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Student Code of Conduct Procedures for Alleged Behavioral Misconduct

Section

Student Affairs

Effective Date

8/1/17

Date Last Reviewed

8/10/17

I. Definitions

A. Administrative Hearing Officer

A.   Administrative Hearing Officer is an employee that makes decisions in the Formal Conduct Resolution Process regarding policy violations and sanctions.

B. Advisor

B.   Advisor is a person who may attend any portion of the conduct process at the request of a Reporting Party or the Respondent, for the purpose of advising the Reporting Party or the Respondent. The Advisor must be a Member of the University Community unless the Student is facing charges for behavior violations that may result in suspension or expulsion or unless the Student is facing charges for professional standards violations that may result in removal from a professional program.  In those situations, the Student may have anyone serve as their Advisor, including their parents or attorneys. The University will not prohibit family members from attending but may limit each participant to two family members.  Please see the Hearing Rights section for more information on the role of Advisors during Hearings.

C. Conduct Conference

C.   Conduct Conference means a meeting in the Informal Conduct Resolution Process where the Conduct Officer provides notice of a Report to the Respondent, advises them of the process, and takes a statement from the Respondent, and makes a determination at the conclusion of the conduct conference whether the student is responsible for the allegations contained in the Report.

D. Conduct Officer

D. Conduct Officer means the decision-maker in a case utilizing the Informal Conduct Resolution Process.

E. Formal Conduct Resolution Process

E.   Formal Conduct Resolution Process involves the investigation and resolution of any alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct that may result in suspension or expulsion from the University or an alleged violation of professional standards that may result in dismissal from an academic program.

F. Informal Conduct Resolution Process

F.   Informal Conduct Resolution Process means the investigation and resolution of any alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct that will not result in suspension or expulsion from the University or removal from an academic program.

G. Interim Suspension

G.   Interim Suspension means a suspension during the investigation or before the Formal Conduct Resolution Process has concluded.

H. Investigator

H.   Investigator is the individual assigned by the Student Conduct Administrator to conduct an impartial investigation and prepare an investigation report when a Report has been filed with the University.

I. Organization

I.   Organization refers to any group that is recognized by the University as a Recognized Student Organization (RSO). Recognized Student Organizations will be provided the same rights and processes as Students.

J. Preponderance of the Evidence

J.   Preponderance of the Evidence is the standard of review for all allegations of violations of the Student Code of Conduct. This standard requires that the evidence shows that it is more likely than not that the incident, act, or behavior alleged did occur.

K. Report

K. Report means a report of an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct.eans a report of an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

L. Reporting Party

L.   Reporting Party means the person who files a Report or submits information alleging that a Student or Organization violated the Student Code of Conduct. When a Student believes that they have been a victim of another Student’s misconduct, the Student who believes they have been a victim will be invited to participate in the investigation process and will receive notification of the resolution of the Student conduct process as FERPA allows.

M. Respondent

M. Respondent means any Student or Organization accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct.

N. Student

N.   Student includes all persons taking academic courses at the University of North Georgia. This includes, but is not limited to:  part-time, full-time, undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies, distance education and dual-enrolled students. 

O. Student Conduct Administrator

O. Student Conduct Administrator means the employee authorized to oversee the Student Code of Conduct process, including receiving reports, conducting the initial case assessment, assigning cases to investigators, and sending notices and information to the parties. A University Official authorized on a case-by-case basis by the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA) to carry out sanctions upon Student(s) found to have violated the Student Code of Conduct.

P. Student Conduct Hearing Panel

P. Student Conduct Hearing Panel means faculty and students authorized by the Vice President of Student Affairs to determine whether a Student has violated the Student Code of Conduct and to determine sanctions that will be imposed when a violation has occurred. Based on the needs and resources of each campus, a Student Conduct Hearing Panel will consist of at least three members, but no more than seven total members.

Q. Title IX Hearing Panel

Q.   Title IX Hearing Panel means staff and/or faculty authorized and trained by the Title IX Coordinator to determine whether a Student has violated the sexual misconduct policy and to determine sanctions that will be imposed when a violation has occurred. Based on the needs and resources of each campus, a Title IX Hearing Panel will consist of at least three members, but no more than seven total members. This panel does not include students.

R. University Community Member

R.   University Community Member includes any persons enrolled or employed by the University, including faculty, staff, administrators and employees, and recognized University affiliated entities including University Foundations, Student Organizations, University Departments, and Structured Volunteers.

S. University Premises

S.   University Premises includes all land, buildings, facilities, and other property in the possession of or owned, used, contracted with, or controlled by the University (including adjacent streets and sidewalks).

II. Procedure(s)

This process is intended to offer Students guidance and transparency while maintaining efficiency and consistency aimed at providing a timely resolution.  The procedures for receiving, evaluating, and resolving alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct, including academic misconduct and sexual misconduct issues are as

A. Filing a Report and Confidentiality

1.    Any concerned individual, including, but not limited to: faculty, staff, Students, and Community Members, may submit a Report of alleged misconduct by a Student or Organization to a Student Conduct Administrator.

Reporting Parties are encouraged to use the online reporting system (the “Make a Report” link) on the Dean of Students website. 

Reports should contain as much information as possible, such as:
  • the type of misconduct alleged;
  • the date and contact information of the Respondent;
  • the date(s) of the misconduct, the name(s) and contact information of any individual(s) with information regarding the incident;
  • existence/availability of evidence;
  • if a criminal complaint has been made.
2.    Any report should be submitted as soon as possible after the events take place, preferably within 72 hours.  Individuals filing a report or wishing to learn more about the conduct process can arrange to meet with the Student Conduct Administrator without any obligation to file a report. Reports not submitted in writing will be verified prior to beginning an investigation. The University will ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial review and resolution of Reports alleging Student misconduct.

B. Receiving and Evaluating the Conduct Complaint ("Initial Evaluation")

1.    Upon receipt of a Report, the Student Conduct Administrator will evaluate the Report and determine the appropriate course of action, considering the following factors:
  • Verification of accuracy of Report;
  • Potential Standard violated;
  • Severity of the alleged incident;
  • Review of previous Reports to determine whether the Respondent has been involved in similar prior incidents;
  • Consider whether an interim suspension is appropriate.
2.    After receiving and reviewing the Report, the Student Conduct Administrator will make a determination of which process will be used to resolve the case. There are three processes which may be used:
  • Informal – First-time offenses not aggravated by additional circumstances, less severe violations;
  •  Formal – More severe offenses, including, but not limited to violation of professional standards, possession of drugs, repeated alcohol violations, cases involving physical assault, substantial damage to property, theft of high-value items, or substantial disruption to the orderly operation of the University.
Severe and/or repeated violations will be resolved through a Formal Conduct Resolution Process, while most first-time offenses may be resolved through an Informal Conduct Resolution Process.

3.    The Student Conduct Administrator will assign the Report to an Investigator or Conduct Officer.

C. Informal Conduct Resolution Process

  1. The Respondent is notified of the Report and the University’s process for investigating and resolving charges.
  2. The Respondent will be notified of a Student Conduct Conference where the Conduct Officer and Respondent will discuss the Report and the appropriate resolution.
  3. If the Conduct Officer concludes that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that violations of the Student Code of Conduct occurred, the Conduct Officer will determine the appropriate sanctions and notify the Respondent of the sanction in writing.
  4. Failure to attend this Conduct Conference, after notification, may result in the charges being settled without the Respondent’s participation.
  5. An alleged victim and Respondent have the option of selecting an informal resolution in certain Student misconduct cases where they mutually agree, except when deemed inappropriate by the Student Conduct Administrator. 

D. Formal Conduct Resolution Process

Where the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion, the following procedures will apply.

  1. The University will share substantial reports with the System Director at the USG for additional guidance, as appropriate.
  2. The Student Conduct Administrator will communicate with the Respondent and alleged victim (when applicable) and provide written notice of the allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, possible sanctions, and available support services.  This notice will also include the identity of any Investigator involved. Where applicable, a copy will also be provided to the Reporting Party.
  3. Upon receipt of the written notice, the Respondent will have three (3) business days to respond in writing. The Respondent may admit or deny the allegations, put forth a defense of facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support of their defense. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct. In cases of sexual misconduct, any alleged victim will also have three (3) business days to respond to or to supplement the notice.
  4. If the Respondent admits responsibility, the process may proceed to the sanctioning phase or may be informally resolved, if appropriate.
  5. If at any point the investigator determines there is insufficient evidence to support a charge or to warrant further consideration of discipline, then the report should be dismissed.
  6. The investigation will consist of interviews of the alleged victim (where applicable), Reporting Party, Respondent and witnesses identified by the parties, the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other actions that are appropriate. The Investigator should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The Investigator will also keep a written record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation. The purpose of the Investigation is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the charges under the Student Code of Conduct.
  7. The Investigator will prepare an investigation report, which will contain (i) a summary of the allegations, (ii) applicable policies or procedures, (iii) a description or explanation of the evidence obtained and reviewed, (iv) a statement of the evidentiary standard, (v) the undisputed and disputed relevant facts, (vi) recommended charges, findings and potential sanctions.
  8. The Student Conduct Administrator will share the investigation report with the Respondent and the alleged victim (where applicable) or Reporting Party (where appropriate). They will have the right to respond to inaccuracies and discrepancies within the investigation report.
  9. If the Respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) chooses to accept the factual findings, conclusions regarding policy violations and recommended sanctions in the Investigative report, the case will be considered resolved. At this point, a written letter will be issued to the Respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) and Reporting Party (where appropriate) detailing the findings and any sanctions.
  10. If the Respondent and/or alleged victim (where applicable) does not accept the factual findings, conclusions regarding policy violations or sanctions recommended in the investigation report, the Student Conduct Administrator will provide written notice to the Respondent of the resulting charges, as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements and possible sanctions (“Notice of Charges”). 
  11. The Respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) has three (3) business days to respond to the Notice of Charges in writing.  The written response should outline his or her plea in response to the charge(s), and where applicable his or her defense(s), and the facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support.  A nonresponse to the charge(s) by the Respondent will be interpreted as a denial of the charge(s).
  12. The Investigator will conduct further investigation and update the investigation report as warranted by the parties’ responses.
  13. The Student Conduct Administrator will communicate with the Respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) to explain the Formal Conduct Resolution Process. At the conference, the Respondent will choose to have the case heard by an Administrative Hearing Officer or by a Student Conduct Panel. During this conference, the Student Conduct Administrator will provide the hearing guidelines and process, as well as the Respondent’s and rights in the hearing, including the right to an Advisor and the appeals process. In cases of Sexual Misconduct, all cases will be heard by the Title IX Hearing Panel.
  14. The Student Conduct Administrator (or their designee) will schedule the hearing. Notice of the date, time and location of the hearing will be provided to the Respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. With this notice, a final copy of the investigation report minus the recommended sanctions and includes any responses submitted will be provided to the parties and the Administrative Hearing Officer, the Student Conduct Panel or Title IX Hearing Panel.
  15. The Hearing Rights and Hearing Guidelines apply to hearings before an Administrative Hearing Officer, the Student Conduct Panel or the Title IX Hearing Panel.
  16. Within three (3) business days after the hearing, both parties will be provided a written decision via University email of the outcome and any resulting sanctions. Parents of Students under age 21 found responsible of drug or alcohol violations will be notified by the University. Parents of Students over age 21 found responsible of drug or alcohol violations may be notified at the discretion of the Student Conduct Administrator.

E. Appeals

  1. The Respondent has the right to appeal decisions which result in suspension or expulsion in writing via the online appeals link within the student’s decision letter within five (5) business days of the date of the final written decision. Alleged victims (where applicable) also have the right to appeal the Findings and/or the Sanctions in Sexual Misconduct hearings.
  2. The Office of Student Integrity will forward written appeals to the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee. The appeal should be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with the Reporting Party, the Respondent or any alleged victim (where applicable) is required.
  3. The Vice President, or her designee, may affirm the original finding and sanction; affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of lesser severity; remand the case back to the decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand.
  4. The Vice President or his/her designee will then issue a decision in writing to both parties. 
  5. The decision of the Vice President or his/her designee may be appealed in writing within five (5) business days (as determined by the date of the decision letter) to the President of the University solely on the basis (i) procedural errors, (ii) substantive errors, or (iii) new evidence. 
  6. An appeal of the President's decision may be made to the Board of Regents in accordance with the BOR Policy 8.6.  However, sanctions may be initiated after the President’s decision has been issued.

III. Policy Reference

The procedures above are part of the operational implementation of the University of North Georgia’s Student Code of Conduct Policy, and are in compliance with that policy.

IV. Review and Responsibility

Responsible Party

Vice President for Student Affairs

Review

Every three years (or more frequently if needed)

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