What is the process for gender-based misconduct hearings

Gender-Based misconduct cases are heard by the Gender-Based Misconduct Panel. Conduct hearings are closed. Once a hearing has begun, entering and leaving the hearing is to be restricted by the Chair in order to maintain the objectivity and privacy of the proceedings. The Chair of the Gender-Based Misconduct Panel is the Chair of the College Conduct Council. In the event that the Chair is unable to serve, another faculty member of the College Conduct Council may be appointed to serve as chair during the hearing.  


All non-academic discipline hearings will be informal and strict rules of evidence shall not apply. The student(s) in question shall be notified, in writing, of the alleged charge(s) and of the date, time, and place of the hearing. Every effort will be made to set up a hearing within ten (10) working days after an investigation of an incident is completed; however, factors – such as holiday breaks, end of academic term, on-going investigation, etc. may prevent the College from meeting this guideline.


Advisors The respondent and complainant may seek assistance from an advisor who must be a member of the Hendrix community (faculty, staff, or student) of the student’s choosing.  College conduct hearings are internal conduct proceedings; therefore, the advisor may not be an attorney or anyone outside of the Hendrix community. The advisor may assist the student in preparation of his or her complaint/response, accompany the student to meetings related to the complaint, be present during the hearing, and assist the student during the hearing, but may only address the hearing body at the pleasure of the chair of the hearing body.


 Responding to the Charge.  For each charge, a student will be asked to enter a plea of Responsible or Not Responsible. 

 

Responsible Pleas If the student in question accepts responsibility in a minor complaint, an appropriate College official will determine an appropriate sanction for the violation. If the student in question accepts responsibility in a major complaint, the student will have his/her meeting with the College Conduct Council or Administrative Hearing Officer to determine an appropriate sanction. If the student in question accepts responsibility in a major gender-based complaint, the student will have his/her meeting with the Gender-Based Misconduct Panel to determine an appropriate sanction.


By pleading responsible, the student in question is waiving his or her right to appeal the merits of the allegation or any procedural matters. However, students may appeal based on severity of sanctions.


Not Responsible Pleas If the student in question does not accept responsibility, a hearing is scheduled. In minor complaints, the student in question will have his/her case heard by a Peer Conduct Hearing Panel or an Administrative Hearing Officer. In major complaints, the College Conduct Council will be convened. In minor and major gender-based complaints, the Gender-Based Misconduct Panel will be convened. From this point on the student in question is assumed not-responsible concerning the charges which have been leveled against him or her.  It is the responsibility of the College or complainant to provide convincing evidence.


 A “preponderance of the evidence” standard will be used when a hearing body is determining responsibility. This means that the conduct in question “more likely than not” occurred.  In the context of a board hearing, the accused student will be found to be responsible for the alleged conduct violation if the hearing board, by majority vote, concludes that the conduct violation more likely than not occurred based upon careful review of all evidence presented.


 Student’s Rights in the Process 


The student in question has the right to:


• Be charged with a specific violation of College standards or policies in order to adequately prepare his/her case.  Notice of the hearing will be electronically mailed or delivered via campus mailbox to the student(s) at least three (3) days prior to the hearing. During the hearing phase of the proceedings, it is the right of the student to only answer the charges with which he/she has been charged.


The student in question and the complainant have the right to:


• Be present at the hearing. However, if either or both the student in question and complainant fail to appear at the hearing after being properly notified, the hearing may be held in their absence and a decision rendered accordingly, based on evidence presented.


• Present evidence by witness, or by signed written statement if a witness is unable to attend the hearing. Witnesses appearing before the hearing board generally must be members of the Hendrix community. Non-members of the Hendrix community may present written statements pertinent to the charges in question. The Chair of the hearing board has the discretion to allow witnesses who are not members of the Hendrix community to appear before the board. It is the responsibility of the student in question and the complainant to notify their witnesses of the date, time, and place of the hearing. If witnesses fail to appear, the hearing may be held in their absence. Evidence must be pertinent to the charges in question.  Character witnesses are not allowed. Evidence is generally restricted to written reports and witness testimony.  The complainant and respondent, along with their advisors, will be granted access to all written materials concerning their complaint at least three (3) days prior to the hearing. These written materials may be viewed in the Dean of Students Office. They may not be copied, reproduced, photographed, or taken out of the Dean of Students Office.


 • Bring an advisor to the hearing. The advisor (who must be a current member of the Hendrix community – faculty, staff, or student) may not participate in examination of witnesses or presentation of materials or information to the hearing officer/board. The advisor’s role is limited to providing advice and consultation to the student who is charged with a policy violation.


 •Question all witnesses present at the hearing. During Gender-Based Misconduct hearings, the accused and the accuser may direct their questions for each other to the Chair of the hearing board.


•Be informed of the conduct outcome within two (2) working days of the decision of the hearing board if the complainant is the victim of a violent crime or gender-based misconduct. The accused student or the complainant student may submit a written request for appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs within three (3) business days after a conduct decision is rendered. If an appeal is filed, then the other party will be notified of the appeal, and will receive an update of the final outcome of the hearing. If no appeal is filed, then the outcome of the hearing is considered the final outcome.


If the victim is deceased as a result of the violation, the Dean of Students Office will provide the results of the conduct hearing to the victim’s next of kin, if so requested in writing.


The following procedures and rights pertain to the college conduct process:


 a. Attempted Violations.  In most circumstances, Hendrix College will treat attempts to commit any of the violations listed in the Student Code of Conduct as if those attempts had been completed.


b. College as Complainant.  As necessary, Hendrix College reserves the right to initiate a complaint, to serve as complainant, and to initiate conduct proceedings without a formal complaint by the victim of misconduct. In cases in which the accuser is not a member of the Hendrix community, the College will serve as the complainant. 


c. False Reporting.  Hendrix College will not tolerate intentional false reporting of incidents.  It is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct to make an intentionally false report of any policy violation, and it may also violate state criminal statutes and civil defamation laws. 


d. Group Action.  When members of groups, individuals acting collusively, or members of an organization act in concert in violation of any policy, they may be held accountable as a group, and a hearing may proceed against the group as joint accused students. 


e. Amnesty Policy.  The Hendrix College community encourages the reporting of crimes by victims.  Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to college officials because they fear that they themselves may be accused of policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident.  It is in the best interests of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to college officials. 

To encourage reporting, Hendrix College pursues a policy of offering victims of crimes immunity from policy violations related to the incident. 


f. Notice of When Complaint Delivered to Accused Student.  Complainants are notified as to when notice of the complaint is delivered to the accused student, so as to protect themselves from potential retaliation. 


g. No-Contact Order.  Students are entitled to seek a no-contact order that imposes reasonable restrictions on student contact. The Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students will issue the no-contact order. 


h. Gender-Based Hearing Panel.  Gender-Based complaints are heard by a four-member panel composed of one faculty member and three staff members.


To ensure a prompt process and hearing, gender-based misconduct complaints are given priority. If during the course of committing alleged gender-based misconduct, a complainant is alleged to have committed additional non-gender-based conduct violations, then the Gender-Based Misconduct Panel may determine responsibility for those alleged violations along with the alleged gender-based violations. 


i. Advisor/Advocate.  Both the respondent and complainant have the right to an advisor/advocate from the Hendrix community.  


j. List of Witnesses and Copies of Documentary Evidence.  Our procedures call for an exchange of information between the parties in advance of the hearing, including an exchange of the complaint and answer, witness lists, and other written statements that may be available.   


k. Right to Advance Notice of Board Composition and Right to Challenge.  All parties to the complaint will receive advance notice of who will serve on the conduct board or panel and will be given the right to challenge any member on the basis of actual bias prior to the hearing (at least 48 hours prior to the hearing). 


Any challenge will be decided by the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students. 


l. Sexual History/Character.  All parties to a complaint have a right not to face questions or discussion of their sexual history or character unless the hearing chair or administrative hearing officer determines that such information is highly relevant to determining whether the policy has been violated. 


m. Separate Testimony Options.  Any complainant can request to give their testimony via alternate means to being in the physical presence of the person they have accused.  Screens and closed-circuit broadcasts may be permitted, but not to the disadvantage of the accused student.   


n. Right to be Present for Entire Proceeding.  Each party has the right to be present for all testimony and questioning.  Only deliberation is conducted in closed-session without the parties present.  The respondent and complainant are allowed to be present if findings and sanctions are presented orally at the end of the hearing.


o. Right to Present Own Complaint or Use Proxy.  The alleged victim has the right to present his/her own complaint if they want to, or to ask the college to stand as complainant in their place.   


p. Right to Know Outcome and Sanctions. If the complainant is a victim of violence or gender-based misconduct, then the complainant and accused will receive the outcome and sanctions of the hearing in writing at the same time. In such a case, if findings and sanctions are presented orally at the end of the hearing, the complainant is permitted to be present. 


q. Right to Appeal. Both the complainant and the accused have a right to appeal the outcome of a hearing. The decision rendered during the appeal is final. There is no appeal of appeals. 


r. Right to be Informed of Respondent’s Review (Appeal) Status.  The parties will be informed by the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students if any of the parties to the complaint requests an appeal. 


s. Jurisdiction of the Student Conduct Process. If the complainant is a student, but the accused is a Hendrix faculty or staff member, then the case will be processed by Human Resources. If the accused is a student, but the complainant is a Hendrix faculty or staff member, then in most instances the case will be processed through the Student Conduct Process.


If the accusing individual is not a member of the Hendrix community, but the accused is a Hendrix student, then the case will be processed through the Student Conduct Process, with the College serving as the complainant. The Student Conduct Process does not have jurisdiction over non-Hendrix community members, so it is unable to process cases in which a Hendrix student accuses a non-Hendrix member of misconduct. However, the Dean of Students office will assist students in filing complaints with the appropriate officials regarding this category of accused.


 


Procedural Rule for Addressing Past Sexual History


The past sexual history or sexual character of a party will not be admissible by the other party in hearings unless such information is determined to be highly relevant by the Chair.  All such information sought to be admitted will be presumed irrelevant, and any request to overcome this presumption by the parties must be included in the complaint/response or a subsequent written request, and must be reviewed in advance of the hearing by the Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students, or Chair of the hearing board. 


 


Procedural Rule for Addressing Prior Conduct Violations


While previous conduct violations by the accused student are not generally admissible as information about the present alleged violation, the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students may supply previous complaint information to the board, or may consider it if he/she is hearing the complaint, only if:

 

            1) The accused was previously found to be responsible or took responsibility;


            2) The previous incident was substantially similar to the present allegation; or


3) Information indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the accused student. 


 


General Timeline for Conduct Hearings


Actions prior to a student being charged with a conduct violation:
An alleged incident is reported. The Dean of Students Office investigates the allegation. The Dean of Students Office determines there is enough information to charge a student with a conduct violation. The following provides a general timeline of events leading to the hearing date:


Day 1-  Accused student receives the written conduct charge letter


Day 1-3- Within 48 working hours from receipt of the charge letter the following occurs:


The accused student should provide a written statement in response to the charge(s) The accused student should ask witnesses to provide a written statement


The complainant should provide a written statement and ask witnesses to do the same


Day 3-    All initial written statements are due to the Dean of Students office


Day 4-    All initial written statements are processed by the Dean of Students office


Day 5 & 6- The accused student and complainant have 48 hours to review all initial


 statements, and to provide any additional written evidence or witness statements.


*The initial statements submitted cannot be modified or retracted during this time. Any changes in statements can be presented orally during the hearing, or through written addendums to the statement if the witness is not present during the hearing.


Day 6-   After 48 hours of review, all written evidence available for the hearing is finalized.


The accused and complainant will have access to review all final written materials at least 3 working days before the hearing.


Day 9- Hearing takes place. The hearing will typically take place within 9-10 days of the end


of the investigation.


 

*This timeline may be modified to allow for an expedited hearing process only if both the complainant and respondent agree to the modified timeline.