Reporting Student Misconduct
The College encourages students, faculty, and staff to resolve conflicts informally and at the lowest level. When that is not possible or appropriate, any member of the campus community may report alleged student misconduct to Student Affairs. The report should describe the misconduct and identify the person(s) involved in the incident. Designated Student Affairs Staff will review reports, and will initiate the student conduct process if there appears to be reliable information indicating that a violation may have occurred (i.e. complaint). The College may also initiate a case without a formal complaint. When appropriate, reports may be addressed through the Ursinus Crisis Response Team with non-conduct procedures. A call to appear before the President, College Deans, a Hearing Panel, Campus Safety, or Faculty takes precedence over all other duties. Students must respond promptly to such a call.
As the College is concerned about threats to personal or collective safety, all reports will be taken seriously and reviewed promptly. If a student may have violated another aspect of the Student Code of Conduct (such as consuming alcohol underage) and is concerned about consequences when reporting a more egregious incident (such as a threat of violence), the reporting student should be assured that the College’s interest is in maintaining the safety of individuals and the campus. Pending no threat to safety or other compelling reasons, other behaviors may be addressed through alternative means (such as informal discussions or referrals to counseling).
Preliminary Investigation & Review
A preliminary investigation may be necessary in order to determine if there is credible information that warrants charging a student with violating the Code. Preliminary meetings with involved parties or witnesses may occur prior to initiating the student conduct process.
The preliminary investigation and review may result in any of the following:
- Case Not Pursued: If there does not appear to be credible information to indicate that a violation occurred, the case will not be pursued through the formal student conduct process. To document that the situation was reviewed, the College will retain the information.
- Informal Response: If the situation is concerning but does not appear to be a violation, there may still be an institutional response without formal conduct charges. For example, the student may be asked to meet with a staff member to discuss the situation prior to registering for courses, may be requested to participate in a mediated conversation, or may receive a follow-up letter outlining the concerns.
- Initiation of Conduct Process: If it appears that a student may have violated the Code, and that this occurred within the College’s jurisdiction, as defined in this Code, the student conduct process will be initiated.
In some cases, interim action prior to the resolution of the case may be necessary. This may be imposed upon initial receipt of a report, when the College becomes aware of a concern, or at a later time in the student conduct process. Reasons interim action may be issued include but are not limited to:
- to protect the health, welfare, or safety of a student or of the community,
- if the student poses a threat of significant disruption to the educational process and/or the normal operations of the College,
- to provide legally mandated interim remedies.
- if the student cannot be located and/or does not participate in the conduct process.
In the event that interim action will be taken, the student will be notified in writing.
Examples of interim action include but are not limited to:
- Suspension from residence halls
- Suspension from the College
- Restricted access to campus, limiting time or location
- Class section reassignment
- No-contact orders
The standard of proof for decision-making in student conduct matters, including in all findings of responsibility, is the “preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not” standard. This means that when all available information is considered, the College official or hearing body determines whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred, based on what a reasonable person would consider.
Investigators and hearing bodies do not have the authority to issue a subpoena but may receive information without regard to the legal rules of evidence if the information is related to the questions of the case. Character witnesses are not permitted since decisions about responsibility relate to behaviors, not to character. The hearing body may consider anonymous information (such as reports or statements) but the unknown identity of the source will be taken into account in evaluating the credibility of such information. The College will communicate with participants in the student conduct process mainly via email using an online case management system and the student’s Ursinus email address. Communication may occur through other means, such as through phone, U.S mail, or delivered in person. Students are responsible to review pertinent provisions, including updates, in conjunction with any proceeding.
Any participating complainant or respondent may bring two advisors to student conduct meetings to serve as a support persons. The advisors may be a friend, mentor, family member, or any other supporter who is both eligible and available, only one of whom may be an attorney. People who will be called as witnesses may not serve as advisors. Students may be accompanied by their advisors in all meetings and interviews, including intake, hearings, and appeals. Advisors should help their advisees prepare for each meeting and are expected to advise ethically, with integrity and in good faith. The College cannot guarantee equal advisory rights, meaning that if one party selects an advisor who is an attorney, but the other party does not, or cannot afford an attorney, the College is not obligated to provide one.
All advisors are subject to the same campus rules. Advisors may not present on behalf of their advisee in a meeting, interview, or hearing and should request or wait for a break in the proceeding if they wish to interact with campus officials. Advisors may confer quietly with their advisees as necessary, as long as they do not disrupt the process. For longer or more involved discussions, the parties and their advisors should ask for breaks or step out of meetings to allow for private conversation. Advisors will typically be given a timely opportunity to meet in advance of any interview or hearing with the College officials conducting that interview or meeting. This pre-meeting will allow advisors to clarify any questions they may have, and allows the College an opportunity to clarify the role the advisor is expected to take.
Advisors are expected to refrain from interference with the College investigation and resolution. Any advisor who steps out of their role in any meeting under the Code of Conduct resolution process will be warned that further disruption or failure to respect the limits of the advisor role may result in removal from the meeting or hearing. An advisor whose presence is deemed by the Hearing Officer to be improperly interfering with the proceeding will be required to leave and may be prohibited from participating in further meetings or proceedings under this policy. When an advisor is removed from a meeting, that meeting will typically continue without the advisor present. Subsequently, the hearing officer will determine whether the advisor may be reinstated, may be replaced by a different advisor, or whether the party will forfeit the right to an advisor for the remainder of the process.
The College expects that the parties will want the College to release information and documentation related to the allegations with the parties’ advisors and will provide a consent form that authorizes the release of such information. The parties must complete this form before the College is able to release information to an advisor. The parties are not otherwise restricted from discussing and sharing information relating to allegations with others who may support them or assist them in preparing and presenting. Advisors are expected to maintain the privacy of the records disclosed to them by the College and are prohibited from releasing the information to third parties, disclosing the information publicly, or using the information for purposes not explicitly authorized by the College. This Policy does not create a privileged or confidential relationship between a Complainant or Respondent and an Advisor. If an Advisor for a Complainant is a member of the College community, the Advisor is obligated under this Policy to inform the Dean of Students’ Office of information that contradicts the report or charges. Likewise, if an Advisor for the Respondent is a member of the College community, the Advisor is obligated to similarly disclose information that supports the allegations. The College may seek to restrict the role of any advisor who does not respect the sensitive nature of the process or who fails to abide by the College’s privacy expectations.
The College expects an advisor to adjust their schedule to allow them to attend College meetings when scheduled. The College does not typically change scheduled meetings to accommodate an advisor’s inability to attend. The College will, however make provisions to allow an advisor who cannot attend in person to attend a meeting by telephone, and/or electronic meeting technologies as may be convenient and available.
A student may elect to change advisors during the student conduct process, and is not required to use the same advisor throughout. Students may be required to provide notice that an advisor will be attending a meeting or hearing. Students who qualify for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and who require a person to provide the accommodation or who may require a language translator to effectively understand the English language may also have such a person present in addition to two advisors. If a student requires accommodations under ADA/504, a written notification must be submitted to the College at least two academic days prior to the hearing.
A student who files a report or who is charged with a violation of the Code may request in writing to have a resolution postponed because 1) there is pending or possible civil or criminal litigation which may be jeopardized by the outcome of campus resolution process, or 2) the student is unavailable for communications due to being incarcerated or hospitalized. The College may grant this only when both of the following circumstances have been met:
- Interim action as determined by the Dean of Students or designee is imposed to prevent further or additional incidents during the resolution process.
- The College does not have any compelling reason why the resolution process should proceed. Examples of compelling reasons include but are not limited to:
- Concerns for the safety of the campus or its members if the situation is not resolved.
- The need to provide a timely response in cases alleging sexual or gender-based misconduct.
- The quality of the investigation or ability to hear from witnesses who have critical case information may be compromised.
The College reserves the right to postpone resolution indefinitely or for a finite period of time. The College may also independently decide to postpone resolution without a request from a student when the above conditions are met or when due to legal requirements.