Honor Court

1.  An orderly hearing is essential to ensure fairness to all parties.  The following procedural guidelines govern Court hearing:

2.  The Student Honor Court shall consist of five students, one faculty member, one staff member and an advisor to the Court.  There shall also be three student alternates, on faculty alternate and on staff alternate.

3.  The Honor Court meets on a regularly scheduled basis; a student who chooses the Honor Court as a venue for adjudication of a conduct case is expected to make arrangements to attend at a regularly scheduled time.

4.  Notice to Court: The Chairperson of the Court shall receive a copy of the charges if the student has elected a hearing by the Court.

5.  The Chairperson of the Student Honor Court shall exercise control over the hearing.  Any person, including the student charged, who disrupts a hearing or who fails to adhere to the rulings of the Court may be excluded from the proceedings.

6.  Hearings may be tape recorded or transcribed at the discretion of the Court.  The decision of the Court must include a summary of the testimony and shall be sufficiently detailed to permit review by the Dean.

7.  The hearing shall ordinarily be closed.  The Court shall determine the persons allowed at a closed hearing.  All testimony heard and sanctions determined in a closed hearing shall be kept in strict confidence by all parties and by the member of the Court.  An open hearing may be held, at the discretion of the Court, if requested by the student charged and if acceptable to the complainant.

8.  Where multiple parties are being charged, the Court has the authority to conduct separate hearings.

9.  Adherence to legalistic court procedures, advocacy techniques and formal rules of evidence are not applicable in Student Honor Court hearings.  Both the student charged and the Associate Dean for Student Development may have an advisor, who is not an attorney, present.  The student’s advisor is not permitted to prepare or submit documents, present arguments, or participate actively in the hearing; his or her sole role is to advise the student.

10.  The purpose of the hearing is to arrive at the truth.  Statements to the Court are to be candid, cogent and objective.

11.  Any party may challenge a member of the Court on the grounds of personal bias, conflict of interest, or prejudgment on the merits of the case.  A member of the Court may recuse him- or herself for any the above reasons.  Members may be disqualified from participation in a hearing by a vote of the remaining members of the Court.  If the Court members are disqualified, the hearing must be rescheduled.

12.  If the student does not appear at the hearing, the hearing proceeds.  If the student appears, but decides to leave the hearing without having requested and received permission from the Court to do so, the hearing continues.  In any case of absence of the charged student from the hearing, no inference of guilt or innocence is drawn from such absence.

13.  The members of the Court play an active role at the hearing, asking questions of witnesses, seeking clarification of issues that are unclear, and participating in the deliberations on all matters of procedure and substance at both open and closed portions of any hearing.

14.  The Court determines how the hearing will proceed in order to fulfill its purpose most fairly and expeditiously.  Hearings normally proceed as follows:

  • Ruling by the Court on preliminary matters as set forth.
  • Opening statement by the Associate Dean for Student Development and presentation of evidence in support of the statement of charges.Student’s opening statement and evidence in answer.
  • Associate Dean’s response.
  • Student’s response.
  • Closing summaries or all parties.

With multiple parties, the Court determines necessary modifications to the above.

15.  The guidelines as to witnesses are:

  • The Court admonishes all witnesses that their testimony is to be truthful, specifically indicating that false testimony is a violation of the Integrity Code.  Nonmembers of the campus community who provide false or inaccurate information will have such findings filed with the Community Relations Coordinator.  This information of past abuse will be taken into account if any future information is provided by that witness and the University may consider in its discretion appropriate legal and other actions.
  • Parties to the case and the Court may request witnesses to testify at the hearing.
  • At the discretion of the Court, prospective witnesses may be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses.
  • Parties are accorded an opportunity to question witnesses.
  • If necessary, in order to ensure relevance or to avoid harassment or intimidation of a witness, the chairperson of the hearing may intervene in any questioning.
  • In instances where a University neighbor is a witness, information regarding previous complaints from this individual will be included in the preliminary report, solely for the purpose of judging witness credibility.
  • The Associate Dean for Student Development will make all reasonable efforts to obtain relevant reports from the police or other community agencies.

16.  If a hearing is disrupted or, at the discretion of the Court, entails sensitive matters, the Court may close a hearing and shall determine those persons who may be present.

17.  Questions regarding the operation of the Honor Court should be directed to the Office of the Associate Dean of Students.

18.  Decision Process:  After all evidence has been presented by all parties and closing summaries have been given, the chairperson recesses the hearing and the members of the Court meet privately to determine whether or not the students has violated the integrity Code and to decide on the appropriate sanction.  This process is subject to the following guidelines:

  • All parties, the witnesses and the public are excluded during the decision process.
  • Five voting members of the Court must be present to constitute a quorum necessary to render a decision, at least one of whom must be the University faculty member.  All five members must have been present throughout the hearing.  A simple majority of those not abstaining must concur in order for the Court to render a decision.
  • A finding that the student had violated the Integrity Code must be supported by a preponderance of evidence.
  • When individuals are collectively charged, or when individuals charged separately are collectively heard, determinations of the guilt or innocence of each individual must be separately made.
  • If the Court finds a student responsible for the charges, it shall undertake the following action
  1. First, the Court must review those sanctions that have been imposed by the Court in the past for violations similar to the present one.  (This review emphasizes the importance of consistency in decision-making.)
  2. Second, the Court must obtain information about the student’s past disciplinary record of proven violations and any sanctions imposed  (The Court takes into account the severity of any prior violation in determining the proper sanction to impose in any present case.)
  3. Third, in situations where a complaint involves request for restitution of property damage, monetary sanction will be limited to reasonable and verifiable out-ot-pocket expenses for repair and/or an insurance deductible.  Costs for improvement or upgrade of facilities, property, etc. will not be levied in judicial sanctions.  Other financial arrangements can be made in mediated settlements provided that all parties involved are in agreement.
  • The chairperson prepares a statement of specific findings of fact supporting its decision on each of the stated charges.  This statement is sent to all parties and to the Dean of Students and the file is retained in the Department of Student Development.
  • Any student who is declared innocent of charges may have a statement describing this decision printed in the university student newspaper, if he or she requests it and the editor concurs in the request.