When staff or community members witness a potential violation of the University’s Community Standards, a report is filed and reviewed by the Dean of Students’ Office. The Dean of Students’ Office determines if there is enough information to bring forward allegations of violations or whether further investigation is needed. If there is enough information to allege a violation, the University will initiate the Student Conduct Process.
The purpose of any Student Conduct proceeding is for the hearing officer to decide the student’s responsibility for the alleged violations. The hearing officer discusses the allegations with the involved parties and evaluates all available information to accomplish this. To reach a finding, the Hearing Officer utilizes a preponderance of evidence standard. Those students found responsible will be assigned sanctions designed to balance accountability, learning, and repairing any harm caused by the alleged actions.
Below is detailed information regarding each part of the Student Conduct process.
Standard of Evidence
The University employs a preponderance standard of evidence in determining whether a student is responsible for each alleged violation. This means that when a claim for or against responsibility is weighed against each other, the claim which holds more weight is the one that is determined to be more likely than not to have occurred. As the University process is not a legal proceeding, evidence may include but is not limited to, statements by individuals and observations as well as physical evidence that may be obtained and is determined to the best of our ability, to be authentic. The University is not required to, nor held accountable to law enforcement or other standards regarding evidence (e.g. chain of custody), and may determine what will be considered.
Evidence that is used is either relevant to the specific allegation (e.g. witness statement indicating observations of a student violating policy) or directly related (e.g. statements that speak to the credibility of a claim). The University is not required to hear any information a student wishes to share and will make determinations about what information is considered in the determination of a student’s responsibility.
Notification of Charges
Students will always be notified in advance of alleged violations as well as the behavior that contributed to that allegation. This notification is called the “Charge Letter”. That charge letter will indicate each individual violation as well as the next steps.
For minor violations, students may have the option of accepting responsibility and receiving the sanctions as outlined in the letter or attending an Administrative Meeting. For other violations, students will receive a meeting date, time, and location. Students have the option to reschedule by following the instructions in the notice.
In the event the alleged violation, along with a student’s conduct history, would mean that the student is facing potential suspension from housing, suspension, or expulsion, then the student first attends an Initial Meeting. The Initial Meeting is a time during which the student is presented with the evidence that will be used in determining responsibility in the case as well as going over any questions the student may have regarding the process.
The Initial Meeting is not a time when the student is required to make an argument regarding whether they are responsible for the violation. It is an information-sharing time only.
The primary method the University employs for determining whether a student is responsible for a violation is an Administrative Meeting. During an Administrative Meeting, a student will meet with the assigned hearing officer to discuss the following items:
- What information was shared with the University which alleges a violation has occurred.
- Whether the student believes they are or are not responsible for each individual violation.
- What happened from the perspective of the student.
- Address any questions that the hearing officer has.
- Address any questions or concerns that the student has.
At the conclusion of the meeting, a student may or may not know the outcome of the decision. Some cases are straightforward and some are more complex. Additionally, students may present information that needs further follow-up to determine if it may impact the outcome. A decision is considered complete and rendered when a student is sent an outcome letter to their Drew University email.
As with any meeting during the conduct process, the student has the right to have a silent supporter present. For more information regarding the role of the silent supporter, please review the following material.
Whenever a student is found responsible for a violation, there is an opportunity to appeal that decision. The appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days of the original decision being sent. The appeal must address one or both of the following appeal criteria:
- Pertinent new information is available which was not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing. This is not information that the party simply did not choose to share. When appealing, the new information must be presented as well as the reason why that information was unavailable at the time of the Administrative Meeting.
- A procedural error was made that precluded a fair and impartial hearing. Deviations from designated procedures will not be a basis for sustaining an appeal unless significant prejudice results. The appeal must address both what the significant procedural error was as well as why that error would have impacted the results.
If the written portion of an appeal does not address either one of these criteria completely, the appeal will be denied and the outcome will not be reconsidered. Appeals that are granted may result in a new Administrative Meeting, change in sanctioning, or other action as deemed appropriate to address concerns raised in the appeal.
Following any appeal period, all assigned sanctions are final and must be completed by their assigned due date. Failure to complete sanctions will result in registration blocking holds being placed on student accounts until the time at which the sanctions are completed. Failure to adhere to the requirements of a sanction, such as hosting guests when guest privileges are suspended, will result in a new charge of Violation of Sanctions resulting in a new disciplinary process.