Honor Principle

Judicial Board Process

When preparing to submit a complaint, please consult the Honor Process Flowchart and the Guide for Submitting Complaints to Judicial Boards to determine when, how, and to which board to submit a complaint. It may also be helpful to consider the overview of the Honor Process.

Filing a Complaint

Complaints against a student while the college is in session are submitted in writing to a Chair of the Student Judicial Board (J-Board), who files a copy of the complaint with the Dean of Student Services before the case is heard. Complaints that include allegations of sexual misconduct are submitted to the Chair of the Sexual Misconduct Board (SMB); complaints filed out of session will go to the chair of the appropriate Temporary Judicial Board. The Complainant does not need to be the alleged victim.

The written complaint must state:

  1. The grounds on which the complainant(s) believes that a violation of the honor  principle or college rules has occurred.
  2. A brief description of the actions that the complainant(s) believes do constitute a violation.
  3. A list of the names of the persons believed to have committed a violation, if the names of such violators are known to the complainant(s).
  4. A list of witnesses with information pertinent to the case.
  5. A statement of why informal mediation was unsuccessful or did not occur.

According to the Honor Council Code, in some cases mediation is inappropriate or not possible, including violence, sexual assault, and academic misconduct.  The Dear Colleague Letter (April 4, 2011) from the Dept. of Education made it clear that sexual assault cases should not be handled by mediation. However, other forms of sexual misconduct may still be handled by mediation. The Judicial Boards reserve the right to recommend mediation to parties in certain types of cases as specified in Article IV Section 1 of the Community Constitution.

Before a Hearing

The J-Board or SMB must meet within a week of receiving a complaint, but under usual circumstances this will happen within a couple of days. A Hearing Board will then be formed, composed of five members and a Procedural Aide (PA). The PA will then contact and meet first with the complainant, next with the respondent, and then the witnesses to have each individual sign a consent and affirmation agreement and go over their rights and obligations. If this consent and affirmation agreement is not signed, the individual cannot participate in the case. No individual is bound, either by honor, policy or law, to participate in the case or to be present at the hearing. Any party or witness can submit written testimony before the hearing in lieu of or in addition to being present at the hearing.

Judicial Board Hearings

Judicial Board hearings, and most information regarding honor cases, are confidential. Hearings are closed to the public.  The order of the hearing proceeds as follows:
  1. The Chair opens the hearing and the Board members introduce themselves and say whom they will be questioning. At this point the complainant, respondent and witnesses are all present.
  2. Both parties (complainant and respondent) then give opening statements to the Board. During this period, the witnesses are not present.
  3. Next, both parties are questioned by the Board.
  4. After the initial round of questioning the parties, the witnesses are brought in one at a time and questioned.
  5. The Board then takes a recess and decides if any party or witness needs to be questioned further. The Board then asks follow-up questions of those individuals from whom it needs further information.
  6. Following the end of questioning, both parties are given time to deliver their closing statements.
  7. The Chair closes the hearing.

Hearing Board Deliberations and Recommendations

After the hearing has concluded and all testimony has been submitted, the Hearing Board deliberates on:

  • The facts and events of the case,
  • The violations found, and
  • The recommendation to the President regarding sanctions.

Deliberations are closed to the public, the procedural aide for the case, and the rest of the Judicial Board not on the Hearing Board. The voting members (five for most hearing boards) hearing the case deliberate as a group. The Hearing Board determines a chronology of events (the finding of fact), the policy and honor violations such facts imply, and the recommended sanctions that such violations warrant. Deliberations generally take a prolonged period of time as the Board must be careful and thoughtful in considering all testimonies and options available to them. Once deliberations have concluded and the Hearing Board has made a decision, the Board collectively composes an extensive document to submit to the President regarding the recommendations.

Letter from the President

Upon the conclusion of the Hearing Board’s deliberations, the Board submits to the President of the College a document that includes the Board’s finding of fact, finding of violations, and recommended sanctions. The President reviews the submitted materials and determines whether or not (s)he agrees with the Board’s findings and recommendations. The President may choose to meet with the Hearing Board to discuss any confusion or disagreement that (s)he has with the contents of the document. The ultimate decision, however rests with the President (so if the Board and President meet and still disagree about sanctions, for instance, the President’s opinion is the final one). Once the President makes a conclusion, (s)he sends a letter with such a ruling to the complainant and respondent of the case.  The letter that the President sends to the parties includes information on how to appeal the decision.

Appeals

Either the complainant or respondent may appeal the decision of the President within ten working days of his or her notification of the decision. An appeal may be made in writing to the Chair of the Appeals Board (except for academic misconduct cases that were originally heard by the J-Board, for which appeals are made in writing to the Chair of the Administration Committee), on the basis of any (or all) of the following three claims:

  1. The sanctions were too lenient or too severe,
  2. There was procedural error in the original hearing of the case that significantly affected the outcome, or
  3. There is new or newly discovered evidence that would have significantly affected the original decision.

The appeals board submits a recommendation to the President. A final appeal may be made directly to the President within ten working days of his or her notification of the decision on the first appeal.