The purpose of a hearing is to provide an equitable forum for the complainant and the accused to present their case regarding the alleged misconduct. The hearing authority will decide by the preponderance of evidence whether or not the charge is proven.
A. Standard of Proof
The standard of proof is preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence is defined as the greater weight of the evidence; that is evidence that outweighs or overbalances the evidence opposed to it. A preponderance means evidence that is more probable or more persuasive. It is the quality of evidence that is weighed. Quality may or may not be identical with quantity. If the weight of the evidence is equally balanced, the complainant has not proven the charge. The burden for proving an alleged violation rests with the complainant.
B. Types of Hearings
1. Administrative Hearing
In cases where the accused denies a Code A or B offense and requests an administrative hearing, generally the hearing authority that conducted the procedural interview will conduct the administrative hearing. A date for an administrative hearing will be determined within a reasonable period of time after the procedural interview. If the accused fails to appear at a scheduled administrative hearing and the absence is not excused, the hearing may proceed in the accused’s absence or may be rescheduled.
2. University Hearing Board
In cases where the director; assistant director, or hearing officer of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility has determined that the alleged Code A offense may warrant suspension or expulsion from the university, the accused may opt to have a University Hearing Board hear the case. A date for a University Hearing Board will be determined within a reasonable period of time after the procedural interview. If the accused fails to appear at a scheduled Hearing Board and the absence is not excused, the hearing may proceed in the accused’s absence or may be rescheduled. The hearing board advisor (either the director, assistant director, or hearing officer of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility) may be present at each university hearing board hearing. The role of the hearing board advisor is to ensure that the student code of conduct procedures are followed. The hearing board advisor will answer procedural questions asked by the board, complainant, or accused. The hearing board advisor will also keep the proceedings focused on issues relevant to the specific allegations. The hearing board advisor will not participate in a determination of a finding or sanction. However, the board advisor may be summoned by a deliberating board to answer questions regarding the conduct process.
C. Guidelines for Hearings
a. The hearing authority will explain the accused’s rights and options and assure that fairness and due process will be observed throughout the hearing.
b. Hearings are closed to the public unless specifically requested in writing to be open by the accused.
c. The accused or the complainant may ask for the removal of a hearing authority, prior to a hearing, by showing written or verbal evidence of bias.
i. In cases before a hearing board, the charge of bias is made to the chairperson who will determine whether it is valid. If bias is shown, the chairperson will excuse the hearing board member. If the charge of bias is against the chairperson, the hearing board advisor shall decide whether it is valid. If bias is found, the chairperson will be excused and the board advisor will appoint a remaining member of the board as chairperson or reschedule the hearing.
ii. In an administrative hearing, the charge of bias against the hearing authority can be made to the director of the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility prior to the hearing. The director will decide if the charge is valid. If bias is found, the director will assign a new hearing authority to conduct the hearing.
2. Case Presentation
d. The hearing authority may exclude persons from the hearing if they are disruptive, or postpone the hearing because of disruptive behavior of participants or observers.
a. Both the complainant and accused will be given the opportunity to make an opening statement highlighting the main points of their case.
b. The complainant will then present his or her side of the case followed by a presentation by the accused. Case presentations may include testimony, evidence, and witnesses.
c. Both sides will be questioned by the hearing authority and will have an opportunity to question one another and witnesses.
d. Following case presentations, the complainant and then the accused may summarize their case.
e. In a closed hearing, the complainant will be given the opportunity to submit a sealed, written statement of impact to be considered in the event the accused is found in violation of the offense and then will be excused from the hearing prior to deliberation.
3. Deliberation and Finding
a. The hearing authority will go into closed sessionThe hearing authority will go into closed session to determine by the preponderance of evidence whether the accused will be found in violation of the code of conduct. Hearing boards determine findings by majority vote.
b. The hearing will re-convene for the announcement of the finding. If the accused is not found in violation, the case will be dismissed. If the accused is found in violation, the hearing will proceed to sanctioning.
a. The accused will be offered an opportunity to speak on his or her behalf and to present character witnesses or written references for consideration in determining a sanction.
b. In an open hearing, the complainant will be given the opportunity to present an oral or written statement of impact. In a closed hearing, the sealed, written statement of impact will be read aloud by the hearing authority.
c. The hearing authority will consider the following in determining a sanction: a) statements and evidence presented at the hearing; b) seriousness of the violation; c) the complainant’s oral or written statement of impact; d) the accused’s character information; e) prior disciplinary record of the accused; and f) disciplinary precedent.
d. The hearing authority will go into closed session to determine a sanction.
e. The hearing will reconvene for the announcement of the sanction. In the case of a hearing board, the sanction is recommended to the Dean of Students who will make the final decision. While normally the board’s recommendation will be the sanction imposed, the Dean of Students may impose a different sanction for cause. In the event of a tie vote by a hearing board regarding the sanction to be imposed, all sanctions considered by the hearing board will be referred to the Dean of Students for final decision. The Dean of Students will send the student written notification of the decision.
5. Presenting a Case Using University Legal Counsel
In rare instances, the University may decide to formally present a student conduct case using legal counsel. In such cases, the accused will be given adequate notice in order to seek legal counsel, if so desired. In these instances, the case will be heard by a university hearing board and the director of Legal Affairs (or designate) will serve as a non-voting member of the hearing board.