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General Guidelines



At the core of the Venkateshwara Open University Students community are our values. These values are the shared ideals about how people should act toward one another and the standards to which we hold ourselves and those beliefs we find important. At Penn State, we value our community and aim for excellence and discovery in the work we do each day. We strive to conduct ourselves with integrity, respect and responsibility in all of our actions. As members of the Venkateshwara Open University Students Community, we embrace the following VOU Values:


We act with integrity and honesty in accordance with the highest academic, professional and ethical standards.


We respect and honor the dignity of each person, embrace civil discourse and foster a diverse and inclusive community.


We act responsibly and we are accountable for our decisions, actions and their consequences.


We seek and create new knowledge and understanding and foster creativity and innovation for the benefit of our communities, society and the environment.


We strive for excellence in all our endeavors as individuals, an institution and a leader in higher education.


We work together for the betterment of our University, the communities we serve and the world.


The Venkateshwara Open University, as an institution of learning and a community of persons with a special purpose, accepts its obligation to provide for its members an atmosphere that protects and promotes its educational mission and that guarantees its orderly and effective operation. To accomplish these goals, the University must require certain standards of conduct. University standards of student conduct, published as regulations in the Code of Conduct, do not replace or relieve the requirements of civil or criminal laws. University regulations and civil law, although not in conflict are often promulgated for different purposes and in different contexts.

Members of the University community are accountable to several different authorities, each with its own interests, obligations, regulations, sanctions and processes for enforcement and adjudication. Further, members of the University community (students, faculty and staff) have an obligation to fulfill the responsibilities incumbent upon all citizens, as well as the responsibilities of their particular roles within the academic community.

Therefore, the University has established standards of conduct related to its special educational mission. All members of the University community share the obligation to respect:

  • The fundamental rights of others as citizens;
  • The rights of others based upon the nature of the educational process;
  • The rights of the institution; and
  • The rights of members to fair and equitable procedures for determining when and upon whom penalties for violation of University regulations should be imposed.



The Code of Conduct describes behaviors that are inconsistent with the essential values of the University community. Intentionally attempting or assisting in these behaviors may be considered as violations of the relevant section of the Code and may be viewed as serious as engaging in the behavior. A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific violation of the Code of Conduct, He/She performs any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that violation. Registered student organizations are held accountable for misconduct listed in the Code of Conduct through the applicable conduct process.

The Code of Conduct behaviors include, but are not limited to:


Physically harming or threatening to harm any person, intentionally or recklessly causing harm to any person or reasonable apprehension of such harm or creating a condition that endangers the health and safety of self or others, including through the facilitation of or participation in any mental or physical hazing activity.


Engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to substantially interfere with the individual's employment, education or access to University programs, activities and opportunities and such conduct would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances. Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence.

Sexual misconduct is a form of sexual harassment and refers to attempted or completed unwanted or non-consensual sexual activity, including, but not limited to the following: rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, forcible sodomy, sexual penetration with an inanimate object, intercourse without consent, sexual touching and fondling, the touching of an unwilling person's intimate parts (defined as genitalia, groin, breast or buttock or clothing covering those intimate parts) forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts, sexual exploitation and sexual coercion.


Harassment is behaviour that is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to threaten an individual or substantially interfere with the individual's employment, education or access to University programs, activities or opportunities and that would detrimentally affect a reasonable person under the same circumstances. Behaviours that meet the above definition may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Directing physical or verbal conduct at an individual because of the individual's age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, creed, service in the uniformed services, veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, gender identity, genetic information or political ideas;
  • Subjecting a person or group of persons to unwanted physical contact or threat of such; or
  • Engaging in a course of conduct, including following the person without proper authority (e.g. stalking) under circumstances which would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or to suffer emotional distress.


The possession, storing, carrying or use of any weapon, ammunition, explosive or dangerous chemical or gas by any person is prohibited on all University property except by authorized law enforcement officers and other persons specifically authorized by the University. No person shall possess, carry or use any fireworks on University property, except for those persons authorized by University and local governments to discharge such fireworks as part of a public display. Paintball guns and paintball markers may only be used on the property of the University in connection with authorized University activities and only at approved locations.


Tampering with fire or other safety equipment or setting unauthorized fires. Exhibiting behaviors that risk health and safety of self or others during a fire-related incident. Burning candles, incense or other items in the Residence Halls or other University facilities, whether attended or unattended.


Illegally possessing, using, distributing, manufacturing, selling or being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone, including those under 21, serving alcohol to persons under 21 is in violation of both University regulations and state law. Excessive consumption of alcohol is also prohibited and occurs when a person is intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger self, other persons or property or annoy persons in the vicinity. Use, possession or distribution of beverages containing alcohol on University property shall comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and University Policies and Rules.

It is also a violation for a student of any age to be in the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs in any undergraduate residential space.


Intentionally providing false or inaccurate information or records to University or local authorities. Providing a false report of an emergency, University policy and/or Code violation. Knowingly providing false statements or testimony during an investigation or University proceeding.


The taking or possession of items belonging to another individual or entity. The taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and by putting the victim in fear.


Obstruction or disruption of classes, research projects, conduct processes and/or investigations or other activities or programs of the University; or obstructing access to University facilities, property or programs. An action or combination of actions by one or more individuals that unreasonably interferes with, hinders, obstructs or prevents the operation of the University or infringes on the rights of others to freely participate in its programs and services.


Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

Violations of Academic Integrity include, but are not limited to copying, plagiarism, fabrication of information or citations, facilitation of acts of academic dishonesty by others, unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor and tampering with the academic work of other students.


Failing to comply with reasonable directives from University or other officials when directed to do so. Failure to provide identification, to report to an administrative office or when reasonable cause exists, failure to leave University-controlled premises or dangerous situations when directed to do so by properly authorized persons, including police and University staff. Failing to complete sanctions assigned as part of the conduct process.


Making, using or possessing any falsified official record or University document; altering or forging any University or official document or record, including identification, meal or access cards. This includes but is not limited to forging documents (signing another's name and/or ID number), manufacturing IDs or tickets, altering parking permits and misuse of forms (e.g., letterhead stationery, University forms).


Unauthorized entry into or use of property or University facilities including private residences, offices, residence halls, classrooms, computers, computer networks and other restricted facilities. Unauthorized entry or use of facilities is described in more detail in University policies regarding the rights of individuals and the rights of the institution. Specifically, policy refers to an "obligation not to infringe upon the rights of all members of the campus to privacy in offices, laboratories and residence hall rooms and in the keeping of personal papers, confidential records and effects, subject only to the general law and University regulations." The University also has the right to control use and entry into facilities for reasons of security, safety or protection of property. This includes closing facilities at specified times. It should also be recognized that an open or unlocked door is not an invitation to enter and use facilities. The same concept applies to computer entry or misuse, including violation of any University computer policy.


Engaging in disorderly, disruptive, lewd or indecent conduct, including, but not limited to creating unreasonable noise; pushing and shoving; creating a physically hazardous or physically offensive condition; inciting or participating in a riot or group disruption; failing to leave the scene of a riot or group disruption when instructed by officials; or disruption of programs, classroom activities or functions and processes, of the University.


Violating written University policy or regulations contained in any official publications, administrative announcements, contracts (e.g., residence hall contracts or leases) and postings.


When it is established that a student has violated federal, state or local law and the violation of law affects a Substantial University Interest.


Taking adverse action against any individual on the basis of a good faith report made by such individual or on the basis of such individual's participation in an investigation, hearing or inquiry by the University or an appropriate authority or the individual's participation in a court proceeding relating to suspected wrongful conduct.

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