Every student, whether the alleged victim, accused, or witness, is guaranteed due process to ensure that all parties receive equitable and judicious treatment.
A hearing is conducted differently from legal proceedings and shall generally be conducted in accordance with the procedures listed below:
- A hearing shall be closed and not open to the public. Admission of any person into the hearing room shall be at the discretion of the Director of Student Conduct. The Director of Student Conduct shall have the authority to remove any person whose presence is deemed unnecessary or obstructive to the proceedings.
- When a hearing involves more than one Respondent, the Director of Student Conduct or designee may, at their discretion, permit the hearings to be conducted either separately or jointly.
- If a Respondent, after receiving notification, does not appear for a hearing, the hearing will proceed without the Respondent and a finding will be made based upon the information available and sanction(s) imposed, if appropriate.
- The Complainant and Respondent shall each have the opportunity to present opening statements, present evidence and ask relevant questions.
- The Complainant and the Respondent may arrange for witnesses to present pertinent information to the Hearing Officer or Hearing Body. The Hearing Officer or Hearing Body, the Respondent, and Complainant reserve the right to question the witnesses in a manner prescribed by the Code Administrator.
- The Respondent, Complainant, and any witnesses will provide information to and answer questions from the Hearing Officers or Hearing Body.
- After the portion of the hearing concludes in which all pertinent information has been received, the Hearing Officers or Hearing Body and Code Administrator shall deliberate in private whether the Respondent has violated each section of The Student Code of Conduct which the student had been charged with violating.
- Determination shall be made based on the preponderance of the evidence, meaning whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Student Code of Conduct.
- When a student Respondent is found "responsible" for a violation(s), the hearing body shall continue private deliberations to impose appropriate sanction(s) and may review the student's academic transcript, student conduct history, and impact statement(s).
- Procedural questions may be asked at any point during the course of the hearing by any participant, with the exception of the support person/advisor.
Rules of Decorum
The following Rules of Decorum are to be observed in all hearings and applied equally to all parties (meaning the Respondent, Complainant, Reporting Individual, Advisors, and Witnesses:
- Questions must be conveyed in a neutral tone.
- Parties and advisors will refer to other parties, witnesses, advisors, and institutional staff using the name and gender used by the person and shall not intentionally mis-name or mis-gender that person in communication or questioning.
- No party may act abusively or disrespectfully during the hearing toward any other party or to witnesses, advisors, or decision-makers.
- No one may yell, scream, badger, or physically ‘‘lean in’’ to another person’s personal space. No one may approach another person without obtaining permission from the Hearing Board Chair.
- No one may use profanity or make irrelevant character attacks upon another person. Questions are meant to be interrogative statements used to test knowledge or understand a fact; they may not include accusations within the text of the question.
- No one asking questions may ask repetitive questions. This includes questions that have already been asked by the Board or another party. When the Hearing Board Chair determines a question has been “asked and answered”or is otherwise not relevant, the person asking the question must move on.
- No person may take action at the hearing that a reasonable person in the shoes of the affected party would see as intended to intimidate that person (whether party, witness, or official) into not participating in the process or meaningfully modifying their participation in the process.
Warning and Removal Process
- The Hearing Board Chair shall have sole discretion to determine if the Rules of Decorum have been violated. The Hearing Board Chair will notify the offending person of any violation of the Rules.
- Upon a second or further violation of the Rules, the Hearing Officer shall have discretion to remove the offending person or allow them to continue participating in the hearing or other part of the process. Reasonable delays, including the temporary adjournment of the hearing, may be considered should an advisor be removed.
- The Hearing Board Chair shall document any decision to remove a person in the written determination regarding responsibility.
(See full policy under Sexual and Interpersonal Violence Prevention, Policies and Procedures.)
In general, the procedures listed in Student Conduct Procedures will be followed with some notable differences specific to cases of sexual discrimination as listed here.
Conduct proceedings are governed by the procedures set forth in the SUNY Oswego Student Handbook as well as federal and New York State law, including the due process provisions of the United States and New York State Constitutions. Reporting individuals (victim/survivors) can request that student conduct charges be filed against the accused/respondent.
A. Throughout conduct proceedings, the accused/respondent and the reporting individual will have:
- The same opportunity to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice who may assist and advise the parties throughout the conduct process and any related hearings or meetings. Participation of the advisor in any proceeding is governed by federal law and the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct;
- The right to a prompt response to any complaint and to have their complaint investigated and adjudicated in an impartial, timely, and thorough manner by individuals who receive annual training in conducting investigations of sexual violence, the effects of trauma, impartiality, the rights of the accused/respondent, including the right to a presumption that the accused/respondent is "not responsible" until a finding of responsibility is made, and other issues related to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
- The right to an investigation and process conducted in a manner that recognizes the legal and policy requirements of due process (including fairness, impartiality, and a meaningful opportunity to be heard) and is not conducted by individuals with a conflict of interest.
- The right to receive advance written or electronic notice of the date, time, and location of any meeting or hearing they are required to or are eligible to attend. Accused individuals (Respondent) will also be told the factual allegations concerning the violation, a reference to the specific code of conduct provisions alleged to have been violated, and possible sanctions.
- The right to have a conduct process run concurrently with a criminal justice investigation and proceeding, except for temporary delays as requested by external municipal entities while law enforcement gathers evidence. Temporary delays should not last more than ten (10) days except when law enforcement specifically requests and justifies a longer delay.
- The right to offer evidence during an investigation and to review available relevant evidence in the case file (or otherwise held by SUNY Oswego).
- The right to present evidence and testimony at a hearing, where appropriate.
- The right to a range of options for providing testimony via alternative arrangements, including telephone/videoconferencing or testifying with a room partition.
- The right to exclude prior sexual history with persons other than the other party in the conduct process or their own mental health diagnosis or treatment from admittance in college disciplinary stage that determines responsibility. Past findings of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault may be admissible in the disciplinary stage that determines sanction.
- The right to ask questions of the decision maker/hearing officer/code administrator and via the decision maker/hearing officer/code administrator indirectly requesting responses from other parties and any other witnesses present.
- The right to make an impact statement during the point of the proceeding where the decision maker/hearing officer/code administrator is deliberating on appropriate sanctions.
- The right to simultaneous (among the parties) written or electronic notification of the outcome of a conduct proceeding, including the decision, any sanctions, and the rationale for the decision and any sanctions
- The right to written or electronic notice about the sanction(s) that may be imposed on the accused/respondent based upon the outcome of the conduct proceeding. Students who are found responsible for sexual assault will be suspended (with additional requirements) or expelled. Students found in violation of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment or stalking will be either placed on disciplinary probation, placed on deferred suspension, suspended or expelled. Students that are placed on disciplinary probation, deferred suspension or suspended may be sanctioned intervention services, restrictions from accessing college or community buildings, and educational programs. For more information, review the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct.
- Access to at least one level of appeal of a determination before the Appellate Hearing Committee, which may include one or more students, that is fair and impartial and does not include individuals with a conflict of interest.
- The right to have access to a full and fair record of a student conduct hearing, which shall be preserved and maintained in the Student Conduct office for at least five years.
- The right to choose whether to disclose or discuss the outcome of a conduct hearing.
- The right to have all information obtained during the course of the conduct process be protected from public release until the appeals panel makes a final determination unless otherwise required by law.
- The burden of proof in all cases is "the preponderance of the evidence" - whether it is "more likely than not" that the sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking, domestic violence or dating violence occurred. If the evidence presented meets this standard, then the Respondent must be found responsible.
- All deadlines and time requirements in the Code may be extended for good cause as determined by the Director of Student Conduct. Both the respondent and the complainant will be notified in writing of the delay, the reason for delay, and provided the date of the new deadline or event. Extensions requested by one party will not be longer than five (5) business days.
- An essential component of any hearing is the determination, using a preponderance of evidence, and the weighing of the facts that pertain to the allegation(s). Therefore, it is vital that personal statements and other information be presented clearly and factually. All participants are expected to be respectful of each other's purpose in the hearing process and to conduct themselves according to the direction of the hearing body. In an effort to be as fair as possible to the Complainant and Respondent, student conduct procedures may be modified by the Code Administrator.
- Evidence, to include but not limited to written documents, photographs, videos, and witness names, to be presented by the Complainant(s) and Respondent(s) during any hearing should be sent to the Office of Student Conduct at least two (2) business days in advance of the scheduled hearing so it can be shared with the opposing party. The Code Administrator may, in their sole discretion, exclude evidence that has not been shared or adjourn the hearing to afford all parties the opportunity to review evidence to be presented during the hearing. The Code Administrator will make the final decision related to the admissibility of all evidence. Information presented by a student during a hearing that indicates a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct may be adjudicated at a future time. Character witnesses are not permitted; character letters or letters of reference are limited to two per student.
When a student, the Complainant and Respondent shall each have the right to:
- Receive advance notice of at least five (5) business days of the date, time and location of any meeting or hearing they are required to or are eligible to attend. This notification will also include a written statement of the violations to the Student Code of Conduct that the Respondent is being charged with. Proper written notification shall be defined as hand delivery by campus staff, delivery of information via electronic message to a student's assigned campus e-mail account, or delivery by the U.S. Post Office to a student's local off-campus address.
- A prompt and impartial hearing;
- An investigation and adjudication process conducted in a manner that recognizes the legal and policy requirements of due process (including fairness, impartiality, and a meaningful opportunity to be heard) and is not conducted by individuals with a conflict of interest.
- Request a delay of a hearing date of up to five (5) business days due to a reasonable extenuating circumstance(s). The Director of Student Conduct or designee will determine the validity of the request and if the delay will be granted. Requests for a delay must be submitted at least two (2) business days prior to a scheduled hearing date;
- Be notified of the proposed evidence and information to be presented and to know the identity of witnesses who have been called to speak at the hearing or provide notarized statement for the hearing when such information is known by the Director of Student Conduct or designee prior to the hearing.
- Present evidence, testimony, witnesses, and witness statements when deemed appropriate and relevant by the Code Administrator.
- Ask questions of the decision maker and via the decision maker indirectly request responses from other parties and any other witnesses present. This method is used to preserve the educational tone of the hearing and to avoid creation of an adversarial environment. It will be left to the discretion of the Code Administrator whether or not to ask requested questions of other parties.
- One support person/advisor from the College, who is a full-time employee of the institution, of his/her choosing. This support person/advisor may attend but may not participate or speak during the process. A student should select a support person/advisor whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the administrative hearing because delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of a support person/advisor.
- Be present at the pertinent stages of the hearing process as indicated by the Director of Student Conduct or designee. The deliberations of the hearing body are private.
- Respond truthfully and accurately to statements and other information presented at the hearing.
- Present a written impact statement to the Hearing Officers to review if a finding of "responsible" is made and Hearing Officer or Hearing Body are deliberating sanctions. Impact statements outline the reporting individual's or respondent's thoughts or opinions regarding an appropriate sanction. The Hearing Officer or Hearing Body are not bound by these statements in determining sanctions.
The Director of Student Conduct will assign three to five Hearing Board members or one or two Hearing Officers to conduct a hearing, with the Director of Student Conduct serving as the Code Administrator. The hearing participants generally include the Reporting Individual, Respondent(s), a Complainant, witnesses, Hearing Officers or Hearing Body, and any support persons/advisors.
Hearings may be recorded by the College and, if recorded, the College will maintain the audio recordings as required by New York state law. Recordings are the property of the College. Participants are prohibited from making their own recording (including, but not limited to audio, photographic, video, and/or written recording). Upon written request, a Respondent or Complainant may review the audio recording and make appropriate arrangements for it to be transcribed on College premises. Arrangements for a transcriber and all associated costs involved in the transcription will be the sole responsibility of the requesting individual.