Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology, Leadership, and Higher Education

First Committee Member

Federick Ngo

Second Committee Member

Doris L. Watson

Third Committee Member

Blanca Rincón

Fourth Committee Member

Norma Marrun

Number of Pages



Discipline disparities have been widely reported in the K-12 school system, yet no published research has investigated disparities in higher education student conduct processes. This research project addresses this gap by asking: to what extent are racism and sexism evident in the student conduct process? This study was framed using the Focal Concerns and Loose Coupling perspective to analyze the four different stages of the student conduct process (referral, charging, determination of responsibility, and sanctioning). Focal Concerns suggest student conduct administrators will focus on a just outcome consistent with the respondent’s blameworthiness, community protection, and mitigating negative social consequences, and therefore will not bias the decision-making process. Loose Coupling suggests bias can enter the student conduct process when the concerns of organizations and their representatives involved in the process are different from the focal concerns of the decision-maker. This study used a novel dataset from a state system of higher education to analyze decision making at each stage of the student conduct process. Key results indicate that Asian respondents are more likely to be charged with policy violations, females are more likely to be assigned a warning, and Black respondents are suspended/expelled at higher rates compared to White respondents, even when comparing cases with the same types of violations. The results of this study indicate that bias enters the student conduct process differently at each stage.


Discipline; Disparities; Focal Concerns; Higher Education; Loose Coupling; Student Conduct


Education | Higher Education Administration

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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