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Section 5. Student Conduct System

2015-2016 student guide

Gasson Hall
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> Student Conduct System Overview
> Complaint or Report
> Notification of Respondent
> Hearing Process
> Sanctions
> Appeals
> General Information

5.0    STUDENT CONDUCT SYSTEM

The Office of the Dean of Students coordinates the Student Conduct System and all matters relative to the conduct and behavior of Boston College students in order to maintain a community conducive to the overall mission of Boston College.

The Student Conduct System has been developed to ensure the existence of an environment fostering the intellectual, personal, ethical, psychological, social, and spiritual potential of all students. In keeping with the mission of Boston College, a conduct system should be, first and foremost, educational in nature. However, the rights of others within the campus community may require severe, but appropriate responses to augment student learning and ensure the rights of others. Such a system has among its goals personal development, moral and ethical enrichment, value formation, and citizenship.

5.1    OVERVIEW

Any case of alleged misconduct by any Boston College student is within the jurisdiction of the Student Conduct System.  The Code of Student Conduct and the accompanying student conduct process apply to all students enrolled, in any capacity, at Boston College. The conduct system applies to residential or non-residential students and governs the investigation and adjudication of violations regardless of where they occur. Allegations of Sexual Misconduct will be investigated and adjudicated according to the guidelines set forth in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.

The Student Conduct System is administered by the Vice President for Student Affairs through the Dean of Students or designee and his/her staff.  The Dean of Students or designee reserves the right to review the sanctions imposed at any conduct hearing to assure their appropriateness.

Additionally, in consultation with other appropriate University administrators, the Dean of Students or designee may separate a student from the University or from University housing if the student presents a substantial health or safety risk, or if the Dean of Students or designee determines that the student is unable to meet the community standards of Boston College.

The focus of inquiry in conduct proceedings shall be whether the respondent is responsible or not responsible for violating conduct regulations or the community standards outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. The function of the proceedings is to investigate the facts of the matter and to determine responsibility for alleged violations.  The process is designed to enforce the Boston College Code of Student Conduct, not criminal laws, though at times the two may coincide. Formal rules of evidence will not be applicable, and deviations from prescribed procedures will not necessarily invalidate a decision or proceeding unless significant prejudice to a student or the University may result.  Determinations of "responsible" or "not responsible" within the Student Conduct System are based upon a preponderance of the evidence, i.e. “more likely than not,” as presented to the hearing officer or board.

The student conduct system exists to protect the rights of the Boston College community and assure fundamental fairness to the complainant and to the respondent.

5.2    THE COMPLAINT OR REPORT OF AN INCIDENT

A student will become involved with the conduct system as a result of alleged violations of the Boston College Student Code of Conduct. Such violations will usually be documented through a complaint or report submitted by a residential life staff member, Boston College police officer, off-campus community liaison, neighbor, fellow student, University official, or local police department.

Anyone who has grounds to initiate a complaint regarding any Boston College student may do so by submitting the Office of the Dean of Students Report of Alleged Violation Form.

The following information is required as part of the complaint:

  1. the name(s) of the student(s) alleged to have violated the code; and
  2. a clear statement explaining the nature and circumstances of the complaint

The Office of the Dean of Students reserves the right to not proceed with complaints not submitted within a reasonable time frame including, but not limited to instances in which material witnesses are no longer in attendance at the University.

5.3    RESPONDING STUDENT NOTIFICATION

A student who has had a complaint lodged against him/her will be contacted by the Dean of Students or designee to discuss the complaint. Designees, subsequently referred to as hearing officers, may include, but are not limited to staff members in the Office of the Dean of Students and Office of Residential Life. The responding student will be sent a written, verbal, or electronic notice of a hearing in which his/her presence is required. Incidents involving more than one student may be resolved through a single hearing at the discretion of the hearing officer.

A student who does not respond to a request to schedule a hearing or fails to appear for such a scheduled meeting could have the case heard in his or her absence or have an administrative hold placed on his/her student status until the meeting occurs.

5.4    HEARING PROCESS

The University has several types of student conduct hearings that are utilized depending upon the nature and severity of the incident. All hearing processes aim to resolve cases impartially and treat all individuals involved in the process with respect and objectivity.

5.4.1    Conversational Resolution

For first-time, low-level violations, a conversational resolution process may be utilized at the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee. These meetings may or may not follow the same procedures as administrative hearings, but will not result in a status sanction being issued, although educational referrals and formative sanctions may still be assessed. These meetings are meant to be an alternative to the formal hearing process and provide students an opportunity to be introduced to the expectations of Boston College. Students are generally only afforded the conversational resolution process once during their tenure.

5.4.2    Formal Hearings

The Dean of Students or designee has the discretion to determine what format a formal hearing will take based upon the complexity of the case, availability and type of evidence, and the sensitivity of the incident. Decisions made during fomal hearings are "responsible" or "not responsible" through a determination of the preponderance of evidence.

The general procedures and protocols for a formal hearing are as follows:

  1. Neither party at the hearing will be allowed to use any type of electronic device including, but not limited to laptop computers, tape or digital recorders, cell phones, or PDAs without the advance written permission of the Dean of Students or designee.

  2. Both parties may be accompanied by an adviser of their choosing at a conduct hearing. Hearings will not be scheduled or postponed based upon the availability of a student's adviser.

    The role of the adviser at the actual hearing is limited. He or she is not entitled to address the Board/hearing officer or act in any advocacy capacity at the hearing. The student and his or her adviser can confer at any point during the hearing, but the adviser may not formulate specific questions, responses, or statements for the student. Violations of the guidelines would result in a warning being issued to the adviser by the hearing official. Repeated violations may result in the adviser being asked to leave the hearing room.

    The University reserves the right to have legal counsel at a hearing to serve as an adviser to the chairperson of the hearing board or hearing officer. The chairperson and legal counsel may consult anytime during the hearing.

    Boston College officials involved in the Student Conduct System will only discuss procedural matters with attorneys serving as advisers; all other matters (written or verbal) will be referred directly to the Office of the General Counsel. All substantive questions, concerns, or comments concerning the matter as well as any written correspondence, including the filing of an appeal, must come directly from the student(s) involved.

  3. Witnesses

    If either party wishes to present witnesses at the conduct hearing, he/she must inform the Office of the Dean of Students, in writing, a minimum of 48 hours in advance of the hearing and provide their names and phone number. Only witnesses, who can attest to the facts of the incident, are permitted to be a part of the hearing process. In general, character witnesses are not allowed to testify at conduct hearings; written character references may be submitted to the hearing officer or board.  It is the responsibility of each party to notify their own witnesses of the date, time, and location of the hearing; the Office of the Dean of Students does not notify witnesses for either party.

    The Office of the Dean of Students has the authority to request the presence of witnesses to provide information to the hearing officer or board. In addition, the hearing officer or board will have the authority to request the presence of any additional witnesses when it is determined that the witness testimony is important and necessary for a full and fair hearing of a case. In such cases, the Office of the Dean of Students will contact these witnesses to provide the date, time, and location of the hearing and information regarding the role of the witness during the process. Students who fail to cooperate with the hearing process or fail to cooperate with the investigation of a complaint may be subject to conduct action by the Office of the Dean of Students.

5.4.2.1    Administrative Hearing

An administrative hearing is a formal hearing generally with a single hearing officer to adjudicate a disciplinary charge. Students have a right to present witnesses, have an adviser of their choice and present other evidence on their behalf as stated in the previous section. A case may potentially be held for further information, referred to either the Student Conduct Board or the Administrative Hearing Board or resolved through the determination of the preponderance of evidence. Allegations of Sexual Misconduct will be investigated and adjudicated according to the guidelines set forth in the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.

5.4.2.2    Hearing Boards

Hearing boards at Boston College may be utilized to adjudicate cases, at the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee, within the Student Conduct System. Hearing boards are convened to decide whether students are responsible for alleged violations of the Code of Conduct. Hearing boards recommend sanctions, which are either approved or amended by the Dean of Students or designee.

Boston College has two separate hearing boards: the Student Conduct Board and the Administrative Hearing Board. The Student Conduct Board (SCB) is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, while the Administrative Hearing Board is comprised of administrators, faculty and staff at Boston College.

Chairpersons of hearing boards convene boards as necessary, determine the order of hearing cases (e.g., witnesses, duration of testimony), determine appropriateness of questions and/or testimony, and serve as the principle liaison between the board and the Office of the Dean of Students. The chairperson has final procedural authority during the conduct of a hearing.

5.4.2.2.1    Student Conduct Board

The SCB is composed of undergraduate and graduate student members and chairpersons. Students are selected for the SCB through an application and interview process by the Office of the Dean of Students. Chairpersons generally have at least one prior semester of service as a board member, and are elected via ballot by the general membership.

A panel of a minimum of three (3) voting members of the Student Conduct Board will hear individual cases. Decisions that can be reached by the Student Conduct Board are "responsible" or "not responsible." A simple majority vote of the panel is required to render a decision. If the decision is "responsible," the board may recommend sanctions up to and including suspension from the University.

Board members must disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest between themselves and any party and may not hear a case if they are not able to be impartial in the hearing of the case.

5.4.2.2.2    Administrative Hearing Board

The Administrative Hearing Board (AHB) is composed of university administrators, faculty and staff. All board members are trained by the Office of the Dean of Students.  Chairpersons for the Administrative Hearing Board are designated by the Office of the Dean of Students and receive additional training. 

A panel of a minimum of three (3) voting members of the Administrative Hearing Board will hear individual cases. Decisions that can be reached by the Administrative Hearing Board are "responsible" or "not responsible." A simple majority vote of the panel is required to render a decision. If the decision is "responsible," the board may recommend sanctions up to and including suspension or dismissal from the University.  In addition, the Board, when appropriate, may recommend other administrative measures or remedies designed to protect all parties involved in the incident.

Board members must disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest between themselves and any party and may not hear a case if they are not able to be impartial in the hearing of the case.

5.4.2.2.3    Conduct Board Procedures

Click here to review the procedures for both the Student Conduct Board and the Administrative Hearing Board.

5.5    SANCTIONS

Sanctions will be designed to deter students from similar future behavior, prevent further misconduct, eliminate a hostile environment, and promote safety. Certain behavior may be so harmful to the University community that it may require serious sanctions, such as removal from University housing, removal from specific courses or activities, suspension from the University, or dismissal from the institution. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to incidents of sexual assault, sexual violence, and physical violence.

5.5.1    Status Sanctions

Students found responsible for violations of the Code of Conduct will typically have a change in their student status. This change can take many forms based upon the nature of the violation and typically progress in seriousness with subsequent violations. These sanctions refer to a student’s university conduct status and are generally imposed for a specified period of time.

 A student’s previous conduct history is a factor in determining appropriate sanctions for subsequent violations of the Code of Student Conduct. Subsequent violations of the Code of Student Conduct while on an active probationary status will generally result at a minimum in the next higher level of probationary sanction being levied. These statuses are as follows:

  • Administrative Warning is a formal notification to a student documenting that a violation of the Code of Student Conduct has occurred. It serves as an official warning to the student that subsequent violations of the Code of Student Conduct may result in higher level sanctions.
  • Probationary Statuses:
    Probationary statuses remain in place for a specified period of time and serve as a formal notification that the activity in question is unacceptable. During this time, the student is given the opportunity to modify unacceptable behavior, to complete specific assignments, and to demonstrate a positive contribution to the University community. Additionally, if continued or other inappropriate behavior follows, higher level sanctions may be issued.

    While on probation, certain privileges may not be available to the student based upon the discretion of the hearing officer. Depending upon the seriousness of the violation and/or the prevalence of the behavior, the following probationary statuses may be issued:
    • Disciplinary Probation is the lower level probationary status, which remains in place for a specified period of time. Disciplinary probation indicates that similar or more severe violations of the Code of Student Conduct while on this status may result in university probation, loss of privileges, and/or housing suspension.
    • University Probation is the highest level of probationary status, which remains in place for a specified period of time. University Probation indicates that similar or more severe violations of the Code of Student Conduct while on this status may result in deferred sanction, suspension, or dismissal from the University.
  • Deferred University Suspension is a period of time when a student is placed on notice that any subsequent violations of the Code of Conduct will generally result in immediate suspension or dismissal from the University.
  • Deferred University Dismissal is a period of time when a student is placed on notice that any subsequent violations of the Code of Conduct will generally result in immediate dismissal from the University.
  • University Suspension requires that the student no longer be present on any Boston College owned or leased property for a specified period of time. While on suspension, a student may not take courses to advance his or her Boston College degree. Students cannot be readmitted until after the date their suspension ends, nor may they register or pre-register for the following semester's courses.

    In addition, students who have been suspended from the University may have lost certain privileges upon their return to the University at the discretion of the hearing officer. Students returning from University Suspension will generally have a sanction of University Probation for one full year upon their return to campus. A suspension for conduct reasons will be indicated on the student’s transcript.
  • University Dismissal requires that the student completely and permanently sever any and all connection with Boston College; this includes all Boston College activities, services, facilities, grounds, and undergraduate, graduate and professional schools. A dismissal for conduct reasons will be indicated on the student’s transcript.
5.5.2    Other Sanctions

Revocation of Privileges is one or more restriction placed on activities and/or University Services and facilities for a specified period of time.  Such privilege bans include, but are not limited to loss of university housing, participation in housing selection, leadership positions, study abroad, guest privileges, student event participation, and social gathering registration.

Administrative Placement: A student may be administratively placed, assigned to a room, and/or required to relocate to a different residence hall or area.

Fines:  Certain offenses will result in monetary sanctions. Financial penalties will be applied to a student's account.

Financial Restitution:  Compensation to the injured party, payment for damages, and/or "court costs" for hearing appearances of the police when such appearances are key to a case and if the respondent is found responsible.

Delay in Awarding Degrees:  The University reserves the right to delay the awarding of any degree.

Revocation of Degree: The University reserves the right to revoke any degree, and such revocation would be noted on the student’s academic transcript.

Failure to Complete Sanctions:  If a student fails to comply with or fails to complete an imposed sanction by the established deadline date, they may face additional action including more progressive sanctioning, a hold on their student account, and/or a fine of $100 (per incomplete sanction if applicable).

5.5.3    Formative Sanctions

Formative sanctions are used alone or in conjunction with warnings and probation to hold students accountable for their behavior as well as to provide a venue for education, follow up conversations, reflections, and meaningful contributions to the greater community.

Alcohol and Drug Education Program

Students who have a drug and/or alcohol violation or a violation where alcohol or drugs may have been an aggravating factor may be sanctioned to an Alcohol and Drug Education (ADE) Program. Students sanctioned to an ADE Program will pay the associated fee for the provision of the program. See http://bc.edu/ade//eiep for a description of each ADE program.

Peer Conversation Program

The Peer Conversation Program allows students to be referred to have an informal, meaningful conversation with a peer.  The goal of the program is to provide students with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences with fellow students who have been trained to engage in reflective conversations and appropriately assist students in navigating their BC experience.

Conversation Project

The Conversation Project is a collaborative effort to organize and systematize how students meet with faculty and professional staff to have informal, meaningful conversations. The Conversation Project aims to provide a non-conduct, authoritative resource for students and to give students an opportunity to share in a “safe environment,” reflect upon their experience, and identify pathways to foster future success.

Educational Project/Paper

A student is required to engage in a specific educational project, such as writing a reflective paper, conducting research or a project, or creating a bulletin board in an area relevant to the offense.

Friday Night Heights (FNH)

Friday Night Heights (FNH) is a collaborative workshop between the Boston College Office of the Dean of Students, the Boston Police Department, and the Allston Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force. Students who are found responsible for off-campus infractions are often unaware of the impact of behavior on neighbors. The workshop promotes citizenship, civility, and responsibility by educating students their on civic responsibilities and helping them to devise strategies for preventing problematic behaviors off-campus.

5.6    APPEALS

Students may submit an appeal of a decision reached in a conduct matter brought under the Student Code of Conduct, whether the decision was the result of an administrative hearing, a hearing board, or any other conduct proceeding administered under the auspices of Student Affairs.  If accepted, an appeal will result in an administrative review of the decision; only in rare circumstances will an appeal result in a new hearing or other new adjudication of the case.

Grounds for Appeal

Appeals may not be submitted to request a review or modification of sanctions.  Appeals will be accepted solely on one or both of the following grounds:

  1. Violation of Procedure– An appeal will be accepted if the student demonstrates that the University committed a material procedural error that was likely to adversely affect the result of the conduct adjudication.  Minor or inconsequential deviations from procedure do not give rise to an appeal right.
  2. Previously Unavailable Information – An appeal will be accepted in circumstances where the student is able to provide relevant testimony or other evidence that (i) was unavailable to the student submitting the appeal at the time of the adjudication process and (ii) would have likely affected the finding.

How to File an Appeal

Students must submit an appeal within three (3) business days of the student receiving notification of the resolution of the case from the Dean of Students Office.

Appeals must be written and submitted by the student rather than an adviser or representative. Appeals must be submitted utilizing the Appeals Form.

Review of Appeals

The Dean of Students or designee will review the appeal and determine if it meets the required grounds for appeal described above.  The Dean of Students, or designee, may in his or her reasonable discretion, defer imposed sanctions while an appeal is being considered.  If the appeal is denied, the student will be notified of the decision and the reasons for it.

If the appeal is accepted, it will be forwarded to the Dean of Students, or designee, who will act as the “Appeals Officer.”  The Appeals Officer will review the findings and evidence, and may discuss the matter with the hearing board participants and other University administrators involved in the adjudication. The Appeals Officer will endeavor to make a decision on the appeal within ten (10) business days; however, the Officer may require additional time, in which case the student will be notified. The Appeals Officer may, at his or her discretion, require that the case be re-heard in whole or in part by the original hearing officer, board, or investigator(s).

The decision of the Appeals Officer is final.

5.7    GENERAL INFORMATION

5.7.1    Amending the Procedure

Proposals for amending the Student Conduct System should be submitted in writing to the Dean of Students.

5.7.2    Confidentiality

All parties, including the respondent, complainant, witness, advisers, and the hearing officer(s), are required to respect the right of confidentiality of other participants. Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential information by participants to persons not involved in the hearing process as direct participants, advisers, or responsible administrators will be dealt with as a subsequent charge or as grounds for dismissal from the board.

In addition, all participants in the hearing process have a right to be free from intimidation and harassment. Students required to appear in a formal hearing, their advisers, and their witnesses must not communicate with the accusers and their witnesses prior to the hearing. Any implied or actual act of retaliation, intimidation or harassment is strictly prohibited and will be dealt with as a subsequent and high-level violation.

As a general rule, all hearings are closed.

5.7.3    Psychological and/or Substance Abuse Evaluation

This referral requires that the student meet with a licensed mental health clinician to undergo a general psychological and/or substance abuse evaluation. The evaluation should include recommendations for subsequent treatment and the student will be expected to comply with these recommendations.  The student will need to sign a release so that the clinician can confirm that the evaluation was completed and share any recommendations for subsequent treatment.

5.7.4    Notification of Decisions

The responding student will be sent written notification of any decisions and/or sanctions reached as a result of a hearing within 10 business days after a hearing. Notification of whether or not the grounds for an appeal have merit will be sent within 10 business days after the receipt of the appeal. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault or of a crime of violence, the Office of the Dean of Students will notify both the respondent and the complainant of the decision and the sanction imposed.

Hearing results may be shared with relevant academic deans and other university officials having a legitimate educational interest in such results.

5.7.5    Parental Notification

The Dean of Students or designee, at his or her discretion, will notify parents in writing of conduct matters as permitted by law. The Office of the Dean of Students may inform a student's parents of any finding of responsibility and related sanctions for violations of federal, state or local laws governing the possession or use of alcohol or controlled substances.

5.7.6    Pursuit of Alleged Violations

The Office of the Dean of Students reserves the right to investigate and pursue all alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct that come to the Office’s attention, including cases in which the  students or other community members affected by the violation choose not to file or pursue an allegation.  In such cases, a University administrator with knowledge of the matter may act as the complainant if the matter proceeds to the Student Conduct Board or Administrative Hearing Board. However, a complainant does not have to be present at a board hearing for it to proceed.

5.7.7    Retaliation

Boston College prohibits retaliation of any kind against any individual filing a complaint or participating in a conduct hearing involving a Boston College student.  Such retaliation will result in conduct action.

5.7.8    Student Conduct Records

When a student is found responsible for violation(s) of the University Code of Student Conduct, a conduct record will be established and maintained in the Office of the Dean of Students.

Student conduct records will be maintained, per Federal regulations, for a minimum period of seven years.

5.7.9    Interim Administrative Action

The Dean of Students or the Dean’s designee may take interim administrative action when a student is deemed to threaten the health, safety, or well-being of the University community, threaten or impair the effective functioning of the University, or when a student has been charged with a serious criminal offense.   Interim actions may include summary suspension from the University, removal from University housing, suspension of privileges, and other similar measures. 

Interim administrative action is not a disciplinary sanction.  It is intended to help protect the University and members of the community until a matter can be investigated and adjudicated, and remains in effect only as long as the Dean of Students determines there is a need for it or until the matter has been investigated, adjudicated, or otherwise resolved.   In the case of interim action imposed as a result of criminal charges, the action may remain in effect until the matter is resolved both on and off campus.

Examples of behavior that may lead to summary suspension from the University include, but are not limited to, physical violence, sexual assault, disruption of the educational or civil living environment of the University, significant damage to property, and possession and distribution of controlled substances.

5.7.10    University Temporary No Contact Order

In instances where it has been determined by a University administrator that contact between specific persons may pose an immediate threat to an individual or may cause concern for the safety or emotional wellbeing of an individual, a Temporary No Contact Order may be issued. The order, specific to a person and/or location, prohibits the parties subject to the order from having any further direct or indirect contact, including but not limited to email, mail, text messages, social media, or telephone, as well as third party contact for the duration of one week (7 days).

A Temporary No Contact Order may be issued by the Administrator On Call (AOC), Senior Administrator On Call (SAOC), or a staff member in the Office of the Dean of Students. During the 7-day period, the Office of the Dean of Students will determine whether the issuance of a longer-term Stay Away Order is warranted. The Temporary No Contact Order is issued as an initial response to a complaint and does not necessarily indicate that a violation of the Code of Student Conduct has occurred.

5.7.11    University Stay Away Order

The Office of the Dean of Students may issue a University Stay Away Order when interaction with an individual could cause severe emotional or mental harm or when an individual poses an ongoing, significant threat to a student’s rights as a member of the Boston College community.

The order, specific to a person and/or location, prohibits both parties from having any further direct or indirect contact, including but not limited to via email, mail, text messages, social media or telephone. At the discretion of the Office of the Dean of Students, a Stay Away Order may result in mandated changes to a student's academic schedule, on-campus employment, co-curricular or other activities, and/or residential assignments. In addition, the Stay Away Order prohibits contact by third parties on the behalf of either party.

The duration of the Stay Away Order is determined by the Office of the Dean of Students, but as a general practice will expire at the end of the academic year in which it is issued. In cases where a Stay Away Order is issued as a conduct sanction a Stay Away Order of a longer duration may be issued.

 

 

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