Section 18. Procedural Standards in the Student Conduct Process

The Student Conduct Process (SCP)

The Student Conduct Process is the formal conduct process that utilizes a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard to adjudicate most allegations related to “Rights and Responsibilities” that describe student behavioral expectations. Issues of discrimination, harassment and sexual violence as discussed in Section 3 will be addressed by the OEO Resolution Process which can be found on the website for the Office of Equal Opportunity in the Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Violence (that process is incorporated herein by reference). The DOS Office, pursuant to Section 21 typically adjudicates off-campus behavior.

If you have a disability and feel you will need an accommodation during this process, please immediately contact the office of Student Accessibility Support at 781-736-3470 or access@brandeis.edu. All requests for accommodations must be made in writing via email. Please notify your hearing officer in writing of any approved accommodations regarding this process within two (2) business days in advance of any meetings.

Student Rights

Brandeis University students have the right:

  1. To have access to a statement of the most recent regulations (“Rights and Responsibilities”) published by the University and to receive a copy of those regulations upon request. The University will make reasonable efforts to make its policies known to students, faculty, and staff.
  2. To be presumed not responsible until decided otherwise.
  3. To admit responsibility for any or all of the alleged policy violations.
  4. Participate in a Resolution Process that is fair, impartial, and provides adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard as outlined in University policies and procedures.
  5. To request a reasonable delay of a hearing due to academic or extenuating circumstances.
  6. To be advised in writing of all alleged policy violations, as initiated in a notification of University proceedings letter that may be emailed via campus email.
  7. To submit a written account relating to the alleged policy violations.
  8. To request an administrative agreement option to resolve the matter, when appropriate in the Student Conduct Process.
  9. To speak on one’s own behalf, including written and oral statements and physical exhibits, and to have material witnesses speak at a hearing.
  10. To decline to provide information at a hearing
  11. To be accompanied by an Advisor at all phases of a hearing. See OEO Policy for additional details pertaining to OEO Resolution Process.
  12. To receive a timely notification in writing of the outcome via campus email.
  13. To an appeal of the outcome, as outlined in the appeals process.
  14. To be assured of confidentiality, whenever possible, in accordance with the terms of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  15. After a final decision has been made, and all appeals have been exhausted, to be free from subsequent hearings and/or sanctions for the same specific incident of alleged misconduct (except in cases where alleged policy violations of intentional omission or ambiguity of information or dishonesty, related to the initial hearing, are being reviewed).
  16. Have disclosures of discrimination, harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, and relationship violence treated seriously by the University
  17. Seek support services such as housing changes, academic support, or counseling services as applicable.
  18. Notify law enforcement of the incident and seek their involvement if applicable. They also have the option to decline to involve law enforcement.

Procedures for Resolving Allegations

Notification

A student will be notified of allegations via campus email. Such notification will list the alleged policy violations in an official notification of University proceeding letter. The letter will also include instructions on how to schedule a meeting with the Hearing Officer. A responding party will also receive a copy of their rights as well as a copy of the flow chart describing the process, which is found in Appendix E of this document.

Group Process

In accordance with Rights & Responsibilities and related University policies, individual students as well as University sponsored groups/organizations (including but not limited to recognized undergraduate and graduate student organizations, clubs, teams, societies, etc.), and their officers/leadership, may be held collectively responsible when violations of University policies occur. Officers, leaders and members of University sponsored groups/organizations are expected to know and abide by all University policies specific to that sponsored group/organization and students in general. The conduct process for University sponsored groups/organizations mirrors the process for individual students, with some nuances. Notification of process will be sent to the group’s President and/or leadership. Representatives of the group (no more than two) will progress through the Student Conduct Process as detailed below. If group leadership is not able to be identified, all identifiable members of the group will receive the notification and be responsible for working with that sponsored group to identify the student representative(s) who will participate in the Student Conduct Process and communicate that information to Student Rights and Community Standards.  For the purposes of Section 18, all references to “student” may be utilized in reference to the group representative(s). Note: This would not preclude the University from moving forward with a formal process for individuals involved in the group process.

Conduct Conference

During this meeting, a student will be provided the opportunity to discuss the allegations, review their options for resolution, and select one of those options using the Choice of Action Form. Alternative options for resolution may be offered and explored at the discretion of the Hearing Officer. Students can waive the right to this meeting and move forward to one of the options for resolution via email.

Any student who does not respond to a request to meet will have their case forwarded to an administrative hearing. Any student who does not complete the Choice of Action Form within the specified timeline may have their case forwarded to an administrative hearing.

Options for Resolution

Administrative Agreement

During the Conduct Conference, a student and their Hearing Officer may engage in a conversation to discuss responsibility and appropriate sanctions for the alleged violations. During this meeting, the Hearing Officer may withdraw any alleged policy violation deemed to be without basis.

A student can choose to engage in this option via email, rather than at an in-person meeting.

In cases where a student does not accept responsibility, the alleged policy violation will proceed to an administrative hearing.

Hearing Options

Administrative Hearing

This option provides the opportunity to have a single person determine responsibility and sanctions for all allegations.

If a student fails to attend their Administrative Hearing, the hearing officer may render a decision based on the information available. The responding party will then forfeit their right to appeal the decision and/or sanctions imposed by the hearing officer.

Procedures for Administrative Hearings

As soon as reasonably possible, the responding party shall meet with the Hearing Officer to discuss the full circumstances of the alleged policy violation(s); under the Administrative Hearing option, this is the only opportunity to present information. During an administrative hearing process, the Hearing Officer may meet with witnesses, including the person who wrote the Community Standards Report, without the presence of the responding party. The Department of Student Rights and Community Standards (DSRCS) shall notify the responding party in writing of the decision, confirming the action taken and the reasons for the decision.

Student Conduct Board (SCB) Hearing

This option provides the opportunity for a student to have their case heard before a panel of students, faculty, and staff. The hearing will determine both responsibility and sanctions, if deemed necessary.

Procedures for SCP Hearings before the Student Conduct Board (SCB)

A hearing shall be held as soon as practicable from the date the responding party chooses an SCB hearing. All hearings will be closed, meaning that only official participants may be present in the hearing room. Notice of the hearing date shall be delivered to the responding party in person, or to the responding party’s Brandeis email account or the responding party’s home address, at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing.

Failure to Attend

If the responding party fails to attend a scheduled meeting with the DSRCS after having chosen Administrative Action, the administrator may complete the process in the responding party’s absence and send notification in writing of the decision. The responding party shall have the right to one rescheduled meeting if they fail to attend the originally scheduled meeting through no fault of their own, as determined by the DSRCS. If a responding party fails to attend a rescheduled meeting, they will forfeit their right to an appeal. The Hearing Officer may defer (place on hold) conduct action at any stage of the process for a period not to exceed 90 class days if the responding party is unable to participate owing to their withdrawal, leave of absence, documented illness, or incapacity, or if deferral is agreed upon with the consent of the initiating party and/or with the consent of the DSRCS and the responding party. Pending alleged violations may be discontinued thereafter depending upon the conduct of the responding party. Note: When students withdraw or transfer from the University during an active conduct proceeding, the Dean’s Certification will note that the student withdrew during a pending conduct process. The decision to withdraw from the University is one that any student should make in consultation with advisors, family, guardians, Academic Services, or other trusted administrators or faculty.

Conduct Record

A record of the conduct process (Administrative Agreement, Student Conduct Board Hearing, or Administrative Hearing), comprised of a summary of the evidence presented and the decision rendered, shall be made by the administrator. Such records are confidential and shall be retained by the DSRCS for 7 years from the date on which this record was written, after which it will be destroyed, unless the student is involved in further conduct action. When there are multiple incidents and associated conduct records, all records will be maintained for seven years from the date on which the most recent incident is closed by the SCP, after which the records will be destroyed (except in extraordinary cases as defined by the DOS). Conduct records apply to policy violations that occur either inside or outside of the residence halls. Conduct process outcomes will vary based on findings of responsibility and severity of violation. Access to such records is governed by the University Records Policy (see Section 16.4.). Brandeis is required by law to provide statistics and narrative information about certain confidential information. Personally identifiable information will be removed from such communications whenever possible. Note: Any records or other evidence retained by the University may be subject to production by court order.

Appeals Procedures for Conduct Processes

Following approval or modification of the sanction(s) by the DOS Office or the DSRCS, the responding party shall have the right to submit an appeals request to the DSRCS or designee concerning the decision of a board or Hearing Officer. Such appeals requests shall be based only on specific evidence, presented in writing, of:

  1. Procedural Error: The responding party alleges that
    • the procedural requirements of SCP were not followed and
    • that deviation from the process had an adverse impact on the outcome of the complaint against the responding party.
  2. New Information: The responding party alleges that, subsequent to the issuing of the final outcome, new information became available which could have impacted the outcome of the complaint. The responding party must:
    • present the new information;
    • show why it was unavailable prior to the final outcome; and
    • show that the new information could have altered the outcome of the complaint.

Appeals are not a new fact-finding process. Appeals shall not be based upon, or granted due to, dissatisfaction with an imposed sanction. Appeals requests must be filed within five business days of delivery of the conduct action to the student in person, or to the student’s home address or Brandeis email address. Factual disputes are not a basis for appeal.  Instead, the appeal must set forth under which of the two grounds the appeal is filed.  Appeals that do not comply with these requirements, including failing to state a proper grounds for appeal or for not meeting required submission timelines, may not be considered, as determined by the Dean of Students (or their designee).  

When the Dean of Students (or designee) identifies that the submitted appeals request meets the stated grounds for appeal, the University Appeals Board shall be convened to review the submission.  Upon review, the Appeals Board may uphold the original decision and sanction(s) imposed, re-engage the original hearing body for additional process, and/or identify any additional process requirements. If new information is presented, the UAB has the option to ask DSRCS to re-engage the Student Conduct Process.

Note: Appeals procedures will be addressed in the final outcome letter to the responding party.

Continuance

Responding party students who obtain information at their SCP Full Hearing that might lead to new evidence shall ask for a continuance of the case at that time, rather than wait to raise the matter for the first time as the basis for an appeals request.