Article V: Conduct Hearings
Any member of the University community may provide information to the Office of Student Conduct regarding an alleged violation(s) of the Student Code by a WMU student. The information shall be presented in writing and directed to the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee. Information should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place, preferably within five University business days.
The appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct may conduct an investigation to determine if the information has merit and/or if the situation can be resolved administratively by mutual consent of the parties involved on a basis acceptable to the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct. Such resolution shall be final and there shall be no subsequent proceedings. If the situation cannot be resolved by mutual consent, the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee, may later serve in the same matter as the conduct body or a member thereof. If the student admits responsibility for violating University policies, but sanctions are not agreed to, subsequent processes, including a hearing if necessary, shall be limited to determining the appropriate sanctions.
Any formal charge(s) that result from information brought to the Office of Student Conduct shall be presented to the alleged violator in written form by a conduct body. Cases that are likely to result in suspension or expulsion shall be heard no sooner than 24 hours after notice to the student. All other cases shall be dealt with in a more informal manner and may be heard simultaneously with notice.
Hearings shall be conducted by a conduct body according to the following guidelines:
- The appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee shall decide hearing type for each case.
- When the choice is made to use a member within the Office of Student Conduct/or designee to hear a case, the conduct body may be expanded, at the sole discretion of the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct, to a total of either three or five members, with the staff member from the Office of Student Conduct staff/or designee, serving as chairperson.
- Hearings shall be closed to the public.
- Admission of any person to the hearing shall be at the discretion of the appropriate staff member in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee.
- In cases involving more than one alleged violator, the hearing concerning each student may be conducted separately or together. This determination will be made solely at the discretion of the appropriate staff member in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee.
- The person(s) bringing the information forward regarding an alleged violation(s) and the alleged violator may be assisted by one support person of her/his own choosing and at her/his own expense. Support persons are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any hearing before a conduct body. All communications related to the case (before, during and after a hearing) shall be directed to the alleged violator and not to any support person.
- The person(s) bringing the information forward regarding an alleged violation(s) and the alleged violator shall provide the hearing body with a written list of corroborators or any support person at least 24 hours in advance of the hearing.
- The person(s) bringing the information forward regarding an alleged violation(s), the alleged violator, and the conduct body, shall have the privilege of presenting corroborators. Corroborators are subject to questioning in an appropriate manner by the charging party, the alleged violator, and the conduct body.
- Pertinent records, exhibits and written statements may be accepted as evidence for consideration by a conduct body at the sole discretion of the appropriate staff within the Office of Student Conduct/or designee.
- All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the chairperson of the conduct body.
- After the hearing, the conduct body shall determine (by majority vote if the conduct body consists of more than one person) if the alleged violator is/is not responsible for violation of each section of the Student Code for which the student is charged.
- The conduct body’s determination shall be made on the basis of whether a reasonable person would conclude that it is more likely than not that the alleged violator violated the Student Code.
- When a student is accused of engaging in sexual harassment or sexual discrimination against an individual other than another student (ex: faculty, staff, community member) the investigation regarding those allegations shall be conducted by the Office of Institutional Equity (" OIE "). OIE shall conduct the investigation and issue a finding regarding the facts and merits of the allegation. The findings shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Vice President shall determine whether sanctions are appropriate and shall determine whether to refer the case to the Office of Student Conduct for sanctions, or make the determination her/himself and impose sanctions or appoint a designee to do so.
There may be a single verbatim record, such as a digital recording, of hearings before a conduct body. This record shall be the property of the University.
Except in the case of a student charged with failing to set up or keep an appointment with a staff member in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee, no student may be found to have violated the Student Code solely because the student failed to attend a conduct hearing. In all cases, the evidence in support of the charges shall be presented and considered. The failure of a student to appear shall not preclude a hearing from proceeding.
- The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to be responsible for violation of the Student Code. Sanctions may be used independently or in combination depending on the particular circumstance of the violation. More than one of the sanctions may be imposed for any single violation; chronic and/or multiple violations shall increase the severity of sanctions applied. Sanctions are listed in order of severity from least severe to most severe.
- Sanction determination shall be based on the severity of the current conduct violation, and/or previous conduct violations (if any), and/or the current conduct status of the student found responsible, and/or the threat to the health, safety or property of any person, and/or any other reasonable factor. Sanctions shall be determined as a discrete and separate part of the hearing process and only after a finding of responsibility has been reached.
- Where there is reason to believe that a student has intentionally selected a person or persons to victimize or selected property to damage, or violated other provisions of the Student Code because of the personal characteristics or status of a person or group of persons or personal characteristics or status of the owner(s) or occupant(s) of any property, sanctions may be increased. These characteristics include, but are not limited to: race, creed, disability, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, public assistance status, inclusion in any group or class protected by state or federal law or university policy. Intent shall be determined by consideration of all relevant circumstances.
- Any student who fails to complete any sanctions given to her/him by the deadline stated by the conduct body is not eligible to register for classes, receive financial aid, receive a diploma, or obtain any transcripts (official or unofficial) until he/she complies with the terms of the original sanctions and any additional sanctions imposed due to the failure to complete the original sanctions in a timely manner.
- Warning: verbal or written notice that specific inappropriate conduct is unacceptable.
- Reprimand: An official written censure containing three components. A reprimand for inappropriate behavior, notice that the conduct associated with the violation must stop immediately and permanently, and notice that additional violations shall result in more severe sanctions.
- Behavior Contract: A written contract between the student and the University wherein the student agrees to correct inappropriate behaviors.
- Discretionary Sanctions: Service to the University, service to the community, attendance at educational seminars, classes, or workshops, written assignments, or other activities deemed appropriate by the conduct body. The student is required to submit written proof of participation in and/or completion of the sanction to the conduct body. (Some seminars, classes, and workshops may require a registration fee.)
- Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.
- Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time. Examples of privileges that can be denied include: academic program dismissal, campus registration of an automobile, parking in a specific area or during specific time periods, access to a building or portion of a building, access to a program, on-campus living, holding of an office in a Registered Student Organization, participation in extra-curricular activities, access to a particular living group and any other privilege that the conduct body deems appropriate to deny.
- Probation: Probation requires that a student's conduct be reviewed for a specified period of time. Conditions of the probationary period will be specified to the student by the hearing body and may be applied during the probationary period. All conditions must be satisfied and verified prior to the completion of the probationary period. If a student is found responsible for violation of any institutional policy(s) during the probationary period, more severe sanctions could be applied.
- Suspension: Separation of the student from the University or a University program for a period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. During this time, the student under suspension shall forfeit all rights of her/his student status for the duration of her/his suspension and may have her/his privileges of access to University premises revoked. Conditions for readmission and/or continued enrollment after readmittance may be specified. All conditions for readmission must be satisfied, completed and certified to the Office of Student Conduct/or designee prior to readmittance. Also, a written plan for adherence to conditions of continued enrollment after readmittance from a suspension shall be provided to the Office of Student Conduct/or designee for review and approval.
- Expulsion: Permanent separation of the student from the University. An expelled student shall have no access to University premises and shall forfeit all rights of his/her student status immediately and permanently upon expulsion.
- Revocation of degree: A degree awarded from WMU may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of University standards in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to graduation. Being a degree holding alumna is sufficient association with the University and basis for application of this sanction.
- Withholding degree: The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Code, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.
- Sanctions listed above in Section A4, a through k, may be imposed upon groups or organizations.
- In each case in which a conduct body determines that a student is responsible for violation of the Student Code, the sanction(s) shall be determined and imposed by the appropriate staff member in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee. In cases in which persons other than, or in addition to, staff in the Office of Student Conduct have been authorized to serve as the conduct body, the recommendation of all members of the conduct body shall be considered by the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee in determining and imposing sanctions. The appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee will not be limited to sanctions recommended by members of the conduct body. Following the hearing, the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct/or designee shall advise the alleged violator in writing of the outcome and sanction(s) imposed, if any.
B. Conduct Records/Files
Individual conduct files that contain cases that have resulted in the sanction of suspension or expulsion shall be kept permanently on file. All other individual files shall be kept for seven years after any sanctions expire unless they are expunged (as described below.) Students may request to have their conduct record expunged under the conditions listed below. Expungement shall be at the sole discretion of the appropriate staff in the Office of Student Conduct and shall require the entire record to be expunged or none of it to be expunged (i.e. no partial expungement shall be allowed). Conditions include:
- Application for expungement shall occur only upon completion of all degree requirements and attainment of a degree.
- Expungement may occur only for students who have sanctions other than suspension or expulsion and whose violations were determined not to have threatened or endangered the health or safety of any person. Records for a student(s) who has been suspended or expelled are not eligible for expungement.
- Expungement decisions shall be made based on obvious long-term improvement in behavior, or lack thereof, (e.g., no violations of the student code for two or more consecutive semesters prior to graduation), and/or demonstration, or lack thereof, of cooperation in previous student conduct matters, and/or any other reasonable factor.
C. Interim Suspension
In certain circumstances, the Dean/Associate Dean of Students/or designee, may impose a University or residence-hall suspension prior to the hearing before a conduct body.
- Interim suspension may be imposed only:
- Instances where a student engages, or threatens to engage, in behavior which poses a danger of causing physical harm to self or others; or
- Instances which could cause significant property damage, or would directly and substantially impede the lawful activities of others; or
- Instances where a student’s behavior is sufficiently disturbed or disturbing, and may interfere with the educational process and the orderly operation of the University.
- During the interim suspension, students shall be denied access to the residence halls and/or to the campus (including classes) and/or all other University activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible, as the Dean/Associate Dean/or designee may determine to be appropriate.
- Students placed on interim suspension are entitled to a subsequent hearing within a reasonable time period.
- A student shall remain suspended until all appeals are exhausted, or the appeal deadline is passed or the Dean/Associate Dean of Students/or designee determines otherwise.
- Appeals shall be typed or written and submitted to the Office of Student Conduct within five University business days (regular business hours 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) An appeal letter must meet two conditions: (1) cite the basis of the appeal and (2) provide sufficient and detailed information to support the appeal. Failure to meet either or both of these conditions shall be sufficient cause to deny an appeal. The Chair of the Appeals Board for cases involving suspension or expulsion or the Appeal Officer for all other cases, in consultation with staff in the Office of Student Conduct, shall make the determination as to whether both conditions have been met.
- In cases not involving suspension or expulsion, decisions of the Appeal Officer are final.
- The Appeals Board shall review cases involving suspension and expulsion only. The board shall consist of one faculty member appointed by the Faculty Senate, one staff member appointed by the President’s office, two undergraduate students, and one graduate student. Each shall serve a term of one calendar year and may be reappointed for subsequent terms. If appointees are unable to serve for any reason, the vacancy shall be filled immediately by the appropriate appointing body. Preference shall be given to students who have previously served as a member of a hearing body. Appeals Board members must attend training seminars provided by the Office of Student Conduct as a condition of their membership on the Board.
- An Appeal Officer is appointed and authorized by the Dean/Associate Dean of Students/or designee to hear cases not involving suspension or expulsion as a sanction. An Appeal Officer may, at the sole discretion of the Dean/Associate Dean of Students, expand to a panel of a total of three people appointed by the Dean/Associate Dean of Students. The Appeal Officer may be chairperson of the panel.
- In cases involving suspension or expulsion, the decision of the Appeals Board may be appealed by the alleged violator or University to the President/or designee by notifying the Office of Student Conduct in writing within five (5) University business days of the decision.
- The appeal process shall be limited to a review of the file and supporting documents (except as necessary to gain insight into any new information). The following are the only accepted bases for appeal.
- To determine whether the original hearing was conducted fairly in light of the charges and information presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures giving the complainant a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present information that substantiates that the Student Code was violated, and giving the alleged violator a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present rebuttal of those allegations.
- To determine whether the decision reached regarding the actions of the alleged violator were based on sufficient information, that is, whether the facts in the case were sufficient to establish that it is more likely than not that a violation of the Student Code occurred and the student was responsible
- To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed were appropriate for the violation of the Student Code which the student was found to have committed
- To consider new information sufficient to alter a decision or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing.
- The Appeals Board, the Appeal Officer or the University President/or designee may take any of the following actions in response to an appeal: choose not to review the case, which leaves the findings and sanctions from the previous level intact; review the case and uphold the findings and/or sanctions from the previous level; review the case and reverse a finding of responsibility for any or all charges; review the case and modify the sanctions (enhanced or lessened); review the case and require that it be heard again by the original conduct body.
- Decisions made by a conduct body shall not be final until an appeal deadline is passed, or when the appeal process is exhausted, or when a student chooses not to appeal.