To The Point Student Handbook 2014-2015

Article IV - Procedures For Behavioral Misconduct

Pleases see glossary of terms.

Section 1:  Components of the Conduct System

        A.    Student Conduct Officer:  This staff member, appointed by the dean of students, is responsible for setting all cases into motion, providing notice to the complainant and respondent, making logistical arrangements for the hearings, maintaining procedures, and ensuring that the procedures are properly observed, that the records are properly maintained, and that the sanctions are properly enforced.  The student conduct officer shall advise and prepare the complainant and the respondent student or student organization on all aspects of the hearing.  The student conduct officer may offer a Case Resolution Meeting to the respondent(s). Any questions concerning the interpretation or application of particular provisions of the Code of Student Conduct should be referred to the student conduct officer for resolution.

        B.    Student Conduct Board: The Student Conduct Board shall hear complaints, except as specifically indicated otherwise within the Code of Student Conduct (Article III), made by any student or student organization or by any member of the College community or anyone else involving violations as set forth in Article II of this Code.  The composition of the Student Conduct Board shall be as follows:

                • A total of five students with one taking on the role of chairperson.

                • Advisor to the Student Conduct Board (ex officio) selected from trained College professional staff.

Student membership shall be based upon an application and interview process, as set forth in the Student Conduct Board procedures whereby a Student Conduct Board pool of at least 15 members is maintained.  In each conduct session, student membership to the Student Conduct Board shall be determined by assignment by the student conduct officer and the chairperson.  Each student selected to the Student Conduct Board pool may remain in the pool for his/her duration of attendance at St. Mary’s College, except for the following:

        C.    Administrative Hearing Officers: The student conduct officer may assign a case to an administrative hearing officer(s) rather than the Conduct Board, depending on the nature of the case and/or scheduling difficulties.  Administrative hearing officers are selected from the College faculty and staff and assigned to hear a specific case by the student conduct officer. 

        D.    College Conduct Board: The College Conduct Board shall hear complaints of the most serious, complex, and controversial nature, as assigned by the student conduct officer, made by any student or student organization or by any member of the College community or anyone else involving violations as set forth in Article II of this Code.  The composition of the College Conduct Board shall be as follows:

        E.     Appeal Officer: The dean of students serves as the appeal officer. 

   Section 2:  Jurisdiction

        A.    This Code covers student or student organization misconduct which occurs on College premises, contiguous properties, or which arises out of College-sponsored activities off the College premises, including study abroad, or which disrupts or endangers the College community, the College’s responsibilities, or its pursuit of its objectives, or which poses a threat to the safety and well-being of any individual.

        B.    The Student Conduct Board shall have jurisdiction over cases of alleged student or student organization misconduct covered by Article II of this Code, unless the student conduct officer chooses to reconcile the charges through an administrative hearing, College Conduct Board, Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board, or Case Resolution Meeting as described in Article IV of this Code.

        C.    All disciplinary actions shall ultimately be acted upon by the dean of students or, in the dean’s absence, by the dean’s designated representative.  The dean of students, in addition to other responsibilities under this Code, shall in consultation with appropriate students and College leaders develop changes in policies for the administration of the conduct program and changes in procedural rules for the conduct of hearings.

        D.    The dean of students, the student conduct officer, the president of the SGA or his/her designee, and the president of the Faculty Senate or his/her designee shall comprise the Student Handbook Committee.  All proposed changes to the Code of Student Conduct and Student Handbook must be submitted to this committee.

 Section 3:  Procedural Standards
*For Sexual Misconduct Hearing Procedures, please refer to the Sexual Misconduct policy. 

        A.    Filing of Charges: Charges may be filed against any student or student organization for conduct violations.  The charges shall be prepared in writing and directed to the student conduct officer.  Any student or student organization, any member of the College community, or anyone else may file charges involving violations of conduct as set forth in Article II and Article III of this Code.

        B.    Preliminary Investigation and Orientation: The student conduct officer will make the choice whether to proceed with an administrative hearing as set forth in Article V of this Code or to proceed with a hearing before one of the Conduct Boards.  The student conduct officer may also meet with the respondent student or student organization to present and inform the student or student organization of the procedures of this Code.

        C.    Presentation of Charges: All charges shall be presented to the respondent student or student organization in written form within ten (10) school days of their receipt by the student conduct officer.  A time shall be set for the hearing which shall not be less than seventy-two (72) hours nor more than fifteen (15) school days after the letter is sent to the student or student organization advising of the charges.  Hearings will be scheduled around the classes of the complainant(s) and the respondent(s). Work schedules and extracurricular activities, including but not limited to, athletics, clubs, and organizations, etc., will not be considered when scheduling conduct hearings.  Maximum time limits for scheduling hearings may be extended at the discretion of the student conduct officer.  Alternative delivery methods may be employed at the discretion of the student conduct officer (for example, email or phone notification of a letter to be picked up, delivery by the student’s Residence Hall Coordinator, etc.).  It is the student’s or student organization's responsibility to check his or her mailbox on a regular basis, to keep his or her email inbox accessible for incoming messages, and respond to email or phone messages to ensure timely receipt of charge and outcome letters. Student Conduct will make reasonable accommodations for a qualified student with a disability.  Students requesting an accommodation for a conduct hearing should contact the student conduct officer 48 hours in advance of their scheduled hearing.

        D.    Hearing Record: A record shall be made of the conduct hearing.  The student conduct officer has the responsibility to ensure that such a record is filed. 

E.    Standard of Proof: The conduct board/hearing officer's determination shall be made on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence, or whether it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the Code of Student Conduct as charged.

        F.    Hearing Participation: In a case where the respondent student or student organization fails to appear at the hearing, the evidence in support of the charges should be presented and considered and violation of conduct policies established by the preponderance of evidence presented.  A respondent student or student organization who fails to respond to a hearing may be charged with a violation of conduct rules and regulations as outlined in Article II, section M1 of the Code.  Should this occur, the respondent student will be informed in writing of the outcome of the conduct hearing.

        G.     Appeals: An appeal of any decision reached by any of the Conduct Boards or an administrative hearing shall be according to the procedures set forth in Article VI of this Code.

        H.  Sanctions: All sanctions determined through this Code shall conform to Article VIII of this Code.  It is the responsibility of the student to disclose to the student conduct officer any ADA-related information that will impact the completion of their sanctions within 10 days of the sanction being issued.  To be considered, any disability must be previously registered with Academic Services.  Student Conduct will consult with Academic Services to determine what accommodations are appropriate, if any.

        I.    Complainants and respondents have the right to be assisted by an advisor of their choice to provide support through the conduct process. An advisor may not be a witness or other party to the proceeding. Complainants and respondents who wish to consult with an attorney may do so at their own expense. An advisor may be present for any pre-hearing meeting with the student’s written permission. An advisor may attend but not participate in the hearing process; the student conduct officer must be notified no less than 48 hours in advance of the hearing with the name of any advisor. Advisors have no speaking role in the hearing and are not permitted to ask or answer questions or address the hearing board. An advisor may only provide advice to the complainant or respondent in a non-disruptive manner (such as communicating in writing). Any case must be presented by the student. Students should select an advisor whose schedule allows attendance at any scheduled pre-hearing conference and hearing. Delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor. All communication regarding the conduct process will be directed to the student. An advisor will not be permitted to communicate on the student’s behalf. 

Section 4:  Student Conduct Board, College Conduct Board, and Administrative Hearing Procedures
*Procedures for Sexual Misconduct Hearings can be found in the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures at http://www.smcm.edu/tothepoint/policiesprocedures/SexualMisconduct.html.

        A.    Hearings shall be closed.

        B.    The complainant may request to give testimony and allow for questioning by means other than being in the same room as the respondent.  The complainant must submit this request in writing to the student conduct officer no less than 48 hours prior to the hearing.

        C.    Complainants and respondents have the right to be assisted by an advisor of their choice to provide support through the conduct process. An advisor may not be a witness or other party to the proceeding. Complainants and respondents who wish to consult with an attorney may do so at their own expense. An advisor may be present for any pre-hearing meeting with the student’s written permission. An advisor may attend but not participate in the hearing process; the student conduct officer must be notified no less than 48 hours in advance of the hearing with the name of any advisor. Advisors have no speaking role in the hearing and are not permitted to ask or answer questions or address the hearing board. An advisor may only provide advice to the complainant or respondent in a non-disruptive manner (such as communicating in writing). Any case must be presented by the student. Students should select an advisor whose schedule allows attendance at any scheduled pre-hearing conference and hearing. Delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor. All communication regarding the conduct process will be directed to the student. An advisor will not be permitted to communicate on the student’s behalf.

        E.    Both the respondent and complainant have the privilege of presenting a reasonable number of relevant eyewitnesses. The student conduct officer must be notified with the name(s) and statements of the eyewitnesses no less than 48 hours in advance of the hearing.  Character witnesses are not permitted at hearings. All witnesses are subject to questioning by the Conduct Board or administrative hearing officer.  The respondent, complainant, and the Conduct Board advisor may raise questions of discrepancies in the testimony with the Board or hearing officer.     

        F.    Formal rules of evidence do not apply to these proceedings. Evidence which is reasonable and prudent shall be accepted for consideration by the Conduct Board at its discretion.  Examples of types of evidence include, but are not limited to, testimony of people such as the complainant(s), respondent(s), victims, eyewitnesses, and investigating Public Safety Officers; pictures showing the violation(s) (such as damage or vandalism, behavior, injury, etc.), which may be from both electronic and physical sources; and other types of documentation such as hospital or doctor’s reports, Residence Life, Public Safety, or Sheriff’s Office reports, etc.  All evidence must be submitted no less than 48 hours in advance of the hearing to the student conduct officer.

        G.    In a conduct matter involving more than one student, a student organization, and/or more than one student organization, group hearings or severance (separate hearings) may be permitted.

H.   The student conduct officer shall decide upon a chairperson or select an administrative hearing officer.  The chairperson/hearing officer shall declare the purpose of the hearing, introduce all members of the Conduct Board, and request the names of all persons present at the hearing.  The chairperson/hearing officer shall then explain the following guidelines:

               1.   A respondent is presumed not responsible of all charges of violations of conduct until the contrary is established by a preponderance of evidence.

               2. Witnesses shall be sequestered and will only be present for their own testimony and questioning.

        I.     The chairperson/hearing officer will read the charges, and then ask the respondent to indicate responsible or not responsible for violation of the Code of Student Conduct as charged.

        J.     The chairperson/hearing officer will ask the complainant (or in their absence, the advisor to the Board) to read the incident report(s).  The complainant will also be asked for any additional information for purposes of clarification.

        K.    Witnesses for the complainant will then be asked to give their accounts of the incident.  If the witness(es) are not in attendance, but have submitted a written statement, the advisor to the Board will read the witness statement(s).

        L.    At the conclusion of the presentation of each witness, both the complainant and the respondent will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the Board or hearing officer concerning any discrepancies in testimony.

        M.   The respondent will be asked to give an account of the incident.

        N.    Witnesses for the respondent will then be asked to give their accounts of the incident.

        O.    At the conclusion of the presentation of each witness, both the complainant and the respondent will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the Board or hearing officer concerning any discrepancies in testimony.

        P.     At the conclusion of the presentation of all testimony, both the complainant and the respondent will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the Board or hearing officer concerning any discrepancies in testimony.

        Q.    Board members/hearing officers reserve the right to ask questions at any time during the course of the hearing and the right to separate witnesses from each other during presentations.  Once the board/hearing officer has completed questioning of the witnesses, the witnesses will be excused.  Further questioning of the respondent may occur.

        R.    When all aspects of the case have been discussed to the satisfaction of all Board members, the chairperson/hearing officer will clear the hearing room, with the exception of the Board members and the Conduct Board advisor, for the deliberation.

        S.     During the deliberation, the Board or administrative hearing officer will first determine the facts of the case.  The Board or hearing officer will then decide whether or not the accused student or student organization is in violation of conduct regulations as charged.  If the decision is “yes,” the Board advisor will inform the Board members of past violations and sanctions to be taken into account when determining sanction(s).  The Board or administrative hearing officer will then decide on sanctions for the respondent.  All decisions and determinations of the Board shall then be made by majority vote.  All aspects of the hearing and deliberations are confidential.

        T.    The respondent will be asked to return to the hearing room, and the decision will be read.  If there are multiple respondents, they will be called back in individually.  If found to be in violation, the respondent will be informed of the right to appeal as set forth in Article V of this Code.

        U.    At the conclusion of the conduct session, the chairperson/hearing officer will remind the Board as to the confidentiality of the proceedings and then adjourn the Board.

        V.    Victims and complainants directly involved with a case may obtain outcome information from the student conduct officer on a need-to-know basis in compliance with FERPA and Title IX regulations.  The student conduct officer retains the right to keep outcome information confidential if there is insufficient reason to disclose this information.

        W.   The student conduct officer will, upon written request, disclose to the alleged victim of any crime of violence, or a non-forcible sex offense, the report on the results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the College against a student or student organization that is an alleged perpetrator of such crime or offense with respect to such crime or offense.  If the alleged victim of such crime or offense is deceased, the next of kin of such victim shall be treated as the alleged victim.

Section 5:  Case Resolution Meetings

A Case Resolution meeting is a formal meeting with the student conduct officer (or designee) to review the charges and options available to the respondent, allowing the respondent to resolve the case without a formal conduct or administrative hearing.

A Case Resolution Meeting (CRM) shall be conducted according to the following guidelines:

        1.     The student conduct officer (or designee) shall meet with the respondent to review the details of the case, pending charges and possible sanctions.

        2.     If the respondent pleads “responsible” during the CRM and an agreement is reached, the respondent then agrees to complete the outlined sanctions.

               a)     By reaching an agreement with the student conduct officer during a CRM the respondent waives the right to an appeal.

               b)     A copy of accepted sanctions will become a part of the student’s or student organization's conduct record.

        3.     If an agreement is not reached during the CRM, the respondent will proceed through a formal conduct board or administrative hearing.