The vice president for student affairs has responsibility for all cases of nonacademic misconduct. It is the responsibility of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs to coordinate and evaluate the judicial process of the College. The vice president for student affairs designates the associate dean for judicial affairs as the staff member responsible for the daily administration of student violations of the student code of conduct.
A. Filing Written Complaints
All members of the campus community and others can report alleged violations of College regulations. They can do so by submitting a written complaint to an administrative hearing officer (residence hall directors), or the associate dean for judicial affairs. The associate dean for judicial affairs can assist any College member in writing a complaint and preparing a case against another student.
B. Notification of Disciplinary Charges
Students charged with a violation of College regulations shall be notified in writing of the charge(s) imposed (persons or offices lodging a specific complaint, the range of sanctions related to the charge(s) applicable, and the date and time scheduled for the initial conference). Students can be charged with a violation of College regulations while not enrolled in classes. Students academically dismissed or inactive must answer to the charge imposed prior to returning to the College as an enrolled student. An initial conference provides the student with an opportunity to discuss the procedures of a disciplinary hearing with an administrative hearing officer. Decisions on whether a student is considered responsible for violating a College regulation is determined in a disciplinary hearing (see Disciplinary Hearing Bodies in this section).
C. Initial Conference
An administrative hearing officer shall schedule an initial conference with the accused and shall notify the accused in writing, of the time, date, and place of the meeting which shall be conducted within five (5) business days from the time of notification. This Initial Conference Letter will be mailed to a student at either his/her on-campus address (residential students) or home mailing address (commuter students). At the initial conference, the student will review (and receive a copy, if a request is made to this effect) all written documentation that will be presented during an administrative hearing or a hearing with the Student Conduct Committee, ask questions regarding the hearing process, and affirm or negate each charge imposed by the College. Initial conferences generally occur within seven (7) business days from the date of the incident. The student’s rights in the disciplinary process, hearing formats, and the range of sanctions that pertain to the charges imposed will also be discussed at the initial conference.
If the student fails to appear at the initial conference, all charges can be considered true and accurate and appropriate administrative action shall be taken by the administrative hearing officer.
At the initial conference, a student may elect one of the following courses of action:
- To sign a statement accepting responsibility for violating a College regulation. For cases where there is a charge of a violation of a College regulation that falls under Level B (severe cases), the case is referred to the Student Conduct Committee. Otherwise, the case is then adjudicated administratively by the College official conducting the initial conference, who will take appropriate action including the possible imposition of a sanction and special condition(s). If the student wishes to demonstrate mitigating circumstances by producing relevant witnesses or evidence, a postponement of up to 48 hours can be requested. The student may also request that his/her case be assigned to a different administrative hearing officer. At that time, the associate dean will administer this action.
- To elect to not appear at the hearing, at which time a decision by the administrative hearing officer shall be made based upon the evidence and information presented at the hearing and appropriate administrative action shall be taken by the administrative hearing officer.
- To deny the alleged violation(s), in which case the official conducting the initial conference shall assign the case to one of the following courses of action based upon the type of charges imposed:
(a) To hear the case immediately with the official conducting the initial conference (for violations of regulations that fall under Level A). An administrative hearing would be conducted by the official. The official may, in appropriate cases, postpone a hearing in order to allow the accused to prepare a defense or to arrange for the complaint to appear. The official may assign, or the student may choose to have, the case heard by another administrative hearing officer.
(b) To refer the case to the Student Conduct Committee (for violations of Level B regulations). If, however, the Student Conduct Committee cannot convene, the associate dean for judicial affairs or designee will arrange a hearing by an administrative officer. The associate dean for judicial affairs may, in appropriate cases, grant additional time to the student charged to prepare for the hearing.
The following table summarizes how cases are routed in the College’s disciplinary system. It is important to note that when a student is facing multiple charges in an incident but one of the charges carries a maximum sanction of expulsion, the case is automatically referred to the Student Conduct Committee. Violations of sexual misconduct are heard by specialized panels of the Student Conduct Committee. (See Procedures for Hearing Cases of Sexual Misconduct for additional information.)
Regulation Section Title
Regulations Heard Only by Student Conduct Committee
Regulations Heard Only By Administrative Hearing Officers
All section 1 regulations are heard administratively (with one exception for 1.3, see footnote -*)
Disorderly and Irresponsible Conduct
All other Section 3 regulations are heard administratively
Demonstrations & Public Gatherings
All other Section 4 regulations are heard administratively
Sexual Misconduct & Harassment
5.1a., 5.1b., 5.1c., 5.2
Residence Hall Access and Room Visitation
All Section 6 regulations are heard administratively.,
Fire & Safety Equipment
7.1b* All other Section
Firearms, Ammunition, Knives and Dangerous Weapons
All Section 8 regulations are heard by SCC
Assault and Harassment
Theft & Possession of Stolen Property
All Section 12 regulations are heard administratively.
Motor Vehicles & Motorcycles
All Section 13 regulations are heard administratively.
Conduct of Organizations
All organization conduct hearings are heard by the SCC
Computer Misuse & Fraud
*Administration of severe Indents: Individuals charged with these violations that have allegedly placed others in significant harm’s way (e.g., an individual provides alcohol to another where a level of significant alcohol intoxication occurs) will have this matter heard by the Student Conduct Committee.
D. Rights of Students Accused of Violating College Regulations
Students charged with one or more violations of College Regulations have a right to:
- Receive a written statement of initial charges. If requested, students will be allowed to examine any written statements of evidence which the College plans to submit to the hearing body (written statements are normally reviewed at the initial conference).
- Reasonable time to prepare for the hearing.
- Be present at the hearing during the presentation of any matters on which a decision may be based.
- Present an explanation of their situation/circumstances at the hearing and ask individuals to present information on their behalf. However, should students fail to appear at the scheduled time and place, the hearing will be held in their absence.
- Be accompanied by another member (defined as a registered student, faculty, or staff member) of the campus community to serve as “hearing adviser.” A hearing adviser is permitted to advise the student charged in the organization of their thoughts and presentation of materials and can advise the student directly in the hearing. Hearing advisers may not respond to any questions for the accused. Hearing advisers may be present at hearings only.
- Ask questions of the hearing board/officer and of any witnesses.
- Present a summary statement at the close of the hearing.
- A decision of the accuracy of charges by the Student Conduct Committee’s hearing board or the administrative hearing officer is based solely upon the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing. If the charges are found to be true, a decision on a sanction can be based upon the hearing and other matters of record.
- An expeditious hearing of the student’s case.
- A written report of the results and findings of the hearing within four (4) business days of the hearing.
- Appeal the decision of the hearing board or administrative hearing officer.
E. Disciplinary Hearing Bodies
Administrative Hearing: Administrative hearings are conducted by College staff designated by the vice president for student affairs. All administrative hearing officers are trained in the educational merits of disciplinary proceedings and the basic tenets of due process. Administrative hearing officers will review the charge against the accused student and the evidence presented to support the charge. All administrative hearings are closed to the public. No disciplinary action shall be taken unless it is established by a preponderance of evidence upon the record considered as a whole that the accused student has committed the charged offense. Findings and an explanation of decisions resulting from administrative hearings shall be rendered in writing within four (4) working days. Administrative hearing officers may impose sanctions ranging from disciplinary warning to disciplinary probation and may recommend sanctions of suspension and expulsion to the associate dean for judicial affairs.
Student Conduct Committee: The Student Conduct Committee is the highest judicial body of the College. This committee is responsible for hearing and considering violations of the Student Code of Conduct that are of a sufficiently serious nature that might lead to disciplinary suspension or expulsion from College. The role of the committee is to hear cases and make recommendations for disciplinary action, suspension, or expulsion to the associate dean for judicial affairs. The associate dean will determine the action to be taken thereafter.
The Student Conduct Committee shall consist of eight students, eight faculty members, and four staff members. Selection to the Student Conduct Committee shall be made by the vice president for student affairs. Appointments shall be made during the spring semester with the normal term of office for students being two years and the normal term of office for faculty and staff members being four years. Terms shall be staggered so that equal numbers of terms expire each year. All members of the Student Conduct Committee must complete a training session with the Office of Judicial Affairs before they serve on a panel. In addition, the vice president annually appoints one member of the committee to serve as chair of the Committee (usually tenured faculty member). The chair shall preside over the hearing panel session and can be a member of the faulty or staff. In some cases, it may be necessary to appoint an alternative hearing panel chair when the chair is not available. Alternate chairs must attend a training session for chairs that will be conducted by the vice president for student affairs (or designee) and the Committee chair.
The vice president for student affairs shall appoint a staff member to be responsible for administering student judicial affairs. This responsibility is assigned to the associate dean for judicial affairs who will be responsible for convening hearing panels. The associate dean for judicial affairs shall select two students, two faculty, and one staff member to serve on a panel to hear each case as it occurs (forming a five-person panel, of which one is the Committee chair). In the event a five-person panel cannot be convened, the associate dean will convene a three-person panel (one faculty, one staff, and one student member, where either the faculty or staff member will serve as chair of the panel). If neither a five-nor three-person panel can be convened, the case may be heard administratively by the associate dean for judicial affairs. The associate dean may appoint a staff member to present the case to the hearing panel. The Student Conduct Committee will not ordinarily meet during finals week, the summer, or during official College breaks. During these periods, the functions of the committee shall be carried out by administrative hearing officers. Hearings where a sanction of suspension or expulsion can be imposed shall be taped by the chair of the hearing panel. The audio recording can be made available to the accused student if requested for the sole purpose of appealing a disciplinary decision. In these instances, the student will be allowed to listen to the recording in the Office of Judicial Affairs.
The Student Conduct Committee can hear cases where a sanction of suspension of expulsion is a possible outcome. Cases shall be referred to the Student Conduct Committee by the associate dean for judicial affairs. Hearings shall be private (limited to the complainant, respondent, incident witnesses, hearing advisers, associate dean for judicial affairs, members of the hearing panel) and are not open to the public. The only exception to this clause is when the College has been notified by law enforcement officials that criminal charges have been filed against the respondent. In these instances only the respondent may have an attorney present solely for the purpose of protecting the respondent against self-incrimination in a future court proceeding. The attorney may not serve in any other capacity during the hearing including speaking on behalf of the respondent or questioning/addressing those present. No disciplinary action shall be taken unless it is established by a preponderance of evidence upon the record considered as a whole that the accused student has committed the charged offense.
The chairperson of the Committee shall file a report to the associate dean for judicial affairs of each case heard before the Student Conduct Committee. These reports are to include a statement of charges, the plea, the decision of the committee, the evidence considered, and the reasons for the final action taken, if any. Decisions of the hearing panel are final, unless appealed by the accused. However, the hearing panel can only recommend to the associate dean for judicial affairs that a sanction of suspension or expulsion be imposed. Appeals of decisions regarding suspension or expulsion are heard by the vice president for student affairs. Such appeals from a student must be made in writing within four (4) business days of receipt of the decision or the matter is considered as final.
F. Order of Business for Disciplinary Hearings
Unless otherwise determined by the chair of the Hearing Panel or the administrative hearing officer, the hearing will generally follow the order described below.
a) Members of the Hearing Panel introduce themselves and ask all present to do the same.
b) The panel chair briefly reviews the hearing procedures as outlined here.
c) The charges are read by the coordinator of judicial affairs/administrative hearing officer.
d) The complainant may first present his/her testimony. Members of the Hearing Panel may question the complainant at any point during this presentation. The respondent will have the opportunity to question the complainant after this testimony is finished. If the complainant does not present his/her testimony, or if the College is the complainant, administrative officer or Hearing Panel chair may read a summary of the alleged event(s).
e) When the complainant has finished, the complainant’s incident witnesses will each present testimony, with the Hearing Panel and the respondent permitted to ask questions as in step (d) above.
f) When the complainant has produced the evidence he/she wishes to present, the respondent will be given the opportunity to present his/her testimony and incident witnesses’ testimony as in (d) and (e) above. Again, both the Hearing Panel and the complainant will be permitted to question the respondent and his/her incident witnesses. Character witnesses are not permitted at any disciplinary hearing. Respondents may elect to submit written character references for the hearing panel/administrative officer to review as a part of their deliberations.
g) When the respondent has produced the evidence he/she wishes to present, the Hearing Panel may ask further questions of either party or recall witnesses. The Hearing Panel may call brief recesses at any time to discuss the proceedings, and may ask further questions upon return from any such recess.
h) The chair may also call witnesses, including expert witnesses from the College staff, to aid the Hearing Panel in its consideration of the case.
i) When the Hearing Panel’s questions have concluded, the chair should inform the respondent that a written decision will be sent to him/her. The hearing will then be adjourned. The members of the Panel will meet in executive session to deliberate and to render a decision.
A. Basis for Findings: Standard of Evidence
The standard or basis for findings refers to the criterion or measure of proof that is used to assess if a student is responsible or not for violating Community Standards.
The basis for findings used during any judicial proceeding is a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means that the hearing panel/officer found that a level of evidence presented led to more than a 50% finding that a student is in violation of a regulation of these Community Standards and thus responsible for a code violation. An easier way to think about this may be to consider the question, “Is it more likely than not that with the evidence and testimony presented that the student violated Community Standards?” If the answer is “Yes,” the hearing officer/panel has achieved a preponderance of evidence.
The College uses a preponderance of the evidence as a standard of evidence for student disciplinary hearings because it is the basis for findings that is the most conducive to the academic setting and the educational process found is disciplinary hearings.
H . Appeals
Students may wish to appeal decisions of the Student Conduct Committee/administrative hearing officer. To initiate an appeal, the student must submit a written appeal within four (4) days of notification of the results of the hearing. The College can only accept appeals from the respondent. It cannot accept appeals from third parties (e.g., parents, faculty, staff, and friends). All appeals must be submitted in writing to Office of Judicial Affairs (EJ Brown Hall room 106A). The vice president for student affairs will review all appeals where a sanction of suspension or expulsion was imposed, appeals submitted for cases heard by the associate dean for judicial affairs, or cases that are heard under a charge of sexual misconduct. All other appeals are heard by the associate dean for judicial affairs. Students who have been sanctioned with suspension of expulsion may request to listen to the audio recording made during the hearing prior to their submission of an appeal letter.
An appeal must be in writing and its scope shall be limited to the following:
(a) Question of Fact: Students may appeal on “questions of fact” by introducing new evidence which would significantly affect the outcome of the case. Evidence that comes forward that was not known by the accused shall be considered new evidence. Evidence that was withheld by a student shall not constitute a question of fact, nor is it to be considered upon appeal.
(b) Question of Procedure: Appeals will be considered on the basis of “questions of procedure” by demonstrating that the procedural guidelines established in this document were breached and that such departure from established procedure significantly affected the outcome of the case.
(c) Severity of Sanction: Students may appeal the “severity of sanction” that has been imposed by presenting a statement explaining why they feel the penalty is too severe.
Appeals are considered for breach of procedures when the procedure in question directly affects the disciplinary decision rendered. For example, the time of notification of a disciplinary decision could result in a procedural breach but would have had no impact in how the decision was initially rendered by a panel. Thus, no grounds for appeal would be granted. However, if the hearing chair, per se, failed to allow the respondent or complainant to ask questions in the hearing related to the charges imposed, such action may constitute a procedural breach that eventually affected how the panel reached a decision. As a result, a respondent might assert that this type of procedural breach was grounds to submit an appeal.
All facts and evidence related to the case shall be reviewed by the vice president for student affairs (or associate dean for judicial affairs) to determine whether just cause exists to overturn the Student Conduct Committee’s recommendation/administrative hearing officer’s decision. If just cause is demonstrated to exist, then the appellate officer may choose to rehear the case or modify the sanction and/or special conditions imposed. If no just cause is demonstrated to exist, the appellate officer shall notify the student in writing of why the appeal was denied. This action shall be final and is not subject to further appeal.