How Does Reed's Judicial Process Work?

A brief overview of the honor process at Reed College.

Public Affairs | December 8, 2017

On November 28, as part of its semester-long Inclusive Reed discussion series, the Office of Institutional Diversity hosted a community meeting titled Community Safety and the Judicial Process. Questions raised during this meeting brought to light a number of misconceptions regarding how student-conduct issues are addressed at Reed. For those who were unable to attend the meeting, below is a summary of Reed’s judicial process.

Student-conduct concerns are addressed through Reed’s Honor Process. This process includes informal attempts at resolution and formal mediation as well as adjudication by the Judicial Board (J-Board) through an honor case.

The J-Board comprises 12 students who are appointed by the Student Senate and who typically serve one-year terms. New board members receive substantial training at the beginning of their terms and ongoing training during their service on the board.

A community member who wishes to pursue an honor-case complaint may file his or her complaint, which addresses the following points, with the J-Board chair:

  • The grounds on which the complainant believes that a violation of the honor principle or college rules has occurred
  • A brief description of the action(s) that the complainant believes constitute the violation
  • A list of the names of the persons believed to have committed the violation, if known to the complainant
  • A list of witnesses with information pertinent to the case
  • A statement explaining why informal mediation was unsuccessful or did not occur
  • A statement consenting to the disclosure of the complaint to the respondent

When an honor-case complaint has been accepted for adjudication, the J-Board will form a five-student hearing board and assign a sixth student to serve as a procedural aide. The aide assists the board in its communication with the participants and provides logistical support for the board.

The J-Board acts as a fact-finding body that establishes the veracity of the reported behavior as well as the sequence of events in question, on the basis of a preponderance-of-evidence standard (a.k.a. “more likely than not”). The goal of an honor case is to determine responsibility, evaluate the harm caused to the individual and/or the community, and to remedy the situation for the well-being of the community. The entire process is informed by Reed’s longstanding commitment to the Honor Principle.

If the J-Board determines that a violation has occurred, it recommends disciplinary sanctions to the president of Reed College or his or her designee. The president or designee then decides whether to accept or alter the hearing board’s recommendations.

After an honor case is adjudicated, either party may appeal the decision through the Appeals Board, which is comprised of students and faculty. There are limited grounds for appeals, including the following: either party feels that the sanctions were inappropriately severe or lenient; either party feels that the board made a procedural error that significantly affected the outcome of the case; or new facts subsequently came to light that may have affected the result of the proceedings if they were known before the judgment. Reed’s president is the final authority in judicial matters and makes decisions regarding the recommendations of the Appeals Board.

Possible sanctions include the following:

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Community service
  • Full exclusion from campus and all college-affiliated events
  • Limited exclusion from campus
  • Meetings with the dean of students (or designees)
  • Health and Counseling Center meetings
  • Alcohol and other drug use assessments or other therapeutic interventions
  • Consultation with other members of the community
  • Educational programs
  • Apologies
  • Behavioral expectations contract
  • Reflection essays
  • Financial restitution
  • Disciplinary probation
  • The release of information outside the college
  • Loss of alumni privileges
  • No-contact orders
  • Room inspection or search
  • Removal from Reed-owned housing
  • Restrictions related to living in or accessing Reed-owned housing
  • Restrictions on or dismissal from on-campus student employment and appointed or volunteer positions, and restrictions on participation in college organizations or events 

The Honor Process is transparent; however, the J-Board code clearly outlines the rules regarding the confidentiality of individual Honor Cases. The confidentiality mandate is intended to protect the privacy of those involved in individual cases and to prevent the details of case testimonies from becoming public knowledge. A participant may disclose the existence of, and their role in, an honor case, but he or she may not publicly discuss the details of the case proceedings.

The J-Board provides case summaries with redacted information to the student newspaper, The Quest, to illustrate to the community the kinds of allegations contained in complaints and the outcomes of the cases adjudicated by the board.

This description of the Honor Process is just an overview and is not intended to be comprehensive. Learn more about the Honor Principle, and the Honor Process.