Office of Rights and Responsibilities

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Enforcement and Resolution Procedures

Willamette University will use the following procedures to respond to behavior which allegedly violates the Standards of Conduct. The university considers the procedures for resolving disputes a part of its educational mission. The university is committed to a process that holds individuals accountable while providing opportunities to reflect, learn, mediate if appropriate, and make the situation as right as possible. The enforcement and resolution procedures are administrative functions and are not subject to the same rules as civil or criminal proceedings. Because some violations of these standards are also violations of law, students may be accountable to both the legal system and Willamette University. Students who have a pending disciplinary case or incomplete sanction(s) may not be eligible for graduation until the case has been resolved or the sanction(s) has been completed. Alleged academic violations will be adjudicated by the dean of the affected college or school using the guidelines and procedures of the appropriate college. 

The university environment develops leadership and citizenship skills as students assume responsibility for self and for the welfare of the community. In this environment, students may occasionally exercise poor judgment or conduct themselves in a manner that disrupts the community. Willamette community members are encouraged to resolve differences, conflicts and misunderstandings directly and informally. Students may contact the Office of Residence Life for conflict resolution assistance from a Community Mentor (CM), an Area Coordinator, or other staff member. Students are encouraged to come forward on their own to take responsibility for their actions. Any Willamette community member may contact a Residence Life staff member, the Director of Rights and Responsibilities or a Campus Safety officer when they believe a student’s behavior violates the Standards of Conduct, or when informal efforts to resolve the issue have been unsuccessful.

Any member of the Willamette community may submit an incident report - a written account of what happened - to the Director of Rights and Responsibilities or any Residence Life staff member. When situations arise that may involve violations of the Standards of Conduct, the Director of Rights and Responsibilities has the sole discretion to determine resolution of the matter through the University resolution process.

A. Option to Accept Responsibility

A student may come forward to accept responsibility for an alleged violation(s) and agree to a proposed sanction. If a student selects this option, the student may initiate a meeting with a conduct administrator to discuss the behavior and sanction. Even after a student has been notified of a possible violation of the Standards of Conduct, a student may meet with the designated administrator or student conduct board to discuss the behavior and sanction. This option does not include a right to appeal the outcome or sanction.

B. Tier 1 Resolution - Administrative and Student Conduct Board Conferences

Administrative Conferences and Student Conduct Board Conferences will be used as a means to discuss choices a student may have made and consequences that may have resulted from these choices. Conferences are scheduled around students’ classes based on academic schedules according to the university Registrar.

  • A Tier 1 administrative conference involves one trained conduct administrator who will meet with the student(s) allegedly involved to discuss the situation.
  • A Tier 1 student conduct board conference is conducted by trained student conduct board members including a minimum of two students and one faculty, staff or administrator and an advisor.

In both administrative and student conduct board conferences, students have the opportunity to review any reports and information about the incident. Conduct administrator(s) and student conduct board members will discuss the incident with the involved student(s), listen to information provided by the student(s) and ask questions pertinent to the situation.

Tier 1 conduct conferences are used when the behavior involved is generally classified as minor and is not indicative of an on-going pattern of disruptive or harmful behavior to individuals or the community. During the situation that occurred, students involved cooperated with peers or staff members to respond appropriately to concerns. Examples of situations that may be resolved through Tier 1 conferences include quiet/courtesy hours violations, escort/guest policy violations, and first time alcohol or marijuana violations.

C. Tier 2 Resolution – Administrative Hearings and Student Conduct Board Hearings

Administrative Hearings and Student Conduct Board Hearings will be used as a means to discuss choices a student may have made and consequences that may have resulted from these choices. Hearings are scheduled around students’ classes based on academic schedules according to the university Registrar. Hearings are audio recorded when possible sanction outcomes include suspension or dismissal from the university if the student is found responsible for the violation(s).

  • A Tier 2 student conduct board hearing is conducted by student conduct board members, including a minimum of two students and one faculty, staff or administrator and an advisor, who receive advanced training to adjudicate serious incidents.
  • A Tier 2 administrative hearing is conducted by two or more faculty, staff or administrators who receive advanced training to adjudicate suspension and dismissal level incidents. 

In Tier 2 student conduct board and administrative hearings, students have the opportunity to review any reports and information about the incident. Hearing administrators and student conduct board members will discuss the incident with the involved student(s), listen to information provided by the student(s) and ask questions pertinent to the situation.

Tier 2 conduct hearings are used when the alleged student behavior is generally classified as serious or may indicate a pattern of disruptive or harmful behavior to individuals or the community. During the situation, students involved may not have cooperated with peers or staff members or may not have responded appropriately to concerns.  Examples of behavior that may be resolved through Tier 2 hearings include violent, escalating or repeated behaviors.

D. Student Rights in Administrative and Student Conduct Board Conferences and Hearings

Students accused of violations of the Standards of Conduct have the following rights pertaining to conduct conferences and hearings:

  • To be considered not responsible for the alleged violation until found responsible by a preponderance of the evidence. 
  • To be assured of privacy, in accordance with the terms of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Oregon State law.
  • To be notified in writing of the time, date and location of a conduct conference or hearing; the names of administrator(s) or board members who will hear the case, and all alleged charges.
  • To request a specific administrator or student conduct board member be replaced due to a conflict of interest.  (This request should be made in writing, including an explanation of the purported conflict of interest [See E. “Notice”], to the Director of Rights and Responsibilities within two working days of receiving notice of a conduct conference or conduct hearing.)
  • To address alleged violations in person.  (If a student does not attend a conduct hearing or conference, the case may be heard in absence of the student at the discretion of the Director of Rights and Responsibilities. In this case, all available information will be considered when deciding the outcome.)
  • To present supporting information that pertains directly to the events in question, including written statements of personal testimony from others involved in the incident in question. For cases involving a prehearing investigation, only new information not available at the time of the investigation will be considered in the hearing.
  • To be apprised of all known infraction related information at the time of the hearing.
  • To receive a decision notice summarizing the results of the outcome.
  • To request an appeal.

E. Notice

Students have a right to be notified when a report has been submitted to the Office of Rights and Responsibilities involving the student’s behavior, the student’s guest, or student’s contracted space with the University. A student who is alleged to have violated the Standards of Conduct will be notified by Willamette University e-mail of the alleged violation with a notification letter. Notification is considered effective as of the date the e-mail is sent. The notification letter shall identify the allegation and offer the student the opportunity to attend a conduct conference or hearing.

If there is any substantial reason the student feels an administrator or student conduct board member cannot be fair and impartial, the student must notify the Director of Rights and Responsibilities of the concern within two working days upon receipt of the notification letter. Should a student not appear at a scheduled conduct conference or hearing, it may be held in the student’s absence.

F. Procedures for Conduct Conferences and Hearings

The goal of conduct conferences and hearings is to present all pertinent information so the administrator(s) or student board members receive an accurate account of the events as well as an understanding of the perspectives and intentions of the involved parties. The conduct process is not intended to be adversarial.

Conduct conferences and hearings may be conducted by an individual hearing administrator, a panel of hearing administrators, or a student conduct board as determined by the Director of Rights and Responsibilities. The hearing administrator(s) or student conduct board members will decide the case based on a preponderance of the evidence available through testimony, exhibits and investigative report information (if applicable).² The technical rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases shall not apply.  All procedural questions are decided by the Director of Rights and Responsibilities.

During a conduct conference or conduct hearing the following will occur:

  • An administrator or student conduct board member/chairperson will explain the process, and ask the accused students if they have any questions about the process.
  • An administrator or board member will review the available information about the incident.
  • The student(s) will have an opportunity to confirm or contest the accuracy of the presented information and share additional information.
  • When all of the information has been presented, the hearing administrator(s) or board members will render a timely decision.
  • If a violation of university policy or regulation is found, the hearing administrator(s) or board members will make a decision about an appropriate sanction(s).
  • The Director of Rights and Responsibilities may review and, if necessary, remand or alter the sanctions after the conclusion of the conduct conference or hearing.  If the sanction(s) is deemed to be inappropriate, the director will discuss the issue with the student(s) prior to any revision of the sanction(s) and send a follow-up letter confirming the revised sanction(s).

At the conclusion of a conduct conference or hearing the following will occur:

  • A follow-up e-mail will be sent to the alleged violator to confirm the decision.
  • The student will receive the process for appeal in the conduct conference or conduct hearing decision notification.
  • A copy of the letter will be placed in the student’s conduct file.

G. Conduct Conference & Conduct Hearing Privacy

All conduct conferences and hearings are closed to the public. The university will keep private the identity of students involved in conduct meetings, informing only those officials and individuals with a need to know in order to respond to the situation. The university will protect the privacy of all educational records, except as directed by appropriate legal authority.

Any written statements by students are educational documents protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and, therefore, consent from the student who submitted the statement is required before any identifiable information can be disclosed to anyone other than university officials involved in the resolution process or who have a legitimate educational interest.

Conduct conferences and hearings may be attended by:

  • The student(s) charged with the violation
  • In cases of alleged sexual misconduct, the claimant
  • The administrator(s) or student conduct board members conducting the conduct conference or hearing
  • Student conduct board advisor and Director of Rights and Responsibilities
  • Hearing administrators, student conduct board advisors, or conduct board members who are in training
  • Support person to the students (1 per student)
  • Other individuals may be present only with permission from the hearing administrator(s) or student conduct board members

H. Sexual Misconduct Investigations and Hearings

(See Sexual Misconduct Policy) In cases involving alleged sexual misconduct, an investigation and administrative hearing will be used to resolve the case. These cases are not referred to individual conduct administrators, student conduct boards or any board with student members. The following guidelines apply and supersede any conflicting procedures normally followed in other types of resolution processes:  

In any hearing involving allegations of sexual misconduct:

  • The respondent and claimant will at no point be expected to be in the same room at the same time, or be allowed to question the other party directly.
  • The respondent and claimant will have equitable opportunities to present evidence and witnesses.  
  • The respondent and claimant will have equal access to evidence, written statements, and testimony.
  • Both the respondent and the claimant will be informed in writing of the outcome of the hearing.
  • Both the respondent and the claimant may request an appeal of the hearing outcome.
  • Both the respondent and the claimant will be informed in writing of appeal request(s).
  • If an appeal request is determined to have merit, the request will be considered by an appeal panel of two or more faculty, staff or administrators. 
  • Both the respondent and the claimant will be informed in writing of the outcome of any appeal(s).

² Preponderance of Evidence – Evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it; that is, evidence which as a whole shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not.

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