Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Retention Initiatives

The Conduct Process

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Process

Western Illinois University’s philosophy on student conduct is educational in nature. The Office of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Retention Initiatives offers sanctions designed to guide student behavior and to balance the rights of individuals with that of the health and safety of the community. The student conduct process is not a legal process and is separate from local, state, and federal court proceedings. The student conduct process and Code of Student Conduct do not replace or relieve any requirement of civil or criminal law. This means students or organizations may participate in parallel processes. The standard of responsibility is based on a preponderance of the evidence in the student conduct process. This means a violation more likely than not occurred.

The following chart details the entire conduct process and what students and organizations can expect to experience.

WIU Conduct Flow Chart 

Disciplinary Conference

For many situations, students are offered the option of attending a disciplinary conference with a conduct officer to discuss any alleged violations of the code of student conduct. Conduct officers are training individuals who have a goal of providing support, resources, and resolutions to situations. A disciplinary conference is an informal process and built around a conversation focused on more than simply potential violations.

Disciplinary conferences are often one-on-one discussions with a conduct officer, but pending the situation, more than one party may be involved. All parties taking part in a disciplinary conference are expected to treat each other with respect. Any person who disrupts a disciplinary conference or fails to treat others with respect may be excluded from the proceedings.

The conduct officer and student(s) will discuss progress at Western Illinois University, involvements, coursework, and the alleged violation of the Code of Student Conduct. Once the alleged violations are discussed, the Conduct Officer and student(s) will discuss if a violation more likely than not occurred. The standard of responsibility is based on a preponderance of the evidence. If a violation has occurred, the Conduct Officer will discuss what sanction(s) can be appropriate. If an agreement is reached, the student will sign their understanding and the situation is resolved after sanctions are complete. If no agreement is reached, a formal hearing will occur. Students have the right to request a formal hearing instead of a Disciplinary Conference.  

Hearing

Hearings are more structured processes following a detailed procedure outlined below. For situations unresolved in a disciplinary conference, a hearing will occur. For certain violations of the student code of conduct, egregious situations, or situations involving students who have already appeared for disciplinary conferences, a hearing will occur. Certain situations, including those where the outcome may include separation from the university, a formal hearing will occur automatically. Board hearings consist of students, faculty, and staff who hear the case and recommend outcomes. Administrative hearings are comprised of one hearing officer who hears the case and recommends outcomes.  

Those alleged to have violated the Code of Student Conduct are asked to respond to the violations. If the student(s) or organization(s) accept responsibility, the hearing proceeds by outlining the process and those involved are allowed to give statements and the chair will conclude with next steps. If the student(s) or organization(s) do not accept responsibility, the following formal hearing will occur so the hearing body can determine if a violation of the code of student conduct is to more likely than not have occurred. 

The following outlines the formal hearing process. 

1. The Chair introduces self and/or board members; identifies the Responding and Reporting parties, and notes the date and time of the hearing.

2. The Chair reads the following statement:  

The purpose of this hearing is to review relevant information concerning charges of alleged violations of the Western Illinois University code of student conduct that have been filed against (responding).

The opportunity to have one's case reviewed via a hearing; to be assisted by an advisor, and to appeal the outcome of a hearing are privileges granted to students of Western Illinois University as a matter of institutional policy.

It is expected that all persons involved in this hearing shall present information that is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.  Students are advised that the intentional providing of false information during a hearing would constitute a violation of the code of student conduct.

This is an informal proceeding.  It is not a criminal trial, nor is it intended to resemble one.  As outlined in the code of student conduct, a preponderance of the evidence must be shown by the reporting party to warrant a finding of in violation.  This hearing is not required to observe formal rules of evidence and may exclude unduly repetitious or immaterial information.  

Participants in this hearing are expected to treat all others with courtesy and respect.  Any person who disrupts a hearing or fails to adhere to the procedural rulings of the chair may be excluded from the proceedings.

You will note that a recording of this hearing is being made.  Recordings are made for the purpose of retaining a verbatim record of the proceedings to be used by the vice president for student services in the event that an appeal of the outcome is filed. 

3. At this point, I will ask that the responding party respond to a series of procedural questions. 

Are you being assisted by an advisor during this hearing? 

Is there anyone on the board that you feel should not serve during this hearing?

Do you have any questions regarding the procedure to be used during this hearing?

Are there any reasons we should not review the case at this time?

4. The Chair shall read the general and specific charges.

5. The Chair shall request that the Responding enter a plea to each charge.

6a. If the plea is "IN VIOLATION" to all charges -- allow the Reporting first and then the Responding to make statements.

The Chair may set a reasonable time limit in advance (e.g., Each side will be given 15 minutes to present views) The Responding to remain silent while the Reporting gives their statement, and vice versa.  Questions of either party for clarification may be asked by the hearing body.

When this is completed, proceed to # 10 .

6b. If a plea of "NOT IN VIOLATION" is entered to any charge, proceed as follows:

The Reporting bears the burden of proof and shall be directed to present their case.  

The order will be as follows:

- Statement by Reporting

- Questioning of Reporting by Hearing Body

- Questioning of Reporting by Responding through Hearing Body

Statement by Reporting Witness. As called, each Witness shall be directed to identify themselves for the record and shall be reminded of the hearing protocol (to present true information and to treat others with courtesy and respect)

- Questioning of Witness by Hearing Body

- Questioning of Witness by Reporting through Hearing Body

- Questioning of Witness by Responding through Hearing Body             

The Responding shall be directed to present their case.  

The order will be as follows:

- Statement by Responding

- Questioning of Responding by Hearing Body

- Questioning of Responding by Reporting through Hearing Body

Statement by Responding Witness. As called, each Witness shall be directed to identify themselves for the record and shall be reminded of the hearing protocol (to present true information and to treat others with courtesy and respect)

- Questioning of Witness by Hearing Body

- Questioning of Witness by Responding through Hearing Body

- Questioning of Witness by Reporting through Hearing Body

7. The Hearing Body will have the opportunity to ask any additional questions if needed.

Are there any additional questions the hearing body would like to direct towards either the reporting or responding prior to the presentation of summary statements? If affirmative, such questioning will proceed.  The Hearing Body may request the recall of witnesses for questioning.

8. Before proceeding with summary statements, the Chair shall ask the Reporting and Responding if they would like to take a few minutes to prepare final remarks.  A short recess may be granted.

9. Summary statements.  The Reporting bears the burden of proof and shall go first.  

The Responding is to remain silent as the Reporting presents their statement and vice versa.

10. Prior to dismissing the Reporting and Responding, the Chair will describe the decision-making and notification process.

Thank you for your participation in today's hearing. At this point, all information presented during this hearing will be evaluated and a recommendation will be forwarded to the Associate Vice President for Student Services who ultimately makes the final decision regarding outcomes and sanctions.   

11. The Hearing Body will commence deliberation regarding findings and, where appropriate, sanction. The recommendation is completed and forwarded, along with the tape and other hearing information, to the Associate Vice president for Student Services.