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Student Handbook

Code of Student Conduct

Honor Court Constitution

A. Purpose

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.

B. Composition

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, shall serve for a one-year term with a two-term limit.  The student members will be selected during the spring semester of the preceding academic year.  The Court will publish notice of the selection process to all students.  The current Court will select, by a majority vote, the student members from among the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice.  Once new members have been chosen, the Student Assembly shall offer the student body the opportunity to offer their input regarding the appointments, before holding a vote to confirm the new appointments.  The Court will not consider platforms from student on disciplinary probation or who 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.

Faculty members will be elected by the faculty at its May meeting, one each year for staggered three-year terms.  The written consent of the nominees must be presented to the Academic Council.  In accordance with faulty rules, candidates may be nominated from the floor.

The chair will be elected in the spring by the outgoing Court from among candidates nominated by that Court.  A student may serve as chair in his/her third term on the Court.

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.

C. Procedures

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:

  1. to an expeditious hearing. Should reasonable delays occur, the College will provide an explanation to all parties involved;
  2. to be informed in advance in writing of the procedures to be followed in the hearing;
  3. to bring to the hearing an advisor, who must be another student, faculty member or administrator not connected to the complaint, and who may not serve as a witness but may only participate in a closing statement;
  4. to bring relevant witnesses;
  5. to confront and question the complainant, all witnesses, and other evidence;
  6. to testify, orally, or in a written document, or both;
  7. to make a closing statement in the proceedings;
  8. to be considered innocent of the complaint until proven responsible by clear and convincing evidence;
  9. to request an administrative hearing, conducted by the dean of students and the Honor Court chair, under the following conditions:
  1. the accused waives the right to an Honor Court hearing, and
  2. the accused admits a violation of the Honor Code, and
  3. the complainant and the accused acknowledge that they have no substantive disagreements about the facts of the complaint, and
  4. 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 Article II, Section 2(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.

Once a complaint has been filed, a request by a student respondent to withdraw temporarily or permanently from the College will not be approved until the hearing processes have concluded.

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 submit the written response to the complaint may result, at the discretion of the Honor Court, in a delay of the hearing of up to one week. 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.

  1. The chair will call the hearing to order, introduce all participants and admonish all participants that they are expected to be truthful in all their testimony. No one may speak at the hearing unless recognized by the chair, who will have full authority over the proceedings. Witnesses will not be present until they are called, and will be admonished at that time that they are expected to be truthful in all their testimony.
  2. The accused and the complainant(s) may be present during the presentation of all testimony.
  3. The chair will introduce the formal statement of the complaint and the accused's written response, copies of which will have been provided to the members of the Court. The hearing will consider only those policy violations alleged in the written statement; new allegations may not be introduced during the hearing. No proof will be required for points that are deemed admitted. If the Court believes that a witness or party is lying, they may initiate a complaint so that the allegations of lying can be addressed in a separate hearing.
  4. The complainant(s) will provide evidence in support of the disputed allegations, and may ask that witnesses be called. The accused may respond to that evidence, may question witnesses, and may ask that witnesses be called on his or her behalf. The complainant(s) may question the witnesses called by the accused.
  5. Witnesses will be present only during their own testimony, but must remain available for the duration of the hearing unless excused by the chair.
  6. Members of the Court may question any of the participants at any point during the hearing or may have any participants recalled for questioning at the discretion of the chair. In addition to the witnesses called by the parties, the Court may have identified additional witnesses who it may call.
  7. The complainant, and then the accused, will have the opportunity to make closing statements.
  8. Following presentation of evidence, the hearing will be closed and everyone except members of the Court and the dean of students will be dismissed from the hearing room. Participants may be asked by the chair to remain available while the Court deliberates. The dean of students may not participate in deliberations unless requested by the chair to address a procedural question.
  9. Deliberations of the Court will proceed in two stages. First, the Court will determine whether the accused student violated the Honor Code. A student will only be found in violation by a vote of at least two-thirds of the Court members who heard the complaint. If the Court determines that the accused student did not violate the Honor Code, the chair will inform the accused student of the Court's findings. A student may not be tried again for the same violation unless significant new evidence arises. Second, if the Court determines that the accused student violated the Honor Code, then evidence of prior disciplinary action by the Honor Court will be entered into the deliberations by the chair, and the Court will determine a sanction by majority vote. Prior actions will be considered only in the determination of sanctions and will normally lead to a more stringent sanction. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the chair will prepare a written statement of the Court's findings, with rationale, for the dean of students. The chair may discuss the Court's rationale with the dean of students. The dean of students will administer any disciplinary action determined by the Court that modifies a student's status at the College.
  10. The Court may conclude its deliberations and arrive at a sanction at the conclusion of the hearing, or it may, at the discretion of the chair, postpone that conclusion for not more than 48 hours. Participants in the complaint will be informed of the decision of the Court as soon as possible.
  11. Should the accused student provide new evidence not available at the time of the hearing, the Court will reconvene to hear the new evidence. The Court will follow the same procedures outlined above, however, the Court will not be required to re-hear evidence already presented at the earlier hearing.
  12. Deliberations of the Court are strictly confidential. Members of the Court may not at any time discuss the facts of the complaint or particulars of the deliberations with anyone other than the chair, the dean of students, or a member of the Court that heard the complaint. Any member violating this provision will be dismissed from the Court by the chair.
  13. A tape recording will be kept of the hearing. This document is an internal record of the College to be made available to the Appeals Board or to the President by the dean of students. A student preparing an appeal will also be allowed to listen to the tapes, under the supervision of the dean of students.
  14. A summary record of the proceedings before the Honor Court will be kept and a copy of the record supplied to the accused if requested.

D.  Sanctions

  1. In the case of a first violation of the Honor Code, the Honor Court will assign sanctions commensurate with the nature of the violation. In all cases of a first violation, the student will be required to complete a tutorial on academic integrity. If a student does not complete the tutorial on academic integrity within a thirty day period following notification of the Honor Court decision, the student will not be allowed to register for subsequent semesters, or graduate, until he or she has completed the tutorial. In addition, the Court may assign one or more of the following sanctions:
    1. In addition to any grade assigned by the faculty member for the particular academic work wherein the violation occurred, a record of the violation and all evidence pertaining to it will be kept in a separate student file in the Dean of Students' Office until one year after graduation. A copy of any letter to the student from the dean, and a report of the findings of the Honor Court, will be placed in this file, which will be open to the student's inspection.
    2. The student will be removed from the course, and a record of the violation and all evidence pertaining to it will be kept in the student's file in the Dean of Students' Office until one year after graduation. A copy of any letter to the student from the dean, and a report of the findings of the Honor Court, will be placed in this file, which will be open to the student's inspection. No record of the offense will appear on the student's transcript unless a second violation occurs.
    3. The student will be removed from the course and the notation "XF" placed on his or her transcript, which will record that XF means "Removed from the course for academic dishonesty." When the cumulative average is calculated, XF will carry the numerical value of F. After a period of two years, or before graduation, whichever comes first, the student may request in writing that the XF be removed from the student's transcript and be replaced with a grade of F provided the student has completed all assigned tutorials and has not been found responsible for subsequent violations of the Honor Code.  In extraordinary circumstances the Court after finding of responsibility in an Honor Court hearing may assign an XF to be recorded permanently on the student’s transcript for the course in which a first violation has occurred.
    4. The student will be suspended from the College for a length of time to be determined by the Honor Court. The notation "Suspension for academic dishonesty" will appear on the transcript. After a period of two years from the end of the term of the suspension, or before graduation, whichever comes first, the student may request in writing that the notation be removed from the transcript provided the student has completed all assigned tutorials and has not been found responsible for subsequent violations of the Honor Code. Students will not normally be allowed to transfer credits completed at other institutions while on suspension.
  2. In the case of a second violation, after action by the Honor Court, an XF will be recorded permanently on the student's transcript for the course in which the second violation occurred, and the student will be dismissed from the College. The notation "Expulsion for academic dishonesty" will appear on the transcript.
  3. Other actions: In addition to or in place of the above actions, the Honor Court may modify the above sanctions or assign other sanctions, including community service, as it deems appropriate. It is understood, however, that such other actions will not involve the assignment of grades by the Court.

E. Records

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.

F. Instruction of the Community

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.

G. Amendment

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.

Duty of Honesty

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.

Notification of Parents

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.

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