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Hearing Guide for the Complainant

You filed a complaint against a student or student organization alleging misconduct. The accused has denied the charge and opted for a hearing to further explore the facts and circumstances surrounding your complaint. This information will educate you about the hearing process and will serve as a guide as you begin to prepare for the hearing. For more details on your rights and options and the hearing procedures, refer to the Procedure Section of the Student Code of Conduct.
 
Rights of the Complainant

In filing a student conduct referral against a student or student organization for an alleged violation of the Ohio University Student Code of Conduct, the complainant has the right to:
a.  Have a student conduct referral handled in a forthright and timely manner.
b.  Be accompanied throughout the student conduct process by another member of the University community (an Ohio University employee or student).
c.  Designate another member of the University community to present his/her case.
d.  Have unrelated behavior excluded from the student conduct process.
e.  Submit an oral statement during an open hearing or a written statement during a closed hearing about the impact of an offense to be considered in the determination of a disciplinary sanction. 

Hearing Types

Administrative Hearing

An Administrative Hearing is an opportunity for the accused student and complainant to further explore the alleged violation of the Ohio University Student Code of Conduct before a hearing authority who will render a decision regarding the alleged conduct. An administrative hearing is typically reserved for those students who are deemed not at risk of suspension or expulsion from the university, however those students who are at risk for suspension or expulsion may choose either an Administrative Hearing or a University Hearing Board. Administrative Hearings are usually conducted by the hearing authority that conducted the procedural interview. A student determined to not be at risk of suspension or expulsion from the university can only proceed to an administrative hearing.

University Hearing Board

A University Hearing Board is also an opportunity for the accused student and complainant to further explore the circumstances regarding the alleged violations. A hearing board is composed of either:
a.  Three students, an administrator, and a faculty member, or;
b.  Two students and one faculty member or administrator.

The board will render a decision regarding the alleged conduct and make a recommendation for sanctions to the Dean of Students. A student at risk of suspension or expulsion from the university has the option of either an administrative hearing or a university hearing board.

It is important to remember that the process is the same for both the administrative hearing and university hearing board. The difference is simply which hearing authority conducts the hearing. Both types of hearings are designed to further explore the facts and circumstances surrounding your complaint.
 
Preparing for the Hearing

Whether the case is proceeding to an administrative hearing or university hearing board, you, as the complainant, will need to prepare. Below are a list of items to consider when preparing for a hearing.
 
Case Presentation

Because you initiated the complaint against the accused student, you will need to show that the accused student is responsible for the alleged violation. You are entitled to present your side of the case, including any testimony, witnesses, and evidence.

A hearing begins with the accused student deciding whether the hearing is open or closed to the public. An open hearing allows for anyone to view the hearing (including observers for both sides) and allows you as the complainant to remain throughout the entire hearing. A closed hearing means there are no observers and you will be required to leave after the case presentation portion of the hearing.

Next, both you and the accused have the opportunity to make a brief opening statement highlighting the main points of your cases. This is followed by you presenting your side of the case. Since the burden of proof rests with you as the complainant, you present first. When presenting your side, it is best to work in a chronological fashion, detailing from start to finish the incident in question. It is important to reference the specific charge(s) that have been filed against the accused student. It will not benefit you to address irrelevant issues in your case presentation. You should also present any materials that will corroborate your account, such as copies of assignments, syllabi, pictures, etc.

Another important part of the hearing is the testimony of witnesses. You will want to begin gathering witnesses that have factual knowledge of the incident in question as soon as possible. Please note that during the hearing, the hearing authority and the accused student have the right to view any materials presented and question any witnesses.
At the conclusion of your case presentation, the accused student is afforded the opportunity to question you concerning any of your testimony.

After you are finished with your case presentation, the accused student  will present his/her side of the case. During the presentation by the accused student, you will want to listen intently to the testimony and make note of any questions that you may want to pose to the accused student or any witnesses. There will be a specific time allotted for you to ask questions. This is why it is suggested that you write any questions down as they come to you.

The case presentation portion of the hearing concludes with both sides presenting a brief summary statement. Again, address the specific charges you brought against the accused student and recap some of the main points of your presentation.
 
Impact Statement

If the accused is found in violation of the offense, the complainant is given the opportunity to present an impact statement to be considered by the hearing authority in determining a sanction. You will need to prepare your impact statement in writing prior to the hearing. The impact statement will need to be provided in a sealed envelope.  The statement may be given orally by you if the hearing is open or will be read by the hearing authority if the hearing is closed.
 
Who Can Assist You?

Preparing for a hearing may seem like a daunting task and you may want some help. You are allowed to be accompanied by an advisor during the hearing whose role is to assist you through the process. The advisor must be a member of the university community (an Ohio University employee or student).  In cases of sexual misconduct, relationship violence or stalking, the victim/complainant may be accompanied by a survivor advocate in addition to an advisor as described above.  The survivor advocacy office may be contacted by calling (740) 597-7233.
 
Standard of Proof

A standard of proof refers to the criteria or measure of proof that is used to assess if the accused is found responsible for violating the code of conduct. The standard of proof used during a hearing is a 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. 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.

The reason that the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility uses a preponderance of the evidence is because it is the standard of proof that is most conducive to the academic setting.