Student Conduct Proceedings


 Student Conduct Proceedings

Upon notice of an alleged violation of the Student Handbook, the Executive Director of Community Standards, or designee will review allegations of misconduct and assign a hearing officer to the case. The hearing officer will inquire, gather, and review information about the reported student misconduct and will evaluate the accuracy, credibility, and sufficiency of the information. Incidents will not be forward for an initial conference unless there is reasonable cause to believe a rule/procedure has been violated. Reasonable cause is defined as some credible information to support each element of the offense, even if that information is merely a credible witness or complainant statement. If it is determined that the information reported does not warrant an allegation, a warning letter may be issued to clarify the rule/procedure that was in question.

Unsupported allegation(s) with no credible information will not be forwarded for an initial conference. When an initial report of misconduct by a third party does not identify the victim or the victim is not available, the investigator will fully investigate the reported incident of the information available when applicable.

A student will be given notice of their involvement in an alleged violation of the Student Handbook by receipt of an Initial Inquiry/Conference letter. When preliminary information indicates that certain, identifiable student(s) are associated with the reported incident, those student(s) will be asked to meet with a hearing officer.

In addition to other possible sanctions, conditions, and/or restrictions, and if a student fails to respond to written notification, an administrative hold may be placed on the student's record to prevent further registration. The administrative hold will remain until such time as the hearing officer receives an appropriate response. 

Failure to comply with or respond to a notice issued as part of the conduct procedure and/or failure to appear, may result in additional alleged violations and result in a charge of failure to comply.

All Non-Civil Rights related Disciplinary Proceedings will adhere to the following procedures:

a. The student will be informed in writing of the allegations made and the date, time, and place of the initial conference with a hearing officer. This information will be sent to the accused student's WTAMU email address. For university-related correspondence, it is the student's responsibility to check their university email account, check it regularly, and to provide an accurate local mailing address.

b. An opportunity for the student to review the evidence, except the official University Police Department reports on cases pending action in the district attorney's office or while the case is still under investigation, prior to the hearing, shall be provided upon request. An appointment must be set up with the Executive Director of Title IX & Community Standards, or designee in the Office of Title IX & Community Standards, in Old Sub 108, to review this information.

c. During the initial conference, the student may bring an adviser of their choosing. This person may advise the student but may not actively participate in the conference. During the initial conference a student may accept or dispute one or more changes which may result in the following outcomes:

i. The student(s) is found not to be in violation.

ii. The student(s) is found in violation and subject to those sanctions described in the Sanctions portion of the Handbook.

iii. The conduct officer decides that more investigation is needed and continues the conference at a later date. 

d. If a student is found not in violation the process ends. If a student is found to be in violation, this determination will be provided in writing to the student. The student will have three (3) university working days to accept or reject the finding. If the finding is challenged within those three (3) days, a formal hearing will be scheduled and the student will be notified in writing of the date and time of the hearing. The formal hearing will be held before a different hearing officer.

e. During the formal hearing, the student may seek advice from legal counsel/adviser at their own expense. Counsel may advise the student but may not present or participate in the case. The respondent may have one person to accompany them in the hearing. This person cannot be a witness.

f. The university will present evidence supporting the allegations first and has the burden of proving its case by the preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidence means proof that leads a reasonable person to find the facts in issue are more likely to have occurred than not. A determination of the facts will be based only on the evidence as presented. The technical rules of evidence applicable to civil and criminal cases shall not apply.

g. An opportunity will be provided for the respondent to present their own version of the facts and to present other evidence in support of the current case may not be allowed. The respondent will also have the right to hear evidence and question evidence presented by the student conduct officer. The student conduct officer may impose reasonable limitations upon the presentation of evidence and questioning of witnesses. A notary is available at no charge at several locations on campus, please see the Office of Community Standards for a list.

h. A student may not be compelled to testify on their own behalf. If the student chooses not to testify or to appear at the hearing, no inference may be drawn from this action; however, the hearing will proceed, and a decision will be made based on the facts presented. If the respondent, witness, or any other person involved with the case is late to the hearing, the hearing officer reserves the right to make the determination on participation in the hearing and the hearing body is not responsible for beginning the hearing over, recalling witnesses, or re-entering any evidence into record.

i. Disorderly or disruptive behavior by any individual during the conduct process may result in removal of the individual from the conduct process, at the discretion of the student conduct officer, and the hearing process may continue.

j. The university will record the hearing and the recording remains the property of the institution. Deliberations will not be recorded. FERPA provides that when information on more than one student is contained in a single education record, each student may inspect the information specifically related to themselves. If the recording pertains to only the requesting student, arrangments may be made to review the recording. An appointment will be required to review the recording, if applicable. Suspension/expulsion sanctions result in records being maintained permanently in the VPSEES office.

k. Upon conclusion of the hearing, a written statement of the findings, the formal action to be taken by the university, and a description of the appeals process will be forwarded (delivered or postmarked) to the student within five (5) working days, as defined by the university. In cases of sexual misconduct, the findings, formal action to be taken by the university, a rationale for those actions, and a description of the appeals process will be delivered to all parties simultaneously, meaning without substantial delay between the notifications to each.

l. Disciplinary hearings will be closed except for those directly involved in the hearing. The disciplinary proceedings will not be open to the media, or any form of social media, or live feeds. 

m. At the university's discretion, notices and student conduct correspondence will be issued to the student's local and/or permanent address or record, delivered by staff, or via email to their university email account and shall constitute full and adequate notice. It is the student's responsibility to keep the address of record current and to check their university email account. The failure of a student to provide an address change or forwarding address, the refusal to accept/receive a letter (sent either by first class mail or certified mail or by staff delivery), or failure to check university email shall not constitute good cause for failure to comply with the content of the official university correspondence. Disciplinary action may be taken against a student for failure to appear after proper notice.

Appeal Procedure: A student may appeal against the decision or the sanction(s), condition(s) and restriction(s) imposed by the Office of Community Standards by submitting a written petition to the VP of Student Affairs office within five (5) university working days of receiving the written decision. The Appeal form can be completed at:

a. The petition must clearly set forth the grounds for the appeal, together with the evidence upon which the appeal is based. A disagreement with the decision alone shall not constitute grounds for appeal. The only proper grounds for appeal, and the only issues that may be considered on appeal are as follows:

i. A procedural (or substantive error) occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g., substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.).

ii. The discovery of new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or review of the case, which would substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.

iii. The sanctions imposed substantially vary from the range of sanctions normally imposed for similar infractions.

b. The Office of Community standards has ten (10) university working days to make a decision on the appeal.