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
- 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.
SGA & the Conduct Board
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