When a student denies responsibility for a major* violation of University policy, their case is heard at a University Hearing. The purpose of a University Hearing is to provide the University community with a forum to address allegations of student misconduct. At the hearing, the University Hearing Board considers evidence and testimony about the incident and makes an informed decision as to whether the accused student violated University policy. Members of the board and the Presiding Officer question witnesses, the accused student (if they choose to speak), and the complainant in an effort to determine the relevant facts.
* Potentially resulting in suspension, expulsion, XF grade, or loss of University housing
University Hearing Procedures in Brief
- Audio recording begins
- Presiding Officer calls hearing to order
- Presiding Officer explains procedures
- Witnesses are dismissed
- Accused student answers charges “responsible” or “not responsible”
- Conduct Officer presents investigation report
- Conduct Officer is questioned
- Complainant gives narrative and presents evidence
- Complainant is questioned
- Accused student gives narrative and presents evidence
- Accused student is questioned
- Witnesses are called and questioned
- Complainant gives closing statement (optional)
- Accused student gives closing statement (optional)
- Hearing Board deliberates
- Hearing Board announces decision
- If finding is “not responsible,” hearing ends
- If finding is “responsible,” sanction portion begins
- Complainant, accused student, and Conduct Officer recommend sanction
- Hearing Board deliberates on sanction
- Hearing Board announces sanction
- Hearing ends
University Hearing Procedures in Detail
1. For incidents involving more than one accused student, the Chief Conduct Officer (or their designee) determines whether there will be one combined hearing for all accused students, or a separate hearing for each student. If an accused student believes that they would be disadvantaged by a combined hearing, they may petition the Chief Conduct Officer for a separate hearing. The decision of the Chief Conduct Officer is final.
2. A trained University community member serves 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:
- Conduct the hearing.
- Exclude anyone from the process who is disruptive.
- Summon witnesses upon request.
- Make rulings on the admissibility of evidence.
- Ensure that all procedures are followed. This includes insuring that student and complainant 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.
3. A University Hearing Board is empaneled. The board consists of three trained members of the University community – one faculty or staff member, and two students.
4. Accused students and complainants are notified of the hearing date at least ten (10) working days prior to the hearing. This notification includes 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 University-trained Campus Advisors. Each party is instructed to supply the Office of Student Conduct with additional witness information and any supporting documents they are submitting at least five (5) working days before the hearing. Parties are given access to the case file upon request.
5. The accused student and/or the complainant may request that any member of the University Hearing Board or the Presiding Officer be excluded from the hearing for good cause (such as a conflict of interest). This request must be made in writing to the Chief Conduct Officer (or their designee) at least five (5) working days before the hearing. The Chief Conduct Officer determines whether there are reasonable grounds to excuse a board member or Presiding Officer; their decision is final. If a board member or Presiding Officer is excused, the Chief Conduct Officer selects a replacement from the pool of Hearing Board members and Presiding Officers.
6. Either party may submit a request for postponement for good cause. Except in documented, verifiable emergencies, no request for a postponement will be considered when received less than five (5) working days before the hearing. The Presiding Officer determines whether the request is granted and their decision is final. The availability of a support person or particular Campus Advisor is not sufficient grounds for postponement. If a hearing must be postponed, or adjourned and continued on another day, the Presiding Officer determines when the hearing is reconvened. The hearing may be reconvened without 10 days’ notice.
7. Both complainants 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. Direct representation is not permitted, except where assistance is required based on a documented disability or a translator is needed.
8. At the beginning of the hearing, the Presiding Officer outlines the procedures to be followed. An audio recording of the hearing is made by the Office of Student Conduct; no other party may record the hearing. Hearing Board deliberations are not recorded. The recording is the property of the Office of Student Conduct and is 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.
9. If any witnesses are present, they are dismissed until their testimony is needed.
10. The accused student is asked to respond to each alleged violation with either "responsible" or "not responsible." If the accused student fails to appear for the hearing, the Presiding Officer enters a plea of “not responsible” to each charge on behalf of the student.
11. The hearing begins with the reading of the Conduct Officer’s investigation report, followed by questioning of the Conduct Officer by the Hearing Board, Presiding Officer, complainant, and accused student.
12. The complainant gives their narrative (a description of the incident and alleged violation). Any student complainant who provides false information during a University Hearing is subject to additional charges under the University Code of Student Conduct. The complainant introduces any evidence supporting the complaint. The complainant is then questioned by the Hearing Board, Presiding Officer, and accused student.
13. The accused student gives their narrative (if they choose to speak). The student is not obligated to speak and the Hearing Board cannot draw any negative conclusion from the student's decision not to speak. However, if the student does decide to speak, they must be truthful. Any student who provides false information during a University Hearing is subject to additional charges under the University Code of Student Conduct.
14. During their narrative, the accused student introduces any evidence in their defense. The accused student is then questioned by the Hearing Board, Presiding Officer, and complainant.
15. Witnesses are called one by one and are questioned by the Hearing Board, Presiding Officer, complainant, and accused student. If a victim chooses to participate as a witness and not as a complainant, they are called to testify first and then may remain in the room for the rest of the hearing. All witnesses are asked to affirm that their testimony is truthful. Any student who provides false information during a University Hearing is subject to additional charges under the University Code of Student Conduct.
16. If a witness cannot attend the hearing, they may participate by telephone or video conferencing at the discretion of the Presiding Officer. Witnesses may also provide a written statement. The statement must be signed and witnessed by a Conduct Officer, Dean of Students, or notary public. Statements that are not submitted by the deadline or are not properly witnessed 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 are not sufficient to support a finding.
17. When all information and testimony has been presented, the accused student may make a closing statement (optional). The closing statement is a brief summary of the conclusions the speaker hopes the Hearing Board will draw and may contain rebuttals. The complainant may also make a closing statement.
18. After closing statements, the Hearing Board retires to closed deliberations to determine whether the student is in violation of University policy. The Presiding Officer observes the deliberations and ensures that they are conducted according to the University Code of Student Conduct. The board's decision is 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 [#20]).
19. An accused student is presumed to be not responsible unless the standard of proof is met. Responsibility must be established by the "preponderance of information” standard of proof. This standard requires that the Hearing Board be persuaded that it is more likely than not that the allegations are true.
20. 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 case 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 complainant.
21. Once the board has reached a decision, the board's spokesperson writes a summary of the board’s decision and the rationale. The Presiding Officer reconvenes the hearing and the spokesperson reads the Hearing Board’s finding into the record.
22. If the student is found not responsible, the hearing ends. Otherwise, the sanctioning phase begins. The accused student and the complainant are given the opportunity to recommend an appropriate sanction. The accused student may present character witnesses or statements and the complainant and/or victim may submit an impact statement. The investigating Conduct Officer offers a sanction recommendation and provides the accused student's past disciplinary record, if any, to the board.
23. The board then retires to closed deliberations to determine a sanction. The sanction is 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 [#20]). Once a sanction decision is reached, the spokesperson writes a summary of the board’s decision and the rationale. The Presiding Officer reconvenes the hearing and the spokesperson reads the sanction decision into the record.
23. A copy of the board's decisions is provided to the accused student and complainant. The written summary of the board's decision becomes a part of the student's disciplinary file.
24. The accused student is provided with information about how to appeal the board’s decision and the hearing ends.