The purpose of the Honor Court will be to uphold Hamilton standards of academic honesty and to ensure protection of students' rights in questions of alleged violations of the Hamilton College Honor Code.
The Honor Court will be composed of the non-voting student chair and ten voting members, consisting of seven students and three faculty members. The students, two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and one first-year student, will be elected according to Student Assembly election procedures during the spring semester of the preceding academic year, except in the case of the first-year student, who will be elected during the fall semester of the current academic year. Student members of the court may not be on academic or disciplinary probation and may not have been found responsible for violating the Honor Code. A sitting member of the Court who is found responsible for violating the Honor Code, will be dismissed from the Court.
The chair will be elected in the spring by the outgoing Court from among candidates nominated by that Court.
Faculty members will be elected by the faculty at its May meeting, one each year for staggered three-year terms, from a slate nominated by the Nomination Committee of the Student Assembly Central Council. The written consent of the nominees must be presented to the Academic Council with the slate at least two weeks in advance of the election. At least two candidates will be nominated for each vacancy. If the Student Assembly is unable to present a slate, the Academic Council will nominate candidates. In accordance with faculty rules, candidates may be nominated from the floor.
If the chair resigns or cannot serve for any reason, the Court will elect a chair from among its members. The Court may select a substitute chair for a given case where there is a conflict of interest with the chair, or if the chair is otherwise unable to serve.
If there is a vacancy on the Court during the academic year the Court will publish notice of the vacancy in two all-campus email messages and one issue of the Spectator and will elect by a majority vote a substitute Court member from among the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice. Only members of the group represented by the vacated position will be eligible for election.
All members of the Court will be invited to every Court hearing. A quorum of the Court will consist of six voting members: five students and one faculty, plus the chair, who will not vote. If a quorum cannot be attained owing to disqualification of members for conflict of interest, the hearing must be scheduled at a time when it can be heard by the maximum number of Court members who are qualified to hear the complaint. In all other instances when a quorum is not attained, the hearing will be rescheduled, unless the parties assent in writing to going forward with the number of members currently present.
If a member of the Board believes that he or she has a conflict of interest in a particular case, that member may seek to disqualify himself or herself after consultation with the chair. The accused may request that the chair seek disqualification of any member of the Court if the accused believes that a conflict of interest exists with that member. The accused must present to the chair written explanation as to the nature of the alleged conflict of interest. If the chair believes that a conflict exists, the member will be disqualified upon majority vote of the Court.
The dean of students may establish an ad hoc hearing board whenever the regular Honor Court is not constituted or is otherwise unable to hear a case. An ad hoc hearing board will be composed of five members, including at least three students.
Throughout these procedures, the dean of students is understood to mean the dean or his or her designee.
Violations of the Honor Code are considered to be infractions against Hamilton College. Complaints against students for alleged violations of the Honor Code will be presented to the dean of students or to the chair in writing. The dean of students and/or the chair will investigate the complaint and gather any form of evidence that may aid the members of the Court in reaching a decision. The dean of students and the chair will determine if the complaint warrants a hearing
If it is determined that the complaint does not warrant a hearing, the complaint will be dismissed. The complainant and the accused will be informed in writing. A decision not to hear a complaint may be appealed by the complainant or the accused to the Appeals Board, which may direct the Court to hear the complaint.
If it is determined that the complaint warrants a hearing, the dean of students will prepare a formal statement of the complaint and of the evidence against the accused. The dean of students will inform the accused in writing of the complaint, the identity of the complainant, the evidence available, a witness list, the range of sanctions available to the Court, and the following rights:
- the accused waives the right to an Honor Court hearing, and
- the accused admits a violation of the Honor Code, and
- the complainant and the accused acknowledge that they have no substantive disagreements about the facts of the complaint, and
- the violation is the student's first.
10. If the violation is the student’s second and the student admits a violation and waives the right to an appeal, the student may, but is not required to, request an administrative hearing and thereby waive the right to an Honor Court hearing with the understanding that the sanction is expulsion.
The dean of students and the Honor Court chair will decide whether to approve a request for an administrative hearing. A decision by the dean of students and Honor Court chair to deny an administrative hearing may not be appealed. Only the accused student, the complainant, the dean of students, and the Honor Court chair may take part in an administrative hearing. The complainant may suggest a sanction. After the hearing, the dean of students and the Honor Court chair will determine a sanction and the dean will inform the student in writing of the decision. The possible sanctions are the same as those outlined in section III.D, except separation from the College. Any complaint that may result in separation from the College will be referred to the Honor Court. The accused may appeal the decision of the dean of students and the Honor Court chair to the Appeals Board within one week of receiving written notification of the decision.
All hearings of the Honor Court will be conducted without regard to any matter previously developed in informal proceedings, and no decision about responsibility in a complaint will be made on evidence other than that presented at the hearing.
The chair will convene the Court for a hearing to be held as soon as possible, but no sooner than three workdays following delivery of the written charge to the accused. The accused will present to the dean of students a written, point-by-point response to the complaint at least 24 hours before the hearing. Failure to answer a complaint may result in a charge of failure to comply being forwarded to the judicial board. Any witness to be brought to testify should be identified in this statement. All points of the complaints that are not specifically denied will be deemed admitted, and evidence, testimony and witnesses regarding these points will be deemed unnecessary in the hearing. If the accused chooses not to attend the hearing, the Court has the authority to hear the complaint without the testimony of the accused.
Normally, the dean of students will select a faculty member not connected with the complaint to act as co-complainant with the faculty member or student who initially brought the complaint forward, and bear primary responsibility for presenting the complaint against the accused. The faculty member or student who initiated the complaint will give testimony in the hearing and may be asked questions by members of the Court or the accused about that testimony. The dean of students will be present at all hearings to oversee the process.
Hearings are closed to observers. Neither party may have an attorney present at the hearing. The hearing will proceed as described below.
The written record of the complaint will consist of the written statement of the charges, the written response to the charges by the accused, any documentary evidence, the summary by the chair of the Court's actions, and the letter from the dean of students informing the accused of the Court's findings. This record will be filed in the Dean of Students' Office and will be open to the student's inspection. The taped record is not part of the student's file and will be kept in the office of the dean of students, to be destroyed after adjudication or decision in any appeal.
After the week has elapsed during which an appeal could be made, if one is not made, a brief account of the complaint will be made public by the chair. The name of the student or students will not appear. If an appeal is made, publication will be postponed to await the outcome of the appeal.
The College will make provisions for interpreting this system to new students upon their entrance into the College. These programs will be organized by the dean of students in consultation with the Honor Court chair.
This constitution may be amended by the procedures set forth in Article XI of the Constitution of the Student Body of Hamilton College. The adopted amendments are contingent upon ratification by the faculty.
All members of the Hamilton community are expected to be truthful in presenting testimony during any disciplinary inquiry and to cooperate fully in the investigation of infractions. Participants in disciplinary hearings will be reminded of this expectation by the chair, but failure to admonish does not remove the requirement. Lying or obstruction of any inquiry will itself be grounds for disciplinary action.
In serious disciplinary complaints where the penalty may be separation from the College, the dean of students may, at his or her discretion and after informing the student of his or her intention to do so, notify the student's parents or guardian in advance of the hearing. In all cases where the penalty assigned is removal from a course, suspension, or expulsion, the dean of students will notify the parents or guardian within one week of the decision and will send a copy of the notification to the student.
These provisions do not apply if the student is financially independent of his or her parents and has a separate domicile.