- Self-Governance at Grinnell College
- The Concept of Self-Governance
- Tenets of Self Governance
- Community Standards
- Interim Suspension Pending the Outcome of a Conduct Hearing
- Administrative Hearing
- Restorative Justice Practices
- College Hearing Board and Judicial Council
- Deferral of Proceedings
- Student Conduct Records
- Violations of Civil Law
- Interpretation and Revision
The Community Standards and Responsibilities section clearly outlines the student conduct process at Grinnell College. Embedded throughout the student conduct process are the tenets of our self-governing community – which also inform the mission and values of our Student Conduct program.
Student Conduct Mission:
The Student Conduct program at Grinnell College supports the Division of Student Affairs and College missions by helping to create and sustain a culture of respect and responsibility – the undergirding tenets of our self-governing community – as well as by providing a holistic and transformative learning experience for students. We strive to resolve allegations of misconduct in a fair, timely, and socially-just manner that balances the needs of the individual student and the College community at large. We achieve our mission by embracing our core values of integrity, honesty, and personal responsibility.
Student Conduct Core Values:
- Integrity: It is important to foster a student conduct system that adheres to our core values of integrity, honesty, and personal responsibility. By living up to these espoused values – as well as being held accountable to the high expectations articulated in the student conduct program mission – the integrity and legitimacy of our process is ensured.
- Honesty: Honesty is the essential building block of all healthy relationships – with one’s self, each other, our campus community, and society at large. By being truthful, sincere, and candid with each other, we can resolve community disputes and mediate allegations of misconduct in a respectful and socially-just manner.
- Personal Responsibility: Self-governance and personal responsibility are hallmarks of our residential liberal arts community. As such, it is important that we take responsibility for our actions that affect not only ourselves but our community as well. By owning our decisions and accepting the consequences of them, we can achieve our mission to create and sustain a culture of respect and responsibility.
Self-Governance at Grinnell College
Self-governance is the organizing principle on which the Grinnell College community is based. It is difficult to create a hard and fast definition of what “self-governance” means, because by its very nature, self-governance is constantly being modified to changing situations. It has adapted over the decades to accommodate changes in campus culture and evolved to meet the needs of its practitioners. However, the goal of self-governance remains steady: to give Grinnellians the tools they need to build a community based on respect and accountability.
Self-governance is grounded in responsibility and respect for others. It gives Grinnell College community members a framework to resolve conflict. Community members take responsibility for their actions and respect the rights of others, and trust that their fellow Grinnellians will do the same.
Self-governance only works if everyone is committed to it. With such a large degree of freedom comes immense responsibility. Participants must actively work to maintain the quality of their community. Self-governance requires maturity and being aware of the consequences of our actions. Community members must be willing to actively listen and compromise with people of different perspectives.
The Concept of Self-Governance
Those engaged in a liberal arts education create a community based on freedom of choice. By making individual choices, students meet the challenges of a rigorous academic and rich out-of-classroom experience. Self-governance encourages students to become responsible, respectful, and accountable members of the campus, town, and global community.
Principles of Self-Governance
- You are responsible for your community. This means engaging in a variety of levels to build, maintain, and contribute to the campus, local, and global community.
- You are accountable for your choices. Accountability means taking ownership for your actions, opinions, and beliefs.
- You are accountable for preventing your actions from infringing or violating others’ rights.
- You are responsible for speaking and listening to others to reach shared understandings.
- You are responsible for addressing situations and communicating concerns about issues that undermine community or individual rights – whether it be your own or others.
These principles of self-governance are supported through:
- an administrative structure intentionally designed to challenge and support students to govern themselves.
- an academic structure encouraging choice through an individually advised curriculum.
- a campus community committed to social consciousness and community involvement.
Tenets of Self Governance
Grinnellians take responsibility for the actions and choices that affect themselves and their community, whether at Grinnell or through social responsibility in a larger global context. They own their decisions, and accept the consequences of them.
Self-governance means respecting your community and yourself. When you respect others, you are less likely to make decisions that will impact them in a negative way. Self-governance is realizing and recognizing that every person’s experiences and opinions are valid.
In order to maintain a working community, members need to be willing to trade off and compromise with each other when it comes to personal disputes and decision making. For example: floor voting that establishes single-sex bathrooms, but allows for the opposite sex to use the shower during designated times.
Self-governance allows for greater freedom of choice, but community members must be accountable for how they exercise that freedom. They understand that if they make choices that harm the community, they need to step forward and take ownership of their actions and the consequences thereof.
Self-governance is a proactive process that requires community members pay attention to their own personal needs and actions as well as those of their fellow community members. Paying attention to the community and it members allows individuals to enact positive change and prevent behavior that negatively affects the community.
Self-governance is based on trust. The administration gives students greater freedom and trusts them to use it wisely. Students trust each other to act maturely and not abuse this freedom, and trust the community to take care of its members. Self-governance requires that you act in a way that validates others trust in you.
Community members are expected to solve disputes amongst themselves in a respectful and mature fashion, and good communication is important to making that happen. Members must be willing to listen to each other and take other points of view into account and be assertive in an appropriate response.
Under self-governance, members take the good of the whole into account when making a decision. They work with each other to create a campus environment where all members can live, work, and study.
A great deal of what “self-governance” can be summed up by simple common sense. Community members should think about whether their actions will cause unnecessary harm to themselves.
Grinnell College is a residential community where self-governance and personal responsibility are hallmarks. As such, the following community standards build upon the Statement of Values and describe how students who are engaged in activities sponsored by the College act with integrity, honesty, and in a socially-just manner.
Because Grinnellians are expected to act with integrity at all times, these Community Standards are applicable to Grinnell College students both on campus and in the town of Grinnell. Egregious and/or repeated violations of these Standards in the town of Grinnell may be adjudicated through the College’s conduct process.
Standard One: Grinnellians act with integrity and consider how their actions will impact others.
Self-governance is grounded in responsibility and respect for others. As such, it is important for Grinnell College community members to act with integrity. This means students will not commit academic dishonesty, or engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct on College premises or at College-sponsored activities that interferes with the activities of others – including but not limited to studying, teaching, research, and College administration. Furthermore, intentionally furnishing false information or reports to the College, making, possessing, or using any forged, altered, or falsified instrument of identification or College document is contrary to this Standard.
Violating published College regulations, rules, or policies is dishonorable and unacceptable behavior. Such regulations or policies may include the residence hall agreement form, alcohol agreement form, or the smoking policy.
Knowingly violating the terms of any educational outcome (sanction) imposed in accordance with thisHandbook, and/or abusing the student conduct process – including but not limited to harassing or intimidating a member of a conduct review board or any participant prior to, during, or after a student conduct proceeding – is prohibited as these acts do not uphold this Standard.
Standard Two: Grinnellians value the personal safety of themselves and other members of the Grinnell community.
This includes harassment, sexual misconduct, domestic/dating partner violence, physical assault, threatening behavior, hazing, or any related activities aimed at any member of the College community – including one’s self – that harms someone physically or psychologically, or causes others to fear being harmed. Also prohibited are hate crimes and/or bias-motivated incidents – including but not limited to racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or sexual discrimination, threatening remarks or gestures that are directly and specifically intended for another individual – that interfere with or limits one’s ability to attain his/her/hir educational goals. Reckless or intentional acts or destructive behavior which undermines another’s basic dignity or self-esteem are contrary to this Standard.
The illegal or unauthorized use, possession, or storage of firearms, explosives, fireworks or other weapons in violation of College policy is not allowed in our community. Intentionally or recklessly misusing or damaging fire safety equipment, intentionally or recklessly setting a fire, activating a false fire alarm, and/or failing to comply with the directions of College officials, including Campus Safety & Security, who are acting in performance of their duties jeopardizes the safety of one’s self and others and is prohibited.
Standard Three: Grinnellians respect personal and College property and role model good citizenship by abiding by local, state, and federal laws and accept the consequences for not adhering to them.
Destroying, damaging, misusing, or illegally possessing the property of the College, its members, or others – regardless of intent – is contrary to this Standard. This includes but is not limited to College-controlled keys, academic materials or instructional equipment (such as laboratory equipment, computers, electronic devices, or library materials), and personal belongings. Attempts to gain access to any portion of the College’s premises (including College-owned or College-leased property) without authorization are a violation of this Standard.
The College enforces all relevant local, state, and federal laws regarding alcohol and illicit drugs and certifies itself to the federal government as a drug-free campus. It is the College’s commitment to provide a living and learning environment that is free from the use, sale, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs, controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia, or the improper or abusive use of legal drugs or alcohol on Grinnell College premises. For further details, refer to the Alcohol and Other Drugs policy.
Approved by Committee on Student Life and Joint Board Resolution, Spring 2011
Revised by Committee on Student Life, Spring 2012
Interim Suspension Pending the Outcome of a Conduct Hearing
At times, a student may endanger other members of the community, or community property, College programs or him/her/hirself. The President of the College, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and/or the Vice-President for Student Affairs have the right to immediately place a student on an interim suspension pending a hearing with either the College Hearing Board or the Dean of Students or a medical evaluation.
While rare, an interim suspension is imposed for one of the following suctions: a.) to ensure the safety and well being of members of the College community or preservation of College property, and/or; b.) to ensure the student’s own physical or emotional safety and well being, and/or; c.) if the student poses a substantial threat of disruption of interference with the normal operations of the College.
If, in the judgment of any of these College officials, interim suspension is necessary, the President or Vice-President for Student Affairs informs the student in writing according to the Grinnell College hearing procedures. The President or Vice-President for Student Affairs calls the College Hearing Board or an administrative hearing with the Dean of Students to hear the case within a reasonable period of time after the interim suspension is imposed. During the interim suspension period, the student is denied access to the campus (including classes) and all other College activities or privilege for which the student might otherwise be eligible, as deemed appropriate by the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee).
A student always has the right to resolve any alleged misconduct violation(s) through an informal and educational administrative hearing, in which the Dean of Students (or designee) will meet with the complainant and respondent to determine responsibility and render a decision as to what sanctions, if applicable, may be implemented. The same due process procedures and standard of proof (i.e., preponderance of evidence – more likely than not) are afforded during an administrative hearing as in a College Hearing Board or Judicial Council hearing. Depending upon the severity of the situation, the Dean of Students (or designee) may decline to handle the matter administratively and refer the case to either the College Hearing Board or the Judicial Council.
Restorative Justice Practices
The principles and practices of restorative justice provide an alternative to traditional forms of adjudicating student misconduct. These principles shift how an institution deals with offenses and violations by defining such infractions as harm to individuals and the entire community. Restorative justice acknowledges that, at the most fundamental level, formal offenses represent violations of our common humanity and the interpersonal bonds that bind us. Accounting for the need to re-integrate the community in the wake of harm, restorative practices place harmed parties, offenders, and the community at the center of the decision-making process responding to a particular infraction. Through dialogue, and mutual consent when possible, restorative justice seeks to heal harm, address the needs of both harmed parties and offenders, and recognize the root causes of the offense. Restorative justice attempts to answer three simple questions: Who has been hurt? What are their needs? Whose obligations are these? In this way, restorative justice allows those most affected to be a part of the reconciliation process and encourages offenders to mitigate harm.
It is important to note that the College Hearing Board (CHB) and Judicial Council (JudCo) already incorporates restorative justice practices in its educational outcomes. But for those students who wish to forego traditional administrative hearings and would rather reconcile grievances by using more formal restorative justice practices, they should inform the Dean of Students. As voluntary participation is a fundamental tenet of restorative justice, these practices will only be offered when all parties agree to do so.
College Hearing Board and Judicial Council
The College community, of which students are members, exercises its governance in several ways, including the creation and operation of a student conduct hearing board. The College Hearing Board (CHB) and Judicial Council (JudCo) may hear cases of alleged misconduct that occurs on–or-off campus, in College-owned residence halls or houses, or at College-sponsored event, program, or facility. Egregious and /or repeated violations of these Standards in the town of Grinnell may be adjudicated through the College’s conduct process .
The College Hearing Board and Judicial Council share the same procedures though their composition and jurisdiction are different. The board and council consider the preponderance of evidence (i.e., more likely than not) when determining the facts of the case and making subsequent determinations of findings of responsibility or non-responsibility regarding alleged policy or regulation violations.
The College Hearing Board, appointed by the President of the College, is a fact-finding board consisting of a rotating panel of College administrators, faculty, and students trained in student conduct procedures that typically hears cases that might result in possible suspension or dismissal from the College. The College Hearing Board has primary jurisdiction over the following types of matters, which are infractions of College policy:
- Any matter in which a student violates the rights of a student, faculty, or community member or College guest;
- Any matter in which a student has harassed or injured any College community member or, by other conduct, has interrupted or interfered with any College program or facility;
- Any matter of assault, sexual misconduct, hate crimes/bias-motivated incidents, or theft as defined by Iowa law or College policy;
- Any matter that might result in the suspension or dismissal of a student;
- Any matter the President of the College or the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee) deems is best heard by this body.
The Judicial Council is a completely student run fact-finding board that adjudicates allegations of lesser violations of residence hall rules, College regulations or policies, and any student’s or guest’s rights or privileges occurring on campus, in College-owned housing, or in a college-sponsored event, program, or facility. Judicial Council jurisdiction also extends to violations of election guidelines or improper election conduct. The Judicial Council membership is comprised of least four students and a student presiding officer – all rotating from a pool of hearing board members. In addition, there is a non-voting faculty adviser, a non-voting staff adviser (typically the Dean of Students), and a non-voting SGA Observer (typically the SGA Vice-President for Academic Affairs).
The Dean of Students (or designee) determines which administrative hearing board will adjudicate allegations of student misconduct.
The Student Government Association (SGA) executive members select a rotating panel of student conduct hearing board members for both the College Hearing Board and Judicial Council. The Dean of Students (or designee) acts as an adviser and/or presiding officer to the hearing boards, depending upon the body. When the matter involves a computer/telephone complaint or violation, a non-voting member appointed by the Director of Information Technology Services may sit with the hearing board or council and act as a technical adviser regarding the computer/telephone matters.
It is the primary responsibility of the hearing boards to determine the facts of the case, determine responsibility, and make recommendations to the Vice-President for Student Affairs regarding possible educational outcomes (sanctions) if violations are found.
Brief Overview of the Student Conduct Process
- The student conduct process is meant to educational and corrective; not disciplinary and punitive.
- The mission of the student conduct program is to provide a holistic and transformative learning experience to all students.
- The student conduct program strives to resolve allegations of misconduct in a fair, timely, and socially-just manner that balances the needs of the individual student and the College community at large.
- A Grinnell College community member (i.e., student, faculty, or staff) makes the decision to file a formal complaint.
- A Statement of Complaint and Request for a Hearing form, available from Student Affairs staff and other administrators and faculty, is obtained and completed.
- The completed Statement of Complaint and Request for a Hearing form is turned into the Dean of Students (or designee).
- Upon receipt of this completed form by the Dean of Students (or designee), the respondent will be notified and have two business days to respond in writing.
- The Complainant will be notified and given a copy of the response when all forms are completed.
- A hearing will be scheduled as quickly as possible (typically within 5-7 business days of the offense)
- The College Hearing Board and Judicial Council are comprised of members of the College community.
- The Dean of Students (or designee) may be present at the hearing to assist with procedural matters regarding student conduct policies and procedures. The Dean of Students (or designee) may also remain with the board or council during the deliberations.
- Student respondents and student complainants are able to have advisers present during the hearing as a support network. Please note: advisers cannot speak on behalf of any party and cannot serve as witnesses.
- The hearing will be conducted in a confidential and closed environment.
- College Hearing Board and Judicial Council meetings will be digitally audio recorded.
- Immediately following the hearing, if possible, the hearing board will deliberate the findings of fact of the case to render a decision and make recommend sanction(s) to the Vice-President for Student Affairs, if the respondent(s) is/are found responsible.
- Students found responsible to have violated College policy will receive a written outcome letter from the Vice-President for Student Affairs shortly after the hearing (typically within 5-7 business days).
- Students may not appeal their case simply because they do not like the outcome; rather, one of four specific criteria (explained in the appeals section) must be met.
General Statement Regarding Complaints
A complaint is a claim by a College community member, or guest, that a student has engaged in behavior that may be a violation of College policy or regulation. In some instances, the claimed violation of College policy or regulation also may be a violation of state or federal law. The complaint may be heard on-campus, using the previously mentioned procedures or others, while civil authorities could consider the allegations under applicable civil or criminal law. The College reserves the right to conduct a hearing board or act on any allegation of violation of College policies or regulations on campus even though civil authorities also may have jurisdiction under relevant criminal or civil law. A person filing a complaint is called the complainant. The person against whom a complaint is filed is called the respondent.
Complaint Filing and Handling
Individuals who feel their rights, privileges, or rules of the College have been violated and who want to pursue a complaint should discuss this with one of a group of staff members familiar with the student conduct procedures. This group may include the Dean of Students, the Vice-President for Student Affairs, the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life and Orientation, Dean for Religious Life & Chaplain (who also serves as the Sexual Assault Coordinator), the Director of Student Health and Counseling Services, the Director of Campus Safety and Security, other Campus Safety and Security Staff, and the RLCs. These staff members assist students in the identification of policy violations, outline the complaint filing and investigative procedures, and discuss confidentiality regarding student conduct complaints.
Once the Statement of Complaint and Request for Hearing form has been completed, the complainant must submit the form to the Dean of Students (or designee). The Dean of Students (or designee) will review the statement with the complainant. The form states the complainant’s claim against the respondent and the alleged violation of College policy or regulation. The Dean of Students (or designee) will then give copies of the Statement of Complaint to the complainant, as well as to the respondent. If the alleged behavior poses a possible threat to the safety of the College community, the Dean of Students (or designee) may also give a copy of the Statement of Complaint to the Grinnell College Safety and Security Department and to the City of Grinnell Police Department.
Upon receiving the Statement of Complaint, the respondent is required to complete, sign, date and return to the Dean of Students (or designee) within two business days a Statement of Response to the Complaint form. The response may be an admission to, or a simple denial of, the complaint. The respondent is not permitted to provide the written response at or during the hearing. Failure by the respondent to reply in writing may result in the hearing board or council proceeding as if all information presented by the complainant is true and accurate.
A copy of the Statement of Response is given to the complainant. The complainant is not permitted to reply to the respondent’s statement, nor is the complainant permitted to amend, change, or expand the initial complaint. The complainant and the respondent may make oral responses to each other’s statements, within the discretion of the Presiding Officer of the hearing board or council, at the appropriate time during the hearing.
A copy of the Statement of Complaint and Request for Hearing form and the Statement of Response form are given by the Dean of Students (or designee) to the presiding officer of the appropriate board or council who schedules a hearing. The hearing board or council will hear the case based on the violations listed on the complaint form. The board or council, through the presiding officer, makes the decision regarding which witnesses will be asked to appear and speak at the hearing.
For reporting and historical purposes, photocopies of the complaint and the response are made for the Division of Student Affairs or other administrative offices charged with record keeping.
Once a complaint has been filed, the response has been received, and both are delivered to the appropriate hearing body, the Chair of the Hearing Board or Judicial Council will be responsible for any communication regarding the matter before the Board or Council. This will include contacting any potential witnesses, sending out notices regarding the hearing, or any changes regarding the hearing, etc. At the completion of the hearing process, the Vice-President for Student Affairs is responsible for sending out notices to the appropriate parties of the results of the hearing.
Investigations for Sexual Misconduct Cases
In cases of sexual misconduct, an on-campus investigation may be conducted by the Campus Safety and Security Office. Information included in this report will be submitted as a separate report to the College Hearing Board when a complaint is filed with it. The investigation may also provide the basis for a complaint.
The Statement of Complaint, the respondent’s reply, any other written statements that are signed and dated, and other material related to the complaint may be read only by appropriate College officials, hearing board or council members, complainant, respondent, advisers for the hearing for each of the parties, and appropriate law enforcement officials, if required. Such documents are also subject to disclosure as described under“Student Conduct Records.”
During the Hearing Process: The complainant and respondent are encouraged, but not required, to limit their discussion about the incident to their adviser in the process, trained student advocates, and College staff. The College understands that the complainant and respondent may be in need of emotional support during this time, but encourages them to speak only with trained persons to lessen the possibility of rumors that may permeate the campus.
After the Process: Because Grinnell College is a small community, information may travel quickly. Except in limited circumstances, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prohibits College employees from disclosing specific information about student conduct matters. Some regulations regarding confidentiality also extend to students.
Students are prohibited from revealing specific events that occurred during the hearing itself, including names and testimony of witnesses. Aside from this specific restriction, the College acknowledges the right of the parties involved in a student conduct process to talk about their experiences as they choose. The College reserves the right to pursue a College student conduct complaint against any person for violation of this policy.
In an effort to increase transparency in the student conduct process, the Dean of Students (or designee) will occasionally (i.e., once or twice a semester) provide an overview of the types of student conduct-related issues seen in the Dean of Students Office. As a residential liberal arts community, where self-governance and personal responsibility are hallmarks, it is very appropriate to share this information with the student community. Of course, the confidentiality of those involved in these incidents is of paramount concern. Therefore, all information will be provided in a non-identifiable manner.
Abuse of Student Conduct Process
After a complaint has been filed, any forms of retaliation, harassment, and/or intimidation toward witnesses or parties involved in the complaint will not tolerated. Retaliatory acts may be revealed in a proceeding before a board or council and could be grounds for additional policy violations and sanctions.
Right to an Adviser
Both parties to a dispute may have an adviser from the College community attend the hearing. No party or participant at the hearing has the right to be represented by legal counsel at the hearing. The adviser’s role is to help the complainant or respondent prepare, advise on the procedural aspects of the hearing, and to be a non-participating supporter at the hearing. The complainant and respondent are expected to speak for themselves, to present their own cases, and to ask and answer questions.
There are some individuals who are prohibited from serving as advisers to complainants and/or respondents: the President of the College, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, the Associate Deans of the College, the Vice-President for Student Affairs, and any staff member of the Division of Student Affairs. Exceptions to the adviser prohibition list may be made with the approval of the Dean of Students (or designee). If a complainant or respondent has a question regarding the capacity of a person to act as adviser he/she/zi should contact the Presiding Officer of the College Hearing Board or Judicial Council about hearing procedures.
In the case of alleged sexual misconduct, specially-trained student advocates may serve as victim counselors, as defined by Iowa law. However, victim counselors may not serve as advisers to either party in the preparation, consideration, or presentation of the complaint during the hearing.
Suggestions for Advisers in Student Conduct Hearing
During preparation for a conduct hearing, students may approach a member of the College community to assist them. Advisers may use these guidelines at whatever point they become involved in assisting a student. Remember that you are not being asked to serve as an attorney, but simply to assist a student through a procedure that she/he/zi may find to be stressful.
Before the Hearing:
- Review the procedures outlined in the Student Handbook and discuss them in detail with the student. Direct procedural questions to the presiding officer of the conduct hearing board or to the Student Affairs dean assisting the case.
- Assist the student in preparing a written statement. The statement should be in the student’s own words. You may make suggestions to help clarify the statement. You may also assist the student in editing out inflammatory language and/or subjective statements that are not supported by evidence. Help the student to be thorough and forthright.
- Remind the student of deadlines involved in submission of materials.
- Help the student prepare for the hearing. Review any additional written statements. Anticipate questions. Anticipate questions which may be asked during the hearing and assist the student in preparing a clear response.
- Arrange to meet the student just prior to the hearing so that you can enter the hearing together.
During the Hearing:
- Remember that you may not speak during the hearing. Your role is to support the student as he/she/zi presents his/her/hir own statements.
- Listen carefully to the discussion.
- If, for any reason, you feel the student would benefit from taking a break, suggest quietly to the student that he/she/zi request one. At that point, you may step into another room to calm the student, to help him/her clarify a question, raise a new issue or prepare a cogent response.
- At the end of the hearing, give the student constructive feedback about his/her/hir presentation.
When Not to be an Adviser:
- If you have connections with students on opposing sides which may compromise your future role with the students (e.g., both are advisees, both are residence hall members).
- If you feel so strongly about the issues involved in the hearing that you do not feel you can effectively assist the student seeking your support.
- If you experience any other conflict of interest.
Hearing Board/Council Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of the hearing board to assure that the information necessary to make an informed decision is presented. Hearing board members may play an active role in questioning both parties and witnesses involved in the case. Hearing board members are under no obligation to allow either party to cross-examine witnesses. Members of the hearing board may make exceptions to this rule when it determines that there are compelling reasons for doing so. The parties may submit requested cross-examination questions to the hearing board or council that, at the discretion of the board or council, may be asked of complainants, respondents, and/or witnesses.
Hearing Board Presiding Officer Responsibilities
The Presiding Officer of the hearing board is responsible for creating and maintaining a record of the proceedings, which includes identification of any testifying witnesses and the substance of their testimony. The Presiding Officer of the hearing board has final authority on all matters occurring during the hearing and the Presiding Officer’s rulings shall be final. The Presiding Officer may exclude any person, including any party, for disruptive or abusive behavior.
A complainant or respondent may object in writing or in person (before the hearing starts) to the presiding officer or Student Affairs dean assisting with this case, on the basis of a belief that a board member or presiding officer may be unable to be an impartial decision maker. Objections should be submitted to the Presiding Officer of the hearing board and - if the bias is against the Presiding Officer - to the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee). Alternates will be chosen at the sole discretion of the Presiding Officer of the hearing board or, in the case of a bias against the Presiding Officer, the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee). All objections must be raised prior to the commencement of the hearing. Failure to object in writing or in person about a certain board or council member serving in his/her/hir role will forfeit one’s ability to appeal the outcome based on perceived or actual bias.
Generally, a person appears as a witness if that person has information of particular relevance to the incident forming the basis of the complaint. For example, that person may have actually seen the incident as it occurred; the person may have heard significant sounds, words, or statements, etc., while the incident was occurring; or the person may have some other information, which in the opinion of the hearing board or council may make that person a relevant witness. The final selection of any witness to appear is in the sole discretion of the hearing board. Names of persons given by the complainant or respondent are given as recommendations and not as directives to the hearing board. The board’s Presiding Officer (or designee), will contact the person(s) identified as potential witnesses. The Presiding Officer may question the potential witness to determine the relevancy, if any, of information the witness may have regarding the complaint. Names of witnesses who will appear will be shared with the complainant and respondent no less than two business days before the scheduled hearing.
If a person agrees to appear as a witness, he/she/zi will be asked to make a statement regarding the matter before the hearing board or council. That statement will address the relevant information concerning the complainant’s or the witness’ role in the events involving the complainant. At the end of the statement, questions may be asked of the witness by members of the hearing board.
A “character” witness is a person who has no relevant information to impart regarding the proceedings other than an opinion as to the character of the parties involved in the proceedings. Character witnesses generally are not allowed and are only permitted to appear and speak to the hearing board should the respondent(s) be found responsible.
Scheduling Hearing and Witnesses
The presiding officer of the hearing board (or designee) schedules a hearing of the College Hearing Board or Judicial Council, which can be no less than two business days from the date the respondent provided a written response to the complaint. Only the presiding officer of the hearing board (or designee) may postpone the hearing and then only for overriding considerations deemed acceptable by the presiding officer (or designee).
The presiding officer of the hearing board (or designee) is responsible for contacting and scheduling any witnesses listed on the Statement of Complaint form and the Statement of Response to the Complaint form. It is not the responsibility of either party to determine whether the witnesses are willing to appear at the hearing. Being a witness is by agreement with the presiding officer of the hearing board. A person will not be forced to attend, speak, or otherwise participate as a witness. A witness cannot serve as an adviser.
The Presiding Officer (or designee), after the hearing is scheduled, will send notices of the hearing by campus mail, U.S. postal service, and/or electronic mail to the complainant, respondent, the Dean of Students (or designee), advisers for complainant and respondent, any witnesses who have agreed to participate, and members of the hearing board or council.
It is the intention of the College, when feasible, to complete matters before the College Hearing Board or Judicial Council within 15 business days after the respondent has filed a response to the complaint, exclusive of the time set for decision by the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee) and any appeal time.
Nature of Hearing
A hearing is not intended to be adversarial; rather, it is intended to be educational and developmental. The hearing is intended to provide a fair and ample opportunity for both sides to present their version of events and for the board to determine the facts of the case, make a determination regarding the alleged violations of College regulations, and to recommend appropriate educational outcomes (sanctions), if necessary. The hearing is an informal proceeding not comparable to a criminal trial and provides an opportunity to take action within the College community regarding a violation of College policy or regulation.
Each hearing is a closed session. Present at the hearing to assist with procedural matters regarding student conduct will be the Dean of Students (or designee). The Dean of Students (or designee) may also remain with the board or council during the deliberations. For Judicial Council cases, a non-voting faculty adviser, as well as a non-voting SGA observer, may also be present for the hearing and council deliberations. The hearing board may exclude any persons, including the complainant or respondent, if any party is being disruptive to the proceedings. The hearing board will employ a digital audio recorder, or other means, to make a digital audio recording of the proceeding. Neither the complainant nor respondent may record the proceedings. Hearing board members may take an active role in questioning the complainant, respondent, and any witnesses during the hearing. Witnesses are normally excused from the room until it is their turn to speak. Witnesses may be separated from each other before their appearance by order of the hearing board. After a witness has given information to the hearing board, the witness is excused by the Presiding Officer and should leave the hearing room. The witness shall have no further contact with any witness who has not spoken before the hearing board in the current proceedings.
Introductions and Introductory Remarks
The Presiding Officer convenes the hearing and introduces him/her/hirself and the members of the hearing board to the parties present. The complainant and respondent and their respective witnesses also introduce themselves. The Presiding Officer then explains the purpose of the hearing and reminds all participants to treat each other with courtesy.
Hearing Board Procedures
- Convene Hearing
- Presiding Officer invites the respondent and complainant, and their respective advisors and witnesses into the hearing room
- Presiding Officer states the date and time for the record
- All panel members and participants introduce themselves
- Presiding Officer explains the purpose of the hearing
- Presiding Officer reminds all participants to treat each other with courtesy
- Presiding Officer reads referral into the record
- Presiding Officer identifies charges and read into the record
- Presiding Officer requests a response for each charge: responsible or not responsible
- Presiding Officer reads honesty statement (see below)
- Presiding Officer proceeds with all remaining items in sequence.
- Questioning should be restricted since the respondent has admitted responsibility. The complainant’s narrative is important only to understand the incident.
- Presiding Officer reads honesty statement (see below)
- Presiding Officer proceeds with all remaining items in sequence
- The following honesty statement is read to all persons who will be providing information in the hearing board proceedings: It is expected that all information presented at this hearing will be true and correct. Be advised that students who willfully provide false information will be in violation of Standard #1 of our Community Standards and may face disciplinary action. Furthermore, the Board may consider a pattern of lying or fabrication by the respondent when deciding upon disciplinary sanctions in the case. If anyone is unable to comply with this request, you should so inform the board at this point.
- Presiding Officer removes witnesses from the hearing until called
- Character witnesses for the respondent will not be called until a determination is rendered and if sanctioning is necessary
- Presiding Officer asks both parties if there are any procedural questions that need to be resolved before commencing the hearing
- Presiding Officer asks each party if they are prepared to proceed, for the record
- The Presiding Officer makes an opening statement summarizing the complaint (including the College policy or regulation that is claimed to have been violated)
- The Presiding Officer summarizes the response to the complaint
- Presiding Officer asks the complainant to give a narrative account of the incident
- Board members direct questions to either complainant
- Respondent may ask questions of the complainant
- Presiding Officer asks the respondent to provide a narrative account of the incident
- Board members direct questions to either respondent
- Complainant may ask questions of the respondent
- Presiding Officer asks the complainant to identify the witnesses to be called, and the relevancy of their testimony; be liberal in allowing relevant witnesses
- Presiding Officer asks the respondent to identify the witnesses to be called, and the relevancy of their testimony; be liberal in allowing relevant witnesses
- Witnesses are called one at a time
- Presiding Officer asks each to affirm that the testimony they are about to offer is truthful
- Presiding Officer asks each witness to provide a narrative account of what they know about the allegations
- Board members ask questions of the witness
- Respondent may ask relevant questions
- Complainant may ask any relevant questions
- Witnesses are called one at a time
- Ask each to affirm that the testimony they are about to offer is truthful
- Ask each witness to provide a narrative account of what they know
- Board members ask questions of the witness
- Complainant may ask any relevant questions
- Respondent may ask relevant questions
- Presiding Officer asks the respondent and complainant to offer a closing statement (if either chooses)
- Complainant has the burden of proof and goes last
- Presiding Officer announces adjournment to determine responsibility Presiding Officer reminds participants that they will be expected to return
- Witnesses may be excused
- Presiding Officer recalls both parties and announce the board’s determination and the facts upon which it was based
- If not responsible, the Presiding Officer thanks participants and dismiss all parties
- Presiding Officer explains the educational outcomes (sanctions) available to the board and the process for rendering a final decision
- Although character references are rarely used, the complainant may request to call no more than two character witnesses for the respondent; written references may be substituted
- Presiding Officer allows board members to ask questions related to character or any other questions that may assist in determining outcomes
- Presiding Officer asks the complainant for outcome recommendation(s)
- Presiding Officer asks the respondent for outcome recommendation(s)
- Presiding Officer explains to both parties that they will be notified of the final outcome(s) by electronic mail typically within 48 hours upon receipt of the Presiding Officer Report
- Presiding Officer dismisses all parties
- Complaints and Charges
- If the Plea is responsible
- If the Plea is not responsible
- Honesty Statement is read aloud
- All Witnesses will be excused
- Procedural Questions
- Opening Statements
- Complainant’s Account
- Respondent’s Account
- Identify Witnesses
- Complainant’s Witnesses
- Respondent’s Witnesses
- Closing Statements
- Adjournment and Deliberation
- Outcome Recommendations if found responsible
- Outcome Recommendation Deliberation if found responsible
After all information has been presented, all parties except board members, the faculty adviser and the SGA observer (for Judicial Council cases only),and the Dean of Students (or designee) must leave the room. The board may then discuss the complaint and respondent, the information presented, and will make a decision whether a campus policy or regulation has been violated. The board will only make determinations to the charges brought before them. It is also important to note that a student’s previous record of misconduct will only be introduced if a student is found responsible, and presented during educational outcome (sanction) deliberations.
The Presiding Officer of the hearing board delivers a report, with copies of all written documents pertaining to the complaint, to the Vice-President for Student Affairs, within one week from the conclusion of the hearing, unless the chair notifies both parties of circumstances requiring an extension of no more than two business days. The decision will detail the findings of fact and the basis/rationale for the decision of the board, making explicit reference to the evidence that led to the finding, and to any evidence that was specifically not considered by the board or council, or reasons of credibility, hearsay, relevance, or unfair prejudice.
The hearing board may make recommendations to the Vice-President for Student Affairs as to any educational outcomes (sanctions) it deems appropriate for any violation found. The Vice-President for Student Affairs is not bound by the recommendations of the hearing board. The Vice-President for Student Affairs will issue a final decision after receiving the case from the Presiding Officer of the hearing board. The outcome letter is sent to the respondent, hearing board members, and any other College official with a need to know. In cases of personal injury, harm, or property damage, the complainant may also be informed of certain outcomes as they relate to him/her/hir directly. If outcomes (sanctions) are imposed, the outcome letter will list the educational outcomes (sanctions) and stipulate a date by which the requirements must be satisfied (if applicable), as well as the consequences of failure to satisfy the educational outcomes. Information that informs the student of the appeal process will also be included.
Deferral of Proceedings
The Dean of Students (or designee) may defer disciplinary proceedings for the alleged violations of this on-lineStudent Handbook for a period not to exceed 90 days. Pending charges may be withdrawn thereafter, dependent upon the good behavior of the respondent.
Student Conduct Outcomes
Serious departures from acceptable conduct may lead to one or more of the following outcomes: restitution fines, conduct warning, conduct probation, deferred finding of responsibility, behavioral expectations (including a “no contact” order), residence hall suspension, residence hall dismissal, suspension, or dismissal from the College, withholding of registration or degree, or, rehabilitative measures decided by a college conduct body.
A conduct warning is a recognition of general lack of cooperation in campus citizenship or the breaking of some specific rule. The terms of this warning are defined in each case by the body imposing the sanction. This is a warning that severe discipline will be imposed if the student is again reported for a similar lack of good campus citizenship and conduct.
Conduct probation is a recognition of a very serious lack of good campus citizenship and conduct or a serious or repeated violation of a College regulation. This probation is a warning that a person’s status as a student at Grinnell College is in jeopardy and that any further violation may result in suspension or dismissal from the College. The Registrar’s policy on “Dropping a Course” applies to course work in these cases.
Deferred Finding of Responsibility
A deferred finding of responsibility allows for the dismissal of specific policy violation charges, pending good conduct during a specified period of time. This rarely used educational outcome may be recommended by the adjudicating body and is assigned at the discretion of the vice-president for student affairs (or designee). A deferred finding allows for the withdrawal of formal charges for good cause after a specified period of time (to last no longer than the student’s graduation date from the College). Factors to be considered in providing a deferred finding of responsibility include: a.) the present demeanor of the student; b.) the conduct of the student subsequent to the violation; c.) the nature of the violation and severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from it; and/or d.) the student has not received any other deferred finding of responsibility as an outcome from a previous student conduct matter while enrolled at the College. If a student complies with the conditions and requirements attributed to a deferred finding, the administrative charges will be dismissed at the end of the deferral period and there will be no conduct record of this case. Failure to comply with the conditions and requirements of the deferred finding may result in a finding of responsibility and, as a result, become part of the student’s conduct record. In this instance, additional educational outcomes may apply.
Behavioral Expectations Letter
In instances of repeated or serious offenses, behavioral expectations will be clearly identified and provided in writing to responsible students. Future Student Handbook or policy violations may result in separation from the College. A “no contact” order may also be issued between students as an outcome. These limited “no contact” orders are used rarely and are intended to help provide distance between students when deemed necessary.
A fundamental goal of Grinnell College is to support students’ independence and maturity, in part by expecting them to assume responsibility for their own educational and personal matters. However, under laws and policies that govern the privacy rights of students, Grinnell College has the authority and reserves the right to contact parents or guardians of dependent students about a variety of serious matters and the parents or guardians of all students in emergencies regarding serious injury or life or death situations. The cases in which Grinnell would, in extraordinary circumstances, notify parents or guardians cannot in the nature of things be completely enumerated or described; but it is, for example, the belief of Grinnell that a serious injury to a student, or a violent crime committed upon a student, is a sufficiently grave occurrence as to constitute an extraordinary circumstance. Parental or guardian notification may also occur under the following circumstances: hospitalization; hospital visits for alcohol poisoning or drug overdose; behavior that will likely result in residence hall suspension or expulsion, conduct suspension, or dismissal; acts of violence or significant abuse toward others or a student’s own self; arrest; drug or alcohol use that results in police action; or serious mental health concerns. For more information, please review the Parental and Guardian Notification Policy.
Residence Hall Suspension
Separation of the student from the residence halls for a stated period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Students who are placed on residence hall suspension will not receive any refund for their board payments.
Residence Hall Dismissal
Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls. Students who are dismissed from the residence halls will not receive any refund for their board payments.
Suspension is a recognition of the temporary termination of the person’s status as a student. He/She/Zi loses all privileges of a regularly-enrolled student and is required to leave the campus. No refunds apply in such cases. Students placed on conduct suspension after the end of the third week of classes will have “W” entries recorded on their transcripts for all currently enrolled courses. Any suspended student who returns to the campus during the suspension period is subject to dismissal unless she/he/zi has made prior arrangements with the Vice-President for Student Affairs.
Dismissal is the termination of a student’s status at the College. Any time a violation of a College regulation is rendered by a College student conduct body, a record of disciplinary action is kept in the Division of Student Affairs and may be used in part to determine whether a student should be dismissed.
Withholding of Registration or Degree
Student Conduct sanctions may include the withholding of registration for continuing students or withholding the posting of the degree for graduating students. This sanction is used to ensure that students comply with other sanctions such as, but not limited to, the reimbursement to the College for damages or payment of fines and the performance of service to the College or community. Current students who do not meet the deadline stipulated for completion of sanctions will have their registration withheld and be suspended for a minimum of one semester or until sanctions are satisfied, if longer. The posting of the degree will be withheld for students who are in, or who have completed, their final semester at the College until the prescribed sanctions have been satisfied.
Other sanctions may be recommended by certain student conduct bodies including assessment, treatment, community service, and restitution fines. The Vice-President for Student Affairs, or designee, would impose such sanctions.
This section applies to the College Hearing Board, Judicial Council, or administrative hearings. It does not apply to the Sub-Committee on Academic Honesty. The appeal process for the Sub-Committee on Academic Honesty is listed in Academic Policies section of this on-line Student Handbook.
While either the complainant or respondent may request an appeal in writing of the hearing board’s or administrator’s decision to the President of the College, very few appeals are granted. There are only four bases of appeal:
- New evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing is presented that could be outcome-determinative;
- Evidence of fraud or deception practiced by one of the parties in the hearing;
- Procedural error that had a material impact on the fairness of the hearing;
- Demonstrated bias of any board or council member.
Appeal requests of the decision(s) issued by the Vice-President for Student Affairs (or designee) must be filed within five business days to the President of the College. The President will decide whether any of the four grounds listed above merits the granting of the appeal. If the President grants the appeal, the complaint may be remanded to the board or administrator for reconsideration in light of the basis upon which the appeal was granted. For appeals where bias is alleged, the President has the discretion to hear the appeal directly. The President may interview witnesses, hearing board members, and may review the digital audio recording of the hearing and the Presiding Officer report. The President’s decision will be based on a preponderance of the evidence. The President’s response, within three weeks of the appeal date, is sent by sealed envelope to the complainant and respondent by either campus mail or U.S. postal service.
Student Conduct Records
The Dean of Students is responsible for maintaining all student conduct records. Copies of such reports and records are to be kept safely and securely in the Division of Student Affairs for a period of seven years after the end of the academic year of said violation(s) to comply with federal recordkeeping requirements. These student conduct records are destroyed at the end of the appropriate time period. Conduct records involving suspension or dismissal will be retained permanently.
Student conduct records may be released to College officials on a “need-to-know” basis. Records may be released to persons and agencies external to the College with the student’s permission, or in compliance with the law. Records that are lawfully subpoenaed or ordered by a judge may be released without the student’s permission. A student’s conduct record may also be released if it is in connection with a health and/or safety emergency.
Violations of Civil Law
The College or the aggrieved party always has recourse to the civil authorities for civil law violations. As a part of a larger community, students accept responsibility for their own actions under federal, state, and local laws. While affording reasonable initial support and advice to its members in difficulties with the law, the College provides no legal counsel or representation; nor does the College provide shelter from the consequences of illegal acts by any student.
Interpretation and Revision
The College publishes this on-line Student Handbook to provide students with our shared community values, as well as prohibited conduct. Since this on-line Handbook is not written with the specificity of a criminal statute it is open to interpretation and application by students, faculty, and staff alike. Any question of interpretation regarding the on-line Student Handbook should be referred to the Dean of Students (or designee) for final determination.
This on-line Handbook and College policies are reviewed annually under the direction of the Dean of Students (or designee), who consults with SGA executive members, Committee on Student Life committee members, and other students, faculty, and staff as appropriate. From time to time, the College modifies policies and procedures. The College may, at its discretion, make appropriate modifications, with or without notice and the relevant changes will appear in the on-line Student Handbook.