Hearings

The Office of Community Standards has a variety of hearing types to ensure that every student can choose the path that is right for them. The purpose of a hearing is twofold:

  1. To make a determination on whether or not a violation occurred, which is determined by the hearing body based on a preponderance of evidence standard; and
  2. To make a determination on what sanctions are appropriate for the violation.

As stated in the mission statement, the Office of Community Standards works to educate students towards integrity and personal responsibility. This is done both through the hearing process as well as the sanctions completed after the hearing.

The hearing types are explained below, and will hopefully clarify the differences between the various kinds.

Non-Suspendable Cases

Most cases that come through the Office of Community Standards are considered “non-suspendable,” which means that no matter the outcome of a hearing, suspension cannot be proposed as a sanction. These violations tend to be first time incidents or violations that did not cause harm to anyone.

After a student receives a Notice of Alleged Violation, they are given the opportunity to either accept responsibility for the violations and sanctions listed on their Notice, or they have the opportunity to request a hearing. A hearing can be requested to dispute either the charges or sanctions, but ensure to familiarize yourself with the mandatory sanctions listed in the Code of Student Conduct before requesting a hearing just to discuss the sanctions.

When a student’s case is considered “non-suspendable,” there are two types of hearings that can be chosen:

Administrative Hearing

Administrative Hearings are held between one professional staff member and the student(s) involved in the case. There are a variety of professional staff members across campus that are trained hearing officers for these cases including Resident Directors, Community Standards staff members, and others. While you cannot pick your staff member, you can be ensured that any Resident Director involved in the incident report writing will not be your hearing officer. If you have concerns with the hearing officer assigned to your case, which you are notified of when you get your hearing date and time, you can always reach out to the Office of Community Standards to discuss your concerns.

Student Court

Student Court hearings consist of the same proceedings as an Administrative Hearing, but are held in front of a panel of 5-7 students instead of a professional staff member. Student Court meets at regularly scheduled times, so know if you are requesting a Student Court hearing, it is possible you could be asked to switch to an Administrative Hearing if your schedule does not align with Student Court.

Suspendable Cases

A smaller group of cases come through the Office of Community Standards every year that are considered “suspendable.” This means that through the hearing process it is possible for suspension or dismissal to be the outcome of the hearing. These cases are handled slightly differently given that there is more at stake for students facing this level of disciplinary action.

The biggest difference between non-suspendable cases and suspendable cases is that students who are up for potential suspension attend a Procedural Review prior to requesting a hearing. Students are notified of Procedural Reviews as a part of their Notice of Alleged Violation received from the Office of Community Standards. In the Procedural Review, a staff member will review the proposed charges and sanctions, along with options of how to move forward. Students can accept responsibility, which holds the accountable for the charges and sanctions discussed in their Procedural Review, or they can request one of two hearings types:

Administrative Hearings

Administrative Hearings are held between one professional staff member and the student(s) involved in the case. Hearing officers primarily consist of staff members in the Office of Community Standards, along with other professionals around campus.

Disciplinary Board

Disciplinary Boards are held with a board of three faculty members and two students, along with the student(s) involved in the case. The order of procedures for these hearings is similar to that of an Administrative Hearing, but because of the size of the board, these types of hearings are not as conversational as an Administrative Hearing might be. However, the training on decision making and sanctioning is the same between Administrative Hearing officers and Disciplinary Board members, and therefore the outcome of one hearing vs. another is unlikely to differentiate.

How to Prepare for a Hearing

Students often ask the Office of Community Standards how to prepare for a hearing. Below is a list of a few things that might help you feel more prepared for a hearing, but there is nothing required that you need to do beforehand if you do not want to. The suggestions below might make you feel more comfortable prior to your hearing, so if you would like to prepare ahead of time, consider the following:

  1. You will be given the opportunity to respond whether you believe you are responsible or not responsible for each individual charge given. Some students opt to give the same response for all charges, and others do not. Be ready to say whether you believe you are responsible or not.
  2. You have the ability to bring any “evidence” that would help make your case. This might include text messages, doctors notes, pictures, or any other materials that provide context to the incident report. Anything you consider evidence can be brought to the hearing to help you explain your perspective.
  3. All students will be given the opportunity to give an opening statement talking about their perspective on the events of the incident in question. Some students choose to prepare a statement to ensure they cover everything they want to discuss. It is not required to prepare this ahead of time, but might help ensure nothing gets missed! Keep in mind, the Office of Community Standards asks that opening statements stay under 10 minutes in length.
  4. Similarly, students will be given the opportunity to present a closing statement in many hearings after questions are asked. If you would like to prepare an closing statement you may do so as well.
  5. In some cases, witnesses will be called to discuss the case. Witnesses may be called by you as the accused student or by the Office of Community Standards. Witnesses must either attend in person or be available via phone or web conference; witness statements are not permitted. If witnesses are participating in your hearing, you will have the opportunity to question them. You can come with a list of questions to ensure everything you’d like to ask the witnesses is addressed.
  6. Sanctions will be discussed in your hearing if you are found responsible for any violation. It can be beneficial to think ahead about what you think are appropriate sanctions if the ones listed are not what you would consider an appropriate response to the incident.
If you do prepare to bring anything listed above, it does not have to be turned in to the Office of Community Standards prior to the hearing (Title IX hearings are an exception to this, see the Title IX section of the website for more information). All you have to do is show up with your materials and you will be good to go! For further clarification or information about preparing for a hearing, please contact the Office of Community Standards and someone will be happy to assist you.