Responding to Violations of College Policy

Any member of the College community may file a report against a student or student organization alleging a violation of the Code of Conduct. Reports of any alleged policy violation should be filed with the Student Conduct Office as soon as possible, normally within 30 days of either the incident taking place or knowledge of the incident becoming available. Extension of this time period may be granted at the discretion of the Student Conduct Office.

Upon receipt of a report the Coordinator of Student Conduct or the hearing officer to which the report is assigned will review the materials and determine what College policies may have been violated and the manner in which the infraction will be addressed. These alleged policy violations become the charges which will be brought by the College against the accused student(s) when the matter moves forward through the Conduct System.

In the case of an alleged violation of any of the College’s policies regarding sexual offenses by a student or student organization the College will follow the procedures outlined in the Sexual Misconduct Policy section of the Student Handbook.

It is important to note that the rules of process, procedure, and/or evidence that are applicable to civil and criminal cases do not apply to College hearings.

Alleged violations may be addressed in one of the following ways:

Educational Conference

If a hearing officer determines the violation(s) is minor in nature and the student has no history of other conduct violations then the student will attend an Educational Conference. An Educational Conference is a conversation regarding the violation(s) and a review of strategies for avoiding such violations in the future.

Students who do not appear for their Educational Conference will either receive an Educational Letter or be sent to a Hearing.

Educational Letter

An electronic letter may be sent to a student or student organization involved in a first-time minor violation outlining the incident that was reported and stating the College’s expectations regarding the behavior.

Educational Letters address quiet hours and health & safety issues.  These letters are noted in a student’s conduct record and may be used in determining appropriate sanctions for future violations.

The student or student organization has the right to request a hearing to discuss the charges. Contact must be made with the College official who sent the educational letter within five business days of receipt of the letter, otherwise the matter will be considered resolved and the student/organization will be required to fulfill the specified expectations or directions.

Interim Suspension: In certain serious circumstances, a student or student organization may be suspended or face restrictions in activities prior to a hearing. This might occur in an effort to ensure the health, safety, or well-being of members of the College community or to preserve College property; to ensure the suspended student’s physical and emotional safety and well-being; or to prevent the disruption of, or interference with, the normal operations of the College.

This action will only be taken upon the direction of the Dean of Students or his/her designee.

When a student or student organization is placed on interim suspension, the student will receive requisite notice and a hearing will be scheduled as soon as is practical. The Vice President for Student Affairs shall be notified of such action.

A student placed on Interim Suspension is not permitted access to the College campus or to participate in any College sponsored or supervised activities, including classes. If there is an administrative need to be on campus, the student must submit a written request to the Dean of Students office including the exact date, time, and reason for such request. A student placed on interim suspension is ineligible to register for or attend classes at any other USNH institution for as long as the charge remains pending.

Hearing or Hearing Board

Students charged with a violation or who are requested to appear before a hearing or hearing board are expected to attend.  If a student is unable to attend he/she may submit a detailed and truthful statement regarding his or her observations and involvement in the incident to the hearing officer or hearing board chairperson.

Should a student or student organization representative(s) fail to appear for a scheduled hearing or otherwise choose to limit or withhold a response to the charge(s), the hearing officer or chairperson of the hearing board will proceed with the hearing. Any decision(s) made shall be based on the evidence presented at the hearing; failure to attend a hearing will not be a presumption of responsibility.

The purpose of the hearing is to fully discuss all aspects of the incident in order to understand the circumstances, review the behavior and the decisions that were made, educate the student(s) regarding College policy and expectations, determine responsibility for the action(s), and issue appropriate sanction(s).

If it is determined that the student or student organization could face Disciplinary Suspension, Disciplinary Dismissal or Disaffiliation of a Student Organization then the case will usually be addressed by a Hearing Board, except in some circumstances indicated in the Hearing Procedures. Regardless of whether the case is heard by the Hearing Officer or the Hearing Board, the format is similar.

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice is an educational and collaborative approach to dealing with violations that have impacted individuals and/or the community. Students who are prepared to take responsibility for their behaviors associated with an incident may be offered, if other pre-conditions are met, an intake interview to determine whether restorative justice is an appropriate means for resolving the matter. If it is determined that this is the case, the student will participate in a facilitated conference with those affected by the incident, and collaborate in designing a plan for repairing the harm done. If completed, the restorative justice process replaces a more traditional hearing process. As suggested above, restorative justice is not applicable for all types of violations or behaviors. The final decision regarding whether a case may or may not be referred to the restorative justice process rests with the Director of Student Conduct or his/her designee.

 

College Hearing Procedures

When it is determined that an incident may involve policy violations that must be addressed through a hearing, the hearing officer will contact all the students alleged to be involved in the policy violation. This contact, via e-mail to the College-issued e-mail account, will include:

  • the policies the student is alleged to have violated;
  • a copy of relevant written materials that constitute evidence of the violation (audio and video materials are the property of the College; copies will not be sent to the accused student(s) but will be available for review with the hearing officer up to 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing or hearing board);
  • a web link to the student’s rights in the conduct process; and
  • a date, time and location for the student to meet with the hearing officer or hearing board.

At least 24 hours prior to the meeting the student is expected to contact the hearing officer to indicate how they would like to resolve the situation. Students have the option to:

  1. Take responsibility for the violation(s) and meet with the hearing officer regarding the incident, during which sanctions will be issued, or
  1. Indicate they are not responsible for some or all of the violations they are charged with and participate in a hearing for the hearing officer to determine responsibility and appropriate sanctions if deemed responsible.

Students generally have no less than two but no more than 20 days for the hearing to occur. In cases where circumstances prevent the hearing being scheduled within this time frame, for example, during the start or end of the semester and during examination periods and summer session, the timeframe may be waived or extended at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct or a designee. In addition, a student charged with a violation(s) may waive the minimum two-day period.

Students with pending criminal charges may request a delay in the hearing until the conclusion of their legal case.  The Director of Student Conduct will determine whether to grant or deny the request.

In cases where the outcome of the hearing may result in sanctions of Disciplinary Suspension, Disciplinary Dismissal, or Deactivation of a Student Organization, the Coordinator of Student Conduct will generally constitute a hearing board of at least three members from the hearing board membership to adjudicate the case. However, there are times (e.g., during the start or end of the semester, during examination periods and summer session, as well as other times deemed necessary due to calendar, personnel, and/or other special consideration) when constitution of a board will not be practical. At such times, the Coordinator of Student Conduct or a hearing officer will adjudicate the case in lieu of a board.

Only members of the College community who have direct knowledge of the incident can attend the hearing. Written requests for specified additional persons to attend a hearing will be granted or denied at the sole discretion of the hearing board chairperson or hearing officer. The Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee may name an impartial observer to be present during the hearing.

The hearing consists of a reading of the charge(s) and a response by the student(s), including an indication of whether the student accepts responsibility for the policy violation(s). The incident is presented by the hearing officer and the student is offered the opportunity to respond. Additional information about the incident will be presented, including witnesses, if applicable.

During a formal hearing all College-related individuals who have first-hand information regarding the alleged incident will be provided the opportunity to present information. Non-College-related individuals may attend the hearing as a witness; however, it is it is the obligation of the student who wants them to attend to notify them of the date, time, and location of the hearing. Additionally, students must notify the Student Conduct Office at least 24 hours prior to the hearing if they have requested a non-College-related individual(s) to serve as a witness. Finally, given the numerous differences between criminal and civil court proceedings and the College’s Conduct System, expert, character, or witnesses whose quality of information is limited to second hand or hearsay will not be allowed to participate in a hearing. Questioning by the student, the complainant, and the hearing officer (or hearing board members) will be permitted.

A hearing officer or hearing board may, at their discretion, accommodate (in any manner they deem appropriate) concerns for personal safety, well-being, and/or fear of confrontation by the complainant, the accused student, and/or any witness(es). Pertinent records, exhibits, and taped or written statements may be accepted for consideration by the hearing officer or hearing board and will occur at their discretion. Individuals charged with a violation, as well as any impacted parties, have the right to an advisor of their choice, within certain exceptions: Specifically, advisors are limited to current members of the College community (students, staff, or faculty).  Advisors are not permitted to speak or participate directly in any hearing.  If concurrent criminal or civil charges have been filed in association with the incident then the student may have a non-College-related attorney present at the hearing as a non-participating observer.

Hearings conclude with summary statements by the accused student as well as the victim, if present. The victim, other impacted parties, and the accused student may submit impact statements that will be considered by the hearing officer, chairperson, or the hearing board during the determination of sanction(s) if necessary.

The hearing officer or hearing board will adjourn to deliberate in private, review the case, and assign responsibility if appropriate. This determination is made on the basis of a preponderance of evidence presented at the hearing – namely, that it is more likely than not that the student or student organization has committed the violation(s) as charged. Note: Decisions and sanctions are sometimes provided to students at the hearing.

It is the responsibility of the hearing officer to determine the appropriate sanction(s). In the case of a hearing board, once the board members have determined responsibility for the violation(s), they will identify and describe any mitigating or aggravating factors they believe should impact the sanction(s) that are issued to the student(s) or student organization. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the hearing board chairperson, in consultation with the Director or Coordinator of Student Conduct, to issue the sanction(s) based on a number of factors including:

  • a student’s or student organization’s conduct history
  • information from any impact statements
  • the standard sanction guidelines, and
  • the mitigating and aggravating factors identified by the hearing board members

Students will normally receive the outcome via e-mail within five days of the completion of the hearing. Determinations by the hearing officer, hearing board, or the chairperson will be considered final, pending normal appeal processes.

NOTE: Violations, particularly those associated with alcohol and controlled substance use, which occur during the Orientation period will be sanctioned more severely than those occurring during the academic year.

 

College Sanctions

A student or student organization found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct will be sanctioned based on the specific violation(s). Factors such as past conduct action will be taken into consideration when sanctions are imposed.

Since students have the right to appeal (based on specific criteria – see Appeals section), sanctions will generally not be implemented until the appeal process has been exhausted. However, in cases where the health, safety, or well-being of a particular student or the College community is threatened, the Director of Student Conduct may authorize immediate implementation of any sanctions and offer to expedite the review. She or he may also authorize immediate implementation of the sanction(s) during the final examination period.

The following list identifies the range of sanctions that may be imposed on a student or student organization, either individually or in combination. The list is not all-inclusive; it provides a sample of the types of sanctions that may be issued.

a. Official Warning: A documented warning that unacceptable behavior has occurred. Further similar behavior or another violation of the Code of Conduct may result in more serious action.

b. Educational Sanction: Designed for students who violate health & safety policies, this sanction requires attendance at a group meeting with a College Official to review the policies and explore why the College treats them so seriously.

c. Restitution and/or Fines: Providing an appropriate monetary or material replacement for the loss, damage, or injury caused as a result of the misconduct. In situations where restitution cannot be billed directly to a student’s account at the Student Accounts Office, a hold will be placed on their account by the Dean of Students Office pending proof of payment of, or acceptable payment plan for, the restitution approved by the College official who issued the sanction of restitution.

d. Disciplinary Restriction (DR): Disciplinary Restriction limits and reduces the privileges of a student or student organization. DR normally lasts for a specific period of time, although some conditions may remain in effect permanently. Additionally, DR is a sanction level at which the Dean of Student’s Office will report information in response to reference checks or referrals.

While this list is not all-inclusive, examples of conditions of DR are:

  • re-assignment to another residential facility
  • being banned from specific College facilities
  • being denied the privilege of posting materials in College facilities
  • being denied the ability to schedule and hold events in College facilities
  • an indication that if specific violations occur again, a student will be banned from all on campus residential facilities
  • being denied the ability to select a housing assignment or type of housing for the following academic year
  • being removed from College housing
  • an indication that if specific violations occur again a student or student organization will be suspended, dismissed, or deactivated

e. College Probation (CP):  Restricts or alters the relationship between a student and Keene State College. CP normally lasts for a specific period of time, although some conditions may remain in effect permanently.  Being placed on College Probation will affect a student’s ability to participate in study abroad and alternative spring break programs.  Additionally, CP is a sanction level at which the Dean of Student’s Office will report information in response to reference checks or referrals.

It is important to note that students who violate policy while on CP will most likely be suspended from the College.

f. Deferred Suspension: The loss of the privilege to attend Keene State College for a period of time may be deferred. This means the suspension would not be enforced immediately pending specific actions or conditions imposed upon the student being fulfilled. Any violation of those conditions or failure to act will result in enforcement of the suspension. It may also result in further disciplinary action.

g. Disciplinary Suspension: The loss of the privilege of attending Keene State College for a specified period of time, normally not less than one semester or more than two years. During the period of suspension, the student is not eligible for a statement of “good standing.” A suspended student is banned from campus and may not attend classes or attend or participate in any College function during this period. Suspended students may petition the Dean of Students to be allowed on campus for administrative reasons. A notation of “Disciplinary Suspension” is entered on the student’s transcript. Students suspended for a semester or more must apply to the Director of Admissions for formal readmission to the College. When suspended, the student is ineligible to register for or attend classes at any University System of New Hampshire (USNH) institution for the duration of the suspension.

h. Disciplinary Dismissal: This constitutes the final separation from Keene State College and renders the student ineligible for readmission at any time in the future. In addition, the student is permanently banned from the College premises and may never receive a statement of “good standing.” Students who are dismissed for disciplinary reasons may be only allowed on campus for legitimate campus administrative business with the prior approval of the Dean of Students.

The notation of “Disciplinary Dismissal” is entered on the student’s transcript and becomes a part of his or her permanent record. The student is ineligible to register or attend classes at any USNH institution for two years following the date of the dismissal from Keene State College.

i. Deactivation of a Student Organization: Loss of recognition by the College for either a specific period of time or permanently. Upon completion of the period of deactivation, an organization may have the opportunity to make a new application for College recognition. Often, the organization must show that it has complied with the sanctions or agreements associated with the deactivation.

 

Failure to Complete a Sanction

Failure to satisfactorily complete a sanction will result in a student or student organization receiving additional conduct sanctions. Generally, the student or student organization will be made aware of what will happen for failing to complete a sanction in the original Hearing Outcome Letter. Any sanction that has not been completed at the time of a student’s departure from the College shall be considered outstanding. If or when the student attempts to return to the College, approval must be granted by the Dean of Students prior to returning to classes.