Hearing Panel Procedures

Sexual Misconduct Policy - Hearing Panel Procedures



Attendance at Hearing

When a party fails to attend a hearing with a reason that the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct finds compelling, the hearing may be held in their absence at the discretion of the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct.

Once the investigation has commenced, a respondent will not be permitted to withdraw from the College. If a respondent chooses not to participate, the College may move forward with the hearing and imposition of sanction, if any, in absentia.  If a student withdraws while subject to a complaint, investigation, or charges based upon alleged conduct constituting a crime of violence that the College is required, by federal law, to include in its annual security report, the transcript of the student shall include the notation “Withdrew with Conduct Charges Pending.”

A complainant or respondent may also request alternative testimony options that would not require physical proximity to the other party. Any proposed alternative must be reviewed in advance of the hearing to ensure that it is consistent with the goals of a fair and equitable process. While these options are intended to help make the alleged complainant or respondent more comfortable, they are not intended to work to the disadvantage of the other party.

Participants in Judicial Hearing Procedures

The Judicial Hearing Board is a closed hearing; it is not open to the public. The individuals who may appear before the Judicial Board are: the complainant; the respondent; any individual serving as an approved Advisor; and any individuals appearing as witnesses. Before and after giving testimony, witnesses may be excluded from the room or building where the hearing occurs.

Safeguarding of Privacy

All parties involved in a hearing are required to keep the information learned in preparation for the hearing and at the hearing private. No copies of documents provided are to be made or shared with any third parties. All copies provided must be returned to the College at the conclusion of the hearing and any appeals. Any breach of this duty is subject to further disciplinary action by the College.

Board Procedures

The Judicial Board must review the Investigation Report containing all pertinent information regarding the incident in question prior to the date of the Judicial Board hearing. Relevant information supporting the violation(s) alleged may be offered in the form of written statements, documents, items, or oral information from the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses.

Notes may be taken by the participants in the hearing solely for their personal use. There will be a single verbatim recording made of the hearing which shall be the sole property of the Dean of Students Office. The recording will be available only for review by the complainant, respondent or the College in the Dean of Students Office for the purpose of review in connection with an appeal. The recording will be maintained for a period of four (4) months from the date the appeal period has lapsed or until an appeal decision has been rendered, whichever is later.

A hearing will be called to order by the Judicial Board chair. The chair will orally explain the hearing process and will provide an opportunity for all parties to ask procedural questions prior to initial statements and the presentation of information.

The Investigator(s) will provide a summary of the investigation. This summary should include a focus on the areas of agreement and disagreement in order to assist the Judicial Board in prioritizing areas of inquiry. The Judicial Board, complainant, or respondent may make inquiries of the Investigator(s) at this juncture, as there will be additional opportunity to ask questions of the Investigator(s) after the Judicial Board has heard from the complainant, the respondent, and any witnesses.

The complainant may supplement the information provided to the Judicial Board with a brief statement. This is not intended to be a retelling of the event. The Judicial Board may pose questions to the complainant, including a written list of questions suggested by the respondent and forwarded to the Judicial Board in advance of the hearing.

After the complainant is finished, the respondent will be given an opportunity to make a brief statement. This is not meant to be a retelling of the event. The Judicial Board may pose questions to the respondent, including a written list of questions suggested by the complainant and forwarded to the Judicial Board in advance of the hearing.

The Judicial Board may hear from witnesses on behalf of the complainant and the respondent. Each witness will be questioned by the Judicial Board, and, as appropriate, the complainant and the respondent.

The Judicial Board, complainant, and respondent may then question the Investigator(s). The Investigator(s) is not permitted to offer an opinion as to the ultimate issue.

At the conclusion of the presentation of all witnesses, the complainant and respondent will each be given a brief final opportunity to address any outstanding issues of fact and submit additional written questions to the chair. The chair, in consultation with the Judicial Board will determine the appropriateness and relevance of the questions.

Questioning of Witnesses

It is the responsibility of the Judicial Board to assure that the information necessary to make an informed decision is presented. The Judicial Board members may play an active role in questioning both parties and witnesses involved in the case. At times, the Judicial Board members may need to ask difficult or sensitive questions in order to understand areas of factual dispute or gain a full understanding of the context.

The complainant and the respondent may not directly question one another. As outlined above, the parties may submit questions to the Judicial Board in writing, which may be posed at the discretion of the hearing panel. Similarly, the Judicial Board members are under no obligation to allow either party to directly question witnesses, and the Judicial Board may require that questions to witnesses be submitted in writing.

Parties and other individuals who offer information at a hearing are expected to respond honestly, and to the best of their knowledge. The Judicial Board reserves the right to recall any party or witness for further questions and to seek additional information necessary to make a decision.

Deliberation

After all of the information has been presented, all parties will be dismissed and the hearing will be formally concluded.

The Judicial Board members will conduct their deliberations in private. The Judicial Board will normally complete their deliberations within three (3) business days, but every attempt will be made to complete the deliberations promptly.

The Judicial Board will determine a respondent’s responsibility by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the Judicial Board will decide whether it is “more likely than not,” based upon all of the relevant information, that the respondent is responsible for the alleged violation(s). The Judicial Board must reach a decision on responsibility by majority vote. Only the decision on responsibility will be shared with the complainant and the respondent.

If the Judicial Board finds the respondent responsible, the Judicial Board will then recommend appropriate sanctions to the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct. The Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct will review the recommendations and impose an appropriate sanction.

The findings of the Judicial Board will be submitted to the Senior Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct in writing. The findings will detail the findings of fact and the basis/rationale for the decision of the Judicial Board, making reference to the evidence that led to the finding.

Concerns about the Implementation of this Policy

The College has appointed a Title IX Coordinator, the Chief Diversity Officer at Union College, to oversee all aspects of the College’s Title IX compliance efforts. An individual who believes that any aspect of this policy has not been properly followed should contact the Title IX Coordinator at x8327 (518-388-8327) or pursue a complaint by contacting the Title IX Coordinator in accordance with the College’s Discrimination Grievance Procedures contained in the Student Handbook. Retaliation against any person who files a complaint of alleged discrimination is prohibited.

Integrity of Proceedings

These procedures are entirely administrative in nature and are not considered legal proceedings. As there will be an official recording of the hearing, neither party may make an audio or video recording of the proceedings. No computers, cell phones, or other electronic means of communication are allowed to be used by the complainant, respondent, advisors, or a witness.

At the discretion of the hearing panel chair, anyone disrupting the hearing may be removed.