Original Issuance Date:  November 24, 2017        [Effective Fall 2018]
Last Revision Date: November 24, 2017

1. Policy Purpose

This policy requires UW System students to provide disclosures about the following prior to living in university housing, or participating in study abroad or study away programs:

  • any prior felony pleas or convictions in which the student was treated as an adult during the proceeding; and
  • non-academic postsecondary disciplinary violations that resulted in expulsion, dismissal, or suspension.

This policy establishes a structure by which such disclosures are to be reviewed at the institution.

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs
Vice President for Administration

3. Scope

This policy affects students at UW System institutions who seek to live in university housing, or participate in study abroad or study away programs.

Academic program or department inquiries into a student’s criminal or disciplinary background due to professional or licensure requirements are outside of the scope of this policy and are to be managed by the program or department.

This policy does not preclude institutions asking the questions set forth in section 6.A of this policy to access other specific university services or programs where the chancellor of the institution deems it to be necessary to protect the welfare of the institution’s faculty, staff, and/or students. Disclosures made under these circumstances should be reviewed using the process established in section 6.B.

4. Background

The UW System values and promotes access to higher education and the benefits it provides to individuals and society-at-large. Participation in programs and services offered by UW System institutions is an important part of the university experience. Of equal importance is the UW System’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment for members of the university community.

The balance between providing access to specific university programs or services and broader safety considerations is challenging, but is important to constantly evaluate. This policy establishes standard crime and discipline questions that must be asked of a student prior to the student accessing or participating in certain services and programs at UW System institutions.

5. Definitions

Felony Conviction:  The outcome of a criminal prosecution which concludes in a judgment that the defendant is guilty of a crime that is a felony.

Felony Plea:  The outcome of a criminal prosecution which the accused pleads guilty or no contest to a crime that is a felony.

Post-secondary:  Education that took place following graduation from high school.

Student:  An individual enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree program at a UW System institution. This policy also applies to any visiting students from other postsecondary institutions who want to participate in services or programs requiring disclosure under this policy.

Study abroad: A university organized and administered trip for curricular or co-curricular purposes that occurs outside of the United States.  Trips conducted by 3rd party operators are not included in this definition.

Study away: A university organized or administered trip for curricular or co-curricular purposes that occurs inside the United States, requires an overnight stay, and is funded by the university.

University housing: A residential facility that is operated or managed by a UW System institution, or any residential facility for which the university assigns housing.

6. Policy Statement

A. Inquiry

UW System institutions shall ask the following two questions of any student seeking to participate in any of the programs or services identified in this policy:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? This includes pleading no-contest or guilty to a felony.
  2. Have you ever been expelled, dismissed, or suspended from a postsecondary institution for a non-academic reason?

If a student answers ‘yes’ to either question, they must be provided any opportunity to provide further
details, including a description of the incident(s), including the date(s) and location(s) and any
explanatory information the student wishes to provide.

Students who are seeking participation in programs and services covered by this policy are required to notify their institutions if the answers to either question change during their enrollment at the institution. Students may be subject to disciplinary action through the institution’s regular disciplinary processes if there is a failure to disclose.

B. Institutional Review

Each UW System institution shall review affirmative disclosures made under section 6.A. of this policy. The institutional review process shall allow for input and/or representation from the program or service that the student is applying to participate in or receive.

The institution shall evaluate the disclosure and may request all relevant information to inform decision-making.

The institution shall decide whether to grant or deny the student’s request to participate in or receive the service or program in question. The institution may also grant the student’s request subject to certain specified conditions.

A UW System institution may only deny a student’s request to participate in the programs or services identified in this policy based on disclosures made under this policy if:

  • the disclosure made is relevant to the activities or services being sought; and
  • the student’s participation in the requested service or program would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.

The UW System Office of General Counsel or an institution’s legal affairs office may provide guidance on these thresholds as needed.

Institutions shall allow a student to appeal an initial determination to deny the student access to a service or program covered by this policy.

7. Related Documents

Regent Policy Document 14-6, Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation
Regent Policy Document 23-2, Health, Safety and Security at UW System Institutions
Regent Policy Document 24-2, Freshman/Sophomore Residence Halls Requirement: Former Wisconsin State University Units Only

8. Policy History

First approved: November 24, 2017

9. Scheduled Review

November 2021