- During a Pre-Hearing, a review of the conduct process will be done with the student. The Hearing Officer will cover how the process ties to the Code of Student Conduct, where documentation comes from, how charge letters are generated, why they are having the kind of hearing they are having (administrative vs. hearing board), and what kind of rights students going through the UC Student Conduct Process are afforded.
- If a student is having an administrative pre-hearing, the purpose is to document the student’s initial “plea” and determine whether they’re responsible for the alleged violation.
- If a student accepts responsibility, discussion of the student's actions as well as sanctions may take place.
- If not, the student’s perspective will be discussed and any additional information that the student provides will be used by the hearing officer to make an informed decision.
- If further investigation is required, a hearing will be scheduled for a later date.
Residence Hall Conduct Board/Committee on Student Conduct Committee Pre-Hearing
- The Dean of Students will meet with the charged student(s) prior to the scheduled hearing date upon the student's request.
- The purpose of a pre-hearing in Hearing Board cases is to ensure that the student has information about the documentation available to board members. At this time, the student may also provide the Dean of Students with the names of any witnesses he/she may want to be brought before the board, and ask any questions they may have about the hearing process.
Purpose of AppealWhile the process of an appeal hearing with an administrator or the Committee on Student Conduct is fairly similar to the process followed in original administrative or board hearings, there are some key differences. These differences include:
- The purpose of an appeal hearing is to review the decision(s) made by a hearing officer or board. Generally, this means that the case will not be re-heard. Instead, the board or administrator will review information used in the original hearing as well as any other additional information the student provides in support of their appeal. The decision made by the board or administrator hearing the appeal will be made in light of the reason identified for the basis for appeal.
- The student requesting an appeal identifies the reason for their appeal. The Committee on Student Conduct reviews the information regarding how the initial decision was made, and may make one of four decisions:
- To grant the appeal in its entirety
- To deny the appeal
- To modify decisions made by the original hearing officer or board
- To send the case back to the original hearing officer or board
- Witnesses are not a part of the appeal process. During CSC Appeals Hearings, the student and the Dean of Students will provide the board with information about how and why the decision was made. In all other appeals, the student meets individually with the administrator who is hearing the appeal. A Procedural Advocate may be present at the request of the student.
Reason for Appeal
You may only appeal based on one or more of the following:
- The decision regarding the student's responsibility for a violation - The standard used to make a decision about whether or not the student is responsible for violating the Code of Student Conduct is “preponderance of evidence.” This means that, based on the information available at the time, it is more likely than not that a violation has occurred. In appealing a decision regarding responsibility for a violation, the student must indicate how the decision that was made was not a reasonable conclusion based on information available to the hearing officer or board.
- Sanction-Appealing for this reason alleges that the sanction imposed is inappropriate or unreasonable. In the written statement, the student must outline how the sanction was disproportionate given the violation.
- Procedural Error - Because this is not a court of law, Utica College uses the standard of “fair process” in how the Student Conduct process is carried out. This means that the hearing officer or board is expected to conduct the original hearing in conformity with procedures described in the Utica College Student Handbook in the “Rights and Responsibilities” section. Appealing on the basis of a procedural error means that one of these standards was not upheld and that it had a substantial impact on the fairness of the conduct process and the outcome of the hearing.
- New Evidence - An appeal based on “new evidence” means that the student now has additional information that was not available at the time of the hearing, and that that information would have had a substantial impact on the outcome of the hearing. If the student appeals on this basis, he/she must indicate in the written statement what new information is now available, how the information is sufficient to alter the original decision, and why the information was not provided at the time of the original conduct hearing.
Venue for Appeal
Venue -"Venue" refers to where and with whom a hearing, or pre-hearing takes place. When a student requests an appeal hearing, there are several venues for appeal. The venues available for appeal are based upon where the initial hearing took place. Appeal venues are as follows:
- Decisions made by the Dean of Students may be appealed to the Committee on Student Conduct or the Vice-President of Student Affairs (student selects).
- Decisions made by the Director of Residence Life may be appealed to the Committee on Student Conduct or the Dean of Students (or his/her designee); student selects.
- Decisions made by the Residence Hall Conduct Board may be appealed to the Director of Residence Life or his/her designee.
- Decisions made by Area Coordinators may be appealed to the Director of Residence Life or his/her designee.
Process of Appeal
Committee on Student Conduct Appeals Hearings
- The Committee on Student Conduct consists of several student, staff, and faculty members. For an appeals hearing to take place, (a) at least three members of the CSC must be present, and (b) a representative from each of the following College constituencies must be present - 1 student, 1 staff member, and 1 faculty member.
Appeals to the Dean of Students
- All other rights and responsibilities listed above apply.
- A hearing date and time is scheduled, and the Dean of Students reviews documentation and meets with the student to discuss the basis for his/her appeal.
- The student will receive written confirmation of the outcome of his/her appeal once a decision is made. The student will have the option to meet with the Dean of Students in person to discuss the outcome as well.
Appeals to the President
- The President of the College may be used only as the final venue of appeal when violations of fair process are in question, and will schedule hearings at his/her discretion. The President may decide a case based solely on a review of the documentation.
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TIPS FOR PARTICIPATING IN YOUR CONDUCT HEARING
1. READ YOUR CHARGE LETTER! There is a great deal of important information contained in your letter, including the time and date for your hearing or pre-hearing and the violations with which you are being charged.
2. Show up for the hearing. This is your opportunity to present your perspective, and not appearing may be interpreted as disrespect for the process and additional lack of responsibility. If you have an academic conflict with the date or time, contact the hearing officer indicated in your charge letter as soon as you receive your letter. Otherwise, the hearing officer/board can and will make a decision without you being present.
3. It is important to be prepared and take the process seriously.
4. Be honest. You are expected to provide only information that is true and accurate.
5. Be cooperative. This hearing is about being held accountable for your own behavior, and part of what hearing officer/board will look for is your understanding of your own role and level of responsibility in this situation. Being uncooperative in a hearing may result in a more serious sanction.
6. Dress neatly. This is a formal process that you are participating in, and your attire demonstrates respect for the hearing officer/board and the process.
7. You have the opportunity to have a Procedural Advocate who can assist you through the pre-hearing and who may accompany you during the hearing. The Procedural Advocate is a member of the College community (except staff in Counseling & Student Development and Residence Life), and his/her role is to help you prepare for your hearing and provide you support through the process. Notify the Dean of Students as soon as possible if you wish to have a Procedural Advocate.
8. During an RHCB/CSC Hearing, you will be given the opportunity to make an opening statement. At this time, you may share with the Board your perspective on the alleged violations that have been brought against you, including whether or not you accept responsibility for violating the Code of Student Conduct.
9. You should read all documents related to the case prior to attending the hearing to have full understanding of what the members of the board are using to assess whether or not you are responsible for the violations.
10. If you attend an administrative pre-hearing, information will be reviewed with you at that point. Make sure you read all of the documentation provided at that time.
11. Inform the hearing officer prior to the hearing of any witnesses you would like to have on your behalf. If your case is being heard through a pre-hearing and hearing with an administrator rather than a board, you will have the opportunity to provide the hearing officer with names of individuals you would like him/her to speak with.
12. You will always have the opportunity to respond to information provided by others that is being used to make a decision. However, cross-examination of witnesses in a board hearing is not permitted; be sure to follow the process of addressing any questions you have to the Chair of the Board rather than the witness.
13. Administrative pre-hearings and hearings will be solely with you and the administrator. If you have any questions or concerns about the information provided by witnesses, however, be sure to raise them with the hearing officer.
14. If you are questioning information provided by witnesses, do so respectfully and make sure your objections are relevant to the information provided. Making remarks about a witness’s character are not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.
15. When you are in an RHCB/CSC Hearing, use the closing statement as an opportunity to make your final remarks regarding the relevant facts that have been given concerning your case. If you are not denying responsibility for the charges, you can use this opportunity to explain to the board what you have learned and suggest what sanction you may feel would be best.
16. Try to make eye contact with the Hearing Officer/Board as you address them or they address you.
17. Do not become defensive or argumentative with the Hearing Officer/Board. Their sole duty is to sort through the material that they have been given to determine a fair outcome, both in terms of responsibility and sanction.
18. Make sure you ask any questions you have in order to better understand any sanctions that result, but do so in a way that is not argumentative or confrontational. If you disagree with a decision, you have the right to appeal.
Alane Varga Dean of Students
Office of Residence Life
Boehlert Hall/Burrstone House
Residence Hall Conduct Board
Alane Varga, Advisor
Committee on Student Conduct
Claire McLain, Chair