Practice AreaStudent Disciplinary hearings
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Understanding The Student University Disciplinary Hearing Process.
A charge letter is the document that a student will receive if he/she has allegedly violated the Student Conduct Code. A student must call the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at 644.5136 within 5 class days of receiving the charge letter to set up an appointment for an information session.
Typically, students may choose both their hearing type and hearing body. The Student Conduct Code provides for two distinct types of hearings, informal and formal.
Informal hearings are best suited for cases involving few questions of fact. They can typically be scheduled quickly, at the convenience of both the charged student and the hearing body. In an informal hearing, the University does not automatically call witnesses to support the charges. However, the charged student may call witnesses and present evidence. The hearing body may gather any additional information needed, including calling witnesses. If additional information is needed, the charged student will be notified.
The Formal Hearing Process
Formal hearings are most appropriate for cases involving more serious alleged violations of the Student Conduct Code. Formal hearings require the hearing body to call appropriate witnesses to provide information relevant to the charges. Formal hearings are held no sooner than five class days after notice is given to the charged student. The hearings are recorded and this recording serves as the official record of the proceedings.
The following order of presentation is recommended for use in formal hearings. The hearing body may change the order if necessary:
- Presentation of formal charges.
- Opening statement by the University, followed by the opening statement of the charged student.
- Presentation of evidence and witnesses by the University, followed by questioning of those witnesses by the hearing body and the charged student. Witnesses are then dismissed.
- Presentation of evidence and witnesses by the charged student, followed by questioning of those witnesses by the charged student and the hearing body. Witnesses are then dismissed.
- Questions directed to the charged student by the hearing body.
- Closing statement by the University, followed by the closing statement of the charged student.
What Is The Appeals Process?
Please note that information on this page is in reference to the University’s student conduct process:
- For those seeking to address Admissions appeals, please contact the Office of Admissions at 644-6200.
- For those seeking to address Academic Honor Policy appeals, please visit this webpage: fda.fsu.edu/Academics/Academic-Honor-Policy.
- For those addressing appeals of a student conduct case from University Housing, please contact Residence Life at 644-2863 for more information.
An appeal may be requested on any first-level decision, provided that one or more of the reasons for appeal listed in (3)(c) is relevant to the case. On appeal, the burden of proof rests with the student organization to show clearly that a fundamental due process error has occurred during the first level hearing process that would substantially impact the outcome of the hearing. The appellate body varies depending on the initial hearing body and is outlined below.
- Appellate Officers.
- Recommended decisions of the Student Conduct Board may be appealed to the Dean of Students (or designee).
- Recommended decisions of Greek Student Conduct Boards may be appealed to the Dean of Students (or designee).
- Recommended decisions of Administrative Hearing Panels may be appealed to the Dean of Students (or designee).
- Recommended decisions of the Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (and designees) may be appealed to the Dean of Students (or designee).
- Recommended decisions of other hearing officers appointed by the Dean of Students may be appealed to the Dean of Students (or designee, including a panel).
- Recommended decisions of the Dean of Students may be appealed to the Vice President (or designee).
- Appeal Requests.
- A written request shall be submitted to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities within five (5) class days after the student organization is notified of the initial hearing decision.
- The request shall state the reason(s) for appeal (see Section3. below), the supporting facts, and the recommended way to correct the error.
- Appeals are not opportunities for full rehearings of cases already decided. Appeal considerations are limited to:
- Due process errors involving violations of a charged student’s organization’s fundamental due process rights (see Section (1(g)) that substantially affected the outcome of the initial hearing.
- Demonstrated prejudice against any party by the person presiding over the hearing. Such prejudice must be evidenced by a conflict of interest, bias, pressure, or influence that precluded a fair and impartial hearing.
- Newly discovered, relevant information that was not reasonably available at the time of the original hearing and that would have substantially affected the outcome of the original hearing.
- A sanction that is extraordinarily disproportionate to the violation committed.
- The preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing does not support the finding with regard to responsibility. Appeals based on this consideration will be limited solely to a review of the record of the first-level hearing, except newly discovered evidence under Section (c)3. above may also be considered.
- Appellate Review.
- Will involve an initial file review by the appellate officer. The appellate officer may make a determination based solely on this review. The outcome of the file review may become the official decision (see Section (5) below regarding appellate decisions).
- If the appellate officer determines a need for additional information, that officer may request written materials and/or an appeal hearing with the charged student organization.
- If deemed necessary, an appeal hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) class days of receiving the written request for appeal.
- If deemed necessary, an appeal hearing will involve hearing the charged student organization and any witnesses called by the student organization; the appellate officer may determine whether there is a need to call any further witnesses or gather additional information.
- An appeal hearing will be audio recorded; this recording will serve as the official record of the hearing.
- The charged student organization will be afforded the opportunity to bring an advisor to the appellate hearing.
- All hearings will be fair and impartial. The charged student organization may submit a written challenge to the impartiality of any appellate officer to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Decisions on challenges shall be final and not subject to appeal.
- If the charged student organization fails to appear at the scheduled appeal hearing (after proper notice) or otherwise fails to cooperate with the Student Organization Conduct Code process, the hearing may still be held in its absence.
- Appellate Recommendations and Decisions.
- The appellate officer may recommend to affirm, modify, or reverse the first-level decision; or order that a new hearing be held.
- All appellate recommendations are transmitted to the Vice President. The Vice President (or designee) has the right to affirm, modify, or reverse the recommended decision and enter a final decision, or to order a new hearing.
- All final decisions are communicated in writing within fifteen (15) class days of an appellate hearing. This time period may be extended if necessary for consideration of the record on appeal.
- Once approved by the Vice President (or designee), appellate decisions become final agency action. Final agency action decisions may be appealed by writ of certiorari to the Second Judicial Circuit in and for Leon County, Florida.
- Except in the case of an interim disciplinary action pursuant to Section (5) below, the charged student organization’s status will remain unchanged until the appeallate process is final.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, the hearing body will make a determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” for each charge. If a decision of responsible is reached, the hearing body will craft a set of educational sanctions for the student to complete in order to fulfill the conduct process. These sanctions will be detailed in the decision letter along with a deadline for completion. If the deadline is not met, a judicial hold may be placed on a student’s University records.
The student has 5 class days to pick up and sign for their decision letter in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
An information session is an informal meeting with a representative from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities who will explain to a student his/her rights, discuss hearing options, and answer any questions. It is NOT a hearing, but an opportunity for a student to become more informed of the conduct process.
The Student Conduct Code affords all students involved in the University conduct process the right to an advisor (see section (7)(c)3). An advisor can be a friend, family member, faculty member, attorney, or anyone a student chooses. Student Government sponsors a Student Defender who can also advise students going through the conduct process. Regardless of who a student chooses to advise him/her, the advisor cannot speak for a student in the hearing unless authorized by the hearing body. Students will need to complete and submit the Role of Advisor form to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities two class days prior to their hearing in order for an advisor to be present at the hearing.
The University provides the following rights to the complainant. The cases to which these rights may apply include but are not limited to sexual misconduct, endangerment, harassment, stalking, and hazing. Complainants must notify the Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or University Housing at least two (2) class days prior to the scheduled hearing, if they wish to exercise any of the following rights listed in this section:
- To have his or her unrelated past behavior excluded from the hearing. The hearing body will decide if such information is unrelated. The past sexual history of the complainant is not relevant, unless deemed essential by the hearing body to protect fundamental due process.
- To attend an information session, during which time the complainant can view all materials related to the case and receive instruction regarding the disciplinary process and the charged student’s and complainant’s rights. The University shall provide notice to the complainant of these rights at least five (5) class days prior to a student conduct hearing.
- To have an advisor accompany the complainant when presenting information to the hearing body and to any other relevant meetings held throughout the disciplinary process.
- To present evidence including presenting witnesses and/or signed written statements, as well as other relevant reports and documentary evidence.
- To question the charged student and witnesses during the hearing. Questions to the charged student will first be posed to the hearing body, and depending on the case, the hearing body will pose the questions to the charged student.
- To submit an impact statement to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities or University Housing. This information will be used only in the sanctioning phase of deliberations. if the charged student is found responsible for the charge(s). The charged student may request to view the impact statement. The request will be considered by the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities or University Housing in consultation with the complainant.
- To request to testify in a separate room from the charged student so long as the process does not unduly compromise the charged student’s fundamental due process right to question the witness.
- To request to be present throughout the entire hearing, or portions thereof. This option will be considered by the hearing body, and its decision shall be final and not subject to appeal.
- To be notified of the status and outcome of the student conduct code process at the first hearing level and final outcome to the extent that the outcome directly relates to the complainant and the notification does not violate the privacy rights of the charged student.
- To appeal any first-level decision, provided that one or more of the reasons for appeal listed in (3)(c) is relevant to the case. On appeal, the burden of proof rests with the complainant to show clearly that an error substantially affecting the outcome of the proceedings, or constituting a fundamental due process right of the complainant, has occurred during the first level hearing process. The appellate body varies depending on the initial hearing body and is outlined in Section (3), Appeals. All appellate decisions are considered recommended decisions to the Vice President (or designee).
In light of the facts and circumstances of each case, the following sanctions, or combination of sanctions (with or without appropriate modifications) may be imposed upon any student found to have violated the Student Conduct Code. Certain sanctions may incur a financial cost.
- Reprimand (written or verbal).
- Parental Notification Letter.
- Service Hours – completion of tasks under the supervision of a University department or outside agency.
- Educational Activities – attendance at educational programs, interviews with appropriate officials, planning and implementing educational programs, or other educational activities.
- Counseling Assessment – referral for assessment at a counseling center for alcohol/drug dependence, general mental health, or other counseling issues.
- Restitution only in cases involving University property. Restitution must be submitted to the appropriate University department in a manner that is approved by that University department.
- Conduct Probation – a period of time during which any further violations of the Student Conduct Code may result in more serious sanctions being imposed. Some of the restrictions that may be placed on the student during the probationary period include, but are not limited to: participation in student activities, representation of the University on athletic teams or in other leadership positions, entrance into University residence halls or other areas of campus, or contact with another specified person(s).
- Disciplinary Probation – a period of time during which any further violation of the Student Conduct Code puts the student’s status with the University in jeopardy. If the student is found “responsible” for another violation of the Code during the period of Disciplinary Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing a sanction of Suspension, Dismissal, or Expulsion from the University. Some of the restrictions that may be placed on the student during the probationary period include, but are not limited to, participation in University or student activities, representation of the University on athletic teams or in other leadership positions, entrance into University residence halls or other areas of campus, or contact with another specified person(s).
- Change in University Housing assignment.
- Exclusion (either temporary or permanent) from University Housing.
- Suspension – separation from the University for a specified period, not to exceed two years. This may include restricted access to campus and/or other specified activities.
- Dismissal – separation from the University for an indefinite period of time. Readmission is possible but not guaranteed and will only be considered after two years from the effective date of the dismissal, based on meeting all readmission criteria and obtaining clearance from the Dean of Students or designee. This may include restricted access to campus and/or other specified activities.
- Expulsion – separation from the University without the possibility of readmission. This may include restricted access to campus and/or other specified activities.
- Withholding of diplomas, transcripts, or other records.
- Transcript Notations – a written notation indicating that disciplinary action was taken. This sanction may be applied only in cases in which the student has been permanently separated from the University.
- Restrictions on contact with specified people.
” Mr. Meadows calm and reassuring personality helped make a bad situation much better. Mr. Meadows made sure that my son was kept current and involved in his case. Mr. Meadows understood that my son was very distraught about the charges and was very compassionate and helpful.
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