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, reach an informal resolution 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.
- Reports of alleged violations will be charged using the Standards of Conduct in effect at the time a situation occurred. The most current procedures will be used to resolve or investigate and adjudicate alleged violations.
- Students who have a pending disciplinary case or incomplete sanction(s) may not be eligible to register for classes, or to graduate until the case has been resolved or the sanction(s) has been completed.
- Alleged academic violations will be adjudicated using the guidelines and procedures of the appropriate college (College of Liberal Arts, Atkinson Graduate School of Managements, or the College of Law).
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. Residential students may contact the Office of Housing and Community Life (HCL) for conflict resolution assistance from Community Mentors (CMs), Interns, Area Coordinators, or other HCL staff members. Students who reside off campus may contact the Office of Rights and Responsibilities for assistance with conflict coaching.
Students are encouraged to come forward on their own to take responsibility for their actions. Any Willamette community member may contact the Office of Housing and Community Life, the Office of Rights and Responsibilities, or Campus Safety 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 University community (students, faculty, and staff) may submit a report - an account of what happened - to the Office of Rights and Responsibilities, the Office of Housing and Community Life, or Campus Safety. Additionally, Willamette University may receive and respond to reports of concern or alleged violations from local law enforcement, other colleges and universities, and members of the Salem community. When situations arise that may involve violations of the Standards of Conduct, the Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities has the sole discretion to determine resolution of the matter through University resolution procedures.
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 to discuss the behavior and sanction. This option does not include a right to appeal the outcome or sanction.
B. Tier 1 Administrative Hearings (Conduct Meetings)
Tier 1 Administrative Hearings will be used as a means to discuss choices a student may have made and consequences that may have resulted from these choices. Tier 1 hearings are scheduled around students’ classes based on academic schedules according to the University Registrar.
- Tier 1 Administrative Hearings involve one or more trained conduct administrators or trained student conduct board members (which include a minimum of two students, one faculty, staff or administrator, and an advisor) who will meet with the student(s) allegedly involved to discuss the situation.
In Tier 1 hearings, students have the opportunity to review any reports and information about the incident. Hearing administrator(s) 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 Administrative Hearings 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 hearings include quiet/courtesy hours violations, escort/guest policy violations, first and second time minor alcohol or marijuana violations.
C. Tier 2 Administrative Hearings
Tier 2 Administrative Hearings will be used as a means to discuss choices a student may have made and consequences that may have resulted from these choices. Tier 2 hearings are scheduled around students’ classes based on academic schedules according to the University Registrar. Tier 2 Hearings are audio recorded. The possible sanction outcomes for Tier 2 hearings include suspension and dismissal from Willamette University if the student is found responsible for the violation(s).
- Tier 2 Administrative Hearings involve one or more trained conduct administrators or trained student conduct board members (which include a minimum of two students, one faculty, staff or administrator, and an advisor) who will meet with the student(s) allegedly involved to discuss the situation.
In Tier 2 hearings, students have the opportunity to review any reports and information about the incident. Hearing administrators 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 Administrative 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 Hearings
Students accused of violations of the Standards of Conduct have the following rights pertaining to hearings:
- To be considered not responsible for any alleged violation(s) 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 hearing; the names of the conduct administrator(s) who will hear the case, and all alleged charges.
- To request a specific hearing administrator(s) 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 the Office of Rights and Responsibilities within two working days of receiving notice of an administrative hearing.)
- To address alleged violations in person. (If a student does not attend an administrative hearing, the case may be heard in absence of the student at the discretion of the Director of the Office 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 prehearing investigations, the investigative report and new information not available at the time of the investigation will be considered in the hearing. Information withheld by a student will not be considered new information.
- 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.
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(s), 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 an administrative hearing.
If there is any substantial reason the student feels an administrator cannot be fair and impartial, the student must notify the Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities of the concern within two working days of the date the notification letter is sent. Should a student not appear at a scheduled administrative hearing, it may be held in the student’s absence.
F. Procedures for Administrative Hearings
The goal of conduct hearings is to present all pertinent information so the administrator(s) 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 hearings may be conducted by an individual hearing administrator, a panel of hearing administrators, or trained student conduct board members (which include a minimum of two students, one faculty, staff or administrator, and an advisor) as determined by the Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities. The hearing administrator(s) 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 the Office of Rights and Responsibilities.
During a conduct hearing the following will occur:
- A hearing administrator will explain the process, and ask the accused students if they have any questions about the process.
- A hearing administrator will review the available information about the incident or refer to the investigative report (if applicable).
- The student(s) will have an opportunity to confirm or contest the accuracy of the presented information and share additional information. In cases involving a pre-hearing investigation, students will have an opportunity to confirm or contest the accuracy of information during the investigation.
- When all of the information has been presented, the hearing administrator(s) will render a timely decision.
- If a violation of University policy or regulation is found, the hearing administrator(s) will make a decision about an appropriate sanction(s).
- The Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities may review and, if necessary, remand or alter the sanctions after the conclusion of the hearing. If the sanction(s) is deemed to be inappropriate, the director will discuss the issue with the hearing administrator(s) and 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 hearing the following will occur:
- A follow-up e-mail will be sent to the alleged violator to confirm the outcome of the hearing
- In the case of a Tier 2 hearing, the student will receive the process for appeal request in the hearing decision notification.
- A copy of the outcome notice will be placed in the student’s conduct file.
G. Hearing Privacy
All hearings are closed to the public. The University will keep private the identity of students involved in hearing, 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.
Hearings may be attended by:
- The student(s) charged with the violation.
- In cases of violence or alleged sexual misconduct, the claimant.
- The administrator(s) conducting the hearing.
- Student conduct board advisors and the Director of the Office of Rights and Responsibilities.
- Hearing administrators, student conduct board advisors, or conduct board members who are in training.
- Support person to the students involved (1 per student – generally support persons are not allowed for witnesses/third parties except in cases of extreme extenuating circumstances).
- University assigned Process Advisors.
- 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) Cases involving alleged sexual misconduct are not referred to individual conduct administrators or to any board with student members.
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.