When a student denies responsibility for a major* violation of University policy, their case is heard at a University Hearing. The hearing is a meeting of the complaint party and the accused student before the University Hearing Board and a Presiding Officer. The Hearing Board is a panel of students, faculty, and staff. The board considers information from both parties and any witnesses and determines whether the student is responsible for the violation. If the student is in violation, the Hearing Board determines an appropriate sanction. The Presiding Officer ensures that the correct procedures are followed and that both parties receive a fair hearing.
* Potentially resulting in suspension, expulsion, or loss of University housing
University Hearing Procedures
1. The University Hearing Board is the formal disciplinary body at the University tasked with hearing allegations of Code of Student Conduct violations. The purpose of the University Hearing Board is to provide the University community with a forum to review and address student misconduct. The University Hearing Board determines the relevant facts related to the incident and makes an informed decision regarding whether or not a student violated University policy. Board members, the Presiding Officer, and the investigating Conduct Officer have the authority to question witnesses, the accused student (if they choose to speak), and any complaint party in an effort to determine the facts of an incident.
2. Any student who provides false information during a University Hearing is subject to additional charges under the University Code of Student Conduct (Part VII, Section S).
3. For incidents involving more than one accused student, the Chief Conduct Officer (or their designee) will determine whether there will be one hearing or separate hearings for the students involved. Any accused student may petition the Chief Conduct Officer for a separate hearing, providing appropriate information to show that a combined hearing would be prejudicial for them. The decision of the Chief Conduct Officer is final.
4. A trained University community member will serve as the Presiding Officer. The role of the Presiding Officer is to maintain order, interpret policy and procedures, and insure a fair hearing process. Presiding Officers will:
- Conduct the hearing.
- Exclude anyone from the process who is disruptive.
- Summon witnesses upon the request of any party at the hearing.
- Make rulings on information provided at the hearing. Presiding Officers will respect the rules of confidentiality and privilege, but will admit any other information into the record that reasonable persons would accept as valuable.
- Ensure that all procedures are followed. This includes insuring that student and complaint party rights are respected, including those detailed in the Student Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Related Misconduct.
- Question participants.
- Supervise Hearing Board deliberations.
- Act as a voting member of the Hearing Board, should an ad-hoc board become necessary.
5. Accused students and complaint parties will be notified of the hearing date at least ten working days prior to the hearing. (The accused student may also waive their right to ten days’ notice with the consent of the complaint party, if any.) This notification will include the charges, the names of the Presiding Officer and Hearing Board members, the time, date, and location of the hearing, the names of witnesses, and a list of the names and contact information of University-trained Campus Advisors. Each party will also be instructed to supply the Office of Student Conduct/Community Standards with additional witness information and any supporting documents they are submitting at least five working days before the hearing. Parties will also be given access to the case file upon request. The case file will contain the Conduct Officer’s investigation report, the complaint filed, and any additional information provided by the parties during the investigation.
6. If a hearing must be adjourned and continued on another day, the Presiding Officer will determine when the hearing is reconvened. The hearing may be reconvened without 10 days’ notice.
7. The accused student and/or complaint party may request that a specific member of the University Hearing Board or the Presiding Officer be excluded from the hearing for good cause. This request must be made in writing to the Chief Conduct Officer (or their designee) at least five working days before the hearing. The final decision on that request will be made by the Chief Conduct Officer. The Chief Conduct Officer will determine whether the information presented is appropriate grounds to excuse a board member or Presiding Officer from the hearing. If a board member or Presiding Officer is excused, the Chief Conduct Officer will select a replacement from the pool of Hearing Board members and Presiding Officers.
8. Either party may submit a request for postponement for good cause to the Presiding Officer. Except in documented, verifiable emergency situations, no request for a postponement will be considered when received less than five working days before the hearing. The Presiding Officer will determine whether the request meets the criteria for “good cause” and their decision is final. The availability of a support person or specific Campus Advisor is not grounds for postponement.
9. Both complaint parties and accused students may be assisted by both a Campus Advisor and a support person at the hearing. Campus Advisors and support persons are not permitted to speak to the Hearing Board or Presiding Officer or to participate directly in the process. No form of direct representation will be permitted, except in cases where assistance is required based on a documented disability or a translator is needed.
10. At the beginning of each hearing, the Presiding Officer will outline the procedures to be followed during the hearing. An audio recording of the hearing will be made by the Presiding Officer or their designee; no other party may record the hearing. Hearing Board deliberations are not recorded. The recording is the property of the Office of Student Conduct/Community Standards and will be preserved in the accused student’s disciplinary file. Access to the recording will be provided to the accused student upon request. If a recording is not made for some reason, the decision of the Hearing Board must include a detailed summary of the information presented.
11. The accused student(s) will then be asked to respond to each alleged violation of University regulations by stating one of the following:
- Responsible for violating the University regulation.
- Not Responsible for violating the University regulation.
12. If the accused student fails to appear for the hearing, the Presiding Officer will enter a plea of “not responsible” on behalf of the student.
13. The hearing will begin with the reading of the Conduct Officer’s investigation report. The Presiding Officer will then ask the complaint party to give a narrative account of what happened, followed by witnesses in support of the complaint. The accused student is then given the opportunity to provide a narrative and can then introduce witnesses in their defense.
14. Witnesses may be called by the complaint party and by the accused student. Both parties will have the right to question witnesses once the Hearing Board, Presiding Officer, and investigating Conduct Officer have had an opportunity to ask questions. Witnesses are excluded from the hearing during testimony from other witnesses. If a victim chooses to participate as a witness and not as a complaint party, they will present information first and then may remain in the room for the rest of the hearing. All witnesses will be asked to affirm that all information they are providing is truthful. If a witness cannot attend the hearing, they may participate by telephone or video conferencing at the discretion of the Presiding Officer.
15. Witnesses for either party may also provide information to the Hearing Board in the form of a signed statement. The statement must be witnessed by a Conduct Officer, Dean of Students, or notary. Statements that are not submitted by the deadline or are not witnessed by a Conduct Officer, Dean of Students, or notary may be excluded at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. Witness statements may only be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining other information; written statements alone will not be sufficient to support a finding.
16. When all information and testimony has been presented, the accused student will be given the opportunity to make a closing statement. The closing statement is a brief summary of the conclusions the speaker hopes the Hearing Board will draw and may contain rebuttals. The complaint party will then have the opportunity to make a closing statement.
17. After closing statements, the Hearing Board will retire to closed deliberations to determine whether the student is in violation of University policy. The Presiding Officer will observe the deliberations and ensure that they are conducted according to University policy. The board decision will be made by majority vote and no board member may abstain. The Presiding Officer does not vote (except in the case of an ad hoc Hearing Board, described below).
18. Accused student(s) are presumed to be not responsible for violations. Responsibility must be established by the applicable standard of proof. In non-academic cases, the standard is “by a preponderance of information.” This standard requires that the Hearing Board be persuaded that it is more likely than not that the allegations against the accused student are true. In academic integrity cases, the standard is “by clear and convincing information.” This standard requires that the Hearing Board be persuaded that it is highly probable that the allegations are true.
19. In the event that a Hearing Board member is absent or becomes unable to serve, the hearing may continue with an ad hoc board, in which the Presiding Officer acts as the third voting member. A hearing may be conducted with an ad hoc board only with the consent of both the accused student and complaint party (if any).
20. Should a question arise among the board members during deliberations, the Presiding Officer will reconvene all parties to have the question answered on the record. Once a decision is reached by the board, the Presiding Officer will write a summary of the board’s decision and the rationale. The Presiding Officer will reconvene the hearing and read the Hearing Board’s finding into the record.
21. Any determination of responsibility will immediately be followed by a proceeding to determine disciplinary sanctions. The accused student and the complaint party will be given opportunities to make statements regarding sanctions. The accused student may present character witnesses or statements and the complaint party and/or victim may submit an impact statement. The investigating Conduct Officer will offer a sanction recommendation and provide the past disciplinary record of the accused student, if any, to the board.
22. The board will then retire to closed deliberations to determine a sanction. The sanction will be decided by majority vote and no board member may abstain. The Presiding Officer observes the sanction deliberations but does not vote (except in the case of an ad-hoc Hearing Board, described above). Once a sanction decision is reached by the board, the Presiding Officer will write a summary of the board’s decision and the rationale. The Presiding Officer will reconvene the hearing and read the Hearing Board’s sanction decision into the record.
23. A copy of the finding and sanction decisions will be provided to the accused student and complaint party (if any). The Presiding Officer’s written summary will become a part of the case file.
24. The accused student will be provided with information about how to appeal the board’s decision.