Student Disciplinary Process
Resolution of Discipline Cases
Full Process: http://www.westga.edu/handbook/index_60.php
When a student is charged with violation of conduct regulations, disposition of the student’s case shall follow the procedures outlined below.
- Staff members in the Offices of Student Affairs or Residence Life will review case referrals and determine the disciplinary charges to be filed. If they determine at any point during the development of a case that the alleged misconduct might result in expulsion, suspension, or disciplinary removal from university housing, the student defendants shall be afforded the opportunity for a hearing. All other cases shall be resolved through informal disciplinary conferences.
- Students shall be notified in writing of their alleged misconduct and scheduled for a conference to discuss the alleged violations. They shall be apprised of the complaint and the nature of evidence against them, and they shall be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges.
- Students subject to expulsion, suspension, or disciplinary removal from university housing shall be given a choice as to how they wish their cases to be resolved. They may elect to have a hearing before a university official or the Student Judicial Commission, or they may waive a hearing and elect to have their case settled through an informal disciplinary conference. If they waive their right to a hearing, the full range of sanctions authorized by this code may be imposed.
- Students subject to or electing to participate in an informal disciplinary conference, which will be conducted by a member of the Residence Life or Student Services staffs, are accorded the following procedural protections:
- Written notice of charges prior to the scheduled conference.
- An explanation of the evidence against them.
- An opportunity to respond to evidence against them and to produce evidence on their behalf.
- The right to request administrative review of their case at the next highest level if the sanction includes disciplinary probation.
- Student defendants in disciplinary hearings are assured the following procedural safeguards:
- Adequate written notice of the hearing and the specific charges against them.
- The right to produce evidence, call and question witnesses, raise questions as to the procedure, or remain silent.
- The right to be present at the hearing without academic action resulting from class absence.
- The right to have an advisor present.
- The right of access to an audio tape recording or written summary of the proceedings, which will be made available at the student’s expense if requested at least twenty-four hours before the hearing.
- The right to appeal disciplinary decisions of suspension or expulsion.
- The right to attend classes and have access to university facilities until the hearing process is completed. An exception may be made in the case of an interim suspension.
- Decisions reached by the Judicial Commission shall be communicated in writing as recommendations to the Vice President for Student Services or a designee. The hearing body will specify the verdict, recommended sanctions, and the rationale for its decision.
- Students shall be notified in writing of outcomes in the discipline system.
Disciplinary proceedings as provided in this code may be held in the following ways:
DISCIPLINARY CONFERENCES - Informal disciplinary conferences will be conducted by the Vice President for Student Services or a designee to resolve cases not referred to a hearing. In complex or contested cases, the administrator may solicit the opinion of a conference panel to be appointed by the administrator.
STUDENT JUDICIAL HEARINGS - When student defendants choose this option (in cases which may result in expulsion, suspension, or disciplinary removal from campus housing), the Student Judicial Commission conducts disciplinary hearings. The Commission, consisting of 5 to 7 students, recommends outcomes to the Vice President for Student Services or a designee.
ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS - When student defendants choose this option (in cases which may result in expulsion, suspension, or disciplinary removal from campus housing), the Vice President for Student Services or a designee conducts disciplinary hearings.
AD HOC BOARDS - Such boards may be appointed by the Vice President for Student Services or a designee when the Judicial Commission is unable to obtain a quorum or is otherwise unable to hear cases in a timely manner. Each ad hoc board shall be composed of three members, including at least one student. Ad hoc boards recommend outcomes to the Vice President for Student Services or the designee.
The following procedural guidelines shall be applicable in disciplinary hearings:
- Unless waived by the student, defendants shall be given two days’ notice of their hearing date, with extensions possible in extenuating circumstances. They shall be apprised of the evidence and the names of the witnesses expected to be present.
- The Vice President for Student Services or a designee may summon witnesses to appear at hearings. University students and employees are expected to comply with summons issued pursuant to this procedure, unless compliance would result in significant and unavoidable personal hardship or substantial interference with normal university activities.
- Defendants who fail to appear after proper notice will have their cases heard in absentia.
- The presiding officer shall exercise control over the hearing to avoid needless consumption of time and to prevent the harassment or intimidation of witnesses. Any person, including the defendant, who disrupts a hearing or who fails to adhere to the rulings of the presiding officer or judicial advisor may be excluded from the proceedings.
- Hearings may be tape recorded. If a recording is not made, the decision of the commission or board must include a summary of the testimony.
- Any party may challenge a commission/board member on the grounds of personal bias. Members may be disqualified upon majority vote of the remaining members of the panel, conducted by secret ballot, or by the Vice President for Student Affairs or a judicial advisor.
- Prospective witnesses, other than the complainant, the defendant and any university staff member who is responsible for the investigation of the case, may be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses. All parties except panel members and judicial advisors shall be excluded during deliberations of the panel.
- Formal rules of evidence shall not be applicable in disciplinary proceedings. The presiding officer shall admit into evidence any information or testimony deemed relevant to the proceeding. Unduly repetitious or irrelevant evidence may be excluded. Disciplinary outcomes shall be based on a preponderance of all available evidence.
- Defendants and complainants shall be accorded an opportunity to question witnesses and to challenge evidence.
- Affidavits shall not be admitted into evidence unless signed by the affiant and witnessed by a university employee, or by a person approved by the Vice President for Student Affairs or a designee.
- Judicial advisors are members of the Student Affairs staff appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. They may comment on questions of procedure and admissibility of evidence and will otherwise assist in the conduct of hearings. Advisors will be accorded all the privileges of commission/ board members, but shall not vote. Advisors are responsible to the Vice President for Student Affairs and shall not be excluded from hearings or deliberations of the panel.
- A determination of guilt shall call for further deliberation to arrive at a recommendation regarding sanctions to be imposed. The disciplinary record of the defendant shall be made available to the panel after a determination of guilt.
- Final decisions of all judicial panels shall be by majority vote and shall be accompanied by a brief written opinion.
One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed for violations of the Student Conduct Code.
- EXPULSION: permanent separation of the student from the university. The student will be barred from university premises.
- SUSPENSION: separation of the student from the university for a specified period of time. The student shall not participate in any university sponsored activity and may be barred from university premises.
- INDEFINITE SUSPENSION: separation of the student from the university for an indefinite period of time with two conditions: (a) the student may not return before a specified date and (b) readmission is not automatic. The student shall not participate in any university sponsored activity and may be barred from university premises.
- DISCIPLINARY PROBATION: notice to the student that any further violations of university rules and regulations will likely result in suspension. Disciplinary probation may also include the setting of restrictions on participation in university activities or entry into certain university facilities.
- DISCIPLINARY WARNING: notice to the student that further misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action.
- RESTITUTION: the student is required to make payment to the university or to other persons or groups for damages incurred as a result of a violation of this code.
- FORCED WITHDRAWAL: from the academic course within which an offense occurred without credit for the course.
- CHANGE IN GRADE: with the concurrence of the instructor for the course in which an academic irregularity occurred.
- OTHER SANCTIONS: other sanctions may be imposed instead of or in addition to those specified above. For example, students may be subject to dismissal from university housing for disciplinary violations which occur in the residence halls. Likewise, students may be subject to restrictions upon driving privileges for disciplinary violations involving the use or registration of motor vehicles. Educational, service, or research projects and work also may be assigned. Georgia law and policies of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia specify that students convicted of felony offenses involving the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession or use of marijuana, controlled substances or other illegal or dangerous drugs shall forfeit academic credit and be suspended or permanently expelled from the university. Repeated or aggravated violations of this conduct code may result in expulsion or suspension.
The Vice President for Student Services or a designee may suspend a student for an interim period pending disciplinary proceedings, such interim suspension to become immediately effective without prior notice, whenever there is evidence that the continued presence of the student on the university campus poses a substantial threat to the student or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal university functions.
A student suspended on an interim basis shall be given an opportunity to appear personally before the Vice President for Student Services or a designee within five business days from the effective date of the interim suspension. A hearing shall then be held on the following issues only:
- the reliability of the information concerning the student’s conduct;
- whether the conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the continued presence of the student on the university campus poses a substantial threat to self or to others or to the stability and continuance of normal university functions.
Any disciplinary determination resulting in expulsion or suspension may be appealed by the defendant. Requests for appeals must be submitted in writing to the Office of the Vice President for Student Services within three business days of the date of the letter notifying the defendant of the original decision. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision final and conclusive.
Written requests for appeals must be specific and detailed as to the nature and substance of the defendant’s complaint and must clearly indicate what action is requested. The written request should specify the grounds for appeal. Judicial findings may be appealed on the following grounds:
- A violation of due process
- The evidence does not support a finding of guilt
- Prejudicial treatment by the original hearing body
- The penalty imposed is too harsh for the violation
- New evidence has become available which was not available at the time of the hearing
Appeals shall be decided upon the record of the original proceedings, the written appeal submitted by the defendant, and any written briefs submitted by other participants. Cases will not be reheard on appeal.
If the original decision in the case was not rendered by the Vice President for Student Services, the Vice President shall consider the appeal and give a decision. If the student is dissatisfied with the decision of the Vice President, the student may request in writing that the President consider the appeal, but such a request must be made within two business days or the Vice President’s decision will be considered final and conclusive. Within five days of receiving the appeal, the President will appoint a committee composed of three members of the faculty of the institution or utilize the services of an appropriate existing committee. This committee will review all facts and circumstances connected with the case and within five days make a report of its findings to the President. After consideration of the committee’s report, the President will within five days make a decision which shall be final so far as the institution is concerned. Should the student be dissatisfied with the President’s decision, written application may be made to the Board of Regents for a review of the decision. This application must be submitted within twenty days following the decision of the President. Additional information regarding procedures for appealing to the Board are available in the Office of the Vice President for Student Services. The decision of the Board shall be final and binding for all purposes.
Student organizations may be charged with violations of the Student Conduct Code and the Conduct Code for Student Organizations. (The term organization means a number of people who have complied with university requirements for registration.) A student organization and its officers may be held collectively or individually responsible when violations of this code by those associated with the organization have received the tacit or overt consent or encouragement of the organization or of its leaders, officers, or spokespersons.
Individuals charged with conduct code violations arising out of their affiliation with student organizations shall have their cases settled according to the procedures outlined in this Student Conduct Code.
The officers or leaders or any identifiable spokespersons for a student organization may be directed by the Vice President for Student Services or a designee to take appropriate action designed to prevent or end violations of this code by the organization or by any persons associated with the organization who can reasonably be said to be acting in its behalf. Failure to make reasonable efforts to comply with the Vice President’s directive shall be considered a violation of this code, both by the officers, leaders or spokespersons for the organization and by the organization itself.
Disciplinary action directed toward student organizations shall be afforded according to procedures published by the Department of Student Activities and distributed annually to all registered student organizations.