Campus Conduct System
The basic purpose of a conduct system at Bluffton University is to protect an environment for learning. Throughout the conduct process there is a commitment to the fundamentals of fair play in the adjudication of violations of standards of conduct and the honor system.
Jurisdiction of Conduct Process
All students, faculty and staff members are a part of the conduct system.
Standard of evidence
Conduct officers and the Campus Conduct Board will determine if a violation occurred based on a preponderance of evidence standard (is it more likely than not that a violation occurred.)
Parties involved in the conduct process
- Reporting party: person who brings forward an alleged violation of the campus conduct standards
- Responding party: person accused of violating the campus conduct standards.
- A student accused of violating a standard or the Honor System is referred to an administrative officer. The administrative officer may appoint a staff person to act in her/his place.
- The administrative officer ( or his/her designee) informs the responding party of 1) the alleged violation, 2) who has reported him/her and 3) the conduct process
- The responding party is asked by the administrative officer (or her/his designee) if he/she takes responsibility for the alleged violation described in the report. If the responding party takes responsibility, he/she may elect to have either the administrative officer (or her/his designee) take action on the violation or to have the case referred to the Restorative Justice Coordinator for a restorative justice review.
- Upon completion of the restorative justice review, the Restorative Justice Coordinator will initiate a restorative justice action in response to the conduct violation. In cases where the restorative justice review deems a restorative response inappropriate, the conduct case reverts to traditional conduct system. Parties should select individuals as an advisor and/or support person whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for all meetings, sessions or conferences. Delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor.
- If the student denies responsibility for the alleged violation, the administrative officer will gather information from the student for further investigation. The administrative officer will investigate fully and decide if the student is in violation and the outcomes of that violation. The administrative officer will meet in person with the student to present the decision and outcomes.
A decision reached by a Conduct Administrator may be appealed by the reporting party or responding party to the Campus Conduct Board of the university. An appeal must be submitted in writing to Chair of the Campus Conduct Board or Student Life Office within five (5) business days of receiving the decision of the administrator. An appeal will only be considered if it falls within one of the following categories:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the decision of the administrator
- Sanction(s) imposed were substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation of the policy which the responding party was found to have committed.
- To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original investigation, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the original investigation.
Campus Conduct Board
The vice president for student life and dean of students is administratively responsible for the overall student conduct process on campus but is not a member of the CCB. There are three members of the board; one elected faculty member, one elected student senator and one additional faculty or staff member chosen by recommendation. The student representative serves one year and the faculty/staff representatives serve two years. The additional faculty member will be chosen in alternate years to assure that at least one member of the committee has experience from previous cases. Training of CCB members will happen once a semester. Members of the CCB are chosen as follows:
- One faculty member is elected by the faculty as chair with one faculty member elected as an alternate to be trained for cases that might involve a conflict of interest for the faculty chair.
- One student member who is a student senator elected by student senate. Two additional student senators will be elected as alternates for cases that might involve a conflict of interest for the student senate representative.
- One additional faculty or staff member selected by the recommendation. Those interested will be reviewed by the Vice President for Student Life and the Vice President for Academic Affairs to be chosen to serve in the committee. Three total individuals in this category would be trained to serve as alternates in cases that might involve of a conflict of interest.
The permanent faculty member serves as chairperson of CCB. The Student Senate representative serves as vice chairperson who serves in the absence of the chairperson.
The responding party must be notified at least 72 hours prior to a CCB meeting unless he/she wishes to waive this right. The following procedures are followed at all CCB meeting:
- The responding party is given the opportunity to present a response of guilty or not guilty.
- The responding party and the person reporting her/him may be questioned by any member of the CCB.
- The responding party may be allowed one person to serve as an advisor
- The hearing is closed unless both the responding party and the reporting party agree to an open hearing; deliberation of the CCB must be closed.
- The responding party has the right to question the person reporting her/him at the meeting; therefore, the latter must be present.
The CCB examines all material evidence, hears and questions all witnesses prior to voting on the case. Witnesses who are called by the CCB are required to meet with the CCB. Decisions are determined by majority vote. The CCB determines guilt or innocence and the appropriate sanction in each case. Determination as to whether a violation occurred is based on a preponderance of evidence standards (is it more likely than not that a violation occurred).
Adjudication of extraordinary violations
Incidents which are considered to be violations of standards of conduct and the Honor System are normally adjudicated through the Campus Conduct System. It is recognized that there may be incidents referred that are an immediate threat to the campus community and/or the environment for learning. These extraordinary incidents may call for immediate action by the university. If the president, in consultation with the cabinet, judges that incidents are extraordinary and that they call for immediate action, the president, in consultation with the cabinet, will determine the procedures to be followed in adjudicating the referral. The procedures will be consistent with the standards of fairness and transparency. Appeal of a decision reached through these procedures is to the Board of Trustees.
Outcomes imposed by an administrative officer (or her/his designee) or the CCB may include any one or a combination of the following:
- Dismissal- Subject to review by the vice president for student life and dean of students.
- Suspension- Subject to review by the vice president for student life and dean of students.
- Financial or work penalty
- Community service
- Other penalties as appropriate in each case.