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Student Handbook

Code of Student Conduct

Judicial Procedures

Responsibility

As members of a residential academic community, students share responsibility with the faculty and administration of Hamilton College for creating and maintaining an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and personal growth and respectful of the rights of others. By their attendance at Hamilton College, students are obligated to comply with its regulations and procedures, which they are expected to read and understand.

The Board of Trustees assigns responsibility for student discipline to the President and faculty. In practice, the Dean of Students bears administrative responsibility for student discipline. The discretionary authority of the President to decide finally on any student disciplinary matter is not precluded by the provisions outlined below.

The Associate Dean of Students, as designee of the Dean of Students, is responsible for determining the appropriate mechanism for adjudicating alleged violations of College regulations and generally providing oversight and coordination of the judicial process. Any member of the Hamilton community shall bring complaints against a student or a group of students to the attention of the Dean of Students, Office of Campus Safety, Office of Residential Life, the Associate Dean of Students, or the Chair of the Judicial Board.

It is the policy of Hamilton College that any time allegations of misconduct are brought against a student, the college will normally pursue to conclusion any necessary investigation and hearing process, notwithstanding the decision by the accused to withdraw, temporarily or permanently, from the College.

Mediation

A student complainant or the Associate Dean of Students may propose mediation as a means to resolve some disciplinary cases. Mediation is possible, with the approval of the Associate Dean of Students, when all parties involved (accuser and accused) voluntarily agree to engage in the mediation process and when students involved have not previously engaged in mediation through this process. If mediation fails, the case will be remanded to an administrative or Judicial Board hearing. Information gathered through the mediation process may not be submitted as evidence in an Administrative or Judicial Board Hearing.

The Associate Dean of Students will keep records of all cases that have been mediated, with names and a summary. Mediation yields neither a disciplinary record nor sanction. A repeat offense of a similar nature will be remanded to an administrative or Judicial Board Hearing.

Hearing Procedures

Violations of standards of conduct and of College regulations are considered to be infractions against Hamilton College. Following receipt of a written complaint, the Associate Dean of Students or a designee will conduct a preliminary review to determine whether the complaint has merit and whether the alleged misconduct might result in suspension or expulsion from the College. Students not subject to suspension or expulsion may be entitled to an administrative hearing, at the discretion of the Associate Dean of Students in consultation with the Judicial Board Chair.

Students subject to suspension or expulsion are entitled to a hearing before the Judicial Board. They may waive that right under the conditions described below.

Administrative Hearing

The Associate Dean of Students may decide to resolve through an administrative hearing cases involving students accused of offenses that normally result in penalties less than suspension or expulsion. A designee of the Dean of Students and a student member of the Judicial Board will normally jointly conduct administrative hearings. Administrative hearing decisions are final.

The following procedural protections are provided to accused students in administrative hearings:

  1. written notice of the specific charges at least three (3) business days prior to the scheduled hearing;
  2. reasonable access to evidence prior to and during the hearing;
  3. an opportunity to respond to the evidence and to call relevant and necessary witnesses;
  4. a right to be accompanied by an advisor from the Hamilton community. The advisor may not speak for the accused and may not be an attorney.

A brief account of the cases resolved through administrative hearings shall be made public. The names of students involved shall not appear.

A student charged with a violation that would normally result in suspension or expulsion may choose to have the case resolved through an administrative process if the following conditions are met:

  1. the student accepts responsibility for the charge(s);
  2. the student requests an administrative disposition and thereby waives a Judicial Board hearing;
  3. the Associate Dean of Students, in consultation with the Judicial Board Chair, consents to an administrative disposition;
  4. the student is willing to accept the administrative decision and sanction (including suspension or expulsion) as final and waives the right to appeal.

Composition of the Judicial Board

The Judicial Board shall be composed of 15 members: 10 students, including a non-voting student Chair; three faculty members; and two administrators or staff members.  The students; three seniors, three juniors and three sophomores 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 by the outgoing Board. The Board will publish notice of the selection process to all students. The Current Board 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 Board will not consider platforms from students on disciplinary probation at the time of selection. A sitting member of the Board who is found responsible for violating College policy and assigned six or more points will be dismissed from the Board.

The faculty at its May meeting shall elect faculty members, one each year for staggered three-year terms, from a slate nominated by the Committee on Student Activities. At least two candidates will normally be nominated for each vacancy. In accordance with faculty rules, candidates may be nominated from the floor. Administrative and staff members shall be nominated by the Committee on Student Activities and appointed by the Dean of Students for staggered two year terms.

A non-voting student Chair shall be elected in the spring by the outgoing board from among candidates nominated by the Board. The Chair must have a minimum of one full academic year experience on the Board. A student may serve as chair in his/her third term on the Board. If the Chair resigns or cannot serve for any reason, the Board will elect a Chair from among its members.  The Board 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 any vacancy on the Board occurs during the academic year, the Board shall publish notice of the vacancy in two all-campus e-mail messages and one issue of the Spectator and shall elect by a majority vote a substitute Board member from among the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice. Only members of the group represented by the vacated position shall be eligible for election.

Hearings shall be conducted by a panel of five members of the Board: three students and two non-student members, plus the Chair. The members for a given hearing shall be appointed by the Associate Dean of Students and/or the Chair based upon a pattern of rotation established by the Board.

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 Board 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 Board.

Members of the Judicial Board who are charged with a violation of this Code or with a criminal offense may be suspended from their positions by the Associate Dean of Students during the pendency of the charges against them. Members found responsible for any such violation may be disqualified from any further participation on the Judicial Board.

The Dean of Students may establish an ad hoc hearing board whenever the regular Judicial Board is not constituted, is unable to assemble a five person hearing board due to conflict of interest, or is otherwise unable to hear a case. An ad hoc hearing board shall be composed of five members, including at least three students.

Student Rights in Judicial Board Hearings

  1. To be informed of the charge and alleged misconduct upon which the charge is based;
  2. to be informed of the evidence upon which a charge is based;
  3. to obtain an expeditious hearing;
  4. to be assisted at a hearing by an advisor who is a member of the Hamilton College community. The advisor may not speak for the accused student at the hearing, is not present for deliberations, and may not be an attorney;
  5. to bring relevant witnesses;
  6. to confront and question the complainant, all witnesses, and other evidence;
  7. to testify orally or in a written document, or both, or not to testify. No inference will be drawn if the accused declines to testify.
  8. to be considered innocent of the charges until proven responsible by clear and convincing evidence.

Judicial Board Hearing Procedures

If it is determined that the case warrants a Judicial Board hearing, the Associate Dean of Students shall prepare a formal statement of the charges and of the evidence against the accused. The Associate Dean of Students shall inform the accused, in writing and orally, of the charges, evidence and the student's rights provided in the judicial process.

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.

Judicial Board hearings shall be de novo, without regard to any matter previously developed in informal proceedings, and no decision about responsibility in a case shall be made on evidence other than that presented at the hearing.

The Chair shall schedule a hearing to be held as soon as possible, but no sooner than three weekdays following delivery of the written charge to the accused. The accused shall present to the Associate Dean of Students a written, point-by-point response to the charges at least 24 hours before the hearing. The student's advisor and all witnesses to be brought to testify should be identified in this statement.

Normally, the Director of Campus Safety, or another College employee designated by the Associate Dean of Students, will act as complainant and bear primary responsibility for presenting the case against the accused. This does not preclude the right of the person lodging the complaint to act as sole complainant or co-complainant with the College.

Hearings are closed to observers. Neither party may have an attorney present at the hearing.

Hearings shall proceed in the following order:

  1. The Chair calls the hearing to order.
  2. All participants, including witnesses, are present in the hearing room. All participants introduce themselves and are admonished by the Chair that they are expected to be truthful in all their testimony.
  3. Witnesses are dismissed until it is time for them to testify. The complainant and the accused are present during the presentation of all testimony. Witnesses are present only during their own testimony, but must remain available for the duration of the hearing unless excused by the Chair.
  4. The Chair reads the charges.
  5. The accused student is asked to admit or deny the charges.
  6. The complainant gives an opening statement, presents evidence, and calls witnesses, one at a time.
  7. The complainant and complainant's witnesses may be questioned by the accused student and/or members of the Board.
  8. The accused student gives an opening statement, presents evidence, and calls witnesses, one at a time.
  9. The accused student and accused student's witnesses may be questioned by the complainant and/or members of the Board.
  10. The accused student may make a closing statement.
  11. The complainant may make a closing statement.
  12. Following presentation of evidence and closing statements, the hearing is adjourned and everyone except members of the hearing panel and the Associate Dean of Students are dismissed from the hearing room. Participants may be asked by the Chair to remain available while the panel deliberates. The Associate Dean of Students may not participate in deliberations unless requested by the Chair to address a procedural question.
  13. Deliberations proceed in two stages. First, a determination of responsibility or lack of responsibility is made based upon a majority vote of the hearing panel. Second, if the panel finds the student responsible, evidence of prior disciplinary action is entered into the deliberations by the Chair. Prior actions are considered only in the determination of sanctions, and will normally lead to a more stringent sanction.
  14. The hearing panel may conclude its deliberations and arrive at a sanction at the conclusion of the hearing, or it may, in exceptional cases at the discretion of the Chair, postpone that conclusion for not more than 24 hours. Deliberations shall be strictly confidential. Members of the panel may not at any time discuss publicly the particulars of the deliberations or facts of the case. Any member who violates this provision may be dismissed from the Board by the Chair.
  15. A tape recording shall 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 Associate Dean of Students. A student preparing an appeal will also be allowed to listen to the tapes, under the supervision of the Dean of Student's designee.
  16. A statement of the panel's findings shall be prepared by the Chair and sent to the Dean of Students within 24 hours of the conclusion of deliberations. The accused student will receive written notification of the panel's findings by the Associate Dean of Students within 48 hours of the conclusion of deliberations.
  17. A summary record of the proceedings before the panel shall be kept and a copy of the summary supplied to the accused if requested.

Sanctions

The panel may assign any of the following sanctions in addition to points:

  • Warning (1-3 judicial points): Notice, orally or in writing, that continuation or repetition of prohibited conduct may be cause for additional disciplinary action.
  • Restitution: Charges for damages, including replacement of goods, payment of services and/or assignment of unpaid service to the College community.
  • Mandatory educational workshop for alcohol or drug-related misconduct.
  • Loss of status in housing lottery (6-9 judicial points).
  • Status of Probation (6-9 judicial points): To be assigned for a specified period of time. Terms of the probation shall be specified, and may include denial of specified social privileges, exclusion from extracurricular activities and other measures deemed appropriate. Violation of this Code of Conduct during the period of probation will normally result in suspension or expulsion from the College.
  • Suspension (10 or more judicial points): Separation from the College, and exclusion from College premises, and from other privileges and activities. Readmission to the College after the term of suspension is not automatic, but requires application to the Dean of Students. A student readmitted from suspension for disciplinary reasons will normally be placed on disciplinary probation for the semester immediately following readmission. Readmission will normally be denied if the conditions specified at the time of suspension have not been met. Hamilton reserves the right to defer admission if space is not available. "Suspension for Disciplinary Reasons" is recorded on the official College transcript. Students who have been suspended are expected to leave the campus within 48 hours unless the Dean of Students grants a special extension.
  • Expulsion (10 or more judicial points):  Permanent termination of student status, and exclusion from College premises, privileges, and activities. An application for readmission shall not be considered. "Expulsion for Disciplinary Reasons" is recorded on the official College transcript. Students who have been expelled are expected to leave the campus within 48 hours unless the Dean of Students grants a special extension.
  • Other Actions: In addition to or in place of the above actions, the hearing panel may assign such other penalties, as it deems appropriate.

Appeal

A student subject to disciplinary action may appeal to the Appeals Board a disciplinary decision within one week of being informed in writing of that decision. See procedures on page 21.

Records

The record of the proceeding shall consist of the written statement of the charge, the written response to the charges by the accused, the summary of the Board's actions, any documentary evidence and the tapes or other record of the hearing. The written record shall be kept in the student's file and in the files of the Dean of Students. The taped record is not a part of the student's file and shall be kept in the office of the Dean of Students, to be destroyed after adjudication or decision in any appeal. In addition, suspension and expulsion are noted on the student's academic transcript.

In pending cases that could result in suspension or expulsion, the Dean of Students will normally place a temporary encumbrance on a student's transcript.

After the week has elapsed during which an appeal may be made, a brief account of the case shall be made public. The name of the student or students shall not appear. If an appeal is made, publication shall be postponed to await the outcome of the appeal.
 

Instruction of the Community

The Judicial Board shall make provisions for educating students about the judicial process at Hamilton College.

Amendment

The Judicial Board, Associate Dean of Students, and/or Dean of Students may propose changes in these procedures to the Committee on Student Activities, which will seek final approval from the President.

Notification of Parents (4 or more judicial points)

Consistent with the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the College will normally notify parents or guardians of dependent students about any pending disciplinary charge that may result in suspension or expulsion. In all cases where the penalty is four or more points, the Associate Dean of Students shall notify the parents or guardian within one week of the decision.

Perjury

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. The Chair shall remind participants in disciplinary hearings of this expectation, but failure to admonish does not remove the requirement. Perjury or obstruction of any inquiry shall itself be grounds for disciplinary action.

Elements of this code are adapted with permission from the following sources:

  • Pavela, G. "A Model Code of Student Conduct: Applying the Power of Association on Campus." Synthesis: Law & Policy in Higher Education. V11:#4. (2000)
  • Stoner, E. N., & Cerminara, K. L. "Harnessing the Spirit of Insubordination: Model Student Disciplinary Code." Journal of College & University Law. V17:#2. 89-121. (1990)
  • Weeks, K. Student Handbook Policies: A Forms Manual for College Decision Makers. Nashville, TN: College Legal Information, Inc. (1997)

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