective on the context, incident, and/or circumstances. A summary of the hearing will be documented and included in the student’s case file for future review.  

Dean’s Discipline: Determining Responsibility  

Following the investigation and hearing, a determination whether the student is responsible for the violation(s) is rendered. Throughout the Dean’s Discipline process the student is presumed not responsible. The Hearing Officers bear the burden of showing evidence to support a finding of responsibility. The burden is not on the student to prove that they did not engage in misconduct. The standard of proof used to determine outcomes is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This standard allows for a finding of responsibility if, at the conclusion of the investigation, the information suggests it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.  

Dean’s Discipline: Sanctions  

If a student is found responsible for a violation of prohibited conduct, sanctions will be issued in consideration of the specific circumstances of the case, institutional precedent, disciplinary history, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, including the student’s state of mind (intentional, knowing, bias-motivated, reckless, negligent, etc.), and/or community impact.   

Appeal Process  

An appeal process can be initiated due to three circumstances 1) Procedural Error 2) New Information 3) Inappropriate Sanction. All academic cases and appeals for cases that result in separation from the University will be heard by the Dean of Columbia Business School. Behavioral violation appeals can be heard by the Dean of Students if they are not a hearing committee member.   

Records and Disclosure 

The information compiled as part of a review of allegations of misconduct is part of a student’s educational record and is maintained by SCCS. This file generally contains a description of the alleged violation, supporting documentation, written statements, and official case-related correspondence. Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the University are subject to the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), a federal law governing the privacy of student information. FERPA generally limits disclosure of student information outside the University without the student’s consent, but it does provide for release of student disciplinary information without a student’s consent in certain circumstanced. For more information, please refer to the Records and Disclosure section of Standards and Discipline: Student Conduct and Community Standards. 

Informal Complaints Concerning Misconduct 

Any instructor, officer, staff member, or student who chooses not to put a complaint in writing can instead make an informal complaint. In these cases, the Associate Dean for Students Affairs usually discusses the matter with the student. In these situations, the student will receive a formal warning, which will be noted in the student's educational file, along with any recommendations made to the student. Such warnings will be taken into account if and when similar complaints are made in the future, and a pattern of informal complaints may lead to formal disciplinary action. 

More information can be found at the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office website.