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A unit of the University System of Georgia

Disciplinary Procedures

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Reports of Student Misconduct

When a student is reported with violation of conduct regulations, the disposition of the student’s case shall be conducted according to the College’s due process requirements, in keeping with the procedures outlined below.

  1. Complains to the appropriate department and/or person(s) should include as much information as possible- such as: (1) the type of misconduct alleged; (2) the name and contact information of the respondent; (3) the date(s), time(s), and place(s) of the misconduct; (4) the name(s) and contact information of any individual(s) with knowledge of the incident; (5) whether any tangible evidence has been preserved; and (6) whether a criminal has been made.

    Information from complaints may be shared as necessary to investigate and to resolve the alleged misconduct. Complaints shall be investigated and resolved as outlined below. The need to issue a broader warning to the community in compliance with the Clery Act shall be assessed in compliance with federal law.

    Where appropriate, complainants may file a law enforcement report along with an institutional report.

    a.  Confidentiality: Where a complainant or alleged victim requests that his or her identity be withheld or the allegation(s) not be investigated, the institutions should consider whether or not such request(s) can be honored while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the institution. The institution should inform the requesting party that the institution generally cannot guarantee confidentiality. Further, honoring the request may limit the institution’s ability to respond fully to the incident and may limit the institution’s ability to discipline the respondent.

    b.  Retaliation: Anyone who, in good faith, reports what she or he believes to be student misconduct, participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with an investigation should immediately contact the appropriate department or individual(s) for that institution. Any person found to have engaged in retaliation in violation of the student conduct policy shall be subject to disciplinary action, pursuant to the institution’s policy.

    c.  False Complaints: Individuals who intentionally give false statements to an institution official, or who submit false complaints or accusations, including during a hearing, in violation of policy shall be subject to disciplinary action pursuant to the institution’s policy.

    d.  Amnesty: Individuals should be encouraged to come forward and to report student misconduct notwithstanding their choice to consume alcohol or to use drugs. Information reported in good faith by an individual during an investigation concerning use of drugs or alcohol will not be used against that individual in a disciplinary proceeding and will not be voluntarily reported to law enforcement; however, individuals may be provided with resources on drug and alcohol counseling and/or education, as appropriate.

    Not all matters covered under this policy will necessarily involve alleged victims; however, where they are involved, it should be noted that a complainant will not always be the alleged victim but instead may be a third-party witness. The institution may also respond to issues raised by third-party complaints (such as referrals by police) or discovered by staff or through its own investigations.
     
  2.   The student shall be notified by the Student Affairs Office of the accusation of a violation and will be asked to come to the Student Affairs Office for a conference to discuss the complaint.
     
  3.   At the above mentioned conference, the student shall be advised of the following options and asked to indicate a preference.

    a.  The student may, in writing, admit to the alleged violation, waive all further hearings, and request that the College take appropriate action. In which case, the Vice President for Student Affairs or Conduct Officer or official designee will take appropriate action.

    b.  The student may, in writing, deny the alleged violations in which case the institution shall take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of its community. Accordingly, student conduct should be addressed when such acts occur on institution property or at institution-sponsored or affiliate events, or otherwise violate the institution’s student conduct policies at non-institution sponsored events. If the student has admitted responsibility and has voluntarily decided to participate in the informal process, the procedures outlined in this section will not apply.

    Access to Advisors: The respondent and alleged victim (where applicable), as parties to these proceedings. Shall have the right to use an advisor (including an attorney) of his or her choosing, and at his or her own expense, for the express purpose of providing advice and counsel. The advisor may be present during meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process at which his or her advisee is present. The advisor may advise his or her advisee in any manner, including providing questions, suggestions, and guidance on responses to any questions of the advisee, but shall not participate directly. The institution shall not prohibit family members of a party from attending if the party requests such attendance, but may limit each participant to two family members.

    Training: The institution’s individual(s) tasked with investigating allegations of student misconduct shall not be responsible for training student conduct panel/board members or appellate body members.

    Initial Evaluation of Student Conduct Reports: Regardless of how an institution becomes aware of misconduct, it shall ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial review and resolution of complaints alleging student misconduct. Where a report of student misconduct has been made to the appropriate department and/or person, the institution shall review the complaint to determine whether the allegation(s) describes conduct in violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct. If the reported conduct would not be a violation of the institution’s policies and/or code of conduct then the report should be dismissed. Otherwise, a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and review shall be conducted into each complaint received to determine whether charges against the respondent should be brought.

    Throughout any investigation and resolution proceedings, a respondent shall receive notice of the alleged misconduct, shall be provided an opportunity to respond, and shall be allowed to remain silent during the investigation and resolution process, without an adverse inference resulting. If the respondent chooses to remain silent, the investigation may still proceed and policy violation charges may still result, and may be resolved against the respondent. Further, unrelated charges and cases shall be investigated separately, unless the respondent consents to having them aggregated.

    When the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions were to be held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion) the institution’s investigation and resolution procedures must provide these additional, minimum safeguards:
  • 1.  The respondent shall be provided with written notice of the complaint/allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, possible sanctions, and available support services. The notice should also include the identity of any investigator(s) involved. Notice should be provided via institution email to the address on file. Where applicable, a copy shall also be provided to the alleged victim via the same means.

    2.  Upon receipt of the written notice, the respondent shall be given at least three (3) business days to respond in writing. In that response, the respondent shall have the right to admit or to deny the allegations, and to set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct.

    3.  Based on this response, the investigation shall consist of interviews of the respondent, the alleged victim (where applicable) and witnesses, and the collection and review of documents or other physical or electronic information, as well as other steps as appropriate. The investigator should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator shall also keep a record of any proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation.

    4.  The investigation shall be summarized in writing in an initial investigation report and provided to the respondent and the alleged victim (where applicable) in person or via email. This summary should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions.

    5.  To the extent the respondent is ultimately charged with any violation, he or she shall also have the opportunity to respond in writing. The respondent’s written response to the charge(s) shall be due no earlier than three (3) business days following the date of the initial investigation report. The respondent’s written response should outline his or her plea in response to the charge(s), and where applicable, his or her defense(s), and the facts, witnesses, and documents – whether written or electronic – in support. A nonresponse to the charge(s) by the respondent will be interpreted as a denial of the charge(s).

    6.  The investigator shall conduct further investigation and update the investigative report as warranted by the respondent’s response.

    7.  The final investigative report should be provided to the student misconduct panel or hearing officer for consideration in adjudicating the charges brought against the respondent. A copy shall also be provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) before any hearing. The investigator may testify as a witness regarding the investigation and findings, but shall otherwise have no part in the hearing process and shall not attempt to otherwise influence the proceedings outside of providing testimony during the hearing.

    c.  The Judicial Committee will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Vice President for Student Affairs will consider the Judicial Committee’s recommendation and take appropriate action. The Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee may, for good cause, refer any case to the Judicial Committee.

    4.  Students shall be notified in writing of final decision.

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Interim Suspensions

Interim suspensions – that is, suspensions while the investigation and adjudication process are proceeding – should only occur where necessary to maintain safety, and should be limited to those situations where the respondent poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property. In making such an assessment, the institution should consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the campus community; the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability of potential injury; and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk.

While firmly committed to the concept of due process, the College recognizes the fact that the student may be accused of on-campus or off-campus offenses which, by their nature, would present a clear and present danger of serious physical or mental harm to the students or to another member of the College community or to the College property. In such cases, the Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee may impose the necessary temporary sanctions, pending a hearing if requested by the student.

Before an interim suspension is issued, the institution must make all reasonable efforts to give the respondent the opportunity to be heard on whether his or her presence on campus poses a danger. If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension shall take effect immediately. When requested by the respondent, a hearing to determine whether the intermediate suspension should continue will be held within three (3) business days of the request.

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The Student Judicial Committee

The Student Judicial Committee

The purpose of the Student Judicial Committee shall be to hear all disciplinary appeals and recommend disciplinary sanctions to the Vice President for Student Affairs in cases of non-academic violations of College policies or regulations.

  1. The Student Judicial Committee shall consist of one faculty member, one staff member, and 3 students chosen by the Student Government Association.
  2. The faculty member shall act as Chair. The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs shall be responsible for providing to the Student Judicial Committee a member of its staff to perform recording functions.

The Student Judicial Committee shall hear non-academic cases involving alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct which shall be referred by the Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee.

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Hearing

In no case shall a hearing to resolve charge(s) of student misconduct take place before the Investigative report has been finalized or before the respondent has had an opportunity to respond in writing, unless the respondent has chosen to go through an informal process or otherwise provided a written waiver of rights to these procedures. Further, unrelated charges and/or cases shall be heard separately unless the respondent voluntarily consents to the charges/cases being heard jointly.

Where the respondent indicates that he or she contests the charges, and once the investigative report has been finalized and copies provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) the case shall be set for hearing; however, the alleged victim (where applicable) and respondent may have the option of selecting mediation as a possible resolution in certain student misconduct cases where they mutually agree, except where deemed inappropriate by the Vice President for Student Affairs, or his/her designee.

Where a case is not resolved through mediation, the respondent shall have the option of having the charges heard either by an administrator (hearing officer) or a student conduct panel. Notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing, shall be provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing. Notice shall be provided via institution email or alternative method, if necessary. Additionally, the following standards will apply to any such hearing:

  1. The respondent shall have the right to present witnesses and evidence to the hearing officer or panel, as well as ask questions to any witnesses. At the determination of the hearing officer or panel, this questioning may take place through the submission of written questions to the panel or hearing officer for consideration; however, the parties’ advisors may still actively advise and assist in drafting those questions. The hearing officer or panel shall ask the questions as written, and will limit questions only if they are unrelated to determining the veracity of the charge leveled against the respondent(s). In any event, the hearing officer or panel shall err on the side of asking all submitted questions, and must document the reason for not asking any particular questions.
     
  2. Where the hearing officer or panel determines that a party or witness is unavailable and unable to be present due to extenuating circumstances, the hearing officer or panel may establish special procedures for providing testimony from a separate location. In doing so, the hearing officer or panel must determine there is a valid basis for the unavailability, ensure proper sequestration in a manner that ensures testimony has not been tainted, and make a determination that such an arrangement will not unfairly disadvantage any party. Should it be reasonably believed that a party or witness who is not physically present has presented tainted testimony, the hearing officer or panel will disregard or discount the testimony.
     
  3. Formal civil rules of evidence do not apply to the investigatory or resolution process.
     
  4. The standard of review shall be a preponderance of the evidence; however, any decision to suspend or to expel a student must also be supported by substantial evidence at the hearing.
     
  5. Institutions should maintain documentation of the proceedings, which may include written findings of fact, transcripts, audio recordings and/or video recordings.
     
  6. Following a hearing, both the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) shall be provided a written decision via institution email of the outcome and any resulting sanctions. The decision should include details on how to appeal, as outlined below. Additionally, the written decision must summarize the evidence in support of the sanction. The same form will be completed, regardless of whether the student opts for a student panel or an administrative hearing.
     
  7. Disciplinary Procedures at Gordon State College are local administrative hearings and will not be bound by strict rules and legal evidence. It may receive any evidence deemed by the Chair of the Judicial Committee or the Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee to be of probative value in determining the issues involved. Every effort shall be made to obtain the most reliable evidence available. All questions as to the admissibility of evidence or other legal matters shall be decided by the Chair of the Judicial Committee or the Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee. This is a local administrative hearing and the College official(s) may exclude any person who interferes materially with the hearing.
     
  8. Any party may challenge the participation of any institution official, employee or student panel member in the process on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the institution’s designee setting forth the basis for the challenge. The designee may not be the same individual responsible for investigating or adjudicating the conduct allegation. The written challenge should be submitted within a reasonable time after the individual reasonably should have known of the existence of the bias. The institution’s designee will determine whether to sustain or deny the challenge, and if sustained, the replacement to be appointed.

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Possible Sanctions

In determining the severity of sanctions or corrective actions the following should be considered: The frequency, severity, and/or nature of the offense, history of past conduct, an offender’s willingness to accept responsibility, previous institutional response to similar conduct, and the institution’s interests. The student conduct panel or hearing officer will determine sanctions and issue notice of the same, as outlined above.

The broad range of sanctions includes: expulsion; suspension for an identified time frame or until satisfaction of certain conditions, or both; temporary or permanent separation of the parties (e.g., change in classes, reassignment of residence, no contact orders, limiting geography of where parties can go on campus) with additional sanctions for violating orders; required participation in sensitivity training/awareness education programs; required participation in alcohol and other drug awareness and abuse prevention programs; counseling or mentoring; volunteering/community service; loss of institutional privileges; delays in obtaining administrative services and benefits from the institution (e.g., holding transcripts, delaying registration, graduation, diplomas); additional academic requirements relating to scholarly work or research; financial restitution; or any other discretionary sanctions directly related to the violation or conduct.

The following are possible disciplinary measures which may be imposed upon a student for an infraction of the Student Code of Conduct. This list shall not be taken to be exhaustive and may be enlarged or modified to meet particular circumstances in any given case.

  1. Expulsion – Permanent, forced withdrawal from the College constitutes the maximum disciplinary penalty. Although expulsion may be imposed on the first offense, it is usually administered after other methods of discipline have been exhausted. Expulsion from the College is indicated on the student’s transcript, and he/she may not re-enter or visit the College.
     
  2. Disciplinary Suspension – Forced withdrawal from the College for a specified time. Suspension is for a period of not less than one full semester. During any period of suspension or withdrawal associated with disciplinary reasons, a student may not visit the campus for reasons other than clarification of academic or behavior record. No transfer credit from another institution which is earned, while the student is under suspension from Gordon State College, will be accepted for credit toward a degree at Gordon State College.
     
  3. Disciplinary Probation – Notice to the student that any further disciplinary violation may result in suspension or expulsion without appeal. Disciplinary probation might also include one or more of the following: the setting of restriction, the issuing of a reprimand, or restitution.
     
  4. Restrictions – Exclusion from participating in:
    a.  Social activities
    b.  Identification card privileges (cafeteria, library, Student Activity and Recreation center, etc.)
    c.  Parking areas
     
  5. Reprimand
    a.  Oral Reprimand – an oral disapproval issue to the student.
    b.  Letter Reprimand – a written statement of disapproval to the student.
     
  6. Restitution – Reimbursement for damages to or misappropriation of property, this may take the form of appropriate service or other compensation.
     
  7. Discretionary Sanctions – Work assignments, service to the College, counseling, alcohol evaluation, or other related discretionary assignments.
     
  8. Forced Withdrawal – From the academic course within which the offense occurred without credit for course.
     
  9. Change in Grade – Initiated by the instructor for the course in which an academic irregularity occurred.
     
  10. Housing Penalties – (a) Expulsion from Gordon State College housing; (b) Suspension from housing; (c) Housing relocation; (d) Residence Hall restrictions; (e) Other.

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Appeals

Where the sanction imposed includes a suspension or expulsion (even for one held in abeyance), the following appellate procedures must be provided to the respondent. The alleged offender shall have the right to appeal the outcome on any of the following grounds: (1) to consider new information, sufficient to alter the decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original hearing, because such information was not known or knowable to the person appealing during the time of the hearing; (2) to allege a procedural error within the hearing process that may have substantially impacted the fairness of the hearing, including but not limited to whether any hearing question were improperly excluded or whether the decision was tainted by bias; or (3) to allege that the finding was inconsistent with the weight of the information. Appeals may be made by the alleged offender for the above reasons in any case where sanctions are issued- even those in which such sanctions are held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion.

The appeal must be made in writing, and must set forth one or more of the bases outlined above, and must be submitted within five (5) business days of the date of the final written decision.

The appeal should be made to the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee. The appeal shall be a review of the record only, and no new meeting with the respondent or any alleged victim will be held. The Vice President, or his/her designee, may affirm the original finding and sanction; affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction lesser severity; remand the case back to the decision-maker to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand.

The Vice President for official designee shall then issue a decision in writing to the respondent within a reasonable time period.

The decision of the Vice President or his/her designee may be appealed in writing within five(5) business days (as determined by the date of the decision letter) to the President of the institution solely on the four grounds set forth above.

The President may affirm the original finding and sanction; affirm the original finding but issue a new sanction of lesser severity, remand the case back to the decision maker to correct a procedural or factual defect; or reverse or dismiss the case if there was a procedural or factual defect that cannot be remedied by remand. The President’s decision shall be issued in writing to the respondent within a reasonable time period. The President’s decision shall be the final decision of the institution.

Should the respondent wish to appeal the President’s decision, he or she may appeal to the Board of Regents in accordance with the Board of Regents Policy 8.6.

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Residential Students

When an on-campus residential student is charged with a violation of the Student Conduct Code which involves breach of residence hall regulations in or around the residence halls (refer to The Guide to Highlander Living), the case shall be referred to the Office of Residence Life/Student Housing for appropriate action. The case will be investigated, processed, and a final disposition given by the appropriate official within the Office of Residence Life/Student Housing. In cases where breach of residence hall rules and regulations are involved, the disposition of the student’s case shall be conducted according to the College’s due process requirements, in keeping with the procedures outlined below.

  1. All complaints of alleged violation(s) by resident students shall be made to the Office of Residence Life/Student Housing. Each complaint shall contain a statement of facts outlining each alleged act of misconduct and the individual(s) known to be involved.
     
  2. The resident student shall be notified by the Office of Residence Life of the accusation of a violation and will be asked to come to the Office of Residence Life for a conference to discuss the complaint.
     
  3. At the above mentioned conference, the student shall be advised of the following options and asked to indicate a preference:
    a.  An Informal Hearing before the Director of Residence Life or official designee in which case the Director of Residence Life or official designee will take the appropriate action. If the resident student chooses an Informal Hearing, they assume responsibility for the alleged violation(s) and waive their right to appeal. The Director of Residence Life or official designee may, for good cause, refer any case to the Vice President for Student Affairs for campus wide disciplinary procedures.
    b.  A Formal Hearing before the Residence Hall Council, in which case the Residence Hall Council will take appropriate action. The purpose of the Residence Hall Council of Gordon State College shall be to determine whether a student has violated Residence Hall policies, and to recommend appropriate sanctions to the Director of Residence Life or official designee.
     
  4. Students shall be notified in writing of final decisions. Students have the right to appeal the decision of the Residence Hall Council. Appeals must be submitted within three (3) days of receiving the decision of the Residence Hall Council to the Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee. A student may appeal on grounds that evidence was not sufficient to find him/her guilty, new evidence, committee bias, or disproportionate sanctions for the offense. The Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee shall review the case, and all related documents, and shall render a decision to the student within three (3) working days.

    The Vice President for Student Affairs or official designee’s decision in residence life disciplinary matters is final.

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