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Appeals & Hearing Proceedures

Appeals

Appeals of the decisions of the conduct board must be made within seven days of the date on the board's decision letter in writing to:

Appeals Board
c/o Dean of Students, Chair
Clark Hall 203
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

The appeals board is a three member committee consisting of the dean of students (or designee), a member of the SGA cabinet appointed by the SGA president and one additional member of the administration appointed by the dean of the students. The appeal board reviews the evidence presented to the conduct board and evaluates whether there is grounds for the appeal. The only grounds for appeal that will be accepted by the appeals board are gross error in procedure, violation of the student's rights, new evidence, or extreme bias on the part of the conduct board. Disagreement with the board's decision is not, by itself, grounds for an appeal.

Summarized from the Smith College Student Handbook — SGA Constitution and Bylaws, Bylaws Article VIII Section 9D


Hearing Procedures

The process for a hearing before the Conduct Board is governed by the Student Government Association Constitution and Bylaws, with specific procedures for hearings cited in Article VIII, Section 9 of the Bylaws, which is reproduced here. The hearings are conducted following a prepared script; the script is used to assure uniformity and fairness in the procedure.

Section 9. The Procedure of a Conduct Board Hearing

  1. Proceedings
    1. 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.
  2. Prior to the Hearing
    1. 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.
    2. 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) will be initiated to review .
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
  3. Hearings
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. The conduct board may call any witnesses whose testimony bears on the case.
    6. The conduct board may hear and question each witness separately.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Participants of the hearing may ask the conduct board chair to direct questions to a witness on their behalf.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
  4. Post-Hearing Actions and Appeals
    1. The conduct board may take such actions as are necessary to enforce its decisions.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

The script used by the conduct board during hearings follows:

Introduction

[The conduct board chair will introduce herself and have all conduct board members introduce themselves. The chair will introduce the student who is the subject of the complaint and the person who is filing the complaint. The chair will then ask any witnesses and/or advisors present to introduce themselves and state for whom they have agreed to appear.]

The Chair will read the following:

The (College, Judicial, or House) Board is assembled here today, [month, date, year] to hear the case of [student who is the subject of the complaint] who is charged with [state violation of college policy, the code of social conduct, or state or federal law]. All members of the board, the student who is the subject of the complaint, the person filing the complaint, witnesses and any other person present at any point during this hearing are reminded that this hearing is confidential. No one should discuss anything they say or hear during the hearing with individuals not directly connected to this hearing. This hearing will be private. When directed by the chair all witnesses and all others without responsibilities for this hearing will be requested to leave the room

A student called before the conduct board has the following rights:

  • The right to present information supporting her version of the alleged complaint;
  • The right to a hearing;
  • The right to present up to three witnesses who may be members of either the Smith College community or of her immediate family, who have knowledge of her character;
  • The right to have an adviser who is a member of the Smith College community or her immediate family present for moral support during her testimony. The advisor may not participate in the proceedings. No legal representation is allowed.
  • The right to be present throughout the hearing and to consult with her advisor during her testimony;
  • The right to appeal the final decision of the conduct board in accordance with the appeal procedure outlined in the Student Handbook.

The person filing a complaint before the conduct board has the following rights:

  • The right to review the statements of the student who is the subject of the alleged infraction;
  • The right to present information supporting her or his version of the alleged complaint;
  • The right to appeal the final decision of the conduct board (where applicable).

The hearing will be guided by the following procedures:

  • The person filing the complaint will have up to one hour to present her/his case including witnesses. The student who is the subject of the complaint may question the complainant’s witnesses through the conduct board. The conduct board may question the complainant’s witnesses.
  • When the person filing the complainant has finished, the student who is the subject of the complaint will have up to one hour to present her/his case including witnesses. The complainant may question the subject of the complaint’s witnesses through the conduct board. The conduct board may question the subject of the complaint’s witnesses.
  • When the student who is the subject of the complaint has finished, both the person filing the complaint and the student who is the subject of the complaint will have five minutes to summarize what each believes has been shown to be true.
  • The board reserves the right to ask questions at any time.
  • The board may call any witnesses whose testimony bears on the case.
  • The board insists on honest and forthright responses to its questions and may recommend penalties, including suspension or dismissal, for any witness who is found responsible for not being truthful or intentionally misleading the board.
  • Advisors are reminded that they do not possess the right to address the board, the witnesses, or the opposing person. Advisors are present solely for the purpose of advising the student and shall not participate in the hearing.
  • All parties are reminded that they cannot speak unless they have been recognized by the chair.
  • A record of this hearing will be made by the conduct board by tape recording [or by another method determined by the board prior to the hearing].

Is all of this understood?

Will all witnesses and all those not connected to the hearing please leave the room. You will be called when it is time to present your statements.

The Hearing

A. The person who is filing the complaint presents her/his case.

  1. Will the person who is filling the complaint present any and all information relevant to the allegations? [Person filing the complaint presents her/his statement, reports, etc.]
  2. Does the student who is the subject of the complaint have any questions for the person filing the complaint?
  3. Does the board have any questions for the person filing the complaint?
  4. Do you have any witnesses? [May bring them in one at a time so they do not hear other witnesses statements. If no witnesses move to B.]
  5. You may question your witness.
  6. Does the student who is the subject of the complaint have any questions for this witness?
  7. Does the board have any questions for this witness?

[If there are more witnesses, they will be requested to enter the room and the procedure will be repeated until no more witnesses remain.]

B. The student who is the subject of the complaint presents her case.

  1. Will the student who is the subject of the complaint present any and all information relevant to the allegations? [Student who is the subject of the complaint presents her statement, reports, etc.]
  2. Does the person who is filing the complaint have any questions for student who is the subject of the complaint?
  3. Does the board have any questions for the student who is the subject of the complaint?
  4. Do you have any witnesses? [May bring them in one at a time so they do not hear other witnesses’ statements.]
  5. You may question your witness.
  6. Does the person who is filing the complaint have any questions for this witness?
  7. Does the board have any questions for this witness?

[If there are more witnesses, they will be requested to enter the room and the procedure will be repeated until no more witnesses remain.]

We will now take a five-minute break to allow parties to prepare summary statements.

[The board should take this time to prepare any last questions. Note: there should be no interaction of any kind between the members of the board and any of the individuals involved in the case, including witnesses advisors, etc.]

C. Final Questions from the Board

The board has a few last questions it would like to ask. [If no questions remain, move directly to the D.]

D. Summary

Each individual will have five minutes to make a closing statement.

  1. Will the person who is filing the complaint summarize what s/he believes has been shown to be true. S/he may include any general comments or address the impact of this incident and may include a sanction recommendation.
  2. Will the student who is the subject of the complaint summarize what she believes has been shown to be true. This may include a sanction recommendation.

E. Close of the Hearing

After the board’s deliberation and decision making, the board’s decision will be provided in writing to the student who is the subject of the complaint, normally within 72 hours [24 hours for house conduct boards].

Are there any questions?

This hearing is concluded. All participants are reminded about the confidentiality of this hearing. Thank you.

Deliberations

[The conduct board moves into private and confidential deliberations.]