Resolution Options

There are several forms of resolution available, depending on the nature of the incident and the time of the academic year:

  • Informal Resolution
  • Administrative Hearing
  • Panel Hearing
  • Investigative Resolution

Other than as described below, the Vice President of Student Affairs or designee will determine the most appropriate resolution option to be used in a given case. The Vice President of Student Affairs or designee will ensure that all investigators, hearing officials, and hearing bodies are appropriately trained to conduct proceedings in a fair, impartial, and timely manner.

Additional Considerations

Sexual or Gender-Biased Misconduct

Reports of sexual or gender-based misconduct are subject to the requirements of Title IX of the Higher Education Act of 1972, and require an investigation and adjudication conducted by College officials who are trained annually to review and resolve reports of this nature. These cases are often more time intensive and require more extensive training and experience to process and resolve. For these reasons, reports alleging sexual or gender-based misconduct will often proceed through the investigative resolution. The Title IX Coordinator will be informed and consulted on these cases throughout. In addition, the complainant and the respondent have equitable rights in the process and will be kept informed of key updates as the case is resolved.

Student Organization Misconduct

Student organizations alleged of misconduct may proceed through one of the resolution methods outlined in this Code, and they may also be referred to the Office of Leadership Development and Student Activities for administrative review and response in lieu of or in addition to the student conduct process.

Incidents Involving Multiple Students

In incidents where multiple students have been alleged of misconduct, the Vice President of Student Affairs or designee will determine the best form of resolution that balances the protection of privacy of students’ records as well as the institutional resources available to provide a timely and fair resolution.

Students with Special Relationships to the College

Students who are athletes, student leaders, student workers, or hold other unique relationships with the college whose behaviors violate the Student Code of Conduct may also face consequences outside of the student conduct process if their behaviors violate NCAA guidelines, Office of Leadership Development and Student Activities processes, employment expectations, or other such standards. Employees who enter into a relationship with the College as students and whose alleged misconduct occurs in the context of the relationship as a student may also be held accountable through the student conduct process. In those cases, Human Resources may be consulted to ensure there are no conflicts with employee contracts or Human Resources procedures.

Informal Resolution

Before pursuing the Formal Resolution Process, every reasonable effort should be made to constructively resolve conflict with students, faculty, staff, or administrators. The person impacted should keep a written log that can aid in later investigation and resolution. Whenever possible and safe, the problematic behavior, conflict or misconduct should first be discussed by the impacted person and the person engaged in the problematic behavior, conflict, or misconduct. Members of the College Community are encouraged to consult with Faculty, Staff, Deans, or Human Resources staff to discuss concerns and seek resolution through mediation. However, mediation is not used when violent behavior is involved, when the Title IX Coordinator determines a situation is otherwise not eligible, or if the parties are reluctant to participate in good faith. College officials will facilitate such conversations, upon request, and monitor them for safety. If informal efforts are unsuccessful, the formal resolution process may be initiated. Either party has the right to end the informal process and begin the formal process at any time prior to resolution.

Administrative Hearing

Through this method, a designated College official reviews the information related to a complaint, determines whether or not a respondent is responsible for each alleged violation, and issues appropriate sanction(s) for any findings of responsibility. This is the most common form of complaint resolution, and a Student Affairs Staff member will serve as the administrative hearing officer for most cases. The Vice President of Student Affairs may also designate additional hearing officers and may serve as a hearing officer.

 In this method, a student is informed of the opportunity and deadline to meet with the hearing officer to:

  • Ask questions about the student conduct process.
  • Review the complaint of misconduct and other relevant case information, such as the substance of information received from witnesses.
  • Respond to the complaint by providing information about the incident and alleged conduct.
  • Bring forth witnesses to be interviewed.
  • Acknowledge or deny responsibility for the charged violation(s).
  • Provide any information related to sanctions (if applicable), including what was learned from the incident or any factors to be considered at sanctioning.

 In some cases, a campus investigation may be done prior to the case proceeding to an administrative hearing. If the respondent chooses not to meet with the hearing officer by the given deadline, the hearing officer may proceed with the determination of responsibility and impose any sanctions. Depending on the nature of the case, the hearing officer may place a hold on the student’s account until the student has met with the hearing officer.

 

Panel Hearing

Through this process, a hearing panel reviews the case information and issues a determination of the Respondent’s responsibility for each alleged violation and determines what sanctions, if any will be imposed. Hearing panels are composed of five members: three faculty members and two students. Panel members are selected by Faculty election and student government appointment. The Vice President of Student Affairs or designated College Official has the authority to determine whether an individual is qualified to serve on panel hearings. The Vice President of Student Affairs’ designated College Official provides training and coordinates the logistics of the panel hearing process, which may include securing or serving as an advisor to the hearing panel. The College reserves the right to have the College’s legal counsel attend a hearing when deemed appropriate. Panel hearings may be recorded at the discretion of the Vice President of Student Affairs. Recordings will be retained by the institution for the purposes of the appellate hearing body’s review. Recordings retained by the institution are the only official recordings for the hearing. All parties will be notified in advance regarding advisor attendance and hearing recording. 

A party may challenge the presence of any member of the hearing panel on the basis of bias or pre-formed judgment. Such challenge shall be presented in writing at least 24 hours before the panel hearing. If the panel member concurs with the challenge, the panel member withdraws from the panel. If the panel member does not concur with the challenge, remaining members of the panel decide whether the panel member should remain on the case. An alternate from the list of eligible faculty or students, as appropriate, will replace any panel member who withdraws or is removed.

In addition to challenge for bias, the student may challenge one member of the panel with no stated reason. This challenge will be transmitted in writing at least 24 hours before the panel meets in order for an alternate be called.

Panel Hearing Process

In order to provide the College with the most effective hearing process, the hearing body/officer reserves the right to adjust procedures as appropriate, including setting appropriate time limits, depending on the nature of the case. The hearing process provides the opportunities for a complainant and/or respondent to:

  • Review the available case information.
  • Provide perspective on what happened, including providing witnesses to the incident.
  • Describe any effects of the incident, including both harm and learning that may have occurred.

Complainants and respondents will be provided a hearing notice at least two days prior to the hearing date. The notice will include the hearing date and time, a description of the hearing procedures, a list of hearing panel members, a statement of charges, and a list of witnesses and documents to be presented at the hearing. The respondent must provide a list of witnesses and documents to be presented at the hearing at least 24 hours prior to the hearing.

The basic hearing agenda consists of:

  • Introductions and guidelines from the panel chair or hearing officer
  • Review of complaint and statement of charges
  • Information shared by the complainant
  • Information shared by the respondent
  • Information shared by witnesses
  • Closing comments from the complainant and the respondent
  • Deliberations on responsibility for charges
  • Statement of decision
  • Deliberations regarding sanctions (if respondent is found responsible)
  • Statement of sanctions

During the hearing, questions may be asked by the hearing body at any time. In cases that do not involve alleged violations of threat to personal safety or sexual violence, the complainant and the respondent may be permitted to ask questions directly of each other. The hearing body reserves the right to require that questions be provided in writing instead of asked directly in all other cases if deemed appropriate. In situations where physical safety or reasonable fear for retaliation exists, the College reserves the right to adjust the hearing format, including using technology to allow parties to participate in a manner that preserves physical safety.

Persons knowingly making false statements or misrepresentations to the Hearing Panel will be subject to severe disciplinary action in accordance with the student conduct procedures.

All hearings are closed. A respondent and the respondent’s advisor may be present for all of the information sharing at hearings. In cases involving alleged threat(s) to personal safety, the complainant and the complainant’s advisor also have the right to be present.  If an individual chooses not to participate in any part of the hearing, the hearing will continue. The respondent and complainant and their advisors will be excused after closing comments, before the hearing body deliberations.

During deliberations, the hearing body or officer will determine whether the respondent is responsible for each charged violation and what sanctions are appropriate, if necessary. Determinations will use the preponderance of evidence standard as defined above and will be decided by a simple majority vote.

If the respondent is found responsible for any charges, the hearing panel will reconvene the hearing and hear information regarding appropriate sanctioning. The hearing body will review any prior student conduct history only after making the determination that the student is responsible for the charge(s). The respondent and complainant and their advisors will be excused before the hearing body deliberates sanctions.

Within ten academic days of the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer or chair will provide a decision letter providing the findings, rationale, and sanctions (if applicable).

Investigation Resolution Method

The Investigation Resolution Method is designed to provide a fair and equitable resolution process as required under Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, and it may also be used in cases where the  Vice President of Student Affairs or designee determines it is appropriate.

Cases involving allegations of gender-based or sexual misconduct will often be resolved through the investigation resolution process. Investigators and hearing officers involved in this process are trained on the student conduct process and issues related to crimes of sexual violence.

In this method, students’ rights are protected, although there may not be a face-to-face meeting involving both the complainant and the respondent. All parties have the opportunity to meet with the investigator to review and respond to the case information. Case information is summarized in a final investigative summary report. This report includes any refutation or response provided by either party after their review of it.

The Vice President of Student Affairs designates investigators and hearing officers. Investigations (including determination of outcomes) are generally completed within 60 calendar days. The complainant(s) and respondent(s) will be kept informed in the event of delays in the process. In cases alleging sexual or gender-based misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator(s) will be kept apprised of the process and will coordinate the resolution.

As this resolution process has the fewest employees involved, this method provides the most private form of resolution for both the complainant and respondent and also promotes the timeliest response, depending on the responses of the involved parties and the complexities of the case.  

Notice of Outcomes

The Vice President of Student Affairs or designated College Official will provide the respondent with written notice of the final resolution of charged violation(s) within ten days of the hearing or decision issued by the hearing officer or body. In cases where the conduct may also constitute a crime of violence (as described in the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)) and in cases involving any allegation of gender-based or sexual misconduct, the complainant (or victim) will also receive notice of the outcomes. The written notice includes:

  1. Each charged violation(s) and the determination of responsibility;
  2. A rationale of the findings;
  3. The sanction(s) imposed, if any, and the deadlines or time periods for which the sanctions are in effect;
  4. A statement of the right to file an appeal and process for doing so;
    1. Failure to file a request for an appeal within the time below shall be deemed a waiver of the right to an appeal.

College Officials may also receive notice (in all or in part) of the outcomes when there is a legitimate educational reason for such notice, such as when the College Official’s role is necessary for enforcement of the sanction(s).

Appeals

The College offers the opportunity to appeal student conduct procedure outcomes. Sanctions are in effect while an appeal is being considered, unless otherwise stated in writing by the Vice President of Student Affairs. An appeal is not a re-hearing of the case, but an evaluation of whether the ground(s) for an appeal are present and should alter the outcome of the case. Not participating in a conduct process is not grounds for an appeal. Appeals may be requested based only on one or more of the following claims:

  1. College procedures were not followed, and the deviance would substantially alter the outcome(s) of the case;
  2. New relevant evidence was not reasonably available at the time of the hearing and would substantially alter the outcome(s) of the case;
  3. Evidence does not clearly support the finding(s); or
  4. Sanctions are inappropriate relative to the violation.

Appeals addressing one or more of the above grounds must be submitted in writing to the Vice President of Student Affairs within seven days of the sending of the notice of outcomes. An appeal hearing board of elected or appointed members will review all relevant information to the case and provide a response within ten academic days after receipt of the appeal. The appeal hearing board will consist of two faculty and one student who did not serve on the original hearing. If the grounds for appeal are determined to be founded, the hearing board may adjust the finding(s) and/or the sanction(s). The appeal board’s decision is final.  

In cases where the behaviors in question may also constitute a crime of violence (as defined in the Clery Act) and in cases involving any allegation of gender-based or sexual misconduct, both the respondent and the complainant (or victim) have the right to appeal the finding(s) of responsibility and/or sanctions based on the above criteria. If an appeal is received, the other party will be notified of the receipt of the appeal, the grounds upon which the appeal has been sought, and of the opportunity to provide information for consideration by the appeal hearing board no later than ten days from the receipt of the appeal. In these cases, the appeal hearing board will have an additional ten days to provide a response.