Skip to main content

Family Members

Family members may wish to support students who face disciplinary action or who are Complainants in the campus disciplinary system.  These FAQs seek to clarify common concerns.

Student’s Privacy

Will I be notified when my student is referred to, or is a complainant in the campus disciplinary system?

No. It is up to the student to decide if he/she wants to include family members in the process. Typically, if a student is referred for a low-level offense, the student does not involve family members. It is more common for students to contact a parent or guardian for more serious allegations, whether they are accused of wrongdoing or filing a complaint.

If my student tells me there is a case, but does not provide me details, may I receive that information from the Judicial Administrator?

No. The Judicial Administrator may not speak to a family member about a case, unless the student has signed a release of information (as directed by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Cornell University Policy 4.5: Access to Student Information).

Is there any information a family member may receive if the student does not sign a release?

Yes. The Judicial Administrator is able to speak to a family member about general office procedures and processes without a release, but will not be able to acknowledge that a particular situation has even been referred to the Office absent the release. The Judicial Administrator will not initiate this contact.


Will information about my student’s situation be shared with others in the University?  Outside Cornell University?  Graduate schools or employers?

Sometimes. The Judicial Administrator maintains a high degree of confidentiality, as directed by the Code, federal law, and Cornell University’s Policy 4.5. In general, this means that information may be shared within the University on a need-to-know basis, and outside of the University with permission of the student. See, Cornell Policy 4.5: Access to Student Information and the OJA policy. Some graduate programs ask for information about discipline (especially law schools and medical schools), but many do not. Employers rarely ask for information, although government employers may seek this information.


As a parent or legal guardian, am I expected to serve as advisor to my student?

No, that is neither the expectation nor the norm. Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to have an advisor. Some students choose a family member as an advisor, but most do not. The most common role for a family member is to provide support through the process.

If I do not serve as my student’s advisor, who will serve in that capacity?

There are several options. Some students choose not to have an advisor; they are not required to have an advisor and many choose not to have one. Students may seek advice from the Judicial Codes Counselor, a friend, professor, TA, RA, or may seek assistance from an attorney. Students are also entitled to have an emotional support person during the process. Complainants may seek support from the Victim Advocate, a friend, professor, TA, RA, someone from The Advocacy Center or anyone else he or she chooses. The advisors/support persons do not have to be members of the Cornell community, but may not serve both as a witness and as an advisor.


If my student wants me involved, either as an advisor or just as a concerned family member, are there any restrictions?

Yes. As noted above, the Judicial Administrator needs a release to talk about a specific case. Even a student who signs a release may limit the involvement of his/her family member. For example, the student may wish to keep a parent abreast of the progress of the case without sharing details about the facts. It is important to remember that the family member is neither the complainant, nor the individual charged, so the Judicial Administrator will confer with the parties, not family members, when making decisions about the case.

If I am not the advisor to my student, may I nonetheless participate in meetings or hearings, either in person or via telephone conference call?  Provide my opinion about a proposed resolution of the matter?

That is up to the student. If a student signs a release and does not have another emotional support person, a parent may observe (but not participate) meetings or hearings. Consider the benefits and disadvantages of this with your student and his or her advisor. With respect to decision-making, the Judicial Administrator’s primary relationship is with the student.  If the student wishes to include an advisor and/or  family members in decision-making, that is up to the student.

Practical Information for Cases Resulting in Separation from Cornell

Can I get a tuition refund if my student is suspended?

Depending on the time of year, the Office of the Bursar may refund a portion of your student’s tuition. This is based exclusively on the policies of that office and not on policies of the Office of the Judicial Administrator.

If my student is living in a residence hall at the time of the suspension, how much time does he or she have to move out?

This is decided exclusively by Residential Programs or West Campus policies. Your student should get in touch with the Residence Hall Director or Assistant Dean immediately to coordinate this.

What is a persona non grata (PNG)?

A persona non grata is a restriction on your student’s access to the university. Issued by Cornell University Police, the university imposes a persona non grata on every student suspended, prohibiting him or her from using university property in the ways that Cornell University students use the property. For more information, refer to the document received by your student or contact the Cornell University Police.

Will my student be permitted to use his or her net ID for email?

No. Your student should immediately forward his or her Cornell University email to an independent email address.

Will the suspension and other sanctions go into effect immediately even if my student appeals?

Yes. The decision of the University Hearing Board goes into effect immediately. If the University Review Board overturns the decision of the University Hearing Board, or the President overturns the University Review Board decision, those decisions go into effect immediately or retroactively, as the situation dictates.