Student Conduct Hearings
When there is an allegation of misconduct that is challenged, a hearing authority is convened and tasked with following objectives:
- Find out what happened. (investigation/hearing)
- Figure out whether any students violated any rules. (responsible or not responsible)
- Decide what to do about it. (sanctioning)
When a student denies responsibility for a Student Code of Conduct infraction, s/he has two (2) hearing options available to resolve the allegation in question: informal or formal resolution.
A student has the option of waiving their right to a formal hearing and having their case decided in a one-on-one administrative review of the incident. In this process, the hearing officer hears testimony from the Respondent and rules on the case based on this information in balance with the Complainant's evidence/testimony. In waiving his or her right to a hearing, the Respondent may not challenge the finding of responsibility but may petition the university for relief from the sanction consistent with the Appeal Policy. In some instances, informal resolution may not be available.
Respondents who deny responsibility for a violation and wish to have a formal review of their incident involving all parties of incident, including the Complainant, witnesses and/or advocates, may do so through the formal hearing process. This process is spelled out in Article IV of the Document on Student Rights & Welfare as published in The Key, however an overview the process is provided below.
The role of hearing authorities, such as the University Conduct Board (UCB), in a formal hearing is very straight forward. Generally, a UCB panel is comprised of three university representatives (one faculty member, one administrator, one student) along with a presiding hearing officer known as a Process Advisor. In some instances such as when there is a need to have a hearing over the summer, a hearing will be coordinated in which a single administrator will preside solely over the hearing and make a decision of responsibility based on the presented evidence.
Note: For informational purposes. Consult The Key Student Handbook for the most up to date and official policies and procedures. Please also note that hearing procedures for Sexual/Gender Based Offenses may follow an alternate hearing procedure.
Opening of the Hearing
- No one other than the hearing authority or board, the Complainant, the Respondent(s) and advocates, if present, are normally at the opening of a proceeding. Witnesses are to serve as a means of substantiating the facts of a particular case and are called at the appropriate time.
- When a hearing is ready to begin, the hearing officer, sometimes referred to as the Process Advisor, will introduce himself/herself and will ask the conduct board to do the same. When this is done, the hearing officer will ask all additional parties to introduce themselves.
- Following the introductions, the hearing officer will provide additional instructions, explain the purpose of hearing and answer any questions about how the hearing will be conducted.
- The Complainant's case is to be presented first including testimony of witnesses and other relevant evidence. The Respondent has the right to question any witness called by the Complainant.
- All testimony and evidence can be examined by the Respondent.
- The burden of proof is on the Complainant. Therefore, sufficient evidence must be submitted to determine responsibility.
- The Respondent may present evidence and testimony as well as call witnesses to rebut the case presented against him/her and/or otherwise establish the student's innocence. Respondents are not required to call themselves as a witnesses but when done, are subject to questioning by the Complainant or the hearing authority.
- At the conclusion of both presentations, for the sake of clarity and at the hearing officer's discretion, he or she may allow further rebuttal and counter rebuttal.
- After hearing from all witnesses and allowing the Respondent to make any final comments, the Respondent and Complainant will be instructed to leave the room. The hearing authority will confer in a private session to determine the outcome of the hearing.
- A student's previous disciplinary record should only be used if introduced by the Respondent to establish any relevant reputation or habit.
- Respondents cannot be compelled or coerced to testify against themselves.
- Deliberate falsification of information will be cause for disciplinary action.
- Admissibility of evidence deliberations are conducted in executive session of the hearing authority.
- All testimony and evidence may be examined and questioned by the Respondent and the Complainant. The hearing officer and the hearing authority/board have the authority to rule on the admissibility of evidence.
Decision of Responsibility
- In the estimation of the hearing authority, if the majority of credible evidence supports the allegation, then responsible will be the decision.
- In the estimation of the hearing authority, if the majority of credible evidence contradicts the allegation, then not responsible will be the decision.
- In the estimation of the hearing authority, if the credible evidence is determined to be equal, then not responsible will be the decision.
- Only upon the decision of responsible may a student's disciplinary record be reviewed to determine an educationally appropriate sanction.
- If found not responsible, a sanction may not be imposed.
- The Respondent will receive a written decision within five (5) business days of the hearing