When it comes to things concerning probation, disciplinary or academic, many students may not know about how these things work, especially when the language used on the Keene State College website is formal and seemingly full of legal jargon.
Matthew Salter, the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct, was able to give some clarification on what disciplinary probation really is to students.
“Disciplinary probation is a status for a student that they can receive. It’s kind of a step above a warning, but well below the kind of higher level sanctions of a deferred suspension or suspension. It means that a student is found responsible for violation of policy, and that they are being issued a sanction of probation as a higher level warning that they violated policy. At that point, it’s marked on our file they’re on probation for usually a period of 15 weeks or 30 weeks. So, matching a semester. That’s why it’s 15 to 30 weeks. And then when that time period ends, then the probation ends.”
A 30-week probation, usually used for repeat offences, would therefore span the length of the entire college year.
“When a student is accused of violating the Code of Conduct either by community assistance, campus safety or Keene police, we will have a conduct hearing. So, we don’t just put somebody on probation. That’s not fair, because we don’t know their side of the story. They would meet with myself, or a community director, and we would say, ‘You know, we have this allegation, you violated this policy. Here’s the report, we came to this possibility. But I want to hear your side of what happened. So why don’t you share with me what your role was in this incident.’ And then the hearing officer will decide whether or not the person violated the policy. So many times we have a hearing and students are found not responsible, because the initial report isn’t actually what happened.”
Student’s might wonder what they can or can’t do on probation. The answer seems to be that you need to be on your best behavior, and not get caught with any more violations of policy.
“When you’re on probation, if you violate college policy, then you likely will receive a higher sanction for that new violation. Because you’ve already received a warning, usually,” said Salter.
According to the Code of Conduct, the amount you may have to pay in fines is increased with the number of offences, as well. First violation is $186, second is $372, third is $744.
But what about club activities, greek life, or events on campus?
“My office does not limit anybody on probation,” offered Salter, “That’s up to each individual office. All the names may have changed, so if I get something wrong, I apologize. But athletics, you know, Community Living, Student Life, Study Abroad, they have their own policies in place that determine what a student can and cannot do when they’re on probation. But my office does not have the authority to restrict somebody from any of those activities. Nor do we want that authority, that really should be up to the individual offices. So some offices have different processes where you can be on probation but appeal to still participate, and some do not. It’s really up to them.”
“It’s not on your academic transcript that you would submit for jobs or anything like that. When students apply to certain positions, like grad school, they often fill out something called a Dean’s Report or if they’re going to transfer to another institution. On the Dean’s Report, it might ask for disciplinary history, and then the Dean of Students, Dr. Gail Zimmerman, would indicate if there’s any probation or higher level offenses. Students, when they apply to grad school, also get to say for themselves if they’ve had any violations. So usually for students who have already answered that question, it’s just a confirmation from us that what they said was true.”
“I think often students are really scared when they hear probation as a term,” Salter added.“But it’s, you know, it’s really considered one of the lower level sanctions, and it does end.”
“So when I talk to students about it, you know, we talk about how you made a mistake, and here’s your period to learn from that. But it is going to end in this period of time. So really try to not violate policy for the next few weeks, or however long you’re on probation for, and it is going to end and you can move on.”
“But, you know, it doesn’t impact financial aid. It does not impact academic scholarships, anything like that. So it’s not going to affect your student status. And that’s something that usually, when you mention probation, that gets confused a lot, right? Because academic probation can impact some of your financial aid, from what I understand… But just, like, [disciplinary] probation has no impact on financial aid.”
Academic probation, indeed, seems to be a different ballgame. It would seem that academic probation is all about GPA. For this, Barbara Cormier, Registrar at Keene State, had some insight.
“The first semester that your GPA falls below a 2.0, you’re put on academic probation,” said Cormier, “The following semester, if your GPA is back to three, you’re automatically taken off of probation. If it remains below a 2.0 you’re now placed on academic probation two. The following semester, if your GPA is now above a two level, you are automatically taken off of probation.”
Cormier said that if you remain at less than a 2.0 after your second round of probation, you could be faced with being academically suspended. But she also offered that instead, there is the possibility of deferred suspension.
“So, deferred suspension basically says… There’s evidence to suggest, mathematically, that something clicked… and you’re well on your way to getting your GPA above a two, and you just fell a little bit short. You’re likely eligible for deferred suspension, which basically, effectively, works as like a probation three. But we don’t call it that, because it’s not automatic after probation two. You have to qualify for it. We basically give you a brace semester, you get one more semester to get it above a two… After that, you are off of probation and you are not suspended. If after that third semester, that semester of deferred suspension, if you’re still not above a two, well, then you’re suspended.”
She continued, “We have a mandatory suspension of one semester. We strongly encourage you to take classes through continuing education as a non matriculated student… to help your GPA, at which you can reapply to Keene State and you can be accepted. And then you have a couple of different options there. You can be accepted as a continuing student or you can be accepted under new startup, which basically gives you a clean slate. You start over with a fresh GPA.
You lose credit for the courses that you earned anything less than the C, but you get to keep credit for the classes that you did better than a C in. You just don’t get to keep the grade.”
Like disciplinary probation, it is other institutions and offices that define what penalties students may face for academic probation. Sports, Greek Life and clubs may therefore all have different policies. Cormier says that scholarships come with their own set of rules about “good academic standing” which may have differing GPA requirements than the college policy.
For more information on these topics, you can look at the Student Code of Conduct on the college website, or search “academic probation” also on the college website.
Abigail Dix can be contacted at: