Union College respects the dignity and rights of each of its students. In all Board hearings, students and student organization officers or representatives are asked to review their rights and are given the opportunity to ask questions.
- The right to be advised of the information against them, including the nature of the alleged violations, the documentation of those violations, and the names of adverse witnesses and the information they provided.
- The right to present one’s case and to rebut unfavorable inferences that might be drawn, including the right to question witnesses and the Complainant.
- In student organization cases, individuals who provide information as part of an investigation may remain anonymous throughout the conduct process, provided their identities are known to the College and the investigative entity serves as a witness.
- The right to present the information of any qualified and competent witness who has direct, personal knowledge of the incident or conduct in question. Unless otherwise provided for and/or required by federal or state laws, the Accused may request the assistance of an Advisor who is a member of the College community.
- The right to have an Advisor.
- The right to be absent from a hearing without excuse with the understanding that the case will be heard without the student present and a decision rendered based upon the evidence or information available.
- The right to be presumed not responsible until the matter is adjudicated and a decision is reached.
- The right to submit an impact statement to the hearing Board and/or the Director of Student Conduct to be considered in determining final sanctions.
- The right to delay a hearing for up to five (5) days if a legitimate excuse has been established in the opinion of the Dean of Students or designee.
- The right to be advised of the result of the hearing and the rationale for the decision within ten (10) days.
Students with Disabilities
If a student with a disability needs a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in any aspect of the judicial process, then the student must submit a request through the Director of the Accommodative Services & International Advising Office.
Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities: Guidelines for Hearings
Board proceedings are administrative in nature and are not governed by the rights and rules that apply in a court of law. However, if an organization is alleged to have violated the Student Conduct Code or other College policy and must appear before a Board for a hearing, the disciplinary system does provide that organization with certain rights and obligations (as set forth under “Rights of Individuals and Organizations” above).
These, as well as the rules and responsibilities that govern Board hearing procedures are described in this section.
Organizations alleged to have violated the Student Conduct Code or other College policy are expected to become familiar with the rules and regulations governing Board hearings and to keep themselves informed of developments in their case through frequent contact with the Student Affairs Office. Organizations are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the support and guidance of the Student Affairs Office.
Organizations responding to the disciplinary allegations heard by the Hearing Boards are entitled to have a single Advisor present at their hearing. All parties must identify their Advisors to Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct in writing. Only currently enrolled Union College students, member of the Union College faculty, and members of the Union College administration may serve as Advisors.
Advisors are not permitted to address the Hearing Board. The Chair of the Board may remove any Advisor who distracts or disrupts the process. While student leaders are free to confer with organization members, friends, and others, they should understand that they themselves are responsible for responding to allegations and questions at the hearing. The Advisor’s most important role is to assist the organization’s leaders in reviewing and understanding the procedures related to a hearing and to assist the organization in obtaining answers to questions about the hearing.
Because organizations, through their members and leaders, are responsible for their conduct, for responding truthfully to allegations, and for participating truthfully at a hearing, students should not expect Advisors to write statements and/or otherwise prepare a case for them. While an Advisor may appropriately help an organization anticipate questions and issues likely to arise at a hearing; and, while an Advisor might provide feedback about the effectiveness of the organization’s written or oral presentation of the facts, the Advisor does not function in the way an attorney would in a criminal or civil proceedings.
The official representative(s) of the Accused organization will receive written notice of the charges, including date and location of the reported incident(s); the type of hearing that will take place; the date, time, and location of the hearing; the hearing procedures that will be followed; the names of the Hearing Board members; and copies of written statements and other pertinent information that will be given to the Hearing Board. This notification may be sent electronically, personally delivered, or placed in the official representative(s) of the Accused organization’s on-campus mailboxes at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the scheduled hearing. The organization charged may waive the right to the notice.
Organization leaders may review the relevant information and list of witnesses gathered by the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct or designee. The Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct or designee will inform the organization when additional information or witnesses become available. During a hearing, the Hearing Board may request additional information or additional witnesses as needed.
Subject to the powers of the Chair of the Hearing Board, the accused organization is entitled to request witnesses, to present information and argument, and to hear and question the information presented during a hearing. The College expects students representing an organization to cooperate fully in the course of the investigation or disposition of possible violations of the Student Conduct Code and other College policies and may take disciplinary action against students who refuse to respond and participate when called to do so. The failure of a witness or an accused organization to attend or the unavailability of information shall not prevent a hearing from going forward or a decision from being rendered. The student representing an organization is permitted to make opening and closing statements; the Chair of the Hearing Board has discretion over their length and relevance. Students representing an organization are permitted to suggest questions for witnesses, subject to the rulings of the Chair of the Hearing Board. All questions are posed by the Chair and members of the Hearing Board.
The Chair of the Hearing Board, in consultation with the College official advisor, is empowered to make all procedural rulings, including rulings on relevance and admissibility of material.
Disqualification of Members of the Hearing Board
Members of the Hearing Board (including the Chair) who believe they may be unable to render an impartial decision in any case shall excuse themselves from such case; alternatively, Hearing Board Chairs may remove any Hearing Board member from a case if they believe that the member may be unable to render an impartial decision in the case. Because Union College is a small community, knowledge of, or acquaintance with, the student(s), organization, and/or witnesses in a hearing, awareness of a case, participation in campus issues related to the subject matter of a case, participation as a consequence of one’s official role in events surrounding a case and/or participation in the disciplinary process prior to the hearing of the case shall not automatically be grounds for disqualification.
Accused organizations may request a list of Hearing Board members scheduled to serve on their Hearing Board. Any concern organizations may have about the ability of any Hearing Board member to render an impartial decision in their case must be submitted in writing to the Chair at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the hearing and must include any supporting materials.
The Hearing Board proceeding will be recorded by electronic means. The College will not prepare or provide transcripts of Hearing Board proceedings for accused organizations. When a recording of a Hearing Board proceeding has been made, the accused organization may request permission to listen to the recording. The Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Community Standards or designee will determine the conditions under which students and organization representatives will have access to the recording in order to preserve confidentiality. Except as provided herein, no photographs, tape recordings, videotapes, stenographic records, or other records of a Hearing Board proceeding may be made.
Failure to Appear
If an accused organization fails to appear at the designated time, fails to reschedule with the Dean of Students, a decision may still be rendered and appropriate sanction may be assessed based on the available information. A hearing may be postponed upon written request to, and at the discretion of, the Dean of Students.
The President of the accused organization, or member filling a comparable role and currently residing on campus, is expected to attend the Hearing Board proceeding in person and represent the organization. Failure to attend will not prevent a hearing from going forward or a decision from being made, but failure to attend may subject the accused organization to additional disciplinary action. Accused organizations facing formal allegations before the Hearing Board are expected to respond.
At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair shall determine that the accused organizations have received a copy of the allegation(s) against them and notification of their rights in the Hearing Board proceedings.
The Hearing Board process procedure is informal. The purpose is to provide the accused organization an opportunity to be heard and to provide the Hearing Board with relevant information on which to base a decision.
Formal rules of evidence and courtroom procedures are inapplicable. The Hearing Board may hear and consider any information it considers to be trustworthy and to have probative value. As set forth herein, the Chair is empowered to make all procedural rulings, including rulings on relevance and admissibility of information.
Hearing Board Chairs may, at their discretion, order that witnesses be sequestered.
At the request of the Chair, an attorney for the College may be available during any Hearing Board proceeding for purposes of advising the Hearing Board. This advice will be restricted solely to procedural or legal matters necessary to ensure a fair proceeding.
Accused organizations who may be subject to pending or possible criminal allegations may request that the Chair permit their attorney to attend the hearing as a non-participating observer. If approved to observe, attorneys may advise their student or organization privately but may not confer with students or Advisors while the hearing is in session and will be subject to the same confidentiality expectations applicable to others in attendance. The Chair may remove any observer who distracts or disrupts the process.
In order for the Hearing Board to conclude that an accused organization has violated a College policy, the Hearing Board must be persuaded that a preponderance of the evidence supports such a finding. To find a violation under this standard, the Hearing Board must conclude that it is more likely than not that the accused organization committed the alleged violation.
Unless otherwise specified, all Hearing Board decisions shall be made by majority vote, except the Judicial Board, in which all cases must be unanimous.
The Hearing Board makes a recommendation on sanction(s) and, in the case of a hazing violation, the Advisory Board on Hazing, including its students, shall also make a recommendation on sanctions(s) to the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Community Standards
The Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Community Standards or designee will notify the accused organizations of outcomes of hearings. Decisions of the Hearing Board will be revealed to authorized College officials. The College may choose to comment publicly, in writing or otherwise, regarding the decision reached if the best interest of the community would be served by such disclosure.
Consideration of Prior Record
In all cases, if an accused organization is found responsible, the organization’s conduct record may be considered for purposes of imposing an appropriate sanction. Additionally, the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Community Standards, in imposing a sanction, shall consider the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Hazing and the designated student representatives from organizations with respect to violations of the Hazing Policy and may consider sanctions imposed in other cases at the College.
When the Hearing Board recommends a sanction, the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Community Standards or designee shall have the discretion to determine the appropriate form and manner of presentation of information to the Hearing Board concerning both the organization’s conduct record and the disposition of other cases that may be helpful in formulating a sanction recommendation.
Organization Misconduct Records and Reporting
College conduct sanctions are noted in the organization’s file. Student organizations are not protected by FERPA in the way that individual students are protected. The College may, when appropriate, disclose information about organization cases.