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.