Bylaws of the Student Government Association of Smith College
College Conduct Board
SECTION 1. MEMBERS
There shall be approximately seventeen (17) and no fewer than fourteen (14) members on the conduct board. There should be an approximately equal number of juniors and seniors. Positions are also available to Ada Comstock Scholars who have completed the appropriate number of credits. Positions are appointed in the spring by the current chair and the current vice chair following an application process monitored by the Elections and Appointment Committee. The incoming chair and vice chair may attend interviews but are not involved in the appointment of new members. If positions remain unfilled, appointments may be made as necessary by the current chair and current vice chair, with approval from Elections and Appointments Committee. The President of the College will appoint two (2) staff members and two (2) faculty members to serve as Smith community members of the conduct board. These members are not regular members of the conduct board and are available only to supplement hearing panels in circumstances described in these bylaws. Community members serve staggered 3-year terms, which may be renewed. The same rules that apply to the conduct of all conduct board members during the hearing process will apply to Smith community members.
SECTION 2. TERM OF OFFICE OF MEMBERS
- The term of office of the conduct board is one year if elected as a rising senior or as a current senior and two years if elected as a rising junior or as a current junior. "Rising senior" is defined as any student who will have accrued 96 credits by the end of the spring semester in which the appointment is being sought. "Rising junior" is defined as any student who will have accrued 64 credits by the end of the spring semester in which the appointment is being sought.
- Each board member is responsible for sitting on assigned hearings, attending mandatory trainings and meetings, and adhering to the conduct board bylaws including the confidentiality code.
- Membership is contingent upon maintaining good academic and social standing with the college.
- If a member does not fulfill the responsibilities as outlined in these bylaws, or if a member is placed on academic or disciplinary probation, the board member may be removed from their position by the chair and vice chair, in consultation with the conduct board adviser.
- When a conduct board member resigns, the chair and vice chair may decide whether the student is to be replaced. If it is decided to replace the student, the chair and vice chair will hold interviews and appoint a new member.
- The incoming chair and incoming vice chair shall be appointed by the outgoing current chair, outgoing current vice chair, and the conduct board adviser and must have a minimum of one semester of previous board experience.
- If the chair resigns or is otherwise unable to complete their responsibilities as chair, the vice chair shall become chair. A new vice chair shall be appointed by the new chair and the conduct board adviser from the remaining members. A new member may then be appointed to replace the member chosen to be vice chair by the new chair and new vice chair through the application and interview process.
- The Chair of the Conduct Board shall meet with the SGA President twice a semester to converse on any trends or events that is affecting the students and the code of conduct, so long as it does not break confidentiality.
SECTION 3. TYPES OF HEARINGS
- Conduct Board Hearing - five member panel of students, with the support of a conduct board advisor, hearing cases and determining responsibility and sanctioning for policy violations brought forward by members of the Smith College community.
- Administrative Settlement - an administrator sanctioning meeting with a student admitting responsibility for policy violations brought forward by members of the Smith College community.
- Administrative Hearing - to follow the procedures of the Conduct Board Hearing, used at the discretion of the Dean of Students. For example, but not limited to when there is a clearly demonstrated need for expediency or when the Conduct Board cannot be convened due to academic year timing. In rare instances, the conduct board may refer cases directly to the conduct board adviser.
SECTION 4. JURISDICTION
- The chair, vice chair, and the conduct board adviser may change or modify its rules and procedures, including those in this Article VIII, to apply to particular facts, circumstances or cases before it, in review with the SGA cabinet.
- Five members of the conduct board (excluding the adviser) will constitute the number needed to conduct a conduct board hearing. One member of the administration, approved by the Chair of the Conduct Board and adviser to the Conduct Board, can adjudicate an administrative settlement with a signed agreement by the student who is the subject of the complaint.
- The college conduct board has jurisdiction over alleged infractions of all nonacademic rules committed by Smith College students, on or away from campus.
- A member of the administration designated by the dean of the college, usually the dean of students, will serve as the conduct board adviser and be consulted for information, advice, and consultation regarding the processes of the conduct board.
- A college administrator selected by the conduct board adviser will advise each conduct board hearing in the role of hearing adviser.
SECTION 5. REFERRALS
- Members of the Smith College faculty and administration may refer cases to the conduct board including those reporting to the college from outside of the Smith College community. All referrals should be made in writing and sent to the chair in care of the conduct board adviser.
- The head resident, area coordinator, or house president may refer cases to the conduct board.
- Any student has the right to refer a case to the conduct board.
SECTION 6. POWERS, DECISIONS, AND EFFECTS OF NONCOMPLIANCE
- The conduct board and its designees have the authority to enforce its decisions and to impose sanctions. The conduct board's authority includes, but is not limited to, the ability to issue oral or written reports, to order disciplinary probation or transfer of living arrangements or to order other appropriate sanctions. Parents may also be notified of the student’s violation(s) at the discretion of the board and the dean of the students’ designee.
- Sanctions of suspension, dismissal, or permanent separation may only be recommended through a conduct board hearing, and only the president of the college may impose such sanctions.
- In the event that a student called before the conduct board fails to appear at a scheduled hearing, the board will meet without the student. The board shall not find the student responsible for the violations in question solely because of the noncompliance, however, the board may elect to make a separate charge of noncompliance to be heard at a future and separate hearing.
- An administrative settlement may be offered when the student who is the subject of the complaint has accepted responsibility for alleged policy violation(s) and has signed an acknowledgement that such is true and that there is no basis for appeal (as appeals may be made only on the grounds of gross error in procedure, violation of the student’s rights, new evidence, or extreme bias on the part of the conduct board). A student does not have to accept the offer for an Administrative Settlement if a Conduct Board Hearing is preferred.
- The failure of a student to comply with the requests of the conduct board and its designees may result in appropriate sanctioning. Repeated noncompliance will result in additional sanctions such as, but not limited to, the student being barred from registering for the next semester or receiving a diploma and/or participating in commencement activities until the requests have been complied with. The conduct board shall notify the registrar and the dean of the students of noncompliance with any of its decisions.
- A student called before the conduct board shall have the following rights:
- The right to be provided with a copy of the complaint prior to the appointment of a hearing;
- The right to present evidence supporting the student's version of the alleged complaint;
- The right to a hearing;
- The right to accept or contest responsibility for the violations of the alleged complaint;
- The right to present up to three witnesses, who may be members of either the Smith College community or of the student's immediate family, who have knowledge of the student's character or the alleged infraction;
- The right to have an adviser of their choosing. The adviser may not be connected in any way to the specific case in question except through her or his role as adviser to the student who is the subject of the complaint. The adviser may not participate in the proceedings;
- The right to be present throughout the hearing and to consult with a chosen adviser during their testimony;
- The right to appeal the final decision of the conduct board.
- A student called before the conduct board has the following responsibilities:
- Upon formal notification by the conduct board of a complaint, a student shall submit to the board a written response to the complaint within 48 hours of such notification. Personal statements submitted to the board beyond the stated due date will not be accepted unless otherwise noted.
- The student called before the conduct board shall appear at the time the hearing is scheduled by the board. The student is required to ensure that the chosen adviser and witnesses are available on the date the hearing is set.
SECTION 8. THE RIGHTS OF A PERSON FILING A COMPLAINT IN A CONDUCT BOARD HEARING
A person who has filed a complaint and comes before the conduct board shall have the following rights:
- The right to review the statements of the student who is the subject of the alleged infraction;
- The right to present evidence supporting the complainant’s version of the alleged complaint;
- The right to be notified of receipt of the complaint by the chair of the conduct board within 48 hours.
- The right to appeal a final decision of the conduct board.
- The definition of "proceedings" encompasses the investigation, hearing, deliberation, and if necessary, the appeal process. The definition of "written communication" and/or any mode of communication referred to hereon in this document shall be primarily through email correspondence, unless otherwise specified by the board.
- Prior to the Hearing
- The conduct board shall provide written notification to the student or group of students who is the subject to the complaint, informing the student or students of the specifics of the complaint and that an investigation is being conducted. Note that from here on in this document the “student who is the subject of the complaint” may also refer to groups of students who are the subjects of the complaint.
- The chair in consultation with the conduct board adviser shall, based on the information gathered, decide if there is enough evidence to continue with the proceedings. If the complaint describes a violation under the Prohibited Conduct provision Discriminatory Harassment of the Student Code of Conduct, the chair will select two (2) conduct board members and add the two (2) Smith community members, from the four (4) members appointed by the President, to create a five person hearing panel (chair and four (4) members) and an investigation will be initiated.
- When and if the conduct board decides that its proceedings shall continue, the board shall request a typed statement responding to the complaint or alleged infraction from the student who is the subject of the complaint, which should be submitted to the person in charge of conduct board scheduling within 48 hours.
- The chair in consultation with conduct board adviser will consider, based on the substance of information gathered and the statement of the student who is the subject of the complaint, whether a hearing is necessary. If either the board or the student who is the subject of the complaint determines a hearing is needed, one shall be called. The board may also appoint a third party investigator to interview and gather further information and present findings to the board.
- If a hearing is not necessary, the board shall provide written notification to the student who is the subject of the complaint. If a hearing is deemed necessary, the chair or the conduct board adviser shall schedule the hearing and notify all concerned persons of its time and place. Normally a hearing will be held at the earliest convenience of those involved, including members of the conduct board.
- Hearings shall, in the ordinary course, be held in private including five members of the board, the hearing adviser, the student who is the subject of the complaint, the person filing the case, and all appropriate advisers and witnesses. The conduct board in consultation with the conduct board adviser may permit designated members of the administration or the college community to observe proceedings.
- A record of all hearings shall be made by the conduct board by digital tape recording or by another method determined by the board, which will be destroyed along with hearing notes following the appeal process.
- The chair shall summarize the complaint and inform the student who is the subject of the complaint of the specific nature of the complaint or alleged infraction.
- The student who is the subject of the complaint may be present throughout the hearing and may consult with a chosen adviser during the testimony.
- The conduct board may call any witnesses whose testimony bears on the case.
- The conduct board may hear and question each witness separately.
- The conduct board insists on honest and forthright responses to its questions, and may recommend penalties, including suspension or dismissal, for any witness who is not truthful or who intentionally misleads the board. All students who testify before the board will be expected to attest to the truthfulness of their testimony.
- The conduct board maintains confidentiality in all cases and expects all those involved in a particular case to respect the obligation of confidentiality in order to maintain the integrity of the proceedings.
- Participants of the hearing may ask the conduct board chair to direct questions to a witness on their behalf.
- Following the conclusion of the hearing, the members of the board shall deliberate privately and reach a consensus on the decision of whether it is more likely than not that the student who is the subject of the complaint is responsible for each separate violation for which they have been called before the board. Thus, the burden of proof is more likely than not to be responsible for committing a violation. If the student who is the subject of the complaint is found responsible for one or more violations, the board shall then reach a consensus on sanction(s) for the student. The hearing adviser is present solely to advise the board and ensure that procedure is followed but may be asked for her or his opinion if deemed appropriate by the board.
- Upon the completion of hearings and deliberations, the conduct board shall make a written decision normally within 72 hours. The decision will be made available by the designee to the student who is the subject of the complaint, the associate dean of students, and others deemed appropriate by the board. The decision will remain in the conduct board's confidential files for seven years.
- Proceedings of the conduct board shall take precedence over all non-academic activities and may, in extreme cases, need to take precedence over academic activities. Board members, students who are the subjects of a complaint, and all advisers and witnesses notified by the board shall appear at the times designated by the board and shall be excused from other obligations to participate in board proceedings.
- Members of the conduct board may be removed or recuse themselves from sitting on a particular case for reasons of conflict of interest or otherwise.
- Formal rules of evidence or procedure shall not apply to hearings of the conduct board. The board may consider any testimony or evidence it deems helpful or relevant. The board's decisions are based on information brought before it at the hearing or in written statements that have been submitted to the board regarding the case.
- The chair shall make decisions regarding procedural questions arising during the hearing. Such determinations may be modified only by a majority vote of the present members of the conduct board.
- Post-Hearing Actions and Appeals
- The conduct board may take such actions as are necessary to enforce its decisions.
- Appeals of decisions of the conduct board shall be made in writing to the appeal board, c/o the dean of the students, within seven days of the date on the board's decision letter.
- An appeal board shall be composed of three members: the dean of the students or the chosen designee, chair; one student member of the cabinet appointed by the SGA president; and one member of the administration appointed by the dean of students.
- The appeal board shall review the evidence presented to the conduct board, including the digital record of the hearing, and may take whatever additional steps it deems necessary to review the case according to the grounds for appeal as specified in Section 9, D6.
- If the appeal board determines that the conduct board's actions or decisions should be modified, it will, before making a decision, send its recommendations for modifications to the conduct board for its reconsideration. The appeal board will make its final decision following the action on reconsideration by the board.
- Appeals may be made only on the grounds of gross error in procedure, violation of the student's rights, new evidence, or extreme bias on the part of the conduct board. Appeals may not be filed solely based on disagreeing with the board's decision.
SECTION 10. ADMINISTRATIVE SETTLEMENT
- The definition of an Administrative Settlement is a conversation with the student who is the subject of the complaint and an administrator designated by the Conduct Board. The student who is the subject of the complaint has agreed to the settlement process, has accepted responsibility for the alleged policy violation(s), has no new evidence, and sees no bias in the process. Students participating in Administrative Settlements will sign an agreement waiving their right to a Conduct Board Hearing and appeal process, accepting the outcome of the Administrative Settlement. An Administrative Settlement cannot result in removal from housing or recommendation for suspension, dismissal or permanent separation.
- Post-Hearing Actions
- The designee will submit the outcome of the settlement and sanction recommendations to the chair of the Conduct Board and the dean of students for approval.
- Following approval, the designee shall make a written decision normally within 72 hours. The decision will be made available by the designee to the student who is the subject of the complaint, the dean of students, and others deemed appropriate by the board. The decision will remain in the conduct board's confidential files for seven years.
SECTION 11. SANCTIONS
While it is not possible to provide a complete list of sanctions for every type of infraction, the following list indicates the scope of conduct authority for the College Conduct Board and their designees.
- Warning: Notice orally or in writing that continuation or repetition of prohibited conduct may be cause for additional disciplinary action.
- Disciplinary warning: This sanction will be in effect for a period of time to be determined by the board. Should a student who has been assigned this sanction be found responsible for another violation of the Code of Student Conduct of the same or different nature while this sanction is in effect, the conduct board may impose an additional sanction to reflect a repeated offense.
- Apology: Letters of apology to individuals, houses, and/or the entire Smith community designed to help the student reassess the effects of their actions. These letters will be kept as part of the student’s conduct board records and will not be made public unless with the specific permission of the student.
- Reflection: reflection papers offer a student time to reflect on a topic and write a clear, well developed response that demonstrates that they have thought about the issue and considered all of its aspects.
- Restitution: Charge for damages.
- Loss of authority: Removal from appointed or elected office or position of authority.
- Removal from a college house: Permanent or temporary removal from a college house.
- Disciplinary probation: This sanction will be in effect for a period of time determined by the board. Should a student who has been assigned this sanction be found responsible for another violation of the Code of Student Conduct of the same or different nature while this sanction is in effect, the conduct board will be made aware of the student’s standing on disciplinary probation and may impose additional sanctions to reflect a repeated offense. A student’s status on disciplinary probation may have an impact on their ability to participate in certain activities connected with or related to the college both on and off campus.
- Loss of privilege: Including but not limited to eligibility for housing lottery, participation in parties where alcohol is served, school-sponsored excursions, and forfeiture of use of a college facility (e.g., Davis Center).
- In addition, the College Conduct Board does not suspend, dismiss, or permanently separate, but can make a recommendation to the President of the College to do so:
- Suspension: The rights and privileges of being a student at Smith College are suspended for a specified period of time. The individual may not participate in academic activities and is required to leave campus. The student is restricted from campus during their suspension.
- Dismissal: The individual is no longer a student at Smith College and must leave the campus. The individual may apply for readmission but should not expect the application to be considered for one full semester after dismissal. The individual may be expected to provide evidence satisfactory to the college indicating readiness to resume their college career and fulfill standards of responsible conduct and citizenship. The student is restricted from campus during their dismissal.
- Permanent separation: The individual is no longer a student at Smith College and must leave the campus. The student is not eligible for readmission. The student is restricted from campus during their separation.