A student found responsible for a Code of Conduct violation may only appeal a sanction of Removal from University Housing or Suspension to Permanent Expulsion from the University, with the exception of cases involving allegation of sexual misconduct.
Appeals shall be heard by the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designed Appeal Review Officer, or in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, an Appeal Board. A written request for an appeal by the student must be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct within three (3) business days* of notification of results of the original hearing or conference. The Office of Student Conduct may administer the notification of hearing results via students’ official University email address.
The Appeal Review Officer may sustain or modify the sanction set by the Office of Student Conduct when he/she determines that the sanction recommended was outside the University’s sanction range for such violations and/or not justified by the nature of the offense. The person conducting the appeal will forward a written decision and rationale to the Director of Student Conduct within ten (10) business days of receiving the sanction review request.
Appeal Review Procedures
A party may request an appeal of the decision of the Board/Administrative Conference by filing a written request to the Director of Student Conduct, subject to the procedures outlined below. All sanctions imposed by the original hearing body remain in effect, and all parties should be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision.
A student found responsible for a Code of Conduct violation may only appeal a sanction of Removal from University Housing or Suspension to Permanent Expulsion from the University, with the exception of cases involving alleged sexual harassment or misconduct, wherein both complaining and responding parties may appeal the finding of an investigation.
GROUNDS FOR APPEAL REQUESTS
Appeals requests are limited to the following grounds:
- A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.);
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- The sanctions imposed are substantially outside the parameters or guidelines set by the University for this type of offense or the cumulative conduct record of the responding student.
Appeals must be filed in writing with the Director of Student Conduct within three (3) business days of the notice of the outcome to the hearing, barring exigent circumstances. Any exceptions are made at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct and, when appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator.
In cases involving allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct, the Director of Student Conduct will share the appeal by one party with the other party (parties) when appropriate under procedure or law (e.g., if the responding student appeals, the appeal is shared with the complainant, who may also wish to file a response, request an appeal on the same grounds or different grounds). The Director of Student Conduct will refer the request(s) to the Vice President for Student Affairs or designated Appeal Review Officer, who will conduct an initial review to determine if the appeal request meets the limited grounds and is timely. The Appeal Review Officer may consult with the Director of Student Conduct and/or Title IX Coordinator on any procedural or substantive questions that arise.
If the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, the original finding and sanction will stand and the decision is final. If the appeal has standing, the Vice President for Student Affairs determines whether to refer the appeal to the Appeals Board or to remand it to the original decision-maker(s), typically within 3-5 business days. With the exception of cases involving sexual harassment or assault, efforts should be made to use remand whenever possible, with clear instructions for reconsideration only in light of the granted appeal grounds. Where the original decision-maker may be unduly biased by a procedural or substantive error, a new board will be constituted to reconsider the matter, which can in turn be appealed, once. Full re-hearings by the Appeals Board are not permitted. Where new evidence is presented or the sanction is challenged, the Appeals Review Officer will determine if the matter should be returned to the original decision-maker for reconsideration or if it should be reviewed by the Appeals Board with instruction on the parameters regarding institutional consistency and any applicable legal guidelines. In review, the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, thus the burden is on the appealing party(ies) to show clear error. The Appeals Board must limit its review to the challenges presented. In cases alleged sexual harassment or misconduct, all appeals of investigation findings with be referred to an Appeal Board.
On reconsideration, the Appeals Board or original decision-maker may affirm or change the findings and/or sanctions of the original hearing body according to the permissible grounds. Procedural errors should be corrected, new evidence should be considered, and sanctions should be proportionate to the severity of the violation and the student’s cumulative conduct record.
All decisions of the Appeals Board are to be made within five (5) days of submission to the Board and are final, as are any decisions made by the original hearing body, Director of Student Conduct or Title IX Coordinator as the result of reconsideration consistent with instructions from the Appeal Review Officer.
THE APPEALS BOARD
Three-member Appeals Boards are drawn from the hearing board pool, with the following requirements to serve:
they did not serve on the Board for the initial hearing
they were not involved in the investigation in any way
they have been properly trained in appeals procedures
Students that serve in the board pool must:
Be in academic good standing and have completed 15 hours of academic credit with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.
- Be in good standing with respect to the conduct process throughout the term in which they serve. Good standing is defined as having no record of misconduct during the semester(s) in which a student wishes to serve on the board, as well as not currently being on any probation. A serious history of misconduct could disqualify a student for service.
The Appeal Review Officer will have final authority to approve all those serving on the board. The parties may challenge a board member(s) on the basis of potential bias, and any board member who cannot render an impartial decision must recuse themselves. The Appeals Review Officer will make the determination as to the validity of any challenge or need for recusal. In the event of a recusal from the board, the Appeals Review Officer will solicit a replacement from the pool of board member.
The Director of Student Conduct or designee serves as the non-voting advisor to the board, with responsibility for training the board, conducting preliminary investigations, and ensuring a fair process for the complainant and responding student.
The presumptive stance of the University is that all decisions made and sanctions imposed by the original decision-maker are to be implemented during the appellate process. At the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct, and in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator when necessary, implementation of sanctions may be stayed pending review only in extremely exigent circumstances. This does not include proximity to graduation, end of term, or exams. Instead, it refers to an overwhelming likelihood, as determined by the Appeals Review Officer and Director of Student Conduct, in consultation, that the appeal would result in a reversal of the finding and/or substantial modification of the sanctions.
OTHER GUIDELINES FOR APPEALS
- All parties will be timely informed (usually within ten business days) of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision;
- Every opportunity to return the appeal to the original decision-maker for reconsideration (remand) should be pursued;
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint (de novo). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal; Witnesses may be called if necessary.
- Appeals are not an opportunity for appeals board member to substitute their judgment for that of the original decision-maker merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanctions. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original decision-maker, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so.
*Note: Computation of time: When any period of time is referred to, such period in all cases are computed to exclude the first and include the last day of such period. Business days include normal University operating days and exclude holidays and weekends. The last business day ends at 4 p.m.