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Student Code of Conduct Procedures

Georgia Southwestern State University utilizes the standards of The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regent’s Policy Manual, 4.6.5 Standards for Institutional Student Conduct Investigation and Disciplinary Proceedings and 6.7 Sexual Misconduct Policy for guidance on Student Conduct policies and procedures.

 

Filing a Report

Any member of the Georgia Southwestern University community or any person not affiliated with the University may submit a report or complaint involving a student for review of possible Student Conduct Code violations.  Any complaint should be submitted as soon as possible.

Reports or complaints should be directed to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.  Reports can be made in person or in writing to student.rights@gsw.edu. Contact information for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and links for reporting forms can be found here

Reports alleging sexual misconduct should be reported directly to the Title IX Coordinator. Contact and report information can be found here.  

A meeting can be arranged with the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or with the Title IX Coordinator, as appropriate, to discuss the Student Conduct Process.

Reports should contain as much information as possible, and where known to the reporting party, should provide:

  1. The type of misconduct alleged;
  2. The name and contact information of the student(s) and/or organization(s) involved in the alleged misconduct;
  3. The date(s), time(s), and place(s) of the alleged misconduct;
  4. The name(s) and contact information of any individual(s) with knowledge of the incident of alleged misconduct;
  5. Whether any evidence has been preserved; and
  6. Whether a criminal complaint has been made in connection with the alleged misconduct.

After receiving a report, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, will review the circumstances of the incident and determine what conduct regulations, if any, are alleged to have been violated. Reports that describe alleged behavior that does not violate any conduct regulation(s) may result in no action being taken.  Additionally, lack of sufficient information in a report may result in no action being taken.

If the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, finds that the report alleges violations of the conduct regulations, he/she will initiate the Student Conduct Process.

Information from complaints may be shared as necessary to investigate and to resolve the alleged misconduct. Complaints shall be investigated and resolved as outlined below. The need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) shall be assessed in compliance with federal law.

Where appropriate, complainants may file a law enforcement report as well as an institutional report, but are not required to file both.

 

Mediation

Some reports submitted involve possible violations of conduct regulations, but clearly are the result of an unresolved, on-going dispute between students. Other reports do not involve violations of regulations, but they too reflect student disputes. In either of these situations, the students may be informed of the option to resolve the matter through mediation. Mediation is a voluntary process that utilizes an impartial, neutral third party who acts as a facilitator to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable outcome.

The procedures for mediation are:

 

  1. Students must meet with the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, for a Preliminary Investigation Meeting. At that time, it will be determined if the case is appropriate for the mediation process.
  2. Once the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, determines that this case can be mediated, the student(s) choose a mediator from a list of university officials that have been trained in mediation or are assigned an off-campus mediator from the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution.
  3. Both students must agree in writing to participate in mediation.
  4. The mediator and the students will sign a written contract outlining agreed upon behavior.
  5. A violation of the contract may result in an investigation and further student conduct procedures.

 

Reporting Parties

Incidents of alleged violations of conduct regulations may be reported by a variety of individuals or groups, including but not limited to students, faculty or staff, law enforcement, or other third parties. All reporting parties will be subject to the following:

  1. Limited Confidentiality: Where a reporting party or Complainant requests that his or her identity be withheld or the allegation(s) not be investigated, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, should consider whether or not such request(s) can be honored while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the university. The Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, will inform the requesting party (1) that the University generally cannot guarantee confidentiality, (2) that honoring the request may limit the ability to respond fully to the incident, and (3) that such request may limit the University’s ability to carry out its Student Conduct Process.  Requests for confidentiality for anyone reporting a possible student misconduct will be honored to the point that it does not impact the ability for the institution to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment.

 

  1. Retaliation Prohibited: Anyone who, in good faith, reports what he or she believes to be student misconduct, participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with an investigation should immediately contact the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or Title IX Coordinator or a designee. Any student or organization alleged to have engaged in retaliation will be subject to the Student Conduct Process as outlined in this Student Code of Conduct.

 

  1. False Complaints/Statements: Individuals are prohibited from intentionally giving false statements to an institution official. Any person found to have intentionally submitted false complaints, accusations, or statements, including during a hearing, in violation of this Policy shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action (up to and including suspension or expulsion) and adjudicated under the student conduct policy.

 

  1. Amnesty: Individuals are encouraged to come forward and report student misconduct and/or participate in a student misconduct investigation notwithstanding such reporting individual’s choice to consume alcohol or to use drugs. If an individual, voluntarily and in good faith, reports their use of alcohol or drugs, or the use by others, prior to or during an investigation, such information will not be used against any individual in a disciplinary proceeding and will not be voluntarily reported to law enforcement; however, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education, as appropriate. This amnesty provision shall not apply when an alleged violation is currently at issue in a pending case of investigation.

 

 

Interim Measures

Interim measures may be issued by the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, at any point after the University becomes aware of an allegation of misconduct in order to protect any Complainant and/or the University community.  Interim measures may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Change of Housing assignment;
  2. Issuance of a “no contact” directive;
  3. Restrictions or bars to entering certain institution property;
  4. Changes to academic or employment arrangements, schedules, or supervision;
  5. Interim suspension; and
  6. Other measures designed to promote the safety and well-being of the parties and University community.

 

Interim Suspension

In certain circumstances, the Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, may impose an interim suspension from the University at the outset of the Student Conduct Process and prior to a hearing.  Interim suspension may be imposed upon individual students or organizations only where necessary to maintain safety, and should be limited to those situations where the student or organization against whom a report of alleged misconduct has been made poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property.

In determining whether to impose an interim suspension, the Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, shall consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the campus community; the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability of potential injury; and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk.

During an interim suspension, the student may be denied access to the campus (including classes and residential buildings) and/or all other University activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible. During the interim suspension, the student will be permitted on campus for scheduled meetings with the Director of Student Rights, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, and/or other meetings approved by the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or Title IX Coordinator or a designee.

If an organization is placed on interim suspension, it will be expected that all organization activities stop.

Members of the organization are not suspended from the University unless individual suspensions have been imposed.

 

Notification of Interim Suspension

Upon receiving a report indicating any of the conditions that warrant interim suspension exist and upon an evaluation of the reliability of that report, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, must make all reasonable efforts to give the student or organization the opportunity to be heard on whether his/her/its presence on campus poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property. Thereafter, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities,

Title IX Coordinator, or a designee, shall immediately notify the student or organization, in writing, of the interim suspension. The written notification will be hand delivered or sent via email. The following information will be contained in that notification:

 

  1. The University conduct regulation(s) that are alleged to have been violated;
  2. A description of the circumstances of the incident as reported;
  3. An explanation of the Student Conduct Process;
  4. An explanation of the restrictions placed on the student or organization while on interim suspension;
  5. Notification that an appeal of the interim suspension may be made to the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success, or his/her designee;
  6. Contact information for the Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or designee, and the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success; and
  7. Clarification that if no appeal of the interim suspension is made by the student or organization, the interim suspension and conduct charges will be resolved through the Student Conduct Process, either informally or formally, as established in the Student Code of Conduct.

 

The responding student or organization chief officer will have the opportunity to submit an appeal of the interim suspension. In order for the appeal to occur, the student or organization chief officer must submit a written appeal to the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success or designee.  The written appeal should contain information that challenges or disputes the interim suspension. The challenge/dispute should be based on procedural error, the suspension is overly harsh based on the allegation(s), or other similar claims. The written appeal may be accompanied by any evidence the student or organization deems relevant (which may include but is not limited to witness statements, written reports, and applicable documentation). A hearing to determine whether the interim suspension should continue will be held within three (3) business days after the receipt of the appeal. The interim suspension will remain in effect until the appeal is submitted to the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee and decision regarding the interim suspension has been made. After hearing the appeal of the interim suspension, the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or a designee may:

 

  1. Overturn the interim suspension. The student/organization would be immediately reinstated and conduct charges would be handled through the normal Student Conduct Process as described in section VI (Conduct Procedures) of the Code of Conduct. The student or organization would schedule a meeting with the Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee to begin that process.
  2. Uphold the interim suspension and the Student Conduct Process will proceed. The restrictions placed on the student or organization during the interim suspension would remain in place pending the resolution of the Student Conduct Process. The student or organization would schedule a meeting with the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Title IX Coordinator, or a designee to begin that process.

 

Following the decision of the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee, or if an appeal of the interim suspension is not submitted, the interim suspension and the conduct charges would be resolved through the Student Conduct Process, either informally or formally. If the criteria for Informal Resolution are met, the action will be resolved upon the completion of a resolution agreement. If the criteria for informal resolution are not met, the matter will be referred to the formal resolution process (investigation and hearing). Given the serious nature of the interim suspension, Formal Resolutions will take place as soon as possible and within a reasonable and practical time for all parties concerned.

 

Preliminary Investigation Meeting

The Student Conduct Process begins when the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities receives a notice of an incident or an alleged violation which may have been submitted as a complaint or report. 

The Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities will review the information provided to determine if there is a possible violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  If it is determined that there is a possible violation of the Student Conduct Code, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities will send the student(s)/organization involved an email request to meet for a Preliminary Investigation Meeting.  If this alleged violation is related to Sexual Misconduct, it will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator.

The student has three business days to schedule a meeting for the Preliminary Investigation Meeting.  If the student/organization responds and schedules a Preliminary Investigation Meeting, during that meeting the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities will explain the Student Conduct Process and will gather information following up on the complaint or report.  If the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities determines there is enough information to allege that a violation of the Student Code of Conduct may have occurred, he/she will present the Respondent with a Notice of Allegation. A Notice of Allegation may be presented at the end of that meeting or sent to the student/organization via email at a later time.  If applicable, the Complainant will be copied on the Respondent’s Notice of Allegation. 

The Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities may also use his/her discretion to dismiss the case following the Preliminary Investigation Meeting if there is not enough information that supports an allegation of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

If the student fails to schedule an appointment for a Preliminary Investigation Meeting, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities will use the information already provided and proceed to the next step of the Student Conduct Process, which is a Notice of Allegation sent via email.

 

Notice of Allegation

Students will receive a notice in writing of alleged student conduct code violations with guidance on the conduct review process. Scheduled conduct review meetings occur as soon as possible. Students will have a minimum of three (3) days between notice and meeting to review the conduct file in preparation fo the meeting.  Students have the right to waive the minimum three (3) day requirement.

Conduct review that does not include possible separation from the university will require a meeting with the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee.  The purpose of the meeting is to gather additional information, perspective on the situation, and to determine if there is a violation of the student conduct code.  If the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, determines there is not a student conduct code violation after reviewing the information presented then no action will be taken.  If the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, or designee, determines there is a student conduct code violation using the Preponderance of Evidence Standard then a decision will be made on appropriate sanctions.  Student will know outcome at the end of the meeting.  A letter capturing the outcome Conduct Code review will be emailed within three (3) working days after the meeting.   

 
Cases that involve possible removal from the institution

The Notice of Allegation will explain the Student Conduct Process, list any student conduct policies that the student has allegedly violated, proposed sanctions for alleged violations, an electronic link to the Student Code of Conduct, information regarding the choice to bring an advisor and/or family member to any meetings, any support resources available to the student or organization, and all options for resolving the matter.  

Upon receipt of the Notice of Allegation, the student/organization shall be given three (3) business days to respond in writing. The response may be a signed copy of the Student Conduct Response Form or in the form of an email from the student email account.

Any case that involves Sexual Misconduct or a Title IX policy will be assigned to the Student Misconduct Hearing Panel.

Failure to respond to a Notice of Allegation will be considered a general denial of the allegations and result in proceeding with an investigation and hearing.

 

Informal Resolution

In order to resolve the case informally, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the student or organization agree that informal resolution is a reasonable option given the circumstances;
  2. The student or organization must accept responsibility for the violation(s) of the specified conduct regulation(s);
  3. The student or organization must agree with the sanctions resulting from the violation(s); and
  4. If applicable, the Complainant should agree with the sanctions issued for the violation(s) and may propose sanctions that are reasonable and in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

 

Cases that do not meet all four criteria for the Informal Resolution will be referred to a Formal Resolution.

If the student or organization decides to resolve the conduct charges informally, and all conditions for such resolution are met, the Respondent will receive a written copy of the decision. The decision will be completed by the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and upon review, the student will sign the decision indicating agreement with the method of resolution.  When applicable, the Complainant will be copied on the written decision.

 

Formal Resolution

If the Respondent accepts the responsibility for the violation of the Student Code of Conduct but does not accept the proposed sanctions resulting from the violation, a Sanctioning Hearing will be held to determine the sanction(s) for the violation.

If the student or organization does not accept responsibility for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, there will be an investigation and a hearing. 

 

Right to an Advisor

The Respondent student/organization and Complainant (where applicable), as parties to these proceedings, shall have the right to use an advisor (including an attorney) of his or her choosing, and at his or her own expense, for the express purpose of providing advice and counsel. The advisor may be present during meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process at which his or her advisee is present. The advisor may advise his or her advisee in any manner, including providing questions, suggestions, and guidance on responses to any questions of the advisee, but shall not participate directly. Students who are charged in the same fact pattern, or who are not in good standing with the University are not eligible to serve as an advisor at conduct proceedings.

The Respondent student/organization and Complainant (where applicable), are responsible for presenting their own information. Therefore, a student should select as an advisor a person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the student conduct conference. Student conduct conferences will not typically be delayed due to scheduling conflicts of an advisor. There is no restriction on who a student may consult or seek advice from, the restriction pertains to the conduct conference only.

 
Formal Investigation

The Respondent may set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support.  Based on the response, the investigation may consist of interviews of the student(s)/ organization, the Complainant and Respondent (where applicable), the witnesses, and the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other steps as appropriate.  The investigator(s) will retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator(s) will also keep a record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation of why the proffered witness was not interviewed.

If at any point the investigator determines there is insufficient evidence to support a charge or to warrant further consideration of sanctions, then the complaint should be dismissed. Additionally, if the Respondent admits responsibility, the investigation may conclude and the process may proceed to a Sanctioning Hearing or may be resolved through an Informal Resolution, if appropriate.  If any charge is dismissed by the investigator due to insufficient evidence, the Complainant (if applicable) may appeal the decision to dismiss to the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success, or his/her designee. The appeal must be in writing and submitted within three (3) business days of the Complainant’s notification of the decision to dismiss. The Vice President of Student Engagement and Success, or his/her designee, shall either uphold the dismissal or determine that the charge or complaint must be resolved through the Student Conduct Process, and the decision of the Vice President, or his/her designee, is considered final.

The investigation shall be summarized in writing in an Initial Investigation Report and provided to the Respondent, as well as the Complainant (where applicable), in person or via email.  This summary should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions. A charge is not a finding of responsibility, but indicates that there is sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration and adjudication.

To the extent the Respondent is ultimately charged with any violation(s), he/she will also have the opportunity to respond in writing. The Respondent’s written response to the charge(s) shall be due three (3) business days following the date of the Initial Investigation Report and should outline any additional information the student or organization feel should be included in the report.  The investigator(s) shall conduct further investigation and update the Initial Investigation Report as warranted by the student’s/ organization’s response.

Once the investigation is complete, the Final Investigation report will be provided to the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer for consideration in adjudicating the charges brought against the Respondent.   A copy shall also be provided to the Respondent, as well as the Complainant (where applicable).

 

Hearing Panels

The Hearing Panels of the University are the Student Misconduct Hearing Panel and the Academic Integrity Board.

  1. The Student Misconduct Hearing Panel shall consist of a Hearing Officer and three or more faculty and/or staff members. The investigator(s) of the case shall not serve on the panel nor shall any students. This hearing panel will be used in all cases that have any sexual misconduct.
  2. The Academic Integrity Board will consist of five teaching faculty appointees, one appointed by the dean of each College or School, and three students and three alternates, appointed by the Student Government Association. The Vice President of Academic Affairs will appoint one academic administrator from dean or lower rank to act as committee chair. Serving on the AIB is a serious commitment that may require significant time and training. Faculty members will serve a term of 3 years, and will agree to complete training in judging academic integrity violations and recommending additional sanctions annually. Student members will serve a term of one year, as long as they maintain a GPA of at least 2.75 and are not on any sanction (higher than Warning) resulting from any type of conduct code violation, and will agree to complete training in judging academic integrity violations and recommending additional sanctions annually. The Chair of the AIB will serve in that capacity for a one-year period with the possibility of yearly renewal.

 

  1. Any member of a Hearing Panel shall disqualify himself/herself if his/her personal involvement in the case is of such a nature as to prevent a fair and impartial hearing.
  2. All board members shall receive training and advisement.

 

Notice of Hearing

A written Notice of Hearing shall be delivered to the student/organization, as well as the Complainant (where applicable). The Notice of Hearing shall include:

  1. The specific Student Code of Conduct policy(s) the student/organization has been charged with violating following the investigation;
  2. The alleged factual circumstances supporting the charge(s)
  3. The date, time, and place of the hearing;
  4. A list of potential witnesses that will be called by the investigator as well as a request for a list of any additional potential witnesses that the Respondent and Complainant may be inviting to attend. A deadline will be given for the submission of additional witnesses and must be approved by the Hearing Officer. 
  5. The names of the members of the Hearing Panel and/or the Hearing Officer.

 

The Notice of Hearing must be received by the Respondent and Complainant at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing date. The Respondent, with the consent of the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or a designee, may waive the minimum notice requirements as long as the waiver is in writing.

The Respondent and Complainant are deemed to have received notice when it is either emailed or is personally delivered.

 

Joint Hearings

Two or more students/organizations may be scheduled to participate in a joint hearing if they are alleged to have taken part in the same incident, act, event, or series of related acts. The conduct regulation(s) alleged to have been violated and/or the alleged factual circumstances of the violation need not be identical for participation in a joint hearing.

Any student/organization required to participate in a joint hearing may file a request for a separate hearing, citing specific reasons that a joint hearing would unfairly prejudice the case. A request for a separate hearing must be submitted in writing to the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or a designee within three (3) business days after receipt of the Notice of Hearing. The Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities or a designee will make the decision regarding the request and notify the student/organization.

 

Standard of Review

The standard of review shall be a preponderance of the evidence; however, any decision to suspend or to expel a student must also be supported by substantial evidence.  Formal civil rules of evidence do not apply to the Student Conduct Process, including during the investigatory and hearing phase.

 

Delay in Hearing

The Respondent or Complainant (where applicable), may request a delay in the hearing.  Such a request must be in writing and submitted to the Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities no later than one (1) business day prior to the hearing. Reasons for a delay and the proposed length of the delay must be included in the request, and a delay is not guaranteed. The Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities or a designee will consider the request and determine whether a delay will be granted. If the reason given for the request includes the need for more time to prepare for the hearing AND it is determined that adequate notice of hearing was given in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct, a delay will not be granted. If it is determined that the reasons for requesting the delay show it to be necessary and a delay is granted, the student/organization, Complainant (where applicable), and the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer will be notified no less than one (1) business day prior to the hearing. The student/organization, as well as the Complainant (where applicable), will receive written notification of the new hearing date, time and location at least five (5) business days prior to the new hearing.

 

Procedures for Hearings
  1. If a student/organization fails to attend a scheduled hearing, the Hearing Panel may hear the case at its discretion. Decisions will be made based on the evidence presented and statements made at the time of the hearing.

 

  1. The Hearing Panel and/or Hearing Officer, the Respondent, the Complainant (where applicable), the investigator, one advisor per party, and approved University officials are allowed to be in the hearing room during Formal Hearing proceedings. Additionally, and upon request, the Respondent student and complainant are allowed to have up to two (2) supporters attend the hearing as observers. The Complainant and Respondent must notify the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities of any such request in writing prior to the hearing. If a supporter will also be a witness, that individual must wait outside the hearing room until called for their presentation. Once the supporter is excused by the conduct board, they may remain in the hearing room as an observer. Witnesses will be invited at the designated times as specified in the order of the hearing, defined in the Student Code of Conduct. All formal hearings are closed to the public unless the student or organization requests an open hearing and all requirements necessary to open the hearing are satisfied.

 

  1. Witnesses may not be present in the hearing room until called for their presentation. Each witness will be advised by the Hearing Officer to refrain from discussing with any other witness what transpired in the hearing room during his/her presentation. Failure to respect this request may result in witnesses being charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Witnesses will be expected to remain available in the event they are recalled or until they are excused by the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer. 

 

  1. All questions presented to the investigator, Complainant, Respondent, or any witnesses during the hearing will be done so by the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will ask the Complainant, the Respondent, and members of the Hearing Panel at the appropriate times if they have any questions.  Time will be provided for any of the parties to write and submit questions.

 

The Hearing Officer will ask the questions as written and will limit questions only if they are unrelated to determining the veracity of the charge leveled against the student or organization.  In any event, the Hearing Officer will err on the side of asking all submitted questions, and must document the reason for not asking any particular questions.

 

  1. Regardless of whether the Respondent or Complainant attends the hearing, the Hearing Panel and/or Hearing Officer has discretion to allow the Respondent or Complainant to ask questions of witnesses through the submission of written questions to the Hearing Officer to be for consideration.

 

  1. If the Complainant, Respondent, or witness is unavailable and unable to attend the hearing due to extenuating circumstances, the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer has discretion to allow that individual the opportunity to provide testimony from a separate location. The Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer will assess whether there is a valid basis for the unavailability and make a determination that the manner in which the testimony is provided will not unfairly disadvantage any party. If it is reasonably believed that a party or witness who is not physically present has presented tainted testimony, the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer will disregard or discount the testimony. 

 

  1. The Hearing Officer may allow a Complainant to participate in the student conduct hearing from a separate location due to extenuating circumstances. In such instance, reasonable measures will be in place to ensure either party is unfairly disadvantaged by the separation.

 

  1. The Hearing Officer may, at the beginning of the hearing, announce times when they shall break for meals and announce the time the hearing shall conclude or be continued.  The Hearing Officer shall set the date and time for the hearing to resume while all parties are present.

 

  1. Any individual participating in the hearing may request a break. Breaks should be kept short and to a minimum. If they become excessive in number or in length, the person asking for a recess may be asked to provide a reason for their request. The Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer may approve or deny a request for a recess.

 

  1. All hearings will be recorded. A copy of the record may be requested. The original will be considered the official record of the hearing. Recesses and deliberations are not recorded.

 

 

Formal Hearing

A formal hearing that has also include a formal investigation will be conducted in the following order:

 

  1. The Hearing Officer introduces everyone present.
  2. The Hearing Officer explains and reviews all procedures for the hearing.
  3. The Hearing Officer reads and explains all charges and confirms that appropriate notice of all charges were given.
  4. The Hearing Officer explains the order of the hearing.
  5. The Hearing Officer reviews the witness and evidence list for changes to the list or the order in which witnesses will be called. The Hearing Officer and/or Hearing Panel will consider the addition of witnesses and/or evidence that were not previously submitted according to procedure as well as the reason for the late addition(s). The decision to allow the addition(s) is at the discretion of the Hearing Panel and/or Hearing Officer.
  6. The Hearing Officer summarizes witness and evidence information to be presented at the hearing.
  7. The Investigator presents the evidence, including but not limited to, the Final Investigation Report.
  8. The Complainant, Respondent, and the Hearing Panel (in that order) may present questions in writing to the Hearing Officer for the Investigator regarding the evidence presented.
  9. The Hearing officer asks the Complainant to make an opening statement followed by questions from any party.
  10. The Hearing Officer will call in the Complainant’s witnesses. Each witness may make a statement.
  11. The Complainant, Respondent, and the Hearing Panel are given an opportunity to present questions to each witness. When the questioning is concluded, the Hearing Officer will ask if anyone may want to recall the witness later in the hearing. If such is not the case, the witness is excused from the hearing.
  12. The Hearing Officer will ask the Respondent to make a statement followed by questions from any party.
  13. The Hearing Officer will call in the Respondent’s witnesses and follow the same procedure as described with the Complainant’s witnesses.
  14. After all witnesses sharing information regarding an alleged violation have made statements and/or answered questions, the Complainant, the Respondent, and the hearing panel are allowed to recall any witnesses for further questions.
  15. The Hearing Officer will again ask each side if they have additional witnesses or information to add to the witness and evidence list. The Hearing Panel and/or Hearing Officer will consider the addition of witnesses and/or evidence that were not previously submitted according to procedure as well as the reason for the late addition(s). The decision to allow the addition(s) is at the discretion of the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer.
  16. After all witnesses and evidence have been presented, the Hearing Officer will ask the Complainant and the Respondent to make closing statements.
  17. The Hearing Officer dismisses the Complainant and Respondent after giving them further instructions regarding the next step of the process.

 

Sanctioning Hearing

A sanctioning hearing will be conducted in the following order:

  1. The Hearing Officer introduces everyone present.
  2. The Hearing Officer explains reviews all procedures for the hearing.
  3. The Hearing Officer reads and explains all charges and confirms that the Respondent has accepted responsibility for those charges.
  4. The Hearing officer asks the Complainant to make a statement followed by questions from any party.
  5. The Hearing Officer will ask the Respondent to make a statement followed by questions from any party.
  6. The Hearing Officer dismisses the Complainant and Respondent after giving them further instructions regarding the next step of the process.

 

Decisions for Formal Resolution

At the conclusion of a hearing that involves a Hearing Panel, the Hearing Officer will call for a break so that the Hearing Panel can deliberate. All deliberation sessions are closed and are not recorded. After deliberation and by majority vote the Hearing Panel will determine with respect to each charge brought before the Hearing Panel whether or not a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing indicates that a violation occurred with respect to such charge. If no violation occurred, the Hearing Panel will indicate that the student or organization was found not in violation of the charge(s).

If the Hearing Panel finds that a violation(s) did occur deliberations will then move to a discussion concerning appropriate sanctions. If the Hearing Panel has made the decision that the Respondent was in violation of the charge(s) they will then have access to prior record information. Prior record will be considered when determining sanction(s).   Additionally, a decision to issue a sanction of suspension or expulsion must be supported by substantial evidence at the hearing.

The decision, including whether or not the Respondent committed a violation(s) as well as any sanction(s), will be recorded on a written Formal Hearing Decision Form and will include a summary of evidence in support of the sanction(s). A copy of the decision will be sent via email to the Respondent and Complainant (where applicable).

 

Sanctions

When a student or organization has violated a policy of the Student Code of Conduct, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Respondent will agree on one or more sanctions through an informal resolution, or the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer will assign one or more sanctions following a formal hearing. The findings of fact, any particular circumstances, and prior record of the student or organization will be the factors considered by the Hearing or Hearing Panel when determining any appropriate sanctions.

 

Sanctions for Individuals 

The following sanctions may be imposed for the violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  This list is neither exhaustive nor in order of severity and may be enlarged upon or modified to meet the particular circumstances of any given situation.

  1. Expulsion: Permanent severance of the student’s relationship with the University.
  2. Suspension: Temporary severance of the student’s relationship with the University for a specific period of time. The period of time and any requirements that must be satisfied prior to eligibility for readmission or registration are to be specified. 

Students who are suspended from the University for any length of time should be aware that this action may have an impact on tuition, residence hall costs and fees, student financial, athletic participation and eligibility, University housing, meal plan, use of University resources, access to University facilities; immigration status for international students; status and benefits of veterans and dependents of veterans, internships, assistantships, study abroad, and class withdrawal.

  1. Probation: Notice that further finding of responsibility for the violation of any policy of the Student Code of Conduct may result in suspension or expulsion from the University. The period of probation shall be specified.
  2. Deferred Disciplinary Probation - Deferred Disciplinary Probation is used for offenses found serious enough to warrant Disciplinary Probation, but where the specific circumstances of the case mitigate the offense or for repeated offenses of a less serious nature. Deferred Disciplinary Probation is for a set period of time.
  3. Deferred Disciplinary Probation is a designated period of time during which a student is given the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to abide by the community’s expectations of behavior articulated in the Student Handbook. Probation will be enforced for failure to complete any assigned educational sanctions by the deadline(s) and/or for any subsequent violation of the Student Code of Conduct or University policy.
  4. Warning: A written reprimand regarding behavior that violates the Student Code of Conduct or University policy, which can include restriction, restitution or community service as defined above. This sanction is assigned a specified period of time.
  5. Restitution: Reimbursement for a loss caused by the student’s actions.
  6. Community Service: Assignment to work a specific number of hours at a community service site approved by the Office of Student Rights or Responsibilities or Title IX Coordinator, as applicable.
  7. Restrictions: Terms of suspension or probation restricting privileges during the pendency of the suspension or probation. Such restrictions may include, but are not limited to, barring from University property, no-contact directives, identification card privileges and/or parking privileges.
  8. Housing Restrictions: Terms of a sanction indicating the loss or restriction of the student’s privilege to live in University-owned residences. Such restrictions include, but are not limited to, expulsion (permanent separation) from University housing; suspension (time-specific separation) from University housing; University housing probation (notice that further finding of responsibility could result in housing suspension or expulsion), and/or University housing relocation.
  9. Other Educational Sanctions: Projects or assignments designed to educate a student in connection with the effect of his/her behavior. Educational assignments include, but are not limited to, Social Responsibility Class, Judicial Educator, Wellness Counseling, follow-up meetings/consultations, and/or alcohol/drug education programs.

 

Sanctions for Alcohol- or Drug-Related Violations

Georgia Southwestern State University is committed to support and comply with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (Public Law 101-226, Section 22, subpart B) as an Institution of Higher Education. The law under this act now covers both drugs and alcohol, and relates to faculty, staff and students. Therefore, the entire campus community of Georgia Southwestern State University is under the mandate to comply. 

Any student violating any policy of the Student Code of Conduct that relates to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs or that the use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs contributed to or was related to that student’s violation will be assigned sanctions as outlined:

  • First offense: The student will be sanctioned through the disciplinary student conduct process, which may require attendance in Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) education program and/or workshops presented by Health and Counseling Services or the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
  • Second offense: The student will be required to repeat all sanctions described as part of the first offence and subject to additional sanctions. The additional sanctions may include a clinical assessment, community service hours, additional probation, restitution and/or suspension from the institution.  If the student is under the age of 21, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities may choose to notify the student’s parents of this second violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Third offense: The student will be suspended for a minimum of one semester. The completion substance abuse assessment is required to determine the necessity of addiction counseling and/or other treatments. Only after providing verification of completion of clinical assessment, treatment recommendations or written letter from qualified professional denying the necessity of treatment may the student return to university. In addition, the student may be required to complete Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) education program and/or workshops upon their return to the university.

This is the plan created by the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Task Force as a guideline for the minimum amount of student conduct sanctioning and educational support to be provided for a student for any violation of the Student Code of Conduct as it relates to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco.  It does not supersede a student’s judicial status when the student is on a probationary status for any previous violations.

 

 

Sanctions for Student Organizations

The following sanctions may be imposed against an organization for the violation the Student Code of Conduct policy. This list is neither exhaustive nor in order of severity and may be enlarged upon or modified to meet the particular circumstances of any given situation.

  1. Recommendation for Charter Revocation: An official request to a national office that the local chapter’s charter be revoked.
  2. Revocation of University Recognition: Permanent severance of the organization’s relationship with the University.
  3. Suspension of University Recognition: Temporary severance of the organization’s relationship with the University for a specific period of time. The period of time and any requirements, which must be satisfied prior to re-registration, must be specified.
  4. Probation: Notice that further finding of responsibility for the violation of any policies of the Student Code of Conduct will likely result in suspension or revocation of University Recognition. The period of probation shall be specified.
  5. Warning: A written reprimand regarding behavior that violates the Student Code of Conduct or University policy, which can include restriction, restitution or community service as defined above. This sanction is assigned a specified period of time.
  6. Restitution: Reimbursement for a loss caused by the organization’s actions.
  7. Community Service: Assignment to work a specific number of hours at a community service site approved by the judicial body and/or the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
  8. Restrictions: Restriction of some or all of the organization’s activities or privileges, including, but not limited to, social privileges and recruitment privileges.
  9. Other Educational Sanctions: Projects or assignments designed to educate an organization in connection with the effect of its members’ actions. Educational assignments include, but are not limited to, alcohol awareness programs and/or risk management programs.

 

Appeals

Appeals of Formal Hearings

The Respondent or Complainant may appeal the decision from a formal conduct hearing.  Appeal information will be included with the decision issued to a student or organization. Appeal forms are available in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.  All appeals must be in writing and submitted to the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success within five (5) University business days of receipt of the decision.

The purpose of appeal procedures is to provide the student with the opportunity to bring forward questions regarding substantive or procedural errors that occurred during the process. The appeal process is not intended to grant a new hearing at a higher level. Dissatisfaction with a decision is not grounds by itself for an appeal.

All levels of appeal described in these procedures involve written appeals only. Students or organizations neither meet with nor make oral presentations to the appellant officer. The appeal shall consist of a review of the record only, other than in the case of the availability of new information not known or knowable to the student or organization appealing during the time of the hearing.

 

Grounds for Appeal 

The Respondent and Complainant shall have the right to appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds:

  1. To consider new information, sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the hearing;
  2. To allege a procedural error within the hearing process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the hearing, including but not limited to whether any hearing questions were improperly excluded or whether the decision was tainted by bias; or
  3. To allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information.

 

Appeals should be submitted in writing to the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee for review.  Once a written appeal has been received, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities will also provide the following information to the Vice President for Student

Engagement and Success or his/her designee the recording of the hearing, all documents and evidence presented at the hearing, the written Notice of the Hearing, the Hearing Panel’s decision, and any other documents in the record of the hearing or that are otherwise relevant to the student’s grounds for appeal.

The Vice President of Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee shall determine the method of reviewing these materials and make one of the following determinations within a reasonable time period:

  1. Affirm the original decision.
  2. Affirm the original finding(s) but issue a new sanction(s) of lesser severity.
  3. Remand the case back to the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer to correct a procedural or factual defect.
  4. Reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand.

The Vice President of Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee will notify the Respondent and the Complainant, if applicable, in writing, of the decision. The case materials, including a copy of the decision, will be returned to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The decision of the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee is considered final and all imposed sanctions take effect after the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee issues the decision, unless the sanction includes a suspension, expulsion, or organization revocation.

 

Further Review for Cases Resulting in Suspension, Expulsion, Charter Suspension or Revocation

The responding student or organization may make further appeal to the President of the University within only if one of the following sanction(s) was issued by the original Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer: 

  1. Suspension from the University (individual student)
  2. Expulsion from the University (individual student)
  3. Charter Suspension/Revocation (organization)
  4. Revocation of University Registration (organization)

If these conditions exist, the responding student or organization may submit a written appeal for further review to the Office of the President within five (5) business days of receiving the decision of the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success or his/her designee.

Any appeal for Presidential review must be based solely on one or more of the three grounds described for the first phase of appeal and must involve one of the four sanctions listed above. The President may affirm the original decision; affirm the original finding(s) but issue a new sanction(s) of lesser severity; remand the case back to the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand.  The President’s decision shall be issued in writing to the responding student or organization and the Complainant, if applicable, within a reasonable time period.  This is the final appeal at the institution and, if applicable, all imposed sanctions take effect after the President issues his/her decision.

  

Application for Review by the Board of Regents

Following the decision of the President, a student or organization may apply to the Board of Regents’ Office of Legal Affairs (“Legal Affairs”) for a further review of the decision pursuant to Board of Regents’ Policy Manual 8.6. The application for review shall be submitted in writing to Legal Affairs within twenty (20) calendar days of the date of the President’s decision. A review is not considered a matter of right, but is within the sound discretion of Legal Affairs. If the application for review is granted, a Committee shall review the decision of the President. Said Committee shall consist of the Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs or his or her designee, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs or his or her designee, the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources or his or her designee, and any other person or persons deemed appropriate by the Committee. Legal Affairs may issue guidelines governing the process for review. (BOR Policy 4.6.5.6)

The decision of the Committee shall be final and binding for all purposes. Nothing within the Policy shall be construed to extend to any party substantive or procedural rights not required by federal or state law. The Policy shall not be construed to extend to any party any expectation of employment, admission, or additional due process rights. The Policy is not part of the due process rights afforded to students or employees of the University System; those rights have been fully afforded upon the decision of the President.

 

Recusal/Challenge for Bias

Any party may challenge the participation of any institution official, employee or Hearing Panel member in the process on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success, or his/her designee, setting forth the basis for the challenge. The written challenge should be submitted within a reasonable time after the individual knows or reasonably should have known of the existence of the bias. The Vice President for Student Engagement and Success will determine whether to sustain or deny the challenge, and if sustained, the replacement to be appointed.

 

Parental Notification

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has given colleges/ universities the option to notify parents or guardians about specific types of information from a student’s conduct record.  The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities may notify parents or guardians when a student is found to have violated Code of Conduct policies on the use or possession of alcohol or other drugs when he/she is under the age of 21.

 

Confidentiality of Records

A student may authorize the release of his/her disciplinary record to any party by making a written request.

 

Destruction of Records

All records of cases in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities shall be maintained in a location designated by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities until such time as they are destroyed in accordance with the destruction schedule established by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.

 

Adoption and Amendments

Procedures to be followed in conjunction with University conduct hearings and appeals are developed through the efforts of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities in conjunction with the Vice President of Student Engagement and Success.  These procedures, and any amendments to the procedures, are formally adopted when recommended by the Director for Student Rights and Responsibility and approved by the Vice President for Student Engagement and Success. Those wishing to propose new procedures or amendments to existing procedures should contact the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Appeal Process

In the case where the appeal process is not outlined in a specific grievance procedure, the appeal of a decision made by a vice president should be made in writing to the Student Grievance Review Committee through the Executive Vice President of Student Engagement and Success.  The Student Grievance Review Committee will consist of the Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement and Success, or designee, and two (2) members of the Faculty Committee on Student Affairs.  The Student Grievance Review Committee will review appeals using the following criteria:

  • Reasonable decision made with the information at the time of review.
  • Articulated grievance process followed.

The Student Grievance Review Committee will determine one of the following:

  • Outcome stands as is.
  • Return for further review by department or appropriate personnel.
  • Recommended change of action to the appropriate vice president.

The Student Grievance Review Committee decision is final.

 

Updated 8/11/2021