Student Conduct Suspension Process
Students involved in alleged misconduct that may result in a suspension from the University will be referred to the student conduct suspension process, herein referred to as a suspension process.
Alleged misconduct that may result in a suspension includes, but is not limited to, behavior that poses a threat of danger and/or injury to self or others, destruction of property, physical assault, sexual misconduct, possession or involvement in the sale or manufacture of drugs and/or weapons, false emergency reporting, repeat violations of the Code, non-compliance with sanctions imposed through the Administrative Student Conduct Process, biasmotivated offenses, interfering, and/or disrupting University activities and/or educational processes.
Emergency suspension and conditions may be considered if the alleged misconduct indicates that the student’s behavior poses a significant threat of danger and/or injury to self or others, a threat of disruption of the educational process for others, or a threat of destruction of property.
The suspension process details the process taken by the University after receiving notification of a possible violation of the Code that may result in a suspension. The process includes:
- Rights and responsibilities meeting,
- Pre-hearing conference,
- Suspension hearing, and
- Appeal process.
A complaint that is referred to the suspension process does not have to result in a suspension hearing. At the conclusion of the investigation stage of the process the hearing officer will determine the process by which the complaint will be resolved. The complaint may be resolved by referring the complaint to the suspension process, the administrative student conduct process, or by closing the complaint.
If during the suspension process it becomes clear that the information does not indicate a violation of the Code occurred, or that suspension is not warranted, the complaint may be referred to a different process outlined in the Code. This may include, but is not limited to, closing the complaint or referring the accused student to the administrative student conduct process.
If the suspension process does result in a suspension hearing, the hearing will be closed to the public.
1: Rights and Responsibilities Meeting
Upon receiving information indicating a possible violation of the Code that may result in suspension, the University will consider the information a complaint and initiate a student conduct suspension process.
A university employee or agent trained in the student conduct suspension process will provide the following to the accused student:
An SCA or designee will conduct an investigation of an alleged violation of the Code.
The investigator will gather information from members of the University community who were involved in the alleged violation of the Code or who may have witnessed or have knowledge of the alleged violation of the Code. In some instances the investigator may gather information from individuals outside of the University community.
After completing the investigation the investigator will create an investigation summary. The investigation summary will include the following:
- The complaint.
- A summary of the investigation and information gathered.
- Summaries of any interviews.
- Any additional information or documents obtained by the investigator.
3: Pre-Hearing Conference
Upon receipt of the investigation summary the accused student has three business days to respond to the hearing officer regarding the investigation summary, and may do so in the following ways
- Indicate that they believe that the investigation is complete and/or provide a written supplement. An accused student indicating that the investigation is complete does not mean that the accused student agrees with all of the information provided in the investigation summary.
- Request a supplemental investigation. If an accused student requests further investigation be done, the accused student should also indicate what ought to be done and why it ought to be done.
- Decline to respond to the investigation summary. An accused student declining to respond to an investigation summary does not indicate that they do or do not believe that the investigation is complete.
If a supplemental investigation is requested, the hearing officer will have the sole authority to determine if the requested supplemental investigation is or is not needed. The hearing officer will notify the accused student of the decision to further investigate the complaint within three business days of receiving the request.
If the hearing officer determines a supplemental investigation is needed, the hearing officer or the hearing officer’s designee will conduct the supplemental investigation. Additional information gathered during a supplemental investigation will be provided to the accused student.
If the accused student indicates that the investigation is complete, declines to respond to the investigation summary, or the hearing officer determines that a supplemental investigation is not needed the complaint will continue with the pre-hearing conference.
Upon the completion of the investigation the hearing officer may:
- Refer the accused student to the administrative student conduct process,
- Refer the accused student to a suspension hearing, or
- Close the complaint.
If the hearing officer refers the accused student to a suspension hearing the hearing officer will write a recommendation. The recommendation will include the following:
- The alleged violation(s) of the Code and the rationale for why the hearing officer has determined that the student should be found responsible for the violation(s) and
- The recommended sanctions and rationale for the determination which may include, but is not limited to, the nature of specific violation of the Code, previous violations of the Code, and the status of previous sanctions, if any.
The hearing officer will provide their recommendation to the accused student. The accused student has three business days to respond to the hearing officer’s recommendation. The accused student has the following options:
- Accept the hearing officer’s recommendation. If the accused student accepts a hearing officer’s recommendation, the student does not forfeit the right to an appeal and the sanctions go into effect upon the student’s acceptance.
- Accept portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation. If the accused student only accepts a portion of the hearing officer’s recommendation, a suspension hearing will be held.
- Offer an alternative recommendation. If the accused student offers an alternative recommendation, the hearing officer and student may come to a mutually agreed upon decision. If a mutually agreed upon decision cannot be reached, a suspension hearing will be held.
- Not accept the hearing officer’s recommendation. If a student does not accept, or does not respond to the hearing officer’s recommendation, a suspension hearing will be held.
4: Suspension Hearing
The accused student will be notified of a suspension hearing at least seven calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing date. Included in the notification will be a request for the accused student to provide the student relations committee advisor (SRC advisor), within three business days of receipt, the following:
- The identity of the student’s personal advocate, if any, and whether or not the personal advocate is a licensed attorney, and
- A list of witnesses to be called on behalf of the accused student and copies of any documents or other materials to be presented by the accused student at the hearing.
Additionally, the notification will include an overview of a suspension hearing, the purpose of the hearing, and the names of any witnesses being called by the hearing officer during the hearing. In most circumstances the hearing officer will not call any witnesses during the hearing. If portions of the hearing officer recommendation are accepted by the accused student prior to the hearing and after the accused student has been notified of the suspension hearing the hearing officer will provide revised information regarding the purpose of the hearing to the accused student and the SRC advisor.
The SRC Advisor and hearing chair may accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the complainant, accused student, and/or other witnesses during the hearing, and in whatever manner, as determined to be appropriate in the judgment of the SRC Advisor and hearing chair.
Formal rules of process, procedure, and/or technical rules of evidence, such as those that are applied in criminal or civil court, are not used in the Code proceedings. All procedure questions are subject to the final decision of the hearing chair.
A: Composition of the Hearing Panel
Suspension hearing panels are comprised of members chosen from the Student Relations Committee (SRC). The SRC is the highest student conduct body and SRC members are appointed by the VPSAD. The SRC consists of faculty, staff, and students. All members of the SRC are trained in conducting hearings as it relates to possible violations of the Code.
The standard composition of a hearing panel for a suspension hearing is three members, one of whom will serve as hearing chair and one of whom will be a student. Student members of the SRC are not eligible to serve as hearing chair on a suspension hearing panel.
When the standard composition of members is not available (e.g., summer session, university breaks, incomplete training, or other exceptional circumstances), the hearing panel size and composition is determined by the VPSAD or designee.
If a hearing panel does not consist of the standard composition, the accused student will be notified of the composition of the hearing panel and the reason for an adjustment.
The purpose of a suspension hearing is to determine if the hearing officer’s recommendation will be enacted, modified, or rejected. The hearing will not review any portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation that have been agreed upon by the accused student and the hearing officer.
C: Preliminary Hearing
Suspension hearings are attended by the hearing panel, SRC advisor, hearing officer, and the accused student. The accused student may also have their process advisor and personal advocate, if any, in attendance. The University may have additional people in attendance for safety and logistical considerations and/or for training purposes.
Prior to the presentation of information, the hearing chair will indicate that the hearing is being recorded and that the recording is the property of the University and will serve as the sole verbatim record of the hearing.
The accused student and hearing officer may challenge members of the hearing panel for bias.
The hearing chair will review the hearing officer’s recommendation and indicate which portion of the recommendation is up for review during the hearing. If the accused student has not accepted responsibility for the alleged violations of the Code, the recommended sanctions and rationale will not be shared with the hearing panel until the student has either been found in violation or accepted responsibility for violating the Code.
The accused student may accept any portion of the hearing officer’s recommendation that they have not previously accepted or indicate that they no longer accepts portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation that had previously been accepted.
If all portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation are not agreed to, the hearing will continue with reviewing all portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation that have not been accepted.
D: Presentation of Information
During a suspension hearing, the accused student and hearing officer may present relevant information to the hearing panel. This includes the opportunity to make an opening statement, call and question witnesses, and make a closing statement. Additionally, the hearing panel may call and question witnesses.
Every witness may be questioned, for the purpose of clarification, by the accused student, hearing officer, and hearing panel. If the accused student chooses to provide information during the hearing, the accused student may be questioned by the hearing officer and hearing panel.
The University will make available the investigator as a witness. The accused student, hearing officer, and hearing panel may call the investigator as a witness. Questions directed to the investigator are limited to information gathered and decisions made during the investigation.
E: Hearing Panel Decision
At the conclusion of the presentation of information portion of the hearing, the hearing panel will move into deliberations. Only members of the hearing panel will be present during deliberations. The deliberations will not be recorded. The hearing panel will have up to five business days following the conclusion of the presentation of information to reach a decision. Hearing panel decisions are based on a majority vote of the hearing panel members. During deliberations the hearing panel may seek clarification from the accused student and/or hearing officer. If the hearing panel seeks clarification the accused student and hearing officer will both have the opportunity to be present.
During deliberation the hearing panel will review the portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation that have not been agreed upon.
In reviewing alleged policy violations, the hearing panel may:
- Confirm the hearing officer’s recommendations with regard to violations.
- Confirm some, but not all, of the hearing officer’s recommendations with regard to violations.
- Reject all of the hearing officer’s recommendations with regard to violations.
After a student has accepted the hearing officer’s recommendations or has been found in violation of the Code, the hearing panel will determine sanctions. The accused student and hearing officer will have an opportunity to recommend sanctions and provide information to the hearing panel to consider when determining sanctions. Information that may be shared with the hearing panel includes, but is not limited to, character and impact witnesses and/or statements, whether the accused student has previously been found responsible for violations of the Code, and sanctions imposed due to previous violations of the Code.
In determining sanctions, the hearing panel may:
- Confirm the recommended sanctions made by the hearing officer.
- Confirm the recommended sanctions made by the accused student.
- Modify the recommended sanctions made by the hearing officer and/or accused student or determine an alternative sanction.
The hearing panel will record its decision. The hearing panel, SRC advisor, accused student, and hearing officer may be present while the decision is recorded. The hearing panel’s decision will include any portions of the hearing officer’s recommendation that were accepted by the accused student and the decision made by the hearing panel regarding the unaccepted portion of the hearing officer’s recommendation.
Suspension and/or other sanctions placed by the hearing panel are effective immediately following the notification of the student, unless otherwise noted by the hearing panel. This may initially be done verbally. The official notification of the hearing panel’s decision is a suspension hearing decision letter. A suspension hearing decision letter will outline the decision regarding the alleged policy violations and the rationale used for making the decision and, if applicable, any sanctions imposed as a result of the violations and the rationale for the sanctions.
5: Appeal Process
The accused student has the right to appeal the outcome of the suspension process.
- Appeals of decisions made within the suspension process are made to the VPSAD.
- Appeals must be made in writing to the VPSAD within one year after the notification of any suspension process decision. An appeal should contain the student’s name and contact information, the date of the decision or action, the reason for appeal, and the name of the student’s personal advocate, if any.
- Grounds for appeal may be based on such things as:
- New information,
- Contradictory information, and/or
- Information that indicates the student in violation was not afforded due process (SBHE 514).
- The reason and rationale for an appeal should be clearly stated within the appeal. The appeal should indicate the desired outcome of the appeal.
- An appeal will be reviewed by the VPSAD or designee. The VPSAD or designee may consider the appeal, police reports, transcripts, the outcome of any civil or criminal proceedings directly related to the appeal, and information presented during the suspension process in review of the appeal. The VPSAD or designee will make all decisions regarding the appeal.
- After reviewing the appeal, the VPSAD or designee will determine if a valid ground(s) for an appeal has been presented. If the VPSAD or designee determines the ground(s) are not valid the appeal will be dismissed and the previously made decision is final.
- If it is determined that the ground(s) for appeal is valid, the VPSAD or designee may:
- Modify the decision. The VPSAD or designee may overturn all or some of the decisions regarding violations of the Code and/or modify or vacate any sanction.
- Order a new hearing. The VPSAD or designee may void all or some of the decisions and call for a new student conduct hearing on all or some of the issues originally considered. The VPSAD or designee may provide specific instructions to those participating in the student conduct hearing regarding the rights of a student, the hearing process, and/or information that is or is not relevant to the hearing.
- Uphold the decision.
- The VPSAD or designee has 21 business days from the receipt date of the appeal in which to issue a written determination on the appeal. Such written determination will be forwarded to the accused student, the assistant dean of students, the hearing chair, and the SRC advisor.
- The action of the VPSAD or designee is final.
- In extraordinary circumstances when previously unknown information relative to the decision is made available the VPSAD or designee may choose to review a decision after the end of the appeal process. The VPSAD or designee will have the sole authority to determine what does and what does not constitute an extraordinary circumstance.
- If the appeal results in a reversal of the decision or lessening of the sanction(s), the institution may reimburse the student for any tuition and fees paid to the institution for the period of suspension which had not been previously refunded (SBHE Policy 514).
6: Sexual Misconduct Suspension Process
In instances of sexual misconduct the complainant student has the same rights and opportunities for participation and attendance as the accused student (SBHE Policy 514).
To be eligible to serve in a sexual misconduct suspension process, process advisors, investigators, hearing officers, and suspension hearing panel members must fulfill all required training expectations for participating in a sexual misconduct student conduct process, as defined by the University.
The sexual misconduct suspension process follows the same guidelines as the suspension process with the addition of the following:
A: Pre-Hearing Conference
- If the hearing officer refers the accused student to a suspension hearing and the complainant student, accused student, and hearing officer do not all agree to the hearing officer’s recommendation, a suspension hearing will be scheduled.
- The complainant student and accused student do not have the option of offering an alternative recommendation during the pre-hearing conference. The complainant student and accused student may make alternative recommendations during the suspension hearing. All recommendations need to be accepted by the complainant student, accused student, and hearing officer in order to be accepted.
B: Suspension Hearing
- Accommodations may be made to a suspension hearing in order to address personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the complainant student, accused student, and/or witnesses during the hearing, in whatever manner and as determined by the SRC advisor.
- The complainant student and accused student are not permitted to address one another. The complainant student and accused student must direct questions through the hearing chair.
C: Appeal Process
- The complainant student and accused student each have the right to an appeal within one year of receiving the decision from the hearing officer or the hearing panel (SBHE Policy 514).
- The complainant student and accused student both have the opportunity to respond to an appeal made by the other student.
- If the VPSAD receives an appeal from either the complainant student or accused student, the VPSAD or designee will notify the non-appealing student of the appeal and provide a copy of the appeal within five business days.
- Upon receiving notification of an appeal the non-appealing student has five business days to provide the VPSAD or designee a written appeal response. If the student chooses to provide an appeal response, the response should indicate if the request within the appeal should or should not be granted.
- Providing a response to an appeal is not an appeal.
- The VPSAD or designee has 21 business days from the receipt of an appeal response to issue a written determination. If the VPSAD or designee does not receive an appeal response, the VPSAD or designee has 21 business days from the last date that an appeal response may have been submitted to issue a written determination outlining their decision.
- If the VPSAD or designee chooses to modify the decision, they may impose, modify, or vacate any sanction, including suspension.
If a student is suspended from the University the student’s registration will be canceled and they will have a registration hold placed on their account.