Process for Social Cases

(For the process related to incidents involving sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, sexual misconduct, and sex and/or gender-based discrimination should consult the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct 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.

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

  • All potential 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 responding to potential policy 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 Review of Information

The process begins with a preliminary review of the nature of the incident or report, the information available, and the parties involved. The hearing officer or investigator(s) take the following steps which typically take one to ten (1-10) days to complete:

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

The preliminary review may lead to:

  • Determination that there is insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation
  • Referral for an alternative resolution process (i.e. educational conversation or action plan, mediation, restorative conference/circle); or
  • Proceeding with the formal student conduct process by identifying potential policy violations 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.

A conduct referral will proceed into the conduct process when the available information supports that a policy may have been violated. The director of student conduct (or designee) will assume responsibility for the preliminary review of an allegation of misconduct. This review will determine whether potential policy violations related to Code of Conduct violations shall be assigned.

Student Conduct Conference

After the incident report is reviewed and potential policy violations are identified, the student is sent a notice indicating the potential policy violations and notice to schedule a student conduct conference.  The student conduct process is an opportunity for the hearing officer/investigator to gather information about the incident and students’ involvement.

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

The student conduct conference notice provides a date, time and location for the conference that does not conflict with the student’s course schedule or provides directions for scheduling the conference. When there is more than one student involved in an incident, a group conference may be scheduled. 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 student conduct administrator in a timely manner to reschedule the conference, a decision may be made regarding the alleged policy violations, or a hearing may be scheduled. The student will receive communication from the student conduct administrator.

The student conduct conference is not a hearing. In some situations, the notice provides the student an opportunity to accept responsibility for the alleged policy violations and identified outcomes through mutual resolution and without a formal conduct process. In these situations, the student will be provided the option to either accept responsibility for the policy violations and agree to the outcomes, or to proceed into the formal conduct process by scheduling a student conduct conference with a hearing officer. This process is typically utilized for minor, first-time policy violations, in which the recommended disciplinary status level does not exceed an Official Warning.

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 information to proceed with formal charges and a hearing
  • Finalizing the alleged policy violations and sharing the decision during the meeting (if the student accepts responsibility for the alleged policy violations and waives the option for a formal hearing)
  • A determination that additional information needs to be gathered and engaging in a more comprehensive investigation before scheduling the hearing or determining next steps.
  • Sending a notice for a hearing with identified charges (students have up to three business days between the conference and hearing); or
  • Referring the case to another hearing officer or board.

When more information must be gathered, the student conduct administrator or investigator will work to identify a witness list, talk with those witnesses and/or other involved parties gather additional information from police or others, and speak further with the respondent and, when applicable, the reporting party. The student conduct administrator will not interview witnesses if they have no pertinent factual information about the incident. Character statements and other information not relevant 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

The hearing is the opportunity for students to hear and respond to all information related to alleged policy violations. Most hearings are conducted administratively with a hearing officer. (See the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy 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 alleged policy violations and considers all relevant information. If necessary, the hearing officer may postpone the conclusion of the hearing for a reasonable amount of time in order to gather additional information.

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 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 resolution will include a rendering of a “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” decision for each potential violation based on the preponderance of the evidence standard. If Responsible, the resolution will include applicable outcomes. The resolution may be communicated to the student at the conclusion of the hearing, in a separate meeting, or delivered in writing within seven 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. In cases involving graduate students, the hearing officer may consult with the graduate school dean or designee to determine appropriate institutional outcomes.

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