Any party may request an appeal of the decision of the Hearing Panel by filing a written request to the Director of Student Conduct, subject to the procedures outlined below. All sanctions imposed by the original hearing body remain in effect, and all parties should be timely informed of the requests for an appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision.
Appeals and Grounds For Appeal Requests
The reporting party and/or responding party may appeal only the parts of the determination of responsibility or sanctions directly relating to them. Dissatisfaction with the outcome of the hearing is not grounds for appeal. The appeal will consist of a plain, concise, and complete written statement outlining the grounds for the appeal. An appeal must be submitted within five (5) business days of the panels written outcome being delivered.
Appeals requests are limited to the following grounds:
1) A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.),
2) To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included,
3) The sanctions imposed are substantially outside the parameters or guidelines set by the College for this type of offense or the cumulative conduct record of the responding party.
Appeals of decisions will be reviewed in the following manner:
1. All appeals will be screened by the Director of Student Conduct or designee and, when appropriate, to ensure they meet the criteria established above for the filing of an appeal. If the appeal does not meet one of the three criteria it will be denied by the Director of Student Conduct or designee.
2. The Director of Student Conduct or designee will share the appeal by one party with the other party (parties) when appropriate under procedure or law (e.g., if the responding party appeals, the appeal is shared with the reporting party, who may also wish to file a response, request an appeal on the same grounds or different grounds). The Director of Student Conduct will refer the request(s) to the designated appeal body. If the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, the original finding and sanction will stand and the decision is final.
3. The appeal body may consult with the Director of Student Conduct and or designee on any procedural or substantive questions that arise.
4. If the appeal has standing, the case should be referred to the College Appeals Panel, typically within 3-5 business days. Cases involving Suspension and/or Expulsion are appealed to the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee. Efforts should be made to return the appeal to the original decision maker for reconsideration (remand) whenever possible, with clear instructions for reconsideration only in light of the granted appeal grounds. Where the original decision-maker may be unduly biased by a procedural or substantive error, a new panel will be constituted to reconsider the matter, which can in turn be appealed, once.
5. On reconsideration, the appeal body or original decision-maker may affirm or change the findings and/or sanctions according to the permissible grounds. Procedural errors should be corrected, new evidence should be considered, and sanctions should be proportionate to the severity of the violation and the student’s cumulative conduct record. If the appeal is based on procedures not having been followed, the appeal body can ask that a new hearing occur before a newly constituted hearing panel. In the case of new and relevant information, the appeal body will determine if the matter should be returned to the original decision-maker for reconsideration after considering the new facts or if it should be reviewed by the appeal body with instruction on the parameters regarding institutional consistency and any applicable legal guidelines. In review, the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, thus the burden is on the appealing party(ies) to show clear error. The appeal body must limit its review to the challenges presented.
6. Typically, all decisions of the appeal body are to be made within ten (10) business days of submission of all appeal documents by the parties, but the time may be longer or shorter as are any decisions made by the original hearing body, Director of Student Conduct or designee. Appeal decisions are final.
The conduct body reviewing the appeal College Appeals Panel or Vice President for Student Affairs/designee, after reviewing all available information, may elect to:
1. Affirm the finding and sanction originally determined.
2. Affirm the finding and modify the sanction. In cases where the responding party is the appealing party, the sanction may be reduced or increased by the conduct body reviewing the appeal.
3. Reopen the investigation and/or remand the case to the original conduct body for a new hearing, except in cases where the reporting party is the appealing party.
4. Dismiss the case, except in cases where the reporting party is the appealing party.
The presumptive stance of the College is that all decisions made and sanctions imposed by the original decision-maker are to be implemented during the appellate process. At the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct (or designee), and in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator when necessary, implementation of sanctions may be stayed pending review only in extremely exigent circumstances. This does not include proximity to graduation, end of term, or exams. Instead, it refers to an overwhelming likelihood, as determined by the Director of Student Conduct or designee, in consultation, that the appeal would result in a reversal of the finding and/or substantial modification of the sanctions.
Other Guidelines For Appeals
All parties will be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision; barring exigent circumstances;
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the allegation (de novo). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal; Witnesses may be called if necessary.
- Sanctions should only be increased or reduced if found to be grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offense, precedent for similar offenses and/or the responding party’s prior disciplinary record.
- Cases should be remanded to the original conduct body if specified procedural errors were so substantial as to effectively deny the responding party a fair hearing.
- Cases should be dismissed only if the finding of the conduct body is held to be arbitrary and capricious.
Appeals are not an opportunity for appeals officer/panelists to substitute their judgment for that of the original decision-maker merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanctions. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original decision-maker, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error, and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so.