What is the Community Standards Process?
When an incident report/complaint is received, the report/complaint is assigned to an administrator within the Division of Student Life. The following options are available for case resolution (as determined by the Office of Community Standards):
1. Alternative Resolution Hearing, most often conducted by a single member of the Division of Student Life.
2. Administrative Hearing, most often conducted by a member of Residence Life or Community Standards professional staff.
3. Peer Review Board Hearing with a four or five person panel consisting of students.
4. Community Standards Board Hearing with a five person panel consisting of faculty, administrators/staff, and students.
Most allegations of less serious Community Standards violations shall be heard by an Administrative Hearing Officer or the Peer Review Board, or addressed through an Alternative Resolution Hearing. Generally, more serious Community Standards violations including significant interpersonal conflicts/sexual offenses shall be heard by an Administrative Hearing Officer or the Community Standards Board. Mediation will not be used to resolve sexual offense complaints. For these more serious Community Standards violations, a pre-hearing meeting shall be scheduled.
CLICK HERE for a flow chart describing the Community Standards process from incident report to case closure.
What Happens Before the Hearing?
Upon receiving notice of an alleged violation, the appropriate Hearing Officer or Moderator shall notify the respondent via University email. The process of the hearing will be outlined in the notice. In addition, in the case of serious violations of the Community Standards, a prehearing meeting shall be scheduled, which is part of the Community Standards process. A pre-hearing meeting is a part of the Community Standards process. In order to schedule a hearing, class schedules are reviewed to find a common available time. Students are expected to attend their hearings or to forfeit the opportunity to provide information orally.
The respondent’s failure to attend the hearing does not limit the Hearing Officer, PRB, or CSB from making a decision based upon available information. If a student misses a hearing due to an emergency, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the Hearing Officer or Moderator within 24 hours after the scheduled hearing. No student may be found to have violated the Community Standards solely because the student failed to appear.
As with all hearings, in matters involving allegations of sexual harassment, the respondent and complainant are entitled to equal process. Complaints will be resolved promptly and fairly, normally in no more than 60 days.
The Community Standards process is designed to encourage open discussion among the participants that promotes the understanding of the facts, the individuals involved, the circumstances under which the incident occurred, and the nature of the conduct. However, during the hearing, accommodations such as providing separate facilities, to ensure the personal safety, comfort and well-being of the complainant, respondent, and/or other witnesses (character witnesses will not be considered or heard during the process), may be employed.
What are the Hearing Procedures?
Hearings shall be private.
Community Standards proceedings are not criminal or civil proceedings, but rather, internal administrative determinations of violations of institutional policy. Civil or criminal rules of procedure and evidence do not apply. The Vice President for Student Life/Associate Provost (VPSL)/designee shall make the final determination on the appropriateness of non-institutional information (i.e. polygraph test results, drug test results).
Information, including hearsay, may be considered if material to the issue, not unduly repetitious, and the sort of information on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs. After receiving information at the hearing, the Hearing Officer, Peer Review Board, or Community Standards Board shall determine, as to each respondent and as to each potential violation of the Community Standards, whether the respondent(s) is/are responsible for violating the Community Standards. The Hearing Officer, PRB, or CSB evaluates the information received and considers credibility of information and key witnesses ((character witnesses will not be considered or heard during the process) when determining if the Community Standards were violated. This determination shall be based upon the facts of the conduct alleged, and whether it is more likely than not that the student is responsible for the alleged violation(s). Subsequent reviewers shall not determine anew whether there was a Community Standards violation.