Points System FAQs
System Background and Approval
How did this system get created?
We began our exploration of the points system with the question, “Is there a better way to ensure the health and safety of our students are in the forefront while at the same time ensuring appropriate accountability for decisions made?" The system was created as part of an ongoing, 18-month process of reviewing our Policy on Alcohol and Drugs and how we respond to violations of the policy. Our investigation, guided by asking is there a better way, led us to look into different options and we identified the points system as a vehicle that could help us to meet our goals. As we discovered, students agreed.
The development of the system was guided by the following goals:
- Reframe the response of discipline and education to health and safety with accountability (with some exceptions as described below);
- Provide clarity to how the university will respond to alleged violations of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs;
- Create a system of accountability that helps students make more informed decisions regarding their use of alcohol and other drugs and one that honors decision making that is in alignment with the university’s expectations;
- Ensure that students who may present symptoms of alcohol or other drug abuse are receiving the education, assistance, and treatment they may need in a timely manner.
How were students involved in the process?
Students were involved in the discussions (directly and indirectly) about the system and the development of it over the 18-month period. The Student Government Association reviewed and debated (and voted to approve) the system in the fall 2010. During that time, SGA members identified components of the system to adjust and made the recommendations to the Student Affairs Board (a university governance committee).
The Student Affairs Board (comprised of students and faculty as voting members) considered the system in spring 2011 with the SGA’s input along with the student members on the Board and made the final adjustments to the system. The SAB approved the system and referred it to the Board of Trustees for approval. The Board approved the system in June 2011.
Is this system unique to Colgate?
No, as part of the review process we considered approaches that peer and other institutions use. Among peers, currently Hamilton, Gettysburg, and Union colleges and Bucknell University utilize a points-based system with variations across the systems that reflect the values and expectations of each institution.
Does the points system mean greater enforcement?
The points system was not designed as an enforcement tool or policy. Simply, it is a new way to address accountability for when students are found responsible for violations of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs. At the same time, the system does not abate the need for standard enforcement of university policy. What the points system is intended to provide is an ongoing, unwavering focus on health and safety with accountability. We want our students to be safe and in order to ensure our community is safe, we as a community expect each individual member to be focused on one another. Our communal care for each other is the essence of our community.
Components of the System
What are the components of the points system?
In instances where students have been found responsible for violations of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, outcomes may include the assessment of points and/or disciplinary sanctions. The points system is outlined in detail in the student handbook (See Policy on Alcohol and Drugs) and the disciplinary system (see System of University Standards and Student Conduct). The points system includes the following components:
- Schedule of Points, Violations, Fees & Fines and Educational Referrals, Notifications, and Restrictions
- Corollary points, Failure to Comply points, and Return points
- Medical Leave of Absence for Alcohol and Other Drug Use
- Medical Amnesty and Good Samaritan exemptions
- Point Forgiveness
What are the educational referrals?
The educational referrals included in the points system include tutorials and initial assessments for alcohol and marijuana in addition to an evaluation for substance use. Most students will be referred to a tutorial following an initial violation for which they have been found responsible.
Repeat violations will likely result in a referral for an initial assessment and an evaluation is required when a student reaches six points.
In addition to the educational referrals, at what point are notifications and restrictions in place?
Dependent upon the notification or restriction, they may be applied when students have accumulated four, five, six, eights, or ten points. Details are provided in the points system in the student handbook.
Parental/legal guardian notification is triggered at four, five, and eight points. The four-point notification is when a student has two or more violations and has accumulated four or more points. At five points, notification is made for an isolated incident that is five or more points. A secondary notification is made to parents/legal guardians at eight points.
I don't want my parents to know, will you still inform them?
The goal of the parental/legal guardian notification process is to ensure you are having a conversation with your family about your decision making related to alcohol and drugs. But, we also view this is a long-term issue in regard to your tenure at Colgate. We want you to be successful as a student and to not have your career interrupted if at all possible. We believe that partnering with family is a critical component of ensuring you make the best possible decisions you can.
What are corollary points and how do they work?
The corollary points are additional points that may be assessed if there are violations beyond that of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs. For instance, if a student is cited for disorderly conduct for public urination and also for intoxication or possession, they would be subject to an assessment of corollary points. Or, if a student was documented (and was responsible) for a violation on September 15 and assessed 2 points for being in the presence of drinking games with alcoholic beverages and then documented and found responsible for possession of an open container of an alcohol beverage in a prohibited area on October 25, the student would be assessed two points in total (one for the violation, one corollary point for repeated alcohol or other drug-related violation within a period equivalent to a semester – 120 days).
A detailed listing of the corollary points can be found in the student handbook.
What is the medical leave of absence for alcohol and drug use?
Should student success related to their personal decision making about alcohol and other drugs not be initially reached (as an outcome of prior interventions through the points system), the focus shifts to the initiation of a medical leave of absence for alcohol and other drug use for students who have accumulated 10 or more points. Students who meet or surpass the threshold of 10 points would be subject to an immediate, required medical leave of absence for alcohol and other drug use.
This medical leave of absence is intended to provide an opportunity for students to seek appropriate professional treatment or counseling as deemed necessary through a mandated evaluation. It is not considered a suspension, which is a disciplinary sanction, and is rather employed to help the student acquire the skills and habits that are in alignment with University expectations and can best lead to their personal success at Colgate.
The medical leave of absence follows the Policy on Medical Leave of Absence which can be found in the student handbook. When a student returns from a leave of absence, their point history will be reset at five.
Will I really be required to take a Medical Leave of Absence at 10 points? Even if the incident that placed me at 10 was a one-point violation?
Yes. The points system was designed to provide clear information regarding the university’s approach to personal accountability for the choices you make. We encourage you to be knowledgeable about the system, aware of your own personal circumstances, and to exercise prudent judgment at all times.
Medical Amnesty and Good Samaritan exemptions – are there restrictions?
These two exemptions provide relief for students when another student’s health and safety is at risk. We expect students to contact Campus Safety (or another university official) to assist with a student who is in need so that they receive the acute medical care that may be necessary.
There are no restrictions to the number of times the Medical Amnesty and Good Samaritan exemptions may be used. In either case, zero points will be assessed.
A student must request the medical amnesty exemption and must also complete the requirements in order for the amnesty to be in place. Should they not complete the requirements, they would be assessed 4 points. This is the same point assessment for when the medical amnesty exemption is not available.
The Good Samaritan exemption is a critical component of the system in that it seeks to ensure the safety of individual students is supported first, especially when one student takes actions to protect the well-being of a peer. For example, if a student could be in violation of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs (for example, Intoxicated person under 21) but is also concerned about a friend who may need acute, emergency care, the system is designed to remove any barriers that could prevent a student from making this necessary call.
How does point forgiveness work?
Point forgiveness is part of the points system and provides for relief when students make decisions that are in alignment with university policy. Following the assessment of points for a violation, a student can reduce their points in a couple of ways.
- You will have one point removed from your point history for every 120-day period (see explanation for “why 120 days for point reductions") where there are no violations of Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, Policy on Smoking or Residential Life Housing and Fire Safety Policies.
- Additionally, students may chose to participate in the opt-in point forgiveness program and have an additional point removed from their record (students will only be able to participate in this program one time).
- Finally, if a student accumulates nine points and is able to reduce their point total to six through the point forgiveness process (includes 240 days without any of the above noted policy violations), he/she can petition the Disciplinary Officer for authorization to participate in a specially designed point forgiveness program to reduce their points to five and therefore be eligible to participate in an off-campus study and/or study-abroad program and to not have their points history disclosed at the point of a disclosure request (except as otherwise described above).
Why 120 days for point forgiveness?
The 120-day period is the equivalent of a semester; the 120 period does not include either winter or summer recess. The 120 period is when the university is considered in session.
The system seems rather concrete; is this really the case?
It depends. If a student is found responsible for the specific violation, then the proscribed points will be assessed. However, it is important to note that students may be documented – as they currently are – and the facts of the case are more complex than what is noted on an incident report. This is the reason for administrative hearings and in these hearings, students have an opportunity to respond and explain a situation. Where the facts are less clear and/or when a student provides their account such that it provides greater clarity, a different outcome may be reached. In such a case, it is possible the student could be found not responsible or responsible for a different violation.
In the end, the administrative hearing process is designed to provide an opportunity for the student and the administrative hearing officer to have a conversation about what allegedly took place and to resolve whether something "more likely than not" took place.
So, if the violation is only a violation of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs, there is no disciplinary sanction?
Yes, in such cases students would be assessed the points associated with the violation and there would not be the assessment of a sanction such as Disciplinary Warning or Disciplinary Probation.
In some cases, there may be the possibility of disciplinary action and students should review the points schedule carefully to understand the circumstances under which such a sanction may be assessed.
How are multiple violations in one incident handled?
If a student is documented for multiple violations in one incident, they will receive the points associated with the highest point violation.
For instance, if a student is documented for hosting a prohibited event where alcohol is served (four points), possession of hard alcohol under the age of 21 (three points) and possession of a fictitious ID, fraudulent ID or another person’s drivers license (one point) and is found responsible for all three – the points they would carry from the incident are four.
Please note that any corollary points that may be applicable in a situation would be added to the highest point assessment that carries forward. Using the above example, if a student were found to have failed to comply with a University official or local law enforcement professional in the course of documenting the incident, two corollary points would be assessed, resulting in six points for the incident.
How will two separate incidents be addressed?
If a student is documented for two separate violations (for instance, one on Friday evening and another on Sunday afternoon) and prior to the student having a hearing, if they are responsible for the violations documented in each incident they will receive the respective points for both. This would include the additional one point (corollary point) for a second violation in a semester.
I was documented for attending a prohibited event where alcohol was served (drinking games). What happens if I just got "there"?
The key point is you were there. That is, attending a prohibited event where alcohol is served (drinking games) carries a two-point assessment. It does not matter how long you were there. Please use your judgment when making a decision to attend such an event.
Are off-campus violations subject to the points system?
Yes, if incidents are reported to the university through Campus Safety – like all violations. The violations identified in the points grid are those that would be applied for off-campus violations. Additionally, it is likely that corollary points would also be assessed depending upon the nature of the violation.
Can incidents be referred to the Conduct Board for review? How will they make decisions?
Yes. Cases may be referred to the Conduct Board for review. In such instances it is likely that there are other factors beyond the violation of the Policy on Alcohol and Drugs. Any findings of being responsible of violations for the Policy on the Alcohol and Drugs would be guided by the points system. Other violations would be subject to the assessment of corollary points or disciplinary sanctions.
Information regarding the Conduct Board and hearing process can be found in the student handbook.
Can I appeal a points assessment?
In general, there would be no appeal of a points assessment as in most cases this would follow an administrative hearing in which a student accepted responsibility for the violation(s). The process does not provide for appeals in an administrative hearing when a student accepts responsibility.
If you do not accept responsibility for a violation, you can opt for a hearing before the University Student Conduct Board. If you are found responsible by the Board and the outcome is the point assessment associated with the violation, there would be no basis for an appeal as determined by the appeal process for Board hearings.
What is reported if a student’s disciplinary history is requested?
When we provide information related to a student’s disciplinary record, we must always ensure we are answering the question that is asked in an honest way. Our goal with the points system was to find a way that could mitigate isolated incidents that would otherwise have been reported so that a student’s good decision making following the incident is what would be reflected.
Thus, rather than having a sanction of disciplinary probation for an incident impact a student’s application for study abroad or a medical or law school application, the points system would provide, in most instances, an opportunity for the violation to be non-reportable (except in instances where a question would require the university to disclose the information).
We want our students to be successful when they pursue opportunities as identified above and when a student has made the necessary adjustments so that they are in alignment with the university’s expectations of them, we don’t believe the weight of an isolated incident should negatively influence such opportunities.
Students should be aware of the university’s practice in reporting disciplinary records when such information is requested. Most typically, this takes place during the application process for an off-campus study-abroad experience and post-graduate programs in law and medicine. Sanctions of disciplinary probation and above are noted by the students’ administrative adviser to the requesting institution in addition to a student’s points history if they have 6 or more points at the time of disclosure. In addition, students should be aware that the university cannot control the types of questions posed to it in such situations. As a result, the university must necessarily reserve the right to disclose point totals of less than 6 and/or the underlying violations if such disclosure is necessary to make the response truthful.
I am concerned about my point total - with whom can I discuss my concerns?
If you are concerned about your point total and thus, your future at Colgate, we encourage you to consider meeting with many of the individuals here to support you:
- Jane Jones, coordinator of alcohol and drug education (x7385)
- Dr. Merrill Miller, director of student health services (x7750)
- Corey Landstrom, assistant dean of students (x7426)
- Counseling Center (x7385)
- Your administrative adviser (x7426)
I am concerned my roommates may expose me to points - what can I do?
We would encourage you to have a conversation with your roommates and share with them your concerns. Direct communication is often the best route for you to take, yet we understand there may be factors that make this less than ideal. If this is the case for you, we would recommend you meet with your residential adviser (apartment manager or community coordinator) to see if they can help facilitate a conversation. If this option does not work, you can seek additional alternatives following this initial conversation.
I am concerned about a friend, what can I do?
We appreciate the care you have for a friend and we would encourage you to talk with someone who is in a position to help. It may simply begin with talking with your friend. You may also want to seek guidance from someone prior to talking with your friend or perhaps accompanying your friend to meet with someone.
People who can help include the Counseling Center staff, Health Center staff and Administrative Advisers.
Who will know my point totals?
Your administrative adviser and the department of athletics (for Division I athletes) are notified on all outcomes related to administrative and University Student Conduct Board hearings. Additionally, your information will be disclosed to parents or disclosure to other parties for specific purposes if you accumulate points that require such notification.
The disclosure of information will take place as and to the extent permitted under FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
Will my prior disciplinary record be translated to points?
No, all students begin the 2011-2012 academic year with a clean, zero-point history.
Where can I find specific information regarding the points system?
Information about the points system can be found in the 2012-13 Student Handbook on Colgate’s website. Search “student handbook” and then follow the link to the pdf document. You can also download the handbook to your device of choice.
You can also visit www.colgate.edu/points for additional information about the system.