University Conduct Board Hearing

Incidents that could result in suspension or expulsion from the University or may be of a controversial or sensitive nature are referred to the University Conduct Board by the Dean of Students. When the University Conduct Board is not in session (semester breaks, exam periods or summer recess), cases may be heard as administrative hearings. In these instances, the hearing officer(s) have the authority to impose the full range of sanctions available to the University Conduct Board, sanctions A-P. The University Conduct Board is comprised of a board convener and two additional representatives from the faculty and staff. The members of the University Conduct Board are appointed by the Dean of Students at the beginning of the academic year and normally serve for three academic year.

The Convener of the University Conduct Board is appointed by the Dean of Students from the members appointed to serve on the University Conduct Board. A hearing before the University Conduct Board will include the hearing coordinator, board convener and two additional members of the board, the reporting party, the responding party, witnesses and advisers. The deliberations by the board will be conducted in private. The outcome of the case is communicated to the student in writing.

The University Conduct Board Hearing must take place not more than fourteen (14) calendar days after delivery of the Notice of Possible Policy Violation to the responding party, unless the Board Convener, in their sole discretion, allows for a longer period of time. If a complaint is filed within sixty (60) calendar days of the responding party's intended graduation, during a University recess or Summer Session, or in other circumstances where the Dean of Students (or designee) determines that the complaint cannot otherwise be resolved in a timely manner, procedural options may be limited. In particular, a University Conduct Board Hearing under these circumstances may instead take the form of an administrative hearing appointed by the Dean of Students (or designee).

Confidentiality of the University Conduct Board Hearing Process

In order to comply with laws and regulations protecting education records of students and to provide an orderly process for the presentation and consideration of relevant evidence without undue intimidation or pressure, the hearing process before the Board is confidential and is closed to the public. Documents prepared in anticipation of the hearing (such as the Investigator's report, the Notice of Possible Policy Violation, or any written pre-hearing submissions), documents, or other materials introduced at the hearing; or any transcript of the hearing itself, may not be disclosed except as required or authorized by law or as may be authorized by the Dean of Students (or designee) in connection with responsibilities of the University.

Hearing Process

The hearing process shall proceed as follows:

Composition and Purpose of the Board

Composition of the Board: The Board will be composed of three (3) impartial and trained, professional staff and faculty members of the University community appointed by the Dean of Students (or designee). The Dean of Students (or designee) designates one Board member to serve as the Board Convener of the Board (the "Board Convener"). Board member training is provided at least annually on issues including, but not limited to, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; how to conduct investigations and hearings; protecting victim safety and promoting accountability.

Challenge of Board Member: A reporting party or responding party wishing to challenge the participation of any Board member must notify the Board Convener and the Dean of Students (or designee) in writing, stating the reason(s) for the party's objection. Such a challenge must be made in writing and delivered to the Board Convener and the Dean of Students within seven (7) calendar days of the mailing of the Board Meeting Invitation/Letter of Allegation to the responding party and reporting party. Except with respect to challenges to the participation of the Board Convener, the Board Convener determines whether the challenge has merit and reserves sole discretion to make changes in the Board's composition at all times. In the event of a challenge to the participation of the Board Convener, the Dean of Students (or designee) determines whether the challenge has merit and reserves sole discretion to appoint another Board member or other person as the Board Convener for a given hearing.

Conduct of the Board: The Board will seek to encourage an open exchange of information within the rules of confidentiality articulated in these procedures. While the Board's procedures are designed to ensure appropriate process for the reporting party and responding party, the Board is not bound by the rules of criminal or civil procedures that govern judicial proceedings in court. Board members will serve as impartial fact finders and not as advocates for either the reporting party or responding party. Once an individual has been named to the Board, they may not privately discuss the facts or merits of the case with the reporting party or responding party or with anyone acting on behalf of either the reporting party or responding party. The Hearing Coordinator will provide Board members with a copy of the Letter of Allegation, the Investigation Report (if applicable), the incident report, written statements, and list of witnesses and documents or other relevant materials submitted by the reporting party and responding party in advance of the hearing date.

Hearing Procedures

Hearing Coordinator: The Dean of Students (or designee) will designate an administrator to act as a hearing coordinator to be present at a hearing to control the hearing and ensure the hearing follows procedural guidelines. The coordinator will be impartial and has no interest or input in the outcome of the hearing.

Pre-Hearing Procedures

  1. Pre-Hearing Submissions: No less than seven (7) calendar days prior to the hearing date, the reporting party and responding party must provide the Hearing Coordinator with brief written statements describing their positions, a list of witnesses they propose to call, and copies of documents and a description of any other materials they propose to present at the hearing. The Hearing Coordinator provides a copy of such written statements and documents to the other party as set forth below. In the absence of good cause as determined by the Board Convener in their sole discretion, the reporting party and responding party may not introduce witnesses, documents, or other evidence at the hearing that were not timely provided to the Hearing Coordinator as set forth above. The reporting party and responding party are also responsible for securing the attendance of their proposed witnesses at the hearing.
  2. Pre-Hearing Meeting(s): The Hearing Coordinator will seek to schedule one or more pre-hearing meeting(s) with the reporting party and responding party, no less than three (3) calendar days prior to the hearing date. Advisors are permitted at the pre-hearing. Witnesses are not permitted at the pre-hearing. The pre-hearing provides an opportunity for the reporting and responding parties to review all written reports about the allegations and make an initial response to them. The hearing coordinator will compile a summary of the student's response for presentation at the University Conduct Board. The Hearing Coordinator will also review the list of proposed witnesses to assist the reporting party and responding party in eliminating redundancy. During the pre-hearing, there will be a full explanation of: the hearing coordinator's role; the student rights in the conduct process; a review of the charges; a copy of the written statement; list of witnesses, and identification or copies of documents or other evidence submitted by the other individuals; and the University Conduct Board procedures.

Persons Participating:Typically, the reporting party and responding party, their respective advisors, the University's counsel (only if students have outside Counsel as an advisor), the Board members and the Hearing Coordinator are the only individuals present at the hearing. The reporting party and responding party may have an advisor of their choice present at the hearing and any related meetings. Advisors are not permitted to address the Board, examine witnesses or otherwise directly participate in the hearing on behalf of either party. The University may remove or dismiss advisors who become disruptive or who do not abide by the restrictions on their participation.

Should either the reporting party or responding party fail to appear at the scheduled hearing, the Board Convener, at his/her sole discretion, may postpone the proceedings or the Board may proceed and determine the complaint on the basis of the evidence presented, provided the absent party was duly notified in advance of the scheduled hearing date as outlined above. The reporting party and responding party are not required to be present at the hearing. However, the exercise of that right does not preclude the Board from proceeding and determining responsibility on the basis of the facts and circumstances presented. If requested, the University will make arrangements such that the reporting party and responding party are not present in the same room at the same time as part of the hearing.

Witness Procedures

Witnesses are permitted at University Conduct Board hearings. Students involved in simultaneous, related conduct proceedings cannot serve as witnesses for each other. It is the responsibility of the student charged to contact the witnesses, request their attendance at the hearing and notify the hearing officer(s) of the witnesses' names at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date. Reporting parties, responding parties and the hearing officer may also invite witnesses to appear at the hearing. If a witness is unable to attend the hearing, the witness may provide a written statement, including but not limited to sworn testimony, and discuss the statement with the hearing officer before the scheduled hearing, or participate in the hearing via telephone. The hearing may proceed even if all witnesses are not present. The hearing officer may limit the number of witnesses permitted to attend the hearing. Character witnesses are normally not permitted, but in any cases that they are approved by the Office of the Dean of Students, reporting parties and responding parties will both be allowed to present character witnesses.

Recording: The Hearing Coordinator will arrange for the hearing to be audio-recorded.

Conduct of the Hearing: The hearing before the Board will not follow a courtroom model. The Board Convener will determine the order of the witnesses and resolve any questions of procedure arising during the hearing. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Investigator will not participate at the hearing unless approved by the Board Convener upon finding that the Investigator may have material information that cannot otherwise be provided to the Board. The reporting party and responding party will not be expected to repeat undisputed details or non-material circumstances that would merely duplicate the written materials. The Board, in its discretion, may seek to have other persons speak at the hearing. Only the Board Convener and the Board may question the reporting party, responding party, and any witnesses. However, the reporting party and responding party may ask the Board Convener to pose additional questions or inquire further into specific matters If necessary, a brief recess may be granted to allow the reporting party and responding party an opportunity to prepare and submit such requests. The Board Convener is empowered to disallow any questions that are irrelevant or redundant. After all witnesses have been questioned, the reporting party and responding party may make a closing statement and request a short recess to prepare their statement(s). If the Board determines that unresolved issues exist that would be clarified by the presentation of additional materials or information, the Board Convener may recess the Board hearing and reconvene it for the presentation of additional evidence in a timely manner. A recess may not be based on the failure of witnesses to appear without good cause or on the proposed introduction of documents or other materials or information that should have been presented at the pre-hearing meeting(s).

Impact Statement: During the hearing, the reporting party may present the Board with a statement recommending a sanction ("Impact Statement") if applicable. The responding party will be provided an opportunity to respond to the Impact Statement. The Board is not bound by these statements in determining responsibility or the sanction. Witnesses other than the parties normally are not permitted at the Impact Statement phase of the hearing; however, the Board Convener reserves the sole discretion to authorize the presence of other persons.

Hearing Outcomes

Standard for Responsibility Finding: All decisions by the Board will be made by majority vote. The Board first determines whether the responding party is responsible for violating university policy, and then, if appropriate, determine by majority vote the sanction to be imposed on the responding party. A finding of responsibility must be supported by a "preponderance of the evidence." "Preponderance of the evidence" means that the University establishes that it is more likely than not that the responding party is responsible for violating policy. If the Board does not find that there is a preponderance of the evidence to support a finding of a violation of our policy re: prohibition of sexual assault, the Board will then consider whether other violations of this policy occurred.

Sanction Findings: After the Board has made a determination, the Board may impose any sanction that it finds to be fair and proportionate to the violation and in the interests of the University community, including the responding party and reporting party, and that is authorized for violations of the Student Code of Conduct, including disciplinary probation, suspension, and expulsion. In determining an appropriate sanction, the Board may consider any record on the part of the responding party of past violations of the Student Code of Conduct, as well as the nature and severity of the violation(s) and any mitigating circumstances. The Board will consider as part of its deliberations whether the responding party poses a continuing risk to the reporting party and/or University community. The University expects all cases involving a finding of sexual assault to involve consideration of the sanctions of suspension or expulsion. Any sanction imposed is based on a majority vote of the Board.

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