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. The student or student organization has the right to request a hearing to discuss the charges. If contact is not made with the Hearing Officer within three business days of receipt of the letter, the matter is resolved and the student is expected to fulfill any sanction(s) specified.
Conflicts between individuals may be resolved through the collaborative process of mediation. If mediation is deemed an appropriate step to take in resolving a conflict, contact will be made with all the individuals involved, and an explanation of the goals and purposes of this process will be offered. If accepted by all parties, mediation will be viewed as an alternative solution to the situation and a meeting scheduled. In the event it becomes apparent that coming to agreement in this way is not possible, the incident may be pursued through a conduct hearing. All agreements reached through mediation are considered binding. At any point, if it is determined that the agreement is not being fulfilled, the negligent individual may face further conduct action or additional mediation.
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 Coordinator of Student Conduct or his/her designee.
Students alleged to have violated policy, which will be addressed through a hearing, are expected to attend the hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to fully discuss all aspects of the incident to understand the circumstances, determine responsibility for the action(s), and issue appropriate sanction(s). If determined that the student or student organization could face serious sanctions (for example, Disciplinary Suspension, Disciplinary Dismissal, Disaffiliation of a Student Organization), the case generally will 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.
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 as well as other means deemed appropriate, will include: the policies the student is alleged to have violated; a copy of the Incident Report that was filed; 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. A student’s options are:
- to take responsibility for the violation and meet with the Hearing Officer regarding the incident, during which sanctions will be issued, or
- to take responsibility and participate in the Hearing regarding the sanctions, or
- to indicate they are not responsible 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 business days for the hearing to occur. In cases where circumstances prevent the hearing to be 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 Coordinator of Student Conduct or a designee. A student charged with a violation(s) may waive the minimum two-day period.
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 practicable. At such times, the Coordinator of Student Conduct or a Hearing Officer may adjudicate the case in lieu of a Board.
The hearing will generally be held in private. 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 may name an impartial observer to be present during the hearing.
At a conduct hearing, the rules of process, procedure, and/or evidence that are applicable to civil and criminal cases do not apply. 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. A description of 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. When a formal hearing takes place, all College-related individuals who may have first hand information regarding the alleged incident will be summoned to the hearing 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 Office of Student Conduct 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.
The 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 listed here. Specifically, advisors are limited to members of the College community (student, staff, or faculty), unless concurrent criminal or civil charges have been filed in association with the incident. In such cases, the advisor may be a non-College-related attorney. Advisors are not permitted to speak or participate directly in any hearing. The hearing will conclude with summary statements by the student as well as the complainant. The opportunity will be available to the complainant, other impacted parties, and the accused student to offer 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 – it is more likely than not that the student or student organization has committed the violation(s) as charged. 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 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. The students will normally receive the outcome via e-mail within 5 business 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 under this policy. 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 Chair of the Hearing Board will proceed with the hearing. Any decision(s) made shall be based on the evidence presented at the hearing; students will not be found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct simply because she or he does not attend the hearing.
Some policy violations (complicity, courtesy & quiet hours, and health & safety-related), which are more minor in nature, will initially be addressed through non-conduct, administrative actions. Subsequently, the standard sanctions listed here reflect the number of violations that are addressed through the Conduct System, not including the violations that are addressed administratively
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. Sanctions, particularly those associated with alcohol and controlled substance violation, which occur during the Orientation period will be more severe. Since students have the right to appeal (based on specific criteria – see Appeals section), generally sanctions shall 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 Coordinator 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 is intended to suggest 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. An Educational Conference may be issued if a Hearing Officer determines the violation(s) are of a minor nature and the student has no history of other recent conduct violations. An Educational Conference is a conversation regarding the violation(s) and a discussion of strategies for avoiding such violations in the future.
b. An Official Reprimand is 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.
c. Educational Sanctions are designed with the intent of teaching the student why the behavior displayed is unacceptable within our community. Some possible educational sanctions include:
- researching a specific topic
- writing a reaction paper
- designing and/or presenting community awareness programs
- participating in a service project
- completing a Wellness Assessment
- developing or complying with a behavioral contract
- community service projects
- participation in a referred learning experience
- participation in restorative justice
d. Restitution could involve providing an appropriate service, 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 Student Accounts Office pending proof of payment of, or acceptable payment plan for, the restitution approved by the College official receiving the restitution.
e. Residential Probation restricts the privileges of a student or student organization in conjunction with on-campus residential facilities. Residential Probation normally lasts for a specific period of time, although some conditions may remain in effect permanently. Additionally, Residential Probation 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 Residential Probation are:
- re-assignment to another residential facility
- being banned from specific or all residential facilities
- being denied the privilege of posting materials in residential facilities
- being denied the ability to schedule and hold events in residential facilities
- an indication that if specific violations occur again, a resident will be removed from all on campus residential facilities.
- being denied the ability to select a room for the following academic year
f. College Probation restricts or alters the relationship between a student and Keene State College. College Probation normally lasts for a specific period of time, although some conditions may remain in effect permanently. Additionally, College Probation 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 College Probation are:
- removal from a recognized student organization or leadership role within a recognized student organization
- being banned from some or all campus facilities
- being denied the privilege of posting materials in campus facilities
- being denied the ability to schedule and hold events in a campus facility
- an indication that if specific violations occur again a student or student organization will be suspended, dismissed, or deactivated
- being denied a statement of good standing by the College, which could have further implications for scholarship recipients, impact a student’s ability to participate in certain programs at the College, or restrict them from certain paid or elected positions at the College.
g. Loss of College Housing is invoked when a student has been found responsible for a serious violation(s) or a previously warned student willingly broke his or her contract with the Office of Residential Life and Housing or has not fulfilled previously imposed sanctions. A student who loses housing is not eligible for financial reimbursement or other special considerations. In addition, such students will not be permitted to live in College-owned housing for the duration of their time at Keene State College.
h. Disciplinary Suspension is 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; she or he 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.
i. Disciplinary Dismissal 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.
j. Deactivation of a Student Organization means that the group has lost recognition by the College for either a specific period of time or permanently. In addition, all sanctions listed above may be applied to a recognized student organization. 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.
k. Restorative Justice (RJ) is a sanction that may be issued when an incident has involved in harm being committed against individual(s) or the community. If the Hearing Officer or RJ Intake Officer agree the student has taken responsibility for their behavior and is genuinely remorseful for the harm their behaviors have caused, the student can participate in a process with harmed parties and community members, to explore the harms, and generate concrete steps that will be completed by the student to repair the damage done to the individuals(s) and the community.
Failure to satisfactorily complete a sanction places any student or student organization in jeopardy of receiving additional conduct action. Such actions will normally take the form of an additional sanction being issued to the student or student organization. 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 Associate Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students prior to returning to classes.
Because each student, incident, and conduct action is unique, Hearing Officers and Boards take a number of factors into account when addressing each case. Past conduct history, the nature of the incident, whether the violation demonstrated or involved bias or discrimination, and input from a impacted party (if one is involved) all contribute to the sanctions that are issued. However, in an effort to bring as much consistency as is both possible and appropriate, there are guidelines for a number of policy categories that students are frequently found responsible for. This list is neither all-inclusive nor absolute. As trained and experienced individuals working within the conduct system, the staff and Board members recognize there may be instances when the minimum standard sanctions are not appropriate; not because they are too serious or too lenient, but because it is believed they will not appropriately and effectively provide the educational experience the individual student needs. In such circumstances, the minimum standard sanctions may not be issued, in lieu of others that the Hearing Officer or Hearing Board feel would be more appropriate.
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.
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.