Process for Social Cases

(For the process related to incidents involving sexual misconduct, please see the Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Policy.)

The student conduct process and all applicable timelines commence with notice to an administrator of a potential violation of the Code of Conduct. When reports are received ten or fewer days before Reading Day each semester, the process may be postponed until after final exams.

Violations that involve the following are normally referred to staff in the Office of Student Conduct:

  • All violations for which suspension is a possible outcome, including incidents where multiple violations have occurred and the composite recommended outcome would be suspension;
  • Incidents involving the sale of drugs and/or drug paraphernalia;
  • Setting fires or tampering with fire and/or life safety equipment;
  • Cases dealing with firearms or weapons on campus;
  • Incidents that do not occur in university housing, including study abroad or study away courses/experiences;
  • Hazing;
  • Incidents involving student organizations;
  • Cases which involve civil or criminal action against a student (unless pertaining to sexual misconduct and gender-based violence);
  • Incidents involving students charged with violations that would be considered by the civil/criminal system to be a felony (unless pertaining to sexual misconduct and gender-based violence); or
  • Cases referred by the Residence Life staff or any other administrative hearing officer.

Preliminary Inquiry/Review

The process begins with a preliminary review and/or inquiry into the nature of the incident or report, the evidence available, and the parties involved. The hearing officer or investigator(s) take the following steps which typically take one to seven (1-7) business days to complete:

  • Initiate any necessary interim remedial actions on behalf of any reporting party;
  • Conduct a review of available information and/or preliminary investigation to identify the nature and severity of the complaint, identify an initial list of charges, understand the context of the incident(s), and identify potential patterns.

 The preliminary inquiry may lead to:

  • A determination that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation, because the behavior alleged, even if proven, would not violate the Code of Conduct;
  • Referral for an alternative resolution (i.e. educational conversation or mediation); or
  • Moving forward with the formal process by identifying charges and sending notification to the student(s) to meet for a student conduct conference.

 While an incident may involve behaviors that do not reflect the values of the honor code, they may not necessarily violate the Code of Conduct. In those cases, the dean of students, the assistant dean of students, or the director of student conduct have the discretion to refer a complaint/report for an educational conversation or another appropriate resolution method.

Student Conduct Conference

After the incident report is reviewed and charges are identified, the student is sent a notice indicating the charges. The notice also provides directions for scheduling the conference or provides a date, time and location for an initial student conduct conference that does not conflict with the student’s course schedule. Students may bring an advisor from the Elon University community (currently enrolled student, faculty or staff member) to the conference. If the student does not attend the scheduled conference or contact the hearing officer in a timely manner to reschedule the conference, then a hearing/investigation team’s decision may be rendered based on the information received and the student will be notified of the decision.

In some situations, the notice gives the student an opportunity to accept responsibility for the charges and the recommended outcome without a formal meeting. In these situations, the student will be given the option to accept responsibility for the listed charges and outcomes, or to schedule the conference with a hearing officer.

At the student conduct conference, the investigator or administrative hearing officer reviews the potential charges and outcomes, then answers student questions regarding the student conduct process. The student is given an opportunity to respond to the potential charges and provide information necessary to determine if and what policy violations may have occurred.

At the conclusion of the conference the appropriate course of action will be determined.  The outcome of this conference may include:

  • A decision that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the case (for example, charges may be dismissed if the student was misidentified in the report);
  • Setting charges and conducting a resolution meeting at that time (if the student accepts responsibility for the set charges and waives the option for a formal hearing)
  • Postponing setting charges and conducting a hearing until additional information has been gathered;
  • Setting charges and engaging in a more comprehensive investigation before scheduling a hearing;
  • Setting charges and scheduling an administrative hearing (usually within five business days of the conference); or
  • Referring the case to another hearing officer or board.

When more information must be gathered, the hearing officer or investigator will work to identify a witness list, talk with those witnesses, gather additional evidence from police or others, and speak further with the respondent and, when applicable, the reporting party. The hearing officer reserves the right to forgo interviewing a witness if it is determined that the person does not have information that is relevant to the investigation. The hearing officer will not interview character witnesses if they have no pertinent factual information about the incident. Character statements and other information not pertinent to the facts of the incident will not be considered for findings/outcomes.

When warranted, the information gathered in an investigation will be shared with the respondent (and reporting party as allowed by federal regulations) and presented to or used by the hearing officer/panel when making decisions related to responsibility and outcomes. This type of investigation usually takes one to three weeks to complete, but may take longer with complex cases or those involving multiple parties.

Administrative Hearing and Resolution

Most hearings are conducted administratively with a hearing officer and the responding student(s), reporting party (if applicable), advisor(s), and any witnesses. (See the Sexual Misconduct and Gender-Based Violence Policy at for information on this process when the incident involves potential sexual misconduct violations.) During the process, the hearing officer asks questions regarding the incident and the responding student’s behavior related to the charges and considers all credible information. If necessary, the hearing officer may postpone the conclusion of the hearing for a reasonable amount of time in order to conduct additional investigation or gather more information/ evidence.

Most administrative hearings are completed within 30 days of the incident. However, circumstances may warrant additional time for completion as determined by the hearing officer.

All hearings are restricted to those directly involved with the incident and those requested to be present by the institution. Respondents and reporting parties may bring an advisor from the Elon University community (currently enrolled student, faculty or staff member) to the hearing. Family members, attorneys or other legal counsel may not attend or serve as advisors in campus student conduct proceedings. Advisors may only counsel the student and may not actively participate in the hearings. The advisor may not make a presentation or represent the student during the hearing. They may confer quietly with their advisee, exchange notes, and suggest questions to their advisee.

Notice of the time, date, location of the hearing, and name(s) of the hearing officer/board members will be in writing (unless waived by the student). If a student cannot attend the hearing, it is that student’s responsibility to notify the hearing officer or Office of Student Conduct no less than two (2) business days prior to the scheduled hearing to arrange for another date, time and location. Except in cases of grave or unforeseen circumstances, if the responding student fails to give the requisite minimum two (2) day notice, or if the responding student fails to appear, the hearing will proceed as scheduled.

If the responding student (or reporting party, when applicable) does not attend the scheduled hearing, the case is heard without the student present, and a decision is reached based on the information available.

The hearing resolution will include a rendering of a “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” decision for each potential violation based on the preponderance of the evidence. If Responsible, the resolution will include applicable outcomes. The hearing resolution may be communicated to the student at the conclusion of the hearing, in a separate resolution meeting, or delivered in writing within five business days.  In instances where there is a finding of responsibility and the typical outcome includes disciplinary suspension or permanent separation, the hearing officer will consult with the dean of students prior to notifying the respondent of the resolution.

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