Office of Community Standards

Is there anyone on campus independent of the Office of Community Standards who can help me to navigate the campus conduct system?
Yes.  The Ombudsman Office can assist you in navigating the campus conduct system.  The website for the Ombudsman Office fully explains the parameters of the Ombudsman program.

What is the difference between a Hearing Committee and an Administrative Hearing?
Procedurally, both hearings are the same. The only difference is in the composition of who hears the case.
 
The Hearing Committee is comprised students and faculty/staff members.  The number of people on the Committee varies depending on the charges being heard. Usually, it consists of two students and one staff or faculty member, but it can be up to five committee members (with no fewer than two students). The members of the Committee volunteer, and go through a training process.
 
Administrative Hearings are usually heard by one Administrative Hearing Officer but, depending on the charges, can be heard by up to three officers. Administrative Hearing Officers are faculty or staff members who go through additional training.  

Do I need a lawyer?
No. There is no need for you to have a lawyer, as this is an administrative (rather than a legal) process.  The campus discipline process is designed to be educational in nature.  A lawyer is permitted in a hearing only if there are concurrent pending criminal charges stemming from the same incident.

When permitted to attend, the lawyer does not actively participate in the hearing.  Specifically, the lawyer would not be permitted to speak to anyone but his/her client during the hearing, and serves to advise (rather than represent) the accused student.  Lawyers are permitted in the advisory capacity in these cases for the protection of the accused student in the event that the audiotape of the hearing is subpoenaed for the court case.
 
Who is present during my hearing?
Committee Members/Administrative Hearing Officer
– As stated above there are no less than 3 but can be up to 5 committee members in a given hearing or your Administrative Hearing Officer(s).

Accused Student(s) – This is the student who is accused of violating the community standards of conduct. If more than one student involved in the same incident chooses to go to a hearing, one hearing is conducted for all students involved.

Support Person – The support person is an individual who attends the hearing for the purpose of being supportive to the accused student (and the reporter in cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior) and must be a member of the College community (i.e. faculty, staff, or student). This person cannot be a family member or friend from home.  The support person does not interact with anyone other than the student they are supporting.  The support person can not also serve as a witness.  However, the support person may serve as a character reference.

Witnesses – There are two kinds of witnesses: witnesses to the event and character witnesses. The College will call anyone who wrote a report about the incident as a witness. The accused student (and the reporter in cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior) is responsible for bringing any other witness(es) that they want to present. There is no limit on how many incident witnesses can be at the hearing, although, the committee may decide that they don’t need to hear from all of them. The accused student (and the reporter in cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior) has the right to question the witness(es) by directing questions to the committee/hearing officer.  

There can be 2-3 character witnesses at a hearing. These are people you bring in to make a statement about you so the committee gets a better picture of who you are, what you bring to the community, etc. These witnesses can be professors, family members or friends. You can also bring in as many character reference letters as you like.

Procedural Advisor – The procedural advisor is simply there to make sure the hearing goes smoothly and is procedurally correct.  The procedural advisor assures that your rights as the accused student are not violated and that the reporter considerations (in cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior) are properly upheld.  Additionally, the procedural advisor answers any questions that hearing committee/officers or any hearing participant may have.  The advisor does not participate in the decision making process with the Committee.  This is important to note, as the Procedural Advisor may be the individual who conducted your initial conference.

Reporter – In cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior, the reporter is the alleged victim in the incident.  The reporter can choose to be present throughout the entire hearing, can have a support person, can question the accused student and witnesses and can bring in witnesses of his/her own.

Not every reporter of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior chooses to exercise the accommodations available.  Sometimes, an alleged victim will come in as a witness and in those cases we would allow them to bring a support person in as well.

Is there anything else I should know before I go into my hearing?

  • The committee/hearing officer does not know whether or not the accused student has any prior discipline during a hearing. The accused student does NOT have to tell them anything about past incidents and/or discipline. 
  • The committee is informed about any prior discipline history only if they find you responsible for one or more charges.  
  • Your prior discipline history is a big factor in determining a sanction.  Discipline charges have sanctions ranges.  The following are considered in determining which sanction in the range is appropriate for the accused student:  the severity of the charge(s); the seriousness of the incident; the level of responsibility in the incident; and the prior discipline history.  
  • The College has a three-strike policy with regard to alcohol and marijuana.  Additionally, most of the substance-related charges have recommended standards.  Barring an extreme extenuating circumstance, recommended standards are the sanction given for these cases.  
  • During witness questioning, all of interactions (i.e., questions and witness responses) are directed to the committee/hearing officer.  For example, the accused student would say to the committee/officer “I am wondering if s/he saw me at the party.”  Although slightly awkward, this is meant to alleviate tension and to avoid conflict. It is not a conversation between you and the witness, even if it is your witness.  This also permits the procedural advisor to intervene if a question is not appropriate to the hearing.
  • Questioning is not the time to make statements or argue/refute witness statements. You can save any comments and points you’d like to bring up for your closing statement.
  • During your closing statement, the accused (and the reporter in cases of sexual/physical aggressive/violent behavior) will be asked if there is anything else the committee/officer need to know to determine a finding. This is when you would bring up any points from the hearing that you think are important for them to note, and also when you would want to give some information as to who you are as a student and member of the College community, what the impact of the incident has been on you, and what if anything you have learned from the experience.  Students also sometimes choose to give the committee some suggestions as to what they think an appropriate sanction might be if they are found responsible for or have taken responsibility for one or more charges.

What happens once I’m in the hearing?
The Administrative Hearing Officer or the Chair of the Committee uses a checklist during the hearing.  Here is exactly how the hearing goes from start to finish (in this example, the wording is for a committee hearing.  However, both hearing types are conducted the same way:

C. Turn on tape recorder 

D. Introductions
1) I call the hearing to begin

2) Please be advised that the tape recorder is on for record keeping in the event of an appeal.  As a reminder, the hearing process is confidential in nature, and all information written, audio-taped and oral will remain confidential.

3) At this time, I’ll ask each person to introduce yourself and state your role (i.e., student member of the committee, support person, witness, accused student, etc.).

4) (If applicable)…I will remind support persons that you may only speak to the person you are assisting and may not interact with any other person in the room.

5) At this time, I will ask the accused student if you object to any member of the committee and if so, please state the reason (Procedural Advisor will make a ruling if necessary).

E. Beginning of the Hearing
1) The purpose of the hearing is to hear the charges communicated in the Specification of Charges for Disciplinary Action letter dated ________.

2) At this time, I will ask the accused student if the Specification of Charges and the Notice of Hearing letters were received and understood?

3) The hearing panel is convened to try to understand who did what, where, and why.

4) I will remind all parties that presenting false information is a violation of College policy and is subject to disciplinary action.

F. Response of Accused Student to the Charges
1) I will read each charge aloud, including minimum and maximum sanctions and recommended standards, and ask the accused student to respond “responsible” or “not responsible” after each charge.

G. Review of Format of the Hearing/Rules of Order
1) All will have an opportunity to present information, and all parties should direct their questions to the committee who will in turn direct them to the appropriate party.

2) Committee Members will ask questions throughout the hearing.

3) Witnesses will be permitted to provide information.

4) Parties will be provided with an opportunity to have questions asked of each other and/  or witnesses through the committee.

5) Parties may make closing statements to the committee.

H. Questioning Accused Student & Complainant (if applicable)
1)    At this time, I’ll ask the accused student to describe what happened & then the committee will ask any questions they may have.

2) At this time, I’ll ask the reporter (if applicable) to describe what happened & then  the committee will ask any questions they may have.

3) At this time, I’ll ask the accused student if he/she has any questions to ask the reporter.

4) At this time, I’ll ask the reporter if he /she has any questions to ask the accused student.

I. Presentation of Witnesses
1)   As each witness enters:

  • a)  Please be advised that the tape recorder is on for record keeping in the event of an appeal.  As a reminder, the hearing process is confidential in nature, and all information  written, audio-taped and oral will remain confidential.   
  • b)  At this time, I’ll ask each person to introduce yourself and state your role (i.e., student member of the committee, support person, witness, accused student, etc.).
  • c)  Finally, I will remind all parties that presenting false information is a  violation of College policy and is subject to disciplinary action.

2) At this time, I’ll ask the witness to describe what happened & then the committee will  ask any questions they may have.  

3) At this time, I’ll ask the accused student if he /she has any questions to ask the witness.

4) At this time, I’ll ask the witness if there’s anything else we need to know to determine our findings or to determine a sanction if the accused student is found responsible.

J. Closing Statements
1) At this time, I’ll ask the reporter (if applicable) if there’s anything else we need to
 know to determine our findings.
2) At this time, I’ll ask the accused student if there’s anything else we need to know to
 determine our findings.
3) At this time, I’ll ask the reporter (if applicable) if there’s anything else we need to
 know to assign a sanction if the accused student is found responsible.
4) At this time, I’ll ask the accused student if there’s anything else we need to know to
 assign a sanction if you are found responsible.
5) At this time, I’d like to ensure that nothing else needs to be raised by any party or the
 committee.

K. Closing the Hearing
1) The committee will deliberate in private to determine its findings.

2) A Finding letter  form outlining the outcome and any sanctions will be sent to the accused student within two working days from the Conduct Officer.  If found responsible, you can file an appeal based on specific criteria outlined in the Community Standards of Conduct.  The appeal must be filed within three working days of receipt of the finding letter.  The appeal should be submitted to the Associate Provost for Integrative Learning/Vice President for Student Affairs.

L. Turn off tape recorder

M.   Begin Deliberations