12.3.12. Formal Hearing and Appeals

12.3.12.1. Formal Hearing Process

  1. The hearing coordinator will make reasonable efforts to schedule the hearing in a timely manner with the goal of completing the process within 60 days from the start of the investigation through the hearing.
  2. The hearing coordinator will make every reasonable effort to secure a space that is appropriate, private, and provides sufficient places for the parties to confer and the witnesses to wait.
  3. The hearing shall be closed to all but the hearing coordinator, the hearing panel, the complainant, the respondent, the advisors of both the complainant and respondent if applicable, and the witnesses.
  4. All speakers must be recognized by the hearing coordinator prior to their speaking. No interruptions will be tolerated.
  5. Both parties may ask questions about all information shared during the hearing. The hearing coordinator’s decision on such matters is final.
  6. If a new statement or evidence is introduced at the hearing, the hearing coordinator will determine whether it is relevant and whether its introduction at the hearing is for good reason. The hearing coordinator may admit the new statement or evidence and if necessary, may grant a recess or reschedule the hearing to allow both parties and the hearing panel time to review the new information.
  7. Brief breaks will be taken at the request of either party or the hearing panel. The hearing coordinator will determine the reasonableness of requests for breaks.
  8. Hearing Outline: Generally, hearings will follow the order of business listed below.  Variations may occur depending on the circumstances of an individual case.
    1. The hearing coordinator will make introductions
    2. The hearing coordinator will explain the hearing process
    3. The complainant may make an opening statement in addition to their written statement.
    4. The respondent may make an opening statement in addition to their written statement.
    5. The complainant answers questions from the hearing panel.
    6. The respondent answers questions from the hearing panel.
    7. The parties are not allowed to personally question or cross-examine each other during the hearing. The parties may submit questions to be asked by the hearing panel on their behalf. The hearing panel will screen the questions submitted by the parties and only ask those it deems appropriate and relevant to the case. Questioning about the complainant’s sexual history with anyone other than the respondent is not permitted. The University also recognizes that the mere fact of a current or previous consensual dating or sexual relationship between the two parties does not itself imply consent or preclude a finding of sexual violence.
    8. The witnesses provide their statements and answer questions from the hearing panel, the complainant, and the respondent, one at a time.
    9. The hearing panel may pose further questions to the complainant and the respondent.
    10. The complainant may make a final statement.
    11. The respondent may make a final statement.
    12. The hearing coordinator will dismiss all participants.

12.3.12.2. Deliberation and Decision Making

Upon completion of the hearing, the hearing panel will deliberate in private to determine if any violation(s) of the policy occurred and what the specific violation is. If it is not possible for the panel to make a decision the same day as the hearing, the panel will reconvene as soon as possible and shall meet until a decision is reached. The decision of the hearing panel shall be decided by majority vote, and be based on the preponderance of the evidence.

The hearing panel will base its decision on the hearing, participants written statements, the investigation report, and information shared during the hearing. The hearing panel will determine whether the respondent is:

  • “Not Responsible.” The respondent will be found not responsible when the hearing panel determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did not occur and/or the alleged behavior occurred but was not in violation of University policy; or
  • “Responsible.” The respondent will be found responsible when the hearing panel determines that it is more likely than not that the alleged behavior did occur and that the behavior was in violation of University policy.

12.3.12.3. Notification of Decision

  • If the respondent is found not responsible, the hearing panel will notify the hearing coordinator who will write the hearing decision letter and send the letter to both the respondent and the complainant.
  • If the respondent is found responsible, the hearing panel will notify the hearing coordinator of its decision before deliberating on sanctions. The hearing coordinator will inform the panel of the respondent’s prior disciplinary history, if any. The panel will deliberate and make a decision regarding sanctions, taking into account the respondent’s prior disciplinary history. The hearing coordinator will write the hearing decision letter and send the letter to both the respondent and the complainant.

Copies of the hearing decision letter will also be sent to the dean of students, director of campus safety, and director of human resources in cases involving employees, and others as needed depending on the nature of any sanctions.

The hearing decision letter will include the process and deadline for submitting an appeal by either party.

12.3.12.4. Sanctions

If the respondent is found responsible for violating the policy on sexual misconduct, the hearing panel may impose sanctions, including, but not limited to, those set forth below.  Specific requirements of each sanction will be determined by the hearing panel to most appropriately fit each finding.  Multiple sanctions may be imposed depending on the number and severity of responsible findings in each case.

  • Warning
  • Social Probation, which may include restriction from particular buildings, areas of campus, and/or University activities.
  • Educational requirements focused on substance use, anger management or other issues.
  • Behavior contracts.
  • Residential suspension or expulsion.
  • Academic restriction, which may limit registration time or course selection.
  • Suspension from the University with possible re-enrollment requirements or restrictions.
  • Expulsion.

12.3.12.5. Appeal

  1. Both the respondent and the complainant may appeal the hearing panel’s decision. An appeal must be made in writing within five business days of receipt of the hearing panel’s decision letter.
  2. The hearing coordinator will notify the complainant and/or the respondent if either party submits an appeal, and provide them with a copy of the appeal. The complainant and/or respondent will then have five business days to prepare and submit a written response to the appeal, if they choose to do so.
  3. Upon receipt of an appeal and any response (or upon exhaustion of the deadline for a party to provide a written response), the hearing coordinator will call together an appeals committee to review the appeal and any written response. The three-member committee consists of the University president, serving as chair, and two members of the hearing panel pool (who did not serve on the original hearing panel) selected by the hearing coordinator.
  4. An appeal may be made on one or more of the following grounds only:
    1. There was a process or procedural error made that was significantly prejudicial to the outcome of the hearing as it affects the student appealing.
    2. New information, that was not available or known to the student appealing at the time of the hearing, has arisen, which when considered, may materially alter the outcome. Note: Information that the appealing student chose not to present at the time of the hearing is not considered new information.
    3. The sanctions were not appropriate for the specific policy violation for which the respondent was found responsible.
  5. An appeal is not a new hearing and the appeals committee will meet alone.
  6. The appeals committee will consider the merits of the appeal based only on the written appeal request, the hearing recording and the written record of the case, and the respondent’s prior disciplinary history (if the appeal is based on the appropriateness of the sanction) in making its decision. Based on these materials, the appeals committee will:
    1. reject the appeal if the committee finds that the grounds for an appeal are unsubstantiated; or
    2. reject the appeal if the committee finds that any procedural errors were minor in nature and would not have altered the outcome of the hearing or the sanctions imposed; or
    3. modify the sanction(s) if they are found to be inappropriate; or
    4. return the case to the hearing panel for further deliberation if new information, as defined above, has arisen (In such cases the original hearing panel will be reconvened as soon as possible. If a member of the original panel is no longer available, the hearing coordinator will select a new member from the hearing panel pool); or
    5. remand the case to a different hearing panel for a new hearing when a substantial procedural error is determined to have occurred and has unfairly influenced the original hearing.
  7. Once the appeals committee has made its decision the chair will notify the respondent, the complainant, the hearing panel, and the dean of students of its decision in writing.
  8. The appeals committee’s decision is final and there are no further appeals permitted by either party.

12.3.12.6. Record of Process

  1. An audio recording will be made of the hearing for the use of the hearing panel and the appeals committee.
  2. The audio recording and copies of all statements, evidence, and letters associated with the hearing will be maintained by the hearing coordinator in a case file in accordance with the University’s record retention policy for a period of seven years after the conclusion of the case.
  3. The hearing decision letter and the appeal decision letter, if applicable, will be kept in the respondent’s discipline file in accordance with the University’s record retention for a period of seven years after the conclusion of the case. In cases where the sanction is Expulsion or Suspension the hearing decision letter and appeal decision letter, if applicable, will be kept in the respondent’s permanent file.