Disciplinary Hearing Types
There are two types of hearings. Most cases are decided upon through an administrative hearing, which is a discussion between the student/group and a hearing officer. Cases that are serious in nature, involve complicated facts, and/or involve students/groups with previous disciplinary violations may be forwarded to the Undergraduate Conduct Board for resolution. Students who face a possible sanction of suspension or expulsion may request to have his/her case heard by a panel of the UCB.
(See “Sexual Misconduct” for adjudication of allegations of sexual misconduct.)
An administrative hearing is a discussion between a student/group alleged to be in violation of university policy and a hearing officer. Students/groups will be notified (typically via e-mail) of the specific violations under consideration in advance of an administrative hearing. The hearing officer will review the report with the student or group and give the student/group an opportunity to respond. The hearing officer will determine whether the student/group is responsible for the alleged policy violation, and, if so, issue (an) appropriate sanction(s). Administrative hearings are conducted in private, except under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, in which a student may be accompanied by an advisor of the student's choice.
Upon proper notice, if a student/group fails to attend an administrative hearing, the hearing officer may proceed to resolve the case without benefit of that student’s/group’s input.
All decisions of responsibility are based on clear and convincing information, except for allegations arising under the Harassment Policy and the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which are decided based on the standard of preponderance of evidence. In determining appropriate sanctions, consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the student's/group's acceptance of responsibility, prior disciplinary violations, the impact of a sanction on the student/group, precedent cases, university interests and any other information deemed relevant by a hearing panel/officer. Should a hearing officer determine that a violation was motivated in part or whole by race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, or age, the hearing officer may consider this an aggravating factor that increases the stringency of the sanction(s).
If a student/group does not accept the administrative hearing resolution, the student/group may request by the stated deadline a hearing before a panel of the Undergraduate Conduct Board.
The Undergraduate Conduct Board is a group of students, faculty and staff appointed to hear infractions of university policy. The board is charged with determining whether a student’s/group’s actions constitute a violation of university policy and, if so, an appropriate response. In determining an appropriate response, consideration is given to the student’s/group’s interests as well as the university’s interest in maintaining high standards.
All UCB hearings are conducted in private. Any student whose presence is required by the conduct officer at a hearing will be excused from any other university responsibility.
Respondents, complainants, advisors, and/or witnesses may not bring devices that capture or facilitate communication (e.g., computer, cell phone, audio/video recorder, etc.) into a hearing room, unless authorized by the hearing panel.
Accused Students/Groups. Accused students/groups are entitled to the following procedural rights when facing a hearing before the Undergraduate Conduct Board:
- to be informed that the student/group is under investigation;
- to seek advice from anyone;
- to seek advice from a trained advisor made available by the university;
- to be given an opportunity to respond to allegations;
- to choose the extent to which the student/group shares information;
- to be notified of a hearing at least 120 hours (five days) in advance (notification will include the time, date and location of the hearing as well as names of hearing panel members and witnesses);
- to challenge any panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest;
- to know of and review in advance written information and allegations presented to the hearing panel;
- to be accompanied by an advisor to the hearing (who must be a member of the university community [defined below], except in cases arising under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, in which case a student can select any advisor of the student's choice);
- to a fair and impartial hearing;
- to rebut any witness testimony presented against the student/group;
- to present additional witnesses or information at the hearing (the relevancy of which may be determined by the Board);
- to be found responsible only if the evidence meets a clear and convincing burden of proof (or preponderance of evidence standard in cases arising under the Harassment Policy and the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy); and
- to appeal based upon clearly stated grounds.
Advisors. Accused students/groups are encouraged to seek advice and support from whomever they choose throughout the disciplinary process. An advisor may accompany an accused student/group to a UCB hearing. The advisor may be from the designated list of trained student and staff disciplinary advisors available through the Office of Student Conduct, or may be a member of the university community. A member of the university community is defined as a current student, or a faculty or staff member currently employed by the university. For fraternities and sororities, the advisor may also be the chapter advisor. The advisor may not be a member of the UCB and may not serve as a material or expert witness. The role of the advisor is to assist and support the student through the disciplinary process. The advisor's role in a hearing is limited to quietly conferring with the respondent through written correspondence or whisper, and the advisor may not address any other participant or the hearing panel.
An advisor may also accompany a complainant to a hearing in a case arising from the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
In a single hearing with multiple respondents and/or complainants, an advisor may attend the hearing with only one party (i.e. a unique advisor for each participant). The trained student and staff disciplinary advisors are valuable resources, thoroughly familiar with the conduct process. In the event that a recommended advisor is unavailable, an accused student/group may ask for the names of additional advisors from the Office of Student Conduct.
Hearing Panels. Hearing panels charged with determining an outcome and a sanction shall consist of three students and two members of the faculty or staff selected from the UCB. Hearing panels charged with determining only a sanction shall consist of two students and one faculty or staff member selected from the UCB. (In some circumstances, the conduct officer may choose to utilize a five-person panel consisting of three students and two faculty or staff members to determine a sanction.)
(See the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy for specific hearing panel composition and additional information for adjudication of these cases. The information in this policy supersedes any different or contrary information below).
An accused student/group may agree to a smaller panel or different student-to-faculty/staff ratio in the event that a full panel is not available. A complainant and/or respondent may challenge the participation of a panelist because of perceived conflict of interest, bias, or prejudice. Such challenges, including rationale, must be made within 48 hours of notification of the names of the hearing panelists. At its discretion, the Office of Student Conduct will determine whether such a conflict of interest exists and whether a panelist should be replaced. Postponement of a hearing may occur if a replacement panelist cannot be immediately identified.
At times of the year when regular panels are not available (e.g., during the summer or semester breaks), the conduct officer may appoint a special hearing panel, which may include members of the university community who are not part of the Undergraduate Conduct Board or may have a different composition of students/faculty/staff than panels held during the normal academic year.
Notice. An accused student/group will be notified of a UCB hearing at least 120 hours (five days) in advance. The notice will include the date and time of the hearing, the specific charges at issue, and the names of the panel members. At times of the year when 120 hours of notice is not practical due to a student’s pending graduation, study abroad, or participation in a university-sponsored activity (e.g., DukeEngage), a student must either waive this right or not participate in the pending activity until the matter is resolved.
An accused student/group will also receive in advance of the hearing a copy of written information given to the hearing panel. The conduct officer may include information clarifying or noting any additional information gathered through the investigation without expressing any personal opinion about the merits of the case. In cases not involving an alleged violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, any additional material not included in a hearing packet that a complainant or respondent wishes to have reviewed by the hearing panel must be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct no later than 72 hours before the hearing. If deemed relevant by the Office of Student Conduct, that material will be shared with the complainant/respondent and the hearing panel.
The complainant will also be notified of the hearing if the complainant's presence is required. Upon request, the complainant may also receive a copy of the written information given to the hearing panel.
Upon proper notice, if the student/group fails to attend the hearing, the hearing panel may proceed in their absence.
Witnesses. The conduct officer may request the presence of any witness with pertinent information about a case. If a witness is unidentified or unavailable to attend the hearing, the witness’s statement may not constitute a sole or substantial basis for determining responsibility. If the witness is necessary and unidentified or unavailable, the conduct officer or the chair of the hearing panel may suspend or dismiss the proceedings.
The accused student/group and complainant may bring relevant material witnesses to speak on his/her/its behalf. Absent exceptional circumstances and for all alleged policy violations except that of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, the accused student/group and/or complainant should inform the conduct officer in writing at least 72 hours in advance of the hearing the names of the witnesses and to what they will attest. The panel may determine the extent to which witnesses will be permitted in the hearing, including relevancy of questioning and information presented.
Procedure. The general course of procedure for a UCB hearing is as follows: introductions; plea(s) from the accused; opening comments from complainant(s) (if applicable); opening comments from accused; questions; testimony/questions of other material witnesses (if applicable); closing comments from complainant (if applicable); closing comments from accused.
The panel may impose time limits on any stage of the procedure. The panel may also determine the relevance of any witness or information to be presented and/or considered by the hearing panel.
Information to be Considered by the Panel. The panel may consider any information it deems relevant, including documentation and expressions of opinion. If the panel needs additional information during a hearing, such as verification of a fact at issue, an expert opinion, etc., the panel may request such information and may suspend its decision until such information is obtained. The accused student/group will have the right to respond to any additional information that is to be used in considering an outcome.
Outcome. Based on clear and convincing information (or preponderance of evidence in cases arising from the Harassment Policy and the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy) considered during the hearing, the panel may find a student/group responsible for an alleged violation by majority vote. (In cases arising from the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, a finding of responsibility for a violation must be unanimous.) The panel, also by majority vote, may dismiss any charge.
Upon finding a student/group responsible for a violation of university policy, the panel may determine and impose (an) appropriate sanction(s). Consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the student’s/group’s acceptance of responsibility, prior disciplinary violations, the impact of a sanction on the student/group, precedent cases, university interests and any other information deemed relevant by the hearing panel. Should a hearing panel determine that a violation was motivated in part or whole by race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, or age, the hearing panel may consider this an aggravating factor that increases the stringency of the sanction(s). All sanctions must be decided by majority vote with the exception of suspension or expulsion of an individual or dissolution of a group. These sanctions must be supported unanimously by a three-person panel or by four members of a five-person panel.
Notification and Record of the Hearing Outcome. The panel chair and/or the conduct officer will notify the accused student/group of the outcome of the hearing. A written hearing report describing the outcome, with a brief explanation of the reasoning, will be given to the accused student/group.
The complainant will be informed of the outcome of a hearing in accordance with federal guidelines. Complainants in cases arising from the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy will receive a written report of the hearing outcome.
An audio recording of each hearing will be made by the conduct officer and kept on file for three years. Reasonable care will be taken to create a quality recording and minimize technical problems; however, technical problems that result in no recording or an inaudible one will not be a valid argument for appeal.