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Procedures

V. Procedures

Because the purposes of the Code are different from the purposes of law, the procedures by which the Code is implemented are, by design, more informal and less adversarial than those of a court. The following procedures generally will be followed in reviewing and determining allegations of misconduct under the Code. Cases involving or including charges of sexual misconduct will be reviewed and determined under the separate “RISD Sexual Misconduct Procedures (available at sexualmisconduct.risd.edu). At RISD’s discretion, however, any of these procedures may be supplemented or modified as appropriate to the situation, provided that the respondent will at a minimum always be given notice of the charges presented, a description of the evidence supporting those charges, and an opportunity to be heard with respect to those charges.

A.    Initiation.  Any member of the RISD community may submit a complaint of suspected student misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs or the Office of Residence Life. Complaints should be submitted as soon as practicable following discovery of the suspected misconduct. Absent extraordinary circumstances, complaints must be submitted within six months following discovery of the suspected misconduct.

B.    Assignment of Hearing Officer.  Upon receipt, a complaint will be forwarded to the Coordinator of Student Conduct and will be assigned to a Hearing Officer for review, investigation, and determination whether to proceed. Any full-time staff member within the Division of Student Affairs may serve as a Hearing Officer.

C.   Review and Investigation. 

* The Hearing Officer will review the complaint to determine whether it alleges misconduct cognizable under the Code and, if so, will commence an investigation. The investigation may include meeting with the complainant, the respondent, and/or others who may have relevant information; obtaining written statements from relevant persons; and/or seeking other potentially relevant records or information. 

* All members of the RISD community are expected to cooperate with a Hearing Officer’s investigation. 

* A complainant or respondent who does not provide a full and complete statement of the facts and any other requested information will not be granted access to the statements and information provided by others until any hearing at which such statements and information are presented.

D.    Preliminary Determination and Choice of Hearing Process.  On the basis of his or her review and investigation, the Hearing Officer will determine whether to proceed with the complaint. If the Hearing Officer determines not to proceed, no further action will be taken. If the Hearing Officer determines to proceed, he or she will inform the respondent what charges will be heard and discuss with the respondent the following hearing process options:

1. Mediation.  Mediation is an informal process in which the parties to an interpersonal conflict attempt to resolve that conflict themselves, with the assistance of a neutral mediator who guides the discussion but does not impose a solution. Mediation is an option only if both the complainant and the respondent are willing to approach mediation in a spirit of cooperation, and if they and the Hearing Officer all agree that it is appropriate to the matter at hand.  If mediation is selected, the Coordinator of Student Conduct will designate a mediator. 

A successful mediation normally will result in a written agreement between the parties outlining the resolution they have achieved and their expectations for the future; violation of that agreement may result in further proceedings under the Code. If the mediator determines at any point that further mediation is inappropriate or if the mediation is unsuccessful, the matter will then proceed under one of the two options.

2. Administrative Conference.  In an administrative conference, the charges are heard and determined by the Hearing Officer alone, rather than by a Conduct Board. The Hearing Officer applies the same standard of whether it is more likely than not that the respondent engaged in the alleged misconduct, but does so in a relatively informal procedure consisting primarily of discussion. However, a respondent’s failure or refusal to appear, participate, and cooperate at an administrative conference will not prevent the Hearing Officer from making a determination, and the Hearing Officer may draw negative inferences from such failure or refusal. 

Administrative conferences generally are best suited to cases involving less serious charges or charges in which the respondent does not contest responsibility. Either the respondent or the Hearing Officer may elect to have charges be heard by a Conduct Board instead of in an administrative conference, and a respondent who is dissatisfied with the Hearing Officer’s determination in an administrative conference may request that the charges be reheard by a Conduct Board.

3. Conduct Board Hearing. 

In a Conduct Board hearing, the charges are heard and determined by a board that consists of at least three members, ordinarily including one faculty member, one staff member, and one student, with the Coordinator of Student Conduct or his or her designee serving as an additional, nonvoting member and Chair. 

The faculty, staff, and student members of a Conduct Board are drawn by the Coordinator of Student Conduct from a standing panel consisting of faculty members designated by the Faculty Meeting, staff members designated by the Dean of Student Affairs, and student members designated by the Dean of Student Affairs after consultation with the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Alliances.   

If a sufficient number of members from the panel are unavailable or unable to participate, the Coordinator of Student Conduct may appoint other faculty, staff, and/or students to a Conduct Board without regard to their faculty, staff, or student status, and the case may proceed even if the Coordinator of Student Conduct is not able to appoint at least one member from each category. 

No one may serve on a Conduct Board who has a significant conflict of interest or bias with respect to the case to be heard; however, prior knowledge of the participants in the case or of the conduct that is the subject of the case does not itself constitute a conflict of interest or bias. 

Any charge may be heard and determined by a Conduct Board, and charges in which both (a) responsibility is contested and (b) suspension or expulsion are possible outcomes ordinarily will be heard and determined by a Conduct Board. 

In general, and unlike court proceedings, Conduct Board hearings follow an investigatory rather than adversarial model, with the Chair rather than the parties taking the lead, active role.  Conduct Board hearings generally follow the following outline of procedures:

a) Notice. 

* Unless notice is waived, the respondent will be given written notice of the charges to be heard and the place and time of the hearing at least 72 hours in advance. 

* The notice will be sent to the respondent’s RISD e-mail address. 

* Students are expected to check their RISD e-mail accounts regularly; their failure to do so or to respond to a notice will not prevent a hearing from proceeding, and negative inferences may be drawn from their failure or refusal to appear, participate, and cooperate.

b) General Conduct of and Participation in Hearing. 

* The hearing will be presided over and administered by the Chair, who will determine the order and method of proceeding; who may exercise control to prevent needless consumption of time, disruption, harassment, intimidation, or other conduct not conducive to the review and determination of the charges; and who may exclude from the hearing any person who engages in such conduct. 

* The hearing generally will be closed to anyone other than the respondent and (during his or her testimony) the complainant, their respective permitted advisors, and (during their testimony) any witnesses, but the Chair may in his or her discretion permit others to attend if he or she deems that their presence may be helpful to the review and determination of the charges or that there are other compelling reasons for their presence. 

* Parents will not be permitted to attend. Legal counsel will be permitted to attend only when the respondent is facing related criminal charges, but will not be permitted to actively participate

c) Advisors. 

* The complainant and the respondent may each have an advisor of their choosing, selected from among RISD’s faculty, staff, and students.

* The role of the advisor is to provide his or her advisee with support and counsel regarding the process.

* The advisor does not act as a representative of his or her advisee, does not have a voice in the hearing, and may not actively participate in the hearing.

d) Witnesses. 

* The complainant and the respondent may each request the presence of witnesses at the hearing.  Such requests must be submitted to the Chair in writing at least 24 hours before the hearing and must describe the requested witnesses’ expected testimony. 

* The Chair may refuse to call a requested witness if the Chair determines that the expected testimony is not sufficiently relevant to the charges, would be duplicative of other testimony, or would otherwise not be significantly helpful to the review and determination of the charges.  The Chair may also call additional witnesses on his or her own initiative. 

* RISD faculty, staff, and students are expected to comply with calls to serve as witnesses, but their failure to do so will not prevent a hearing from proceeding unless the Chair determines that proceeding in their absence would materially impair the Conduct Board’s ability to review and determine the charges.

e)    Presentation of Information. 

* The rules of evidence used in civil or criminal trials are not applicable to hearings under the Code. 

* The Chair may ask the Hearing Officer to present a summary of his or her investigation and any relevant incident reports, witness statements, or other relevant documents; may present any other information or documents that, and call any other witnesses who, he or she deems relevant and appropriate; will control the manner, nature, and order of questioning; and may exclude any information and testimony that he or she determines is irrelevant, duplicative, or otherwise inappropriate. 

* Witnesses may be questioned by the Chair and members of the Conduct Board. 

* The complainant and the respondent may suggest lines of questioning to the Chair, but will not be permitted to question witnesses directly unless the Chair, in his or her discretion, determines that doing so would significantly aid in the review and determination of the charges. 

* If the Chair deems it appropriate for convenience, privacy, health and safety, well-being, or other legitimate reason, witnesses may be questioned outside the presence of the respondent, provided that the respondent is appropriately apprised of the information presented. 

* Ordinarily, information concerning the respondent’s prior record, if any, will not be presented to a Conduct Board unless and until the Conduct Board has determined to recommend that the respondent be found in violation of one or more charges; however, such information may be presented to a Conduct Board earlier in cases involving either alleged failure to comply with the consequences imposed for a prior violation or past misconduct sufficiently similar to the alleged new misconduct to suggest that the pattern of misconduct is habitual. 

* At the conclusion of the presentation of information and witnesses, both the Chair and the respondent may make concluding comments.

f)    Deliberation and Recommendations. 

* Following the presentation of information and witnesses, the Conduct Board will make a recommended finding on the charges based on a standard of whether it is more likely than not that the respondent engaged in the alleged misconduct. 

* If the recommendation is that the respondent be found in violation of one or more charges, the Conduct Board will also recommend appropriate consequences to be imposed, and may seek and hear additional information, including the respondent’s prior record, if any, and any further comments from the respondent before doing so. 

* The Conduct Board engages in its deliberations in closed session. 

* The Chair will forward the Conduct Board’s recommendations to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs for review and final determination.

g)    Final Determination. 

* The Associate Dean of Student Affairs may, on the basis of the record, accept, modify, or reject the Conduct Board’s recommendations.

* Notification of the final determination will be made by letter sent to the respondent’s RISD e-mail account.

* The complainant may also be notified of the final determination to the extent permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

E.    Appeals.

1. Right of and Grounds for Appeal. 

Appeals may be taken from final determinations of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs on charges heard and determined by a Conduct Board only if suspension or expulsion has been imposed as a consequence and not deferred, and only if the charges were not initially heard and determined in an administrative conference.

Any such appeal may be made only on one or more of the following grounds:

a)    There was significant procedural error of a nature sufficient to have materially and detrimentally affected the outcome.

b)    There is significant new evidence of which the appellant was not previously aware, that the appellant could not have discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence, and the absence of which was sufficient to have materially and detrimentally affected the outcome.

c)    The consequences imposed are grossly disproportionate to the violations found to have occurred.

2. Appeal Process.  Any appeal must be submitted to the Dean of Student Affairs within three business days of the date of the Associate Dean’s notification letter; in the absence of a timely appeal, the Associate Dean’s determination will be final and conclusive. A statement of appeal must be in writing, must specify the grounds on which the appeal is based, and must set forth and explain in detail any relevant information and arguments. 

Upon receipt of an appeal that complies with these requirements, the Dean of Student Affairs may at his or her discretion decide it on the basis of the statement of appeal and the record; consult with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Conduct Board, or other persons he or she deems appropriate; and/or grant the appellant a conference to explain his or her appeal in person. The Dean of Student Affairs may accept, modify, or reject the Associate Dean’s determination and/or may refer the case back to the Conduct Board for further or new proceedings. 

Notification of the Dean of Student Affairs’ resolution of the appeal will be made by letter sent to the appellant’s RISD e-mail account. The non-appealing party may also be notified of the resolution of the appeal to the extent permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

3.    Deferral of Consequences Pending Appeal.  The submission of an appeal does not by itself prevent or defer implementation of the consequences imposed by the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. However, at the request of the appellant, the Dean of Student Affairs may, in his or her discretion and for good cause, defer implementation of some or all of those consequences during the pendency of the appeal.

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