Hearing Guide for the Accused
You have just denied the charges during your procedural interview and opted for a hearing to further explore the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. This will educate you about the hearing process and to serve as a guide as you begin to prepare for your 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 case.
Preparing for the Hearing
Whether you are proceeding to an administrative hearing or university hearing board, you will need to prepare. Below are a list of items to consider when preparing for a hearing:
Who Can Assist You?
Preparing for a hearing may seem like a daunting task and you may want some help. You have the right to be accompanied by an advisor throughout the Student Conduct process. The advisor must be a member of the university community (an Ohio University employee or student).
Your advisor cannot be someone who is otherwise involved in your case as a witness.
Students Defending Students is an organization that helps students through the student conduct process and serves as advisors. They can be contacted at: Students Defending Students, 305C Baker Center, (740) 593-4045, Fax: (740) 593-0696.
(Note: If criminal charges are pending or likely to be pending you may be accompanied by an attorney. Please see "Hearing Board Guidelines for Lawyers," which can be obtained from the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility.)
You are entitled to present your side of the case including any testimony, witnesses and evidence.
At the beginning of a hearing, you will be asked if you prefer an open or closed hearing. An open hearing allows for anyone to view the hearing (including observers for the complainant) and allows the complainant and other witnesses to remain throughout the hearing. A closed hearing results in no observers, witnesses must leave the room after their testimony, and the complainant must leave after the case presentation portion of the hearing.
The hearing authority will also explain your rights throughout the hearing process at the beginning of the hearing. These include the right to:
a. Speak or not speak during the hearing process. Choosing not to speak will not be inferred by the hearing authority that you are in violation of the charge(s).
b. Question the complainant and all witnesses who testify against you at the hearing.
c. Examine all written materials.
d. Rebut any statements made or materials presented during the hearing.
e. Present written or verbal statements by character witnesses before a sanction is imposed.
f. Request the removal of any University Hearing Board member by showing written or verbal evidence of bias against you.
g. Be accompanied by an advisor who must be a member of the University Community.
h. Be accompanied by an attorney in cases where criminal charges are pending or likely to be pending.
i. File a written appeal to a University Appeal Board.
j. File a written appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs if the University Appeal Board denies the appeal.
Next, both the complainant and the accused have the opportunity to make a brief opening statement highlighting the main points of their case. This is followed by the complainant presenting his or her case first because the burden of proof rests with the complainant. During this time you will want to listen intently and write down any questions that you may want to pose to the complainant or any witnesses. There will be a specific time allotted for you to ask questions. This is why it is suggested that you write down questions as they come to you.
After the complainant is finished, you will present your side of the case. When presenting, 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 lodged against you. It will not benefit you to address irrelevant issues in your case presentation. You will also want to present any information 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 complainant have the right to view any materials presented and question any witnesses that you present.
At the conclusion of your case presentation the complainant is afforded the opportunity to question you concerning any of your testimony.
Once both you and the complainant are finished with case presentations, you both will be allowed to present a summary statement. Again, address the specific charges brought against you and recap some of the main points of your presentation.
Character Information for Sanctioning
If you are found in violation of an offense, the hearing will proceed to determine a sanction. You will be given the opportunity to present character information for the hearing authority to consider when determining a sanction.
During this part of the hearing the complainant also has the opportunity to submit a statement about the impact of the offense. This is given orally if the hearing is open or in written form if the hearing is closed.
Standard of Proof
A standard of proof refers to the criteria or measure of proof that is used to assess if a student is 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.