The Catholic University of America


A Letter to Catholic University Parents

Dear Parents & Guardians,
Chances are you never thought that your son or daughter's experience at The Catholic University of America would include an interaction with our office. The information and resources provided on this website are designed to help answer some of the questions you may have and provide information to help you best support your son or daughter. First, we recognize that our students (like all of us) make mistakes. Sometimes this involves the underage consumption of alcohol, or failing to cooperate with a university official.
The competitive environment at Catholic University, in which students want to excel both academically, spiritually, and personally can sometimes lead to decisions they later regret. Through our student conduct process, we want students to learn where they could have made different decisions and offer them strategies for making better choices in the future. The expectations we have in place for our students stem from our Code of Student Conduct. As you know from your own experience, actions carry consequences - this is no different at Catholic University.
The purpose of our student conduct system is to guide students toward more mature and responsible decision-making, as your son or daughter transition into independent, responsible, and global citizens. One way of doing this is to provide students found responsible for violating a university policy with sanctions. The primary purpose of sanctions is to not only affirm that our community standards are important to the university, but to also help the student repair harm that has been done or restore what has been damaged. Students may be required to demonstrate responsibility as a member of the university community by performing certain reasonable and relevant educational activities. We want students to learn from the experience that brought them to our office and we believe the educational assignment we provide will help students meet that goal.
These sanctions may include a formal warning, disciplinary probation, discretionary assignments (such as reflection papers and alcohol education) and sometimes separation from the University either for a period of time (suspension) or permanently (expulsion). These are not consequences we take lightly. We recognize that any sanction imposed upon a student is significant to that student. However, we also feel strongly that our process and sanctions play an important role in a student's education at Catholic University not just during their time with us, but in life beyond college. We do encourage, but do not require, students to talk with their parents upon finding themselves in a difficult situation that may involve a violation of our community standards.
We have found students are often fearful to talk with their parents about their situation because of the reaction they think they will receive. While you will understandably be concerned about what may have happened, you will undoubtedly want to show support to your son or daughter. Listen to his or her perspective; encourage him/her to accept responsibility for the role he or she played in a situation, and show that you still stand behind him or her. A common reaction from parents is that their son or daughter could not have possibly engaged in the behavior of which they are accused. Or alternatively the behavior of their son or daughter was unintentional and simply a mistake.
We strive for a fair and thorough process in determining the extent to which a student was involved in a situation. Intent (or lack thereof) is most often considered not in a determination of responsibility, but in a determination of the sanctioning. We have high expectations for our students, and this includes seeking appropriate help when facing a difficult decision. So if your son or daughter faces disciplinary action, including separation from the university, how does this impact his or her record, maintain their matriculation, or their chances of gaining admission into a graduate/professional program or future public service career?
Parents have many questions about how their son or daughter’s conduct may affect their future endeavors. We are happy to speak with you regarding general concerns, and how we can help you in supporting your student’s experience at Catholic University. Feel free to contact us by phone at (202) 319-5619 or email at
Heidi E. Zeich
Associate Dean of Students