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Formal Conduct Procedures

UNA as Convener

The University is the convener of every action under this code. Within that action, there are several roles. The responding student is the person who is alleged to have violated the Code. The party bringing the complaint, who may be a student, employee, visitor, or guest, may choose to be present and participate in the process as fully as the responding student. There are witnesses, who may offer information regarding the allegation. There is an investigator(s) whose role is to present the allegations and share the evidence that the University has obtained regarding the allegations.

Group Violations

A student group or organization and its officers and membership may be held collectively and individually responsible when violations of this code by the organization or its member(s):

  • Take place at organization-sponsored or co-sponsored events, whether sponsorship is formal or tacit;
  • Have received the consent or encouragement of the organi­zation or of the organization’s leaders or officers; or
  • Were known or should have been known to the membership or its officers.

Hearings for student groups or organizations follow the same general student conduct procedures. In any such action, individual determinations as to responsibility will be made and sanctions may be assigned collectively and individually and will be proportionate to the involvement of each individual and the organization.

 Amnesty

For Victims

The University provides amnesty to victims who may be hesitant to report to UNA officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of minor policy violations, such as underage drinking, at the time of the incident. Educational options will be explored, but no conduct proceedings or conduct record will result[1].

For Those Who Offer Assistance

To encourage students to offer help and assistance to others, UNA pursues a policy of amnesty for minor violations when students offer help to others in need. At the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct, amnesty may also be extended on a case-by-case basis to the person receiving assistance. Educational options will be explored, but no conduct proceedings or conduct record will result.

For Those Who Report Serious Violations

Students who are engaged in minor violations but who choose to bring related serious violations by others to the attention of the University are offered amnesty for their minor violations. Educational options will be explored, but no conduct proceedings or record will result.

Abuse of amnesty requests can result in a decision by the Director of Student Conduct not to extend amnesty to the same person repeatedly.

Safe Harbor

The University has a Safe Harbor rule for students. The University believes that students who have a drug and/or addiction problem deserve help. If any UNA student brings their own use, addiction, or dependency to the attention of UNA officials outside the threat of drug tests or conduct sanctions and seeks assistance, a conduct complaint will not be pursued. A written CARE (Campus Assistance, Referral, and Evaluation) action plan may be used to track cooperation with the Safe Harbor program by the student. Failure to follow the action plan will nullify the Safe Harbor protection and campus conduct processes will be initiated.

Notice of Alleged Violation

Any member of the University community, visitor or guest may allege a policy violation(s) by any student for misconduct under this Code by submitting a complaint to the Office of Student Conduct, University Police, or Title IX Office. Complaints can be submitted online at http://www.una.edu/student-conduct/forms.html,  via an e-mail, or in person.  

Notice may also be given to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) and/or to the Title IX Coordinator, when appropriate. Additionally, administrators may act on notice of a potential violation whether a formal allegation is made or not. All allegations can be submitted by a victim or a third party, and should be submitted as soon as possible after the offending event occurs. The University has the right to pursue an allegation or notice of misconduct on its own behalf and to serve as convener of the subsequent campus conduct process.

The Director of Student Conduct (or designee) will assume responsibility for the investigation of the alleged violation as described in the sub-section below.

Investigation

The Director of Student Conduct will appoint an investigator(s) for allegations under this Code.[2] The investigator(s) will take the following steps, if not already completed by the Title IX Coordinator or designee:

  1. Initiate any necessary remedial actions on behalf of the victim (if any);

  2. Determine the identity and contact information of the party bringing the complaint, whether that person is the initiator of the complaint, the alleged victim, or a UNA proxy or representative;

  3. Conduct an immediate preliminary investigation to identify an initial list of all policies that may have been violated, to review the history of the parties, the context of the incident(s), any potential patterns and the nature of the complaint;

a) If the victim is reluctant to pursue the complaint, determine whether the complaint should still be pursued and whether sufficient independent evidence could support the complaint without the participation of the victim;

b) Notify the victim of whether the University intends to pursue the complaint regardless of their involvement, and inform the victim of their rights in the process and option to become involved if they so choose;

c) Preliminary investigation usually takes between 1-7 business days to complete;

4. If indicated by the preliminary investigation and authorized by the Title IX Coordinator or Director or Student Conduct, conduct a comprehensive investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that the responding student violated University policy, and to determine what specific policy violations should serve as the basis for the complaint; 

a) If there is insufficient evidence through the investigation to support reasonable cause, the allegations will be closed with no further action;

b) A comprehensive investigation usually takes between one day and two weeks;

5. Meet with the party bringing the complaint to finalize the Party bringing the complaint’s Statement, which will be drawn up by the investigator or designee as a result of this meeting;

6. Commence a thorough, reliable and impartial investigation by developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the responding student, who may be given notice of the interview prior to or at the time of the interview;

a) Prepare the notice of alleged policy violation(s) on the basis of the reasonable cause determination, which may be delivered prior to, during or after the responding student is interviewed, at the discretion of the investigator(s);

7. Interview all relevant witnesses, summarize the information they are able to share and have each witness sign the summary to verify its accuracy;

8. Obtain all documentary evidence and information that is available;

9. Obtain all physical evidence that is available;

10. Complete the investigation promptly by analyzing all available evidence without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline;

11. Make a finding, based on a preponderance of the evidence (whether a policy violation is more likely than not);

12. Present the investigation report and findings to the responding student, who may:

a) accept the findings,

b) accept the findings in part and reject them in part,

c) or may reject all findings;

13. Share the findings and update the party bringing the complaint on the status of the investigation and the outcome.

Findings

The following options (1-3) describe how to proceed depending on whether the responding student is found responsible and whether the Responding Student accepts or rejects the findings and/or the sanctions either in whole or in part

1. The Responding Student is Found “Not Responsible

Where the responding student is found not responsible for the alleged violation(s), the investigation will be closed. The party bringing the complaint, if any, may request that the [Title IX Coordinator and/or] Director of Student Conduct, as applicable, review the investigation file to possibly re-open the investigation or convene a hearing. The decision to re-open an investigation or convene a hearing rests solely in the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or the Director of Student Conduct in these cases, and is granted only on the basis of extraordinary cause.

2. The Responding Student Accepts a Finding of “Responsible”…

a) The Responding Student Accepts a Finding of “Responsible” and Accepts the Recommended Sanctions.

Should the responding student accept the finding that they violated UNA policy, the Investigator will recommend appropriate sanctions for the violation, having consulted with Director of Student Conduct and/or Title IX Coordinator, as appropriate. In cases involving discrimination, recommended sanctions will act to end the discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects on the victim and the University community. If the responding student accepts these recommended sanctions, the sanctions are implemented by the Director of Student Conduct and the process ends.

3. Responding Student Rejects the Findings Completely or In-part

 a) Responding Student Rejects the Findings Completely

Where the responding student rejects the finding that they violated UNA policy, a formal hearing will be convened within seven business days, barring exigent circumstances.

At the hearing, the investigator(s) will present their report to the board, the board will hear from the parties, and any necessary witnesses. The investigation report will be considered by the board, which renders an independent and objective finding. Full board procedures are detailed below.

If the board finds the responding student not responsible for all violations, the Director of Student Conduct will timely inform the parties of this determination and the rationale for the decision in writing. This determination is subject to appeal by any party to the complaint. Appeal review procedures are outlined below.

If the board finds a violation, it will recommend a sanction/responsive action to the Director of Student Conduct, who will [confer with the Title IX Coordinator as necessary and], render a decision within [5] days of the hearing and timely notify the parties [orally, as well as] in writing. An appeal of sanction(s) may be filed by any party to the complaint as detailed below.

 b) Responding Student Accepts the Findings in Part and Rejects in Part

Where the responding student rejects in part the finding that they violated UNA policy, there will be a board hearing solely on the disputed allegations within seven days, barring exigent circumstances.

Special Hearing Provisions for Sexual Misconduct, Discrimination and Other Complaints of a Sensitive Nature

All hearings under this sub-section will be conducted by a two or three member administrative board drawn from the board pool. For sexual misconduct, discrimination and other complaints of a sensitive nature, whether the alleged victim is serving as the party bringing the complaint or as a witness, alternative testimony options may be provided, such as placing a privacy screen in the hearing room or allowing the alleged victim to testify from another room via audio or audio/video technology. While these options are intended to help make the alleged victim more comfortable, they are not intended to work to the disadvantage of the responding student.

The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other parties in hearings unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the board Chair. All such information sought to be admitted by a party or the University will be presumed irrelevant until a showing of relevance is made, in advance of the hearing, to the Chair. Demonstration of pattern, repeated, and/or predatory behavior by the responding student, in the form of previous findings in any legal or campus proceeding, [or in the form of previous good faith allegations], will always be relevant to the finding, not just the sanction. The parties will be notified in advance if any such information is deemed relevant and will be introduced in the hearing.

The party bringing any complaint alleging sexual misconduct, other behavior falling with the coverage of Title IX and/or a crime of violence will be notified in writing of the outcome of a hearing, any sanctions assigned and the rationale for the decision.

Notice of Hearing

Once a determination is made that reasonable cause exists for the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) to refer a complaint for a hearing, notice will be given to the responding student. Notice will be in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person by the Director of Student Conduct (or designee); mailed to the local or permanent address of the student as indicated in official UNA records; or emailed to the student’s UNA-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, such notice will be presumptively delivered. The letter of notice will:

  1. Include the alleged violation and notification of where to locate the Code of Student Conduct and UNA procedures for resolution of the complaint; and
  2. Direct the responding student to contact the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) within a specified period of time to respond to the complaint. This time period will generally be no less than two days[3] from the date of delivery of the summons letter.

A meeting with the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) may be arranged to explain the nature of the complaint and the conduct process. At this meeting, the responding student may indicate, either verbally or in writing, to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee), whether they admit to or deny the allegations of the complaint.

Interim Action

Under the Code of Student Conduct, the Vice President for Student Affairs, Director of Student Conduct, or designee may impose restrictions and/or separate a student from the community pending the scheduling of a campus hearing on alleged violation(s) of the Code of Student Conduct when a student represents a threat of serious harm to others, is facing allegations of serious criminal activity, to preserve the integrity of an investigation, to preserve UNA property and/or to prevent disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of the University. Interim actions can include separation from the institution or restrictions on participation in the community for no more than ten (10) business days pending the scheduling of a campus hearing on alleged violation(s) of the Code of Student Conduct. [A student who receives an interim suspension may request a meeting with the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee to demonstrate why an interim suspension is not merited. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, the University may still proceed with the scheduling of a campus hearing].

During an interim suspension, a student may be denied access to UNA housing and/or the University campus/facilities/events. As determined appropriate by the Director of Student Conduct, this restriction may include classes and/or all other UNA activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible. At the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct and with the approval of, and in collaboration with, the appropriate Dean(s), alternative coursework options may be pursued to ensure as minimal an impact as possible on the responding student.

Hearing Options & Preparation

The following sub-sections describe the University’s conduct hearing processes. Except in a complaint involving failure to comply with the summons of the Director of Student Conduct (or designee), no student may be found to have violated the Code of Student Conduct solely as a result of the student’s failure to appear for a hearing. In all such instances, conduct hearings will proceed as scheduled and the information in support of the complaint will be presented to, and considered by, the Director of Student Conduct, AHO or board presiding over the hearing.

Where the responding student admits to violating the Code of Student Conduct, the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) may invoke administrative hearing procedures to determine and administer appropriate sanctions without a formal hearing. This process is also known as an administrative conference. In an administrative conference, complaints will be heard and determinations will be made by the Director of Student Conduct or designee.

In cases that could result in suspension, where the responding student denies violating the Code of Student Conduct, a formal hearing will be conducted. This process is known as a board hearing. At the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct (or designee), a request by one or more of the parties to the complaint for an administrative conference may be considered. Students who deny a violation for which a board hearing will be held will be given a minimum of seven (7) days to prepare unless all parties wish to proceed more quickly. Preparation for a formal hearing is summarized in the following guidelines:

  1. Notice of the time, date and location of the hearing will be in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person by the Director of Student Conduct (or designee); mailed to the local or permanent address of the student as indicated in official UNA records; or emailed to the student’s UNA-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, such notice will be presumptively delivered.
  2. If there is an alleged victim of the conduct in question, the alleged victim may serve as the party bringing the complaint or may elect to have the University administration serve as the party bringing the complaint forward. Where there is no alleged victim, the University administration will serve as the party bringing the complaint forward.
  3. If a responding student fails to respond to notice from the Director of Student Conduct (or designee), the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) may initiate a complaint against the student for failure to comply with the directives of a UNA official and give notice of this offense. Unless the student responds to this notice within two days by answering the original notice, an administrative conference may be scheduled and held on the student’s behalf. As a result, the student may be administratively withdrawn from attending classes or a disciplinary hold may be placed on their UNA account, deeming them ineligible to register for courses or UNA housing until such time as the student responds to the initial complaint.
  4. At least three (3) days before any scheduled formal hearing, the following will occur:

 a) The responding student will deliver to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) a written response to the complaint;

 b) The responding student will deliver to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) a written list of all witnesses for the University to call at the hearing;

 c)  The responding student will deliver to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) all physical evidence the student intends to use or needs to have present at the hearing and will indicate who has possession or custody of such evidence, if known, so that the Director of Student Conduct can arrange for its presence;

 d) The party bringing the complaint will deliver to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) a written list of all witnesses for the University to call at the hearing;

 e) The party bringing the complaint will deliver to the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) all items of physical evidence needed at the hearing and will indicate who has possession or custody of such evidence, if known, so that the Director of Student Conduct can arrange for its presence;

 f) The party bringing the complaint and the responding student will notify the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) of the names of any advisors/advocates who may be accompanying the parties at the hearing.

 5. The Director of Student Conduct (or designee) will ensure that the hearing information and any other available written documentation is shared with the parties at least two (2) days before any scheduled hearing. In addition, the parties will be given a list of the names of all the board members in advance. Should any party object to any board member, that party must raise all objections, in writing, to the Director of Student Conduct immediately. Hearing officers will only be unseated if the Director of Student Conduct concludes that their bias precludes an impartial hearing of the complaint. Additionally, any board member who feels they cannot make an objective determination must recuse themselves from the proceedings.

Board Hearing Procedures

The Director of Student Conduct will appoint one board member as the Chair for the hearing. The parties have the right to be present at the hearing; however, they do not have the right to be present during deliberations. If a student cannot attend the hearing, it is that student’s responsibility to notify the Director of Student Conduct no less than three (3) days prior to the scheduled hearing to arrange for another date, time and location. Except in cases of grave or unforeseen circumstances, if the responding student fails to give the requisite minimum three (3) day notice, or if the responding student fails to appear, the hearing will proceed as scheduled. If the party bringing the complaint fails to appear, the complaint may be dropped unless the University chooses to pursue the allegation on its own behalf, as determined by the Director of Student Conduct.

The Director of Student Conduct (or designee), the Chair and the Board will conduct board hearings according to the following guidelines:

  1. Hearings will be closed to the public.

  2. Admission to the hearing of persons other than the parties involved will be at the discretion of the board chair and the Director of Student Conduct.

  3. In hearings involving more than one responding student, the standard procedure will be to hear the complaints jointly; however, the Director of Student Conduct may permit the hearing pertinent to each responding student to be conducted separately. In joint hearings, separate determinations of responsibility will be made for each responding student.

  4. The parties have the right to an advisor/advocate of their own choosing. Advisors/advocates may be chosen only from within the current UNA community, unless an exception is granted by the Director of Student Conduct for an advisor from outside the community. [In the rare instance where civil or criminal court proceedings currently involve a responding student or at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct, legal counsel may be permitted to serve as an advisor].[4] The advisor may not make a presentation or represent the party bringing the complaint or responding student during the hearing. They may confer quietly with their advisee, exchange notes, clarify procedural questions with the chair and suggest questions to their advisee.

  5. The party bringing the complaint, the responding student, the board, and the Director of Student Conduct (or designee) will have the privilege of questioning all present witnesses and questioning all present parties (directly or through the Chair, at the discretion of the Chair). Unduly repetitive witnesses can be limited at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct, or designee.

  6. Pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration by the board and the Director of Student Conduct. Formal rules of evidence are not observed, and character witnesses are not allowed.

  7. All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Director of Student Conduct or designee.

  8. After a board hearing, the board will deliberate and determine, by majority vote, whether it is more likely than not that the responding student has violated the Code of Student Conduct. The Director of Student Conduct (or designee) will be present and available as a resource during all deliberations. Once a finding is determined, if the finding is that of a policy violation, the board will determine an appropriate sanction(s). The Director of Student Conduct (or designee) is responsible for informing the board of applicable precedent and any previous conduct violations or other relevant pattern information about the responding student. The board Chairperson will prepare a written deliberation report and deliver it to the Director of Student Conduct, detailing the recommended finding, how each member voted, the information cited by the board in support of its recommendation, and any information the board excluded from its consideration and why. This report should conclude with any recommended sanctions. This report should not exceed two pages in length and must be submitted to the Director of Student Conduct within two (2) days of the end of deliberations.

  9. The Director of Student Conduct will consider the recommendations of the board, may make appropriate modifications to the board’s report and will then render a decision and inform the responding student and party bringing the complaint (if applicable by law or UNA policy) of the final determination within five (5) days of the hearing. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person by the Director of Student Conduct (or designee); mailed to the local or permanent address of the student as indicated in official UNA records; or emailed to the student’s UNA-issued email account. Once mailed, emailed and/or received in-person, such notice will be presumptively delivered. In cases of sexual misconduct and other crimes of violence, notice of the outcome will be delivered to all parties simultaneously, meaning without substantial delay between the notifications to each.

  10. There will be a single verbatim record, such as an audio recording, for all board hearings. Deliberations will not be recorded. The record will be the property of the University and maintained according to the University’s record retention policy.

Conduct Sanctions

Parental Notification

The University reserves the right to notify the parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. The University may also notify parents/guardians of non-dependent students who are under the age of 21 of alcohol and/or other drug violations. Parental notification may also be utilized discretionarily by administrators when permitted by FERPA or consent of the student.

Notification of Outcomes

Failure to Complete Conduct Sanctions

All students, as members of the University community, are expected to comply with conduct sanctions within the timeframe specified by the Director of Student Conduct or Administrative Hearing Officer. Failure to follow through on conduct sanctions by the date specified, whether by refusal, neglect or any other reason, may result in additional sanctions and/or suspension from the University. In such situations, resident students will be required to vacate UNA housing within 24 hours of notification by the Director of Student Conduct, though this deadline may be extended upon application to, and at the discretion of, the Director Residence Life and/or the Director of Student Conduct. A suspension will only be lifted when compliance with conduct sanctions is satisfactorily achieved. This determination will be made by the Director of Student Conduct.

Appeal Review Procedures

Definitions


[1] Records regarding the provision of amnesty, however, should be maintained.

[2] For any complaint that falls under Title IX (e.g. sexual misconduct) or involves any other form of discrimination, the Director of Student Conduct will work under the direction of the Title IX Coordinator.

[3] “Day”, used throughout this document, refers to normal business days when the Universities in operation.

[4] Note that some jurisdictions (e.g.: North Carolina) require institutions to permit attorney participation in a hearing.

[5] Failure to provide information during or participate in an investigation or a hearing, even resulting from  concern over pending criminal or civil proceedings, does not make evidence “unavailable” at the time of the hearing.

[6] The Director of Student Conduct will consult with the chair of the original board to inquire as to whether the new evidence would, in the opinion of the Chair, have substantially impacted the original finding or sanction