Code of Conduct
Purpose of the Student Conduct System
Human beings grow and mature in communities. Living in a community requires depending upon the knowledge, integrity, and decency of others. In turn, the best communities help individuals mold habits and values that will enable them to achieve the highest personal satisfaction, including the satisfaction associated with helping to make a better world. The college community is committed to fostering a campus environment that is conducive to academic inquiry, a productive campus life, and thoughtful study and discourse.
A community exists on the basis of shared values and principles. At Howard Community College, members of the community are expected to uphold and abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Student Code of Conduct. Each member of the college community bears responsibility for their conduct. When members of the community engage in violations of the rules below, campus conduct proceedings are used to assert and uphold the Student Code of Conduct.
The objectives of the conduct process at Howard Community College are:
- To protect members of the campus community from harm resulting from the indiscretions of the few members of the community who are unable, or unwilling, to respect the rights of others;
- To create an environment that enhances the opportunity for learning;
- To protect the rights of members of the college community; and
- To assure students due process when they have been accused of violating college rules and/or regulations
Students accused of student conduct violations are entitled to the following procedural protections:
- To be informed of the specific complaints against them.
- To be allowed reasonable time to prepare a response.
- To hear and respond to all evidence upon which a charge is based.
- To call and question relevant witnesses.
- To be assured of privacy, in accordance with the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
- To be allowed to request that any person conducting a student conduct conference, or serving as a student conduct committee member or chairperson, be disqualified on the grounds of personal bias.
- To be provided with a copy of these rights prior to any student conduct conference or student conduct hearing.
- To be considered not responsible until proven responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.
Authority for Student Conduct
Student conduct authority has been delegated to college administrators, faculty members, and committees, as set forth in this code, or other appropriate college policies, rules or regulations.
The college reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community. Such action may include taking student conduct action against those students whose behavior off college premises indicates that they pose a substantial danger to others.
The college will not routinely invoke the student conduct process for student misbehavior occurring off college premises. Nonetheless, it will be necessary to endeavor to protect the campus community when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a student may pose a substantial danger to others. Normally, such “substantial danger” will be manifested by a pending criminal charge, usually relating to a crime of violence, harassment, stalking, burglary, substantial theft or fraud, the distribution of illegal drugs, or the possession of substantial quantities of illegal drugs.
Students are responsible for knowing the information, policies, and procedures outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. Students are provided a copy of the Student Code of Conduct annually in the form of a link to the college’s website.
The college reserves the right to make changes to the Student Code of Conduct and once those changes are posted online, they are in effect. Students are encouraged to check their college email for notifications and online (www. howardcc.edu) for the updated versions of all policies and procedures. College email is the college’s primary means of communication with students. Students are responsible for all communication delivered to their college email address.
When used in this code of conduct:
- The term “person of their choosing” includes students, faculty, staff, or others who advise complainants or respondents. The adviser’s role is to provide personal counsel and support to the respondent or complainant, but not to present the case or address the hearing panel, hearing chairperson or other participants in the process. The adviser may not generally serve as a witness in the conduct proceeding. Legal representation is only permitted when the student faces concurrent criminal charges or for proceedings related to an alleged violation of the sexual misconduct policy.
- The term “college” means Howard Community College, college owned or controlled property, and all college departments, programs and college sponsored activities, including off-campus when the vice president of student services or designee determines that the off-campus conduct affects a substantial college interest. A substantial college interest is defined to include any situation where it appears the student’s conduct may present a danger or threat to the health or safety of self or others; and/or any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property or achievements of self or others or significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder; and/or any situation that is detrimental to the educational mission and/or interests of the college.
- The term “reckless” means conduct which one should reasonably be expected to know would create a substantial risk of harm to persons or property or which would otherwise be likely to result in interference with normal college or college-sponsored activities.
- The term “student” as defined for the student code of conduct includes all individuals accepted for admission to any credit or noncredit course or degree granting program sponsored by the college. Student status continues until a student has not enrolled in a course or program for two consecutive academic years.
- The term “college premises” means buildings or grounds owned, leased, operated, controlled, or supervised by the college.
- The terms “college-sponsored activity” means any activity on or off college premises that is specifically initiated or supervised by the college.
- The term “complainant” usually means a person who filed the complaint against the student/respondent or has been affected by the alleged policy violation. In matters of serious misconduct requiring a hearing by the student conduct committee, the complainant may be the vice president of student services or designee.
- The term “respondent” is defined as the student accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct.
- The term “preponderance of evidence” means information that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that it is more likely than not that a student violated the Student Code of Conduct
- The term “will” is used in the imperative sense. The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.
- The term “in writing” is defined as communication delivered by hard copy or electronically via HCC email.
- The term “witness” is defined as an individual who has pertinent knowledge about the incident for which the student conduct process is being held. Individuals who do not have pertinent knowledge of the incident are considered character witnesses, and the college reserves the right to preclude them.
Violations of the Law and College Regulations
Although the student conduct process differs from criminal and court proceedings, students may still be accountable to both civil authorities and to the college for acts that constitute violations of law and this code. Student conduct action at the college will be independent and will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings, and will not be subject to challenge on the ground that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced. The college reserves the right to exercise its authority of interim suspension upon notification that a student is facing a complaint and/or criminal investigation (see section on interim suspension).
Student Groups and Organizations
Student groups and organizations may be charged with violations of this code. A student group or organization and its officers may be held collectively and individually responsible when violations of this code, by those associated with the group or organization, have received the consent or encouragement of the group or organization or of the group’s or organization’s leaders or officers.
Howard Community College expects its students to adhere to high standards of honor and good citizenship. Students must conduct themselves in a responsible manner, which reflects credit upon themselves and the college. Acts of misconduct subject to student conduct action include but are not limited to the following:
- Academic dishonesty. (See section on academic honesty).
- Abuse or interference with college processes. Abuse or interference with, or failure to comply in, college processes including conduct and academic integrity hearings, including but not limited to a) falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information; b) failure to provide, destroying or concealing information during an investigation of an alleged policy violation, c) attempting to discourage an individual’s proper participation in, or use of, the campus conduct system, d) harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of a member of a campus conduct proceeding, e) failure to comply with the sanction(s) imposed by the campus conduct system, f) influencing, or attempting to influence, another person to commit an abuse of the campus conduct system.
- Forgery or alteration of college records. Forgery or alteration of college records or college identification cards.
- False Information. Intentionally furnishing false information to the college.
- Damage to or misuse of property. Deliberate destruction of, damage to, malicious misuse of, or abuse of property. (Students are financially liable for the repair or replacement of property when the damage is a result of their willful destruction, reckless and intentional behavior, or malicious misuse.)
- Sexual harassment. Any unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal, written, online, or physical conduct of a sexual, sex-based, and/or gender-based nature when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s basis for or evaluation of academic work, employment, or participation in any aspect of a college program or activity; or (2) such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment. A hostile environment is created when harassment is severe, or pervasive or persistent, and objectively offensive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program, employment, or activities. Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to the following: (1) verbal harassment or abuse; (2) pressure for sexual activity; (3) unwelcome touching; (4) suggesting or demanding sexual involvement accompanied by implied or explicit threats concerning one’s grades, job, etc.; (5) displaying pornographic or sexually suggestive images in a place or manner where others could view such images and be offended; (6) using sexually suggestive language in a place or manner where others could hear such language and be offended; or (7) threatening to commit a violation of sexual misconduct against another person.
- Sexual assault. Any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Sexual assault can include incest, non-consensual sexual contact, and non-consensual sexual intercourse as defined by this policy. A) Incest is sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law. B) Non-consensual sexual contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight and with any object or body part, by a person upon another person, or exposure or disrobing of another, that is without consent (as defined in Sexual Misconduct Procedure 63.01D.01) or by force or coercion. This includes intentional contact with breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, touching another with any of these body parts, making another touch the respondent or themselves with or on any of these body parts, as well as any other intentional bodily contact that occurs in a sexual manner. C) Non- consensual sexual intercourse is any sexual penetration or copulation, however slight and with any object or body part, by a person upon another person, that is without consent (as defined in Sexual Misconduct Procedure 63.01D.01) or by force or coercion. Intercourse includes anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger, and oral copulation (mouth and genital/anal contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.
- Sex offense. Any sexual act or behavior which fails to comply with or violates sexual offenses as defined by Maryland law.
- Sexual exploitation. Taking non- consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another to benefit anyone other than the person being exploited. Examples include: Sexual voyeurism (such as watching a person undressing, using the bathroom or engaged in sexual acts without the consent of the person observed), invading privacy, prostituting another person, going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting someone hide in a closet to observe consensual sex or disseminating sexual pictures without the photographed person’s consent), taking pictures or video or audio recording another in a sexual act, or in any other private activity without the consent of all involved in the activity, engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with human immuno- deficiency virus (HIV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI) without informing the other person of the infection, administering alcohol or drugs (such as “date rape” drugs) to another person without their knowledge or consent, sexually-based stalking or bullying, or exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances.
- Dating violence. Violence or threat of violence between individuals who have been or are currently in a personal and private social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship will be determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
- Domestic violence. Violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner, by a person with whom a child is shared in common, by a person cohabitating with or who has cohabitated with the individual as a spouse or intimate partner, by any other person similarly situated to a spouse, or any other person against an adult or youth protected from those acts by domestic or family violence laws of Maryland. Domestic violence includes threats or a pattern of abusive behavior of a physical or sexual nature by one partner intended to control, intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, frighten, coerce or injure the other.
- Stalking. A course of conduct directed at or the intentional, repetitive or menacing pursuit, following, harassment, of another person, or other interference with the peace or safety of another person or their immediate family members that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress; including cyber-stalking. The definition of stalking also includes intentionally following another person in or about a public place without their consent. Stalking, harassment, and cyber-stalking behaviors may include, but are not limited to: (1) repeated, unwanted/unsolicited contact that includes face-to-face contact, telephone calls, voice messages, text messages, electronic mail, instant messages, written letters, or unwanted gifts; (2) repeated, unwanted/ unsolicited communication on public and college community internet sites; (3) disturbing online messages; (4) persistent physical approaches or requests for dates, meetings, etc.; (5) threats that create fear for one’s life or safety, or fear for the safety of one’s family, friends, roommates, or others; (6) unwanted touching; (7) pursuing or following another person, repeatedly showing up or waiting outside a person’s home, classroom, place of employment, or vehicle; (8) using surveillance or other types of observation, either in person or through the use of electronic devices or software to track or obtain private information; (9) harassing another person, either in person or through a third party; (10) using threatening gestures; (11) trespassing or breaking into a person’s vehicle or residence; or (12) vandalism or destruction of a person’s personal property.
- Harassment. Any unwelcome conduct based on actual or perceived status, including sex, gender, race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, veteran status, pregnancy status, religion or sexual orientation, or other protected status, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile environment. A hostile environment is created when harassment is severe, or pervasive or persistent, and objectively offensive such that it unreasonably interferes with, denies or limits someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program, employment, or activities. Any unwelcome conduct should be reported to campus officials, who will act to remedy and resolve reported incidents on behalf of the complainant and community.
- Unauthorized communication with college employees. Students are not permitted to contact faculty or staff members off campus, unless prior permission is given and communication is necessary and related to academic issues.
- Retaliatory discrimination or harassment. Any adverse action, absent legitimate nondiscriminatory purposes, taken against a person participating in a protected activity because of their participation in that protected activity. Participation can include making a report, opposing in a reasonable manner an act or policy believed to constitute discrimination or harassment, or testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing related to a protected activity.
- Aggressive behavior. Physical abuse, assault, threat, intimidation, aggressive or threatening behaviors, directed at any member of the college community or visitor to the college, or conduct which provides a reasonable expectation of injury to the health or safety of any person or damage to any property. Intimidation is defined as implied threats or acts that cause a reasonable fear of harm in another. Bullying and cyberbullying are repeated and/or severe aggressive behaviors that intimidate or intentionally harm or control another person physical or emotionally, and are not protected by freedom of expression.
- Public indecency. Public exposure, including deliberately and publicly exposing one’s intimate body parts, public urination, defecation, and public sex acts.
- Theft. Theft or attempted theft of college or personal property of another, including goods, services, and other valuables, maintaining possession of stolen property, or collusion in assisting another individual in the theft or in maintaining possession of stolen property. Additionally, knowingly passing fraudulent account information, or a worthless check or money order in payment to the institution or to an official of the institution acting in an official capacity.
- Identity theft. Theft or unauthorized use of another individual’s identity, password, access to information, or the identity theft of any member of the college community or visitor to the college, and the unauthorized use or misuse of college or organizational names and images.
- Misuse of HCC’s computer network. Misuse of HCC’s computer network, equipment, and internet access for other than educational purposes. This includes, but is not limited to the following: (1) copying or duplicating proprietary software or files stored on college-owned computers that are protected by copyright laws; (2) transmission of communication in any form (e.g., text, images, sound) where the content, meaning, and/or distribution of the message would violate applicable law or regulation, or be deemed obscene or threatening; or (3) any violation of HCC’s Acceptable Use of Technology Policy.
- Disorderly or disruptive conduct. Disorderly or disruptive conduct on college-owned or controlled property, or at off-campus functions sponsored by, or participated in by the college. This includes but is not limited to: obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, or other college activities, including the college’s public service functions.
- Obscene or indecent conduct. Obscene or indecent conduct on college-owned or controlled property, or at off-campus functions sponsored by, or participated in by the college.
- Interference with freedom of expression of others. Intentionally and substantially interfering with the freedom of expression of others.
- Unauthorized weapons possession. Illegal or unauthorized possession or use of knives, firearms, fireworks, explosives, dangerous chemicals, or arms classified as weapons, including arrows, axes, machetes, nun chucks, and throwing stars on college-owned or controlled property, including the storage or any item that falls within the category or a weapon in a vehicle parked on college property. An instrument designed to look like a weapon, which is used by a student to cause reasonable apprehension or harm, is expressly included within the definition of weapon. Circumstances and notification requirements under which individuals are allowed to possess weapons on campus are outlined in Weapons Policy 50. Note: Students who are employees of law enforcement organizations and are required to carry a weapon on campus must notify the director of public safety in writing of their intent to carry a licensed weapon at the beginning of each semester. Failure to disclose this information is a violation of this code.
- Unauthorized entry or use of facilities. Unauthorized entry to or use of college-owned or controlled facilities, including all buildings and grounds.
- Improper demonstrations. Demonstrations that interfere with the rights of other members of the college community or with the normal function of the college.
- Disobedience of college authority. Deliberate disobedience or resistance of properly identified college authorities acting in the line of duty.
- False report of emergency. Initiation of, or causing to be initiated, any intentional false report, warning, threat of fire, bomb explosion, or other emergency.
- Unauthorized or fraudulent use of the college’s facilities and equipment. Unauthorized or fraudulent use of the college’s facilities and equipment, including but not limited to the phone, mail, computer, and transportation systems.
- Hazing. This includes any act or causing any situation which recklessly or intentionally subjects a student to the risk of bodily injury or endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission in a student organization.
- Unattended dependents. Students must not bring children under the age of 16 or individuals who are incapable of providing self-care on campus and leave them unattended while attending classes or campus activities. Students who violate this policy may be subject to the penalties of the Family Law Article, Section 5-801. This restriction does not apply to younger students enrolled under special admission procedures.
- Unauthorized visitors in class. The college recognizes students may have difficulty with day care for their children; however, HCC views the classroom as an adult-learning environment, and one that should be free from potential distractions. Children are restricted from classes in which they are not enrolled. Further, an individual who is not authorized to be in a class is prohibited.
- Failure to identify. Failure to identify oneself when requested by a college official, security officer, or faculty member, or failure to comply with instructions from college officials or public safety officers carrying out public safety functions. College officials may question students or campus visitors when there is a reasonable basis for believing that the person being stopped has committed an offense against the rules of the college or the State of Maryland.
- Gambling. Gambling on college-owned or controlled property, or during a college sponsored activity.
- Excessive parking violations. (see section on Parking).
- Smoking on campus. (see section on Smoking on campus).
- Unauthorized use of mobile devices. Use of cellular phones and mobile devices in the classroom or lab is at the instructor's discretion. Unless otherwise directed by the instructor, students who must bring such; devices to class must disengage or place devices on inaudible signal so as not to disturb or interfere with classroom activities.
- Animals on campus. Animals, with the exception of service animals (e.g., seeing-eye dogs), are not permitted on campus except as permitted by law.
- Unauthorized audio or video recording. Any unauthorized audio or video recording of any person on college premises or at college sponsored activities at other sites, without their prior knowledge or without their consent when such a recording has the potential to cause injury or distress. Students with disabilities who have been vetted through the office of Disability Support Services to record lectures must notify their instructor via their accommodation memo of their intent to record and are restricted to using these recordings for educational purposes only. All other students who wish to record lectures must obtain prior permission from their instructors authorizing audio and/or video recording and are restricted to using these recordings for educational purposes only
- Act or behavior which violates any laws or college rules. Any act or behavior which fails to comply with or violates the rules of the college or laws of the state of Maryland or of the United States.
- Alcohol and other drug related offenses. Illegal possession, manufacture, distribution, sale, or use of alcoholic beverages, narcotics, marijuana, hypnotics, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, hallucinogens,and other similar known harmful or habit-forming drugs or chemicals, and the abuse or misuse of prescriptions or over-the-counter medications or chemicals on college-owned or controlled property, or during any college sponsored activity. Drunkenness or being under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances on college-owned or controlled property or during any college sponsored activity. Intentional violation of the college policy on controlled substances and alcohol. Note: A student who reports an incident of sexual misconduct, either as a complainant or a third party witness, will not be held responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct if the student was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. HCC does not want the fear of receiving student conduct charges or student conduct sanction to prevent a student from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct.
Parental notification policy related to alcohol and other drugs:In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the college reserves the right to notify the parents/guardians of students under 21 years of age, and the parents/ guardians of dependent students, regardless of age, of any incident in which the student is found responsible for violating the college’s alcohol and drug policy.
- Academic dishonesty. (See section on academic honesty).
Student Conduct Process
Howard Community College will not tolerate violations of accepted standards of student behavior.
When such violations occur, the college will take appropriate student conduct action. The college has adopted procedures to allow due process, as required by law.
Any member of the college community may refer a student, student group, or organization suspected of violating this code to the vice president of student services or designee. All case referrals must be submitted in writing.
Those referring cases are normally expected to serve as the complainant, and to present relevant evidence in hearings or conferences.
Student Conduct Referrals
The vice president of student services or designee will conduct a preliminary review to determine whether the alleged misconduct might result in expulsion or suspension from the college. Except in cases of a discrimination complaint, students subject to suspension or expulsion will be entitled to a hearing before the student conduct committee. Cases not so referred will be resolved after a student conduct conference with the vice president of student services or designee. Should a student choose to withdraw from the college prior to the completion of the student conduct process, the college reserves the right to proceed with said process. That student will not be permitted to return to Howard Community College unless all sanctions have been satisfied.
The college will not issue an official transcript or diploma until the student conduct process is complete. The college reserves the right to notify any transfer institutions of pending investigations or conduct processes, in-progress investigations or conduct processes, or the outcome of investigations or conduct processes.
Student Conduct Conference
Students accused of offenses that may result in penalties less than suspension or expulsion, are subject to a student conduct conference with the vice president of student services or designee. Normally, a student conduct hold will be placed on the respondent’s account, restricting registration activities until the student conduct conference is held. The following procedural protections are provided to respondents in student conduct conferences:
- Written notice of the specific complaint at least two business days prior to the scheduled conference.
- Reasonable access to the case file prior to and during the conference. The case file consists of materials which would be considered “educational records,” pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Personal notes of college staff members or complainants are not included.
- An opportunity to respond to the evidence and to call appropriate and relevant witnesses.
- A right to be accompanied by a person of their choosing, as defined in this code.
- The conference procedure is designed to reduce unnecessary proceduralism and contentiousness in student conduct proceedings. A student conduct conference will normally consist of an informal, non-adversarial meeting between the respondent and the vice president of student services or designee. Complainants would not be required to participate. Documentary evidence and written statements could be relied upon, so long as the respondent was given access to them in advance, and allowed to respond to them at the conference. Respondents would also be allowed to call relevant witnesses.
- The vice president of student services or designee may impose institutional sanctions based on presented evidence in the absence of the respondent. This type of student conduct action may be imposed for offenses that may result in penalties less than suspension or expulsion.
The vice president of student services or designee may suspend a student from the college for an interim period pending student conduct or criminal proceedings, or medical evaluation. The interim suspension will become immediately effective without prior notice whenever there is evidence that the continued presence of the student at the college poses a substantial and immediate threat to self or to others, or to the stability and continuance of normal college functions. A student placed on interim suspension who is unable to complete course work for the semester in which the interim suspension was issued will be given a “W” grade.
A student suspended on an interim basis will be given a prompt opportunity to appear personally before the vice president of student services or designee in order to discuss the following issues:
- The reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct, including the matter of their identity.
- Whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the continued presence of the student on college premises poses a substantial and immediate threat to self, to others, or the stability and continuance of normal college functions.
Student Conduct Hearing
In the event that a student conduct hearing is necessary, the vice president of student services or designee will contact the chairperson of the student conduct committee generally within seven business days to initiate the student conduct process. The chairperson of the student conduct committee will confer with committee members, set a hearing date, and notify the respondent and committee members in writing. The notification will include the specific violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
Student Conduct Committee Membership
The student conduct committee will be identified at the beginning of each semester at the request of the vice president of student services or designee. The committee is a pool of faculty, staff, and students, with a minimum of five members, one of whom will serve as chairperson. A quorum consists of the chairperson and two members of the committee. Student members will not participate in student conduct committee panels involving potential violations of the sexual misconduct policy.
Members of this committee who do not feel that they can render an impartial decision in regard to a specific case may be excused if they give notice to the chairperson of the committee prior to the notification of the scheduled hearing of the respondent. The chairperson will contact the constituency for the selection of an alternate. The respondent or complainant may request the replacement of any member of the committee if evidence of personal prejudice is provided. Objections to a committee member must be stated in writing and submitted to the committee five business days after notification. A decision will be rendered by the chairperson of the committee.
Student conduct hearings will be closed. The director of student conduct and executive associate to the vice president of student services or designee serves as a non-voting committee member during student conduct hearings.
Hearings may be conducted in person, or by mail, telephone, or other electronic means. In the case of hearings conducted via mail, materials would be sent to and from the respondent by mail. Once the file is complete, the student conduct committee would still meet for a student conduct hearing. Although the respondent would not be physically present, it is possible that witnesses or other persons presenting information, either on behalf of the respondent or the complainant would be present. Hearing proceedings will be recorded by and shall be the property of the college. Deliberations will not be recorded.
The chairperson of the committee will notify the respondent and complainant of all charges, membership, and hearing date in writing at least five business days in advance of the scheduled hearing.
Failure of the complainant or the respondent to appear at the hearing, after proper notice, will result in the committee making a decision through the hearing process in their absence. For hearings where the chairperson deems it necessary, neither the complainant nor the respondent are required to be present in the same room. Accommodations, including but not limited to listening to and participating in the hearing over the phone, may be made to allow either party to participate in the process without being present at the hearing location. Further, neither the complainant nor the respondent need to participate in the hearing as a prerequisite to proceed with the hearing.
Prior to the hearing, the respondent and complainant may be granted access to review photographs, documents, or other tangible objective evidence to be introduced by the complainant. If new evidence comes to light during the hearing, a recess may be granted upon request.
Both the respondent and complainant have the right to be accompanied and advised by a person of their choosing. The adviser’s role is to provide personal counsel and support to the respondent or complainant, but not to present the case or address the hearing panel, hearing chairperson, or other participants in the process. The adviser may not serve as a witness in the conduct proceeding.
Disruptive advisers will be removed from the process at the discretion of the hearing chairperson, and the process will continue. If the adviser does not appear at the hearing, after proper notice to the complainant or respondent, the hearing process will continue in the adviser’s absence.
Only the respondent, the complainant, and witnesses can address the hearing board during the proceedings. Legal representation is only permitted when the student faces concurrent criminal charges or for proceedings related to an alleged violation of the sexual misconduct policy.
The committee may request the appearance of any person that each party wishes to have appear and testify. The committee has no authority to compel the appearance of any person who is neither respondent nor complainant.
The chairperson of the committee will have the duty of maintaining order at the hearing and will have the right to exclude any party or witness from the hearing, temporarily or permanently.
Order of Presentation:
- Chairperson’s opening remarks.
- Opening statements of complainant and respondent.
- Presentation of evidence by complainant and respondent.
- Questions by members of the hearing panel.
- Closing statement by the complainant and the respondent.
- Private deliberation by the committee.
- Committee decision.
At a student conduct hearing, the technical rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases shall not apply. Evidence will include all facts based on oral testimony of witnesses who are present before the committee and all tangible objective evidence including but not limited to photographs, charts, papers, electronic or other recorded statements. Written statements by witnesses not present at the hearing may be admitted into evidence, but the committee will decide how much weight, if any, will be given to such statements.
Evidence of a student’s past record may be introduced if a pattern of similar behavior has been demonstrated. The sanction phase of the hearing will consider evidence of pattern behavior.
- Any party may present witnesses. Neither the complainant nor the respondent can cross examine or personally question witnesses. If the respondent or the complainant has questions for the witnesses, they may submit those questions to the hearing chairperson during the hearing. The hearing chairperson may use the submitted questions to inform which questions the hearing panel asks.
- The respondent cannot cross examine or personally question the complainant, and the complainant cannot cross examine or personally question the respondent. If the respondent or the complainant has questions for the other party, they may submit those questions to the hearing chairperson during the hearing. The hearing chairperson may use the submitted questions to inform which questions the hearing panel asks.
- Witnesses are excluded from the hearing room, but brought in individually before the committee to provide testimony. (This provision does not apply to the complainant and respondent.)
- At the close of all testimony and after the admission of all evidence, the complainant and the respondent will be allowed a closing statement. Closing statements may include a summation of all evidence (as admitted) and arguments or theories behind the stated position of each side.
The committee will, after hearing all evidence and summations, retire for deliberation. The chairperson of the committee will announce the decision promptly. The committee will issue and make available a written report which is shared with all parties, including the complainant. The chairperson of the committee will notify the respondent of the decision in writing within two business days. See the Sexual Misconduct policy for policies and procedures related to student conduct hearings involving an alleged violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy.
Significant mitigating or aggravating factors will be considered when sanctions are imposed, including present demeanor and past student conduct record of the offender, as well as the nature of the offense, and the severity of any damage, injury or harm resulting from it. The following are examples of institutional sanctions. More than one institutional sanction may be imposed for any single violation:
- Letter of warning.
- Fines: Previously established and published fines may be imposed.
- Restitution of property or personal relationships with others, denial of certain privileges, or restriction of activities.
- Loss of privileges – Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.
- Discretionary sanctions: Including, but not limited to, work assignments, essays, service to the college, mandated assessment and/or counseling, workshop attendance, behavioral contracts, and monitoring or related activities.
- Student conduct probation: Prohibits the student from representing the college or participating in student activities without prior permission from the office of student conduct. Probation also subjects the student to immediate suspension if found in violation of another offense during the period of probation.
- Administrative withdrawal from course(s): Student is withdrawn from the course(s) where the violation occurred for the remainder of the academic term.
- Suspension: Exclusion from college premises, and other privileges or activities, as set forth in the suspension notice.
- Expulsion: Permanent termination of student status, and exclusion from college premises, privileges and activities.
- Revocation of admission and/or degree: Admission to or a degree awarded by the college may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, providing other false information, or other violation of college standards in obtaining the degree or admission to the college
Students who are members of athletic teams, work study programs, the Silas Craft Collegians program, Rouse Scholars program, or other learning communities at the college may be subject to additional student conduct action as set forth by the rules of those organizations. These organizations will be informed of any infractions.
Any student conduct determination resulting in suspension or expulsion from the college may be appealed by the respondent to the vice president of student services. The appeal must be sent in writing to the office of the vice president of student services. The appeal must be received by the office of the vice president of student services within seven business days after the notice of suspension or expulsion was delivered to the student’s HCC email address.
The vice president of student services will act on appeals based upon the report filed by the hearing committee chair- person, the student’s written brief, and any written response or memorandum prepared by college officials. All written materials considered by the vice president of student services will be subject to inspection, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. New evidentiary hearings will not be conducted in appeal. The decision of the vice president of student services is final.
The following standards will apply when appeals are considered:
- Cases may be upheld if the standards for the appeal are not met.
- Sanctions may be reduced or removed if found to be substantially disproportionate to the offense.
- Cases may be remanded for rehearing only if specified procedural errors or errors in interpretation of college regulations were so substantial as to effectively deny the student a fair hearing, or if new and significant evidence became available that could not have been discovered by a properly diligent student before or during the original hearing.
- Cases may be dismissed if the finding is held to be unsupported by any evidence.
See the Sexual Misconduct policy for policies and procedures related to appeals for cases involving violations of the sexual misconduct policy.
Student Conduct Files and Records
Case referrals may result in the development of a student conduct file in the name of the respondent. The outcome of all student conduct cases will normally be retained as a student conduct record for seven years from the date of the letter providing notice of the outcome. Files of students who are suspended or expelled will be retained. The respondent or complainant may listen to a copy of the hearing recording upon written request. The respondent or complainant may request that a written transcript of their own hearing be prepared, at the student’s expense.
Student conduct records may be voided by the vice president of student services or designee, for good cause, upon written petition of the respondent. Factors to be considered in review of such petitions include:
- The present demeanor of the student.
- The conduct of the student subsequent to the violation.
- The nature of the violation and the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from it.
- The completion of sanctions from all prior incidents.
A student suspended as a result of the student conduct process may be entitled to complete their academic work, including examinations during the regular term without extension of time. Since the student is prohibited from entering the campus without permission, coordination will be through the office of the vice president of student services and the division chairperson will be notified. An expelled student has no right to complete academic work.