Filing a Complaint/Incident Report
Those (the complaining party) wishing to pursue possible Student Code violations against a student, organization, club or team (collectively the responding party or parties) for on campus or off campus conduct must file a written complaint with either the Dean of Students, Assistant Dean of Students, Public Safety or the Office of Housing and Residential Life. Complaints can be filed up to one academic year after information regarding the violation is discovered, except that complaints against former students will not be processed. Complaints against seniors/5th year students must be filed prior to their graduation and when possible, with sufficient time before graduation so that an investigation, hearing, and appeal can occur. The complaint should be as detailed as possible, listing the party charged, witnesses, dates, times, locations and specific information about the behavior. The complaint will be reviewed to determine the procedure to address the conduct. Complaints can also take the form of incident reports made by the Department of Public Safety, students, administrators, faculty or staff. In certain cases, the Institute will serve as the complaining party.
It is often useful to discuss concerns with staff members of the above mentioned offices before filing a complaint. At times, informal assistance can resolve an issue. The Institute has support services available to persons who have suffered from severe Code violations, including the Office of Wellness and Disability Services and Health Services.
Students who knowingly file a false complaint will be subject to disciplinary action.
- If you are victimized by conduct which you believe violates the Student Code of Conduct, exercise your right to complain.
- If you witness conduct that violates the Student Code of Conduct, exercise your responsibility to report it.
- If you suspect criminal activity, contact Public Safety immediately.
- If you suspect a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, contact your Resident Assistant, Resident Director, or Assistant Dean of Students.
- If you’re not sure what to do, DO NOT WAIT. Tell someone.
Processing Conduct Incidents
The complaint/incident report will be reviewed to determine if it should proceed through the process. Additional records, information, and written statements about the incident may be sought for consideration. The party named in the complaint will be notified.
The Dean of Students (or designees) determines the procedure to be used: Administrative hearing, the Community Standards Board (CSB) or Investigation/Panel. Incidents involving serious violations of the Student Code of Conduct that could lead to suspension or expulsion are most often handled by the CSB or Investigation/Panel. The Dean of Students (or designee) may meet with each party before the assignment of the case to a process to discuss the matter and in some cases attempt a resolution.
Guidelines for Hearings
The Assistant Dean of Students, a Residence Director, or a designee serves as the Hearing Administrator and is the fact finder and decision maker. Administrative proceedings are usually used for minor Student Code, Institute rules, regulations and policy violations which based upon the alleged conduct and information available to the Institute, if accurate, would likely lead to a sanction ranging from disciplinary warning to housing or Institute probation. A Hearing Administrator may refer a case to the CSB or Investigation/Panel if information becomes available that more serious conduct is involved.
Guidelines for Administrative Hearings
Since every matter is unique, the guidelines may be changed or modified as needed:
- The Hearing Administrator provides the party(s) with an opportunity to review information related to the incident.
- The Hearing Administrator will meet with the party(s), either individually or separately, and provide the party(s) with an opportunity to respond to the information and present any information or witnesses they wish. The rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases do not apply and no recordings of the proceeding is made by the party(s).
- The Hearing Administrator may ask questions during the meeting(s), seek additional information, make requests of the party(s) or interview any person, he/she deems necessary.
- Based upon the preponderance of the evidence, the Hearing Administrator will make a decision as to whether or not a violation of the Student Code of Conduct has occurred. If a violation is found, the Hearing Administrator has the full prior disciplinary record of the student available to him/her to decide the level of sanction.
- The Hearing Administrator will notify the charged party(s) his/her findings and sanction(s), if any, in writing.
- If a party does not meet with the Hearing Administrator or comply with his/her requests, the Hearing Administrator makes a finding and sanction decision based upon the information available. In this case, the charged party loses any right of appeal.
- In cases where information that indicates an additional Student Code violation may have occurred, the Hearing Administrator will determine if it will be addressed during the meeting or in a separate hearing.
Community Standards Board Hearings
The CSB is a standing board that includes students, faculty and staff. The CSB is advised by the Assistant Dean of Students and/or other Institute designee concerning the hearing process. The composition of each CSB panel will be determined by the Assistant Dean of Students.
The names and titles of the panel members, including the alternate(s), assigned to hear the matter will be given to the parties at least five (5) business days before the hearing. If a party has reason to believe that a CSB panel member is not able to be objective, the party must provide reasons to support the claim in writing to the Assistant Dean of Students not later than 2 business days before the hearing. The fact that the party is in class with or being taught by a panel member is not sufficient alone to replace the assigned panel member. The Assistant Dean of Students will decide whether or not to replace the CSB panel member.
Guidelines for Community Standards Board Hearings
Since every matter is unique, the guidelines may be changed or modified as needed:
- Matters are decided based upon a preponderance of the information presented at the hearing. The CSB will meet in closed executive session to deliberate on the alleged violation and possible sanction(s).
- The rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases do not apply.
- The hearing shall be conducted in private, only including involved parties, relevant witnesses and hearing support person. No character witnesses are allowed.
- The complaining and responding parties have the right to a hearing support person (as defined below) at the hearing. Students need to notify the Assistant Dean of Students writing at least 2 business days prior to a hearing with the name of the hearing support person.
- Admission of any person into the hearing will be at the discretion of the Assistant Dean of Students or designee.
- In incidents involving more than one party, the hearing may be conducted as a joint hearing.
- All written or physical information to be used at the hearing must be presented to the Assistant Dean of Students 3 business days prior to the hearing. An opportunity to review and respond to the information will be provided.
- The parties will have an opportunity to review the information 2 business days prior to the hearing upon their request. All information reviewed for the hearing and presented at the hearing is confidential and may not be disseminated by a party or witness.
- The CSB panel members will have all of the information concerning the matter and have the right to ask for additional information when preparing for the hearing.
- The CSB panel members have the right to call any person to be a witness and to ask that any information they deem relevant be provided or to re-call a witness. The parties and the victim (if applicable) may testify and present witnesses who can speak from personal knowledge about the incident.
- The parties have the right to request questions be asked of participants of the hearing during a hearing.
- A party or witness may refuse to answer a question, but the CSB members will decide the matter based upon the information it has available.
- If at any time during the course of the hearing a party or witness exhibits behavior or language that is disruptive or threatening, he/she shall be dismissed and the process will continue without their presence.
- If the responding party is found responsible, the CSB members will have the full disciplinary record made available to them to decide if a sanction should be more severe based upon past history. This information is not used to determine responsibility.
- The responding party will receive a notice of the findings and sanction(s), if any.
- The complaining party, if a victim of an incident of violence, will receive notification of the outcome of the hearing.
- In cases involving student organizations, clubs and teams, the organization, club or team must designate an officer or captain to act as the spokesperson during the hearing.
- If a party does not appear at the CSB hearing, a finding will be made on the information available at the hearing and the party loses any right of appeal.
- In cases where information is provided during a hearing that indicates an additional Student Code violation may have occurred, it will be determine if the parties will address it during the hearing or in a separate hearing.
- CSB hearings may not be recorded by any participating party.
Hearing Order of Events for a Community Standards Board Hearing
The following are guidelines for the order of events for a Community Standards Board hearing. As each matter is unique, they may be modified at any time as circumstances require.
- Introduction of the parties.
- Reading of the alleged violations.
- Signing of the Honesty Statement by all parties and witnesses.
- Oral statement by complaining party.
- Oral statement by responding party.
- Questions by the Community Standards Board panel to the parties and all witnesses.
- Questions submitted by the parties to the Community Standards Board panel.
- Final Statement by complaining party.
- Final Statement by the responding party.
- Final questions or requests from Community Standards Board panel members.
Investigation with Panel
In complaints between students involving sexual assault/violence allegations and other incidents of assault or harassment, an investigation by a designated Institute official may be conducted. Both parties have a right to review the investigative report. The report and all information contained in the report is confidential and any release of the report by a party to anyone other than a designated hearing support person (who is also required to keep the report and all information contained in it confidential) will lead to disciplinary action, including expulsion. Both parties may address any comments regarding the report directly to the Investigator. The Investigator may take additional steps, including but not limited to: gather additional information or resources, interview additional witnesses or re-interview the parties). The results of the investigation will be provided to a panel. The panel will consist of three faculty and/or staff members. The panel will decide whether or not a violation has occurred using a preponderance of the evidence standard and the sanction imposed if a violation is found. This process, including notification of parties, is usually completed within sixty (60) business days, except when there are scheduled vacations and academic breaks. The Institute will notify parties if the process is expected to take longer.
Sexual Assault/Violence/Harassment Cases
In sexual assault/violence/harassment cases, the following will also apply:
- Past incidents of sexual conduct with other persons will not be discussed or taken into consideration except in unusual cases.
- A victim impact statement may be submitted and will be reviewed before being forwarded to the Panel for consideration only if a violation has been found. The impact statement should only address how these events have affected the individual academically, socially and/or personally.
- The complainant will be informed of the outcome.
- Both parties have the right to appeal the decision.
What Is The Purpose Of A Sanction?
When a party is found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct, a sanction will be imposed. The sanction is a consequence for the violation, an educational opportunity for the party and serves as a deterrent to future violations. In some cases, sanctions are also a means by which a party gives back to the Wentworth community and/or the area community in which the behavior occurred (e.g. service, restitution).
The severity of the violation and other factors, such, as but not limited to, prior disciplinary history, are considered when a sanction is imposed. Sanctions range from a disciplinary warning to expulsion from the Institute. A non-exhaustive list of all sanctions can be found here.