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Honor Council Procedures

A. HOW TO REPORT AN HONOR OFFENSE

  1. All cases, self-referral: If a student realizes that she has committed an honor offense, she must report herself to an Honor Council member or to the chairwoman. If a member of the college community who believes she may have committed an honor offense confronts a student, she has the option of clarifying the matter as much as possible. If she is requested or required to report an apparent infraction to the Honor Council, she should consult the chairwoman or an Honor Council member immediately. Her consultation does not constitute an admission of guilt, but represents an honest attempt again to clarify the matter. Any such consultation is completely confidential. The fact of such a consultation will weigh favorably in subsequent considerations of the chairwoman and the Council.
  2. Cases of lying, cheating, plagiarism, violation of pledge of confidentiality, or an infraction, suspected by any other member of the college community:
    a. A member of the college community may report a suspicion that an honor offense may have occurred directly to the chairwoman or to a member of the Honor Council, or
    b. Speak with the suspected student to clarify the matter. If the community member continues to believe that an honor offense may have occurred, s/he may allow the suspected student 24 hours to consult a member of the Honor Council. If the suspected student fails to consult a member of the Council, the person who suspects that an honor offense may have occurred must report suspicions directly to an Honor Council representative or to the chairwoman.
  3. Cases of stealing: A member of the college community who suspects that a student has stolen something must not discuss the suspicion with others nor confront the student directly. The community member must refer the suspicion directly to an Honor Council member or to the chairwoman. Direct referral and confidentiality are important to prevent unwarranted rumors.
  4. Members of the faculty and staff report suspected honor offenses according to the procedures described above.

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B. INVESTIGATION OF OFFENSES
When an offense has been reported to the Honor Council, the chairwoman of the Honor Council may in her discretion or shall at the request of the accused appoint an investigating committee. The committee shall consist of one member of the Honor Council appointed by its chairwoman and two members of the Judicial Board appointed by its chairwoman. The Honor Council member of the investigating committee is present for clarification of information but shall not vote at any subsequent hearing. The investigating committee shall make a full investigation of the reported offense and, upon completing its investigation, shall report its findings to the chairwoman of the Honor Council.

Potential offenses that arise close to or during the exam period will be dealt with on or after the final day of exams. The investigation shall occur as deemed appropriate by the chairwoman in accordance with the exam schedules of the students involved.

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C. INDIVIDUAL CONFERENCES
Should a student admit she was in violation of the Honor Code to the Honor Council chairwoman, during or after an investigation, the chairwoman has the option to conduct an individual conference with the student. At this time, the chairwoman could sanction the student following the penalties in Section G.

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D. PRE-HEARING DISMISSAL
Reporting of Honor Code offenses will be handled according to the diagram for resolution. (See flow chart.) Upon receiving the report of an offense or upon receiving the report of the investigating committee, the chairwoman of the Honor Council shall determine whether probable cause exists that an offense has been committed. If the chairwoman determines that probable cause does not exist, the charge shall be dismissed without a hearing. If the chairwoman determines that probable cause does exist, a hearing shall be scheduled.

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E. RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED STUDENT
A Mary Baldwin College student accused of an honor offense has the following rights:

  1. The right to be notified by the Honor Council chairwoman that a report of an offense by her has been made to the Honor Council and to request that an investigating committee be appointed.
  2. The right to be notified in writing by the Honor Council chairwoman of the specific charge against her at least 72 hours before her appearance before the Honor Council.
  3. The right to a delay in her hearing of at least 48 hours for cause if requested. Delays will not be granted in the absence of cause. The presence or absence of cause shall be determined by the chairwoman.
  4. The right to request that the chairwoman grant an Administrative Referral or to request mediation, if the violation meets the criteria for a case where mediation is suitable. The chairwoman will, in consultation with the primary advisor to the Honor Council, consider such requests and grant them if she feels they are appropriate.
  5. The right to have a student advocate serve as her advisor as soon as she is notified that she has been accused of an offense(s). The lead advocate will assign a student advocate to each accused student. An accused student may request a specific student advocate to serve as her advisor. An accused student may also request a member of the faculty, administration, or student body to be her advisor, instead of a student advocate. These special requests may be granted at the discretion of the lead advocate. The student advocate may counsel the accused, question witnesses and the investigating committee, and be present during the presentation of all evidence in the case. The student advocate may not present argument to the Honor Council. Unavailability of the chosen student advocate or advisor shall be grounds for a reasonable continuance of the hearing. However, should such student advocate or advisor be unavailable for a period longer than one week from the originally scheduled hearing date, the lead advocate may assign a different student advocate to the accused student. The accused student may request a specific advocate or advisor at this time.
  6. The right to call any witnesses who are members of the faculty, administration, or student body of Mary Baldwin College who are necessary to present her case.
  7. The right to cross-examine all witnesses who are called to testify at the hearing.
  8. The right to be present during the presentation of all evidence on the case.
  9. The right to refuse to testify. However, should an accused choose to testify on her own behalf, she shall be required to answer all questions material to the case which are asked of her.
  10. The right to leave the Mary Baldwin College community to avoid a hearing; provided, however, that in the event of such withdrawal the student’s permanent record shall contain a notation that she withdrew without official permission while facing charges of possible honor violation and that the student shall not be readmitted as a student at Mary Baldwin College without appearing before the Honor Council to face the original charges.
  11. The right to appeal a decision of the Honor Council resulting in suspension or dismissal to the Board of Appeals and ultimately to the president of the college, as set forth in the Student Handbook. A student who is found in violation by the Honor Council or the Judicial Board and who is assigned a sanction of suspension or dismissal, or any sanction that appears on the student’s transcript, may appeal the Board’s decision on either or both of the following grounds: (1) the Board failed to follow stated procedures AND the failure affected the sanction given, or (2) a sanction that appears on the student’s transcript is not supported by evidence heard by the Board.

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F. HEARING PROCEDURES

  1. On determining that a quorum of the Honor Council, all requested witnesses, the accused, and the accused’s Student Advocate are present, the chairwoman shall require the accused and the witness to state their names and administer the oath to the accused and each witness in turn. The accused and the witness shall be reminded that statements given in their testimony are subject to the provisions of the Honor System.
  2. The chairwoman shall read to the accused the charge or charges against the accused, and shall determine that the accused: understands the charges; has had an opportunity to prepare for the hearing; and has received a statement of her rights.
  3. The chairwoman shall ask the members of the Honor Council if there are members who have knowledge of the offense charged which will prohibit them from deliberating in an unbiased manner. Any members who have such knowledge shall be disqualified. The accused may submit written questions to the chairwoman bearing on ability of any member of the council to participate in the case. In the event upon disagreement, decisions on whether a member of the Honor Council can participate shall be made by the chairwoman and recorded by the secretary. A quorum of seven members of the Honor Council shall be required to hear a possible honor violation.
  4. The investigating committee shall present its written report. Members of the Honor Council may question the committee members orally. At the conclusions of such questions, the faculty advisors to the Honor Council, the accused, and the accused’s Student Advocate shall have the right to question orally. The chairwoman shall determine whether the questions are appropriate. Any rejected question shall be recorded in the written minutes of the hearing. Upon completion of the report of the investigating committee, the Judicial Board members of the committee shall withdraw from the hearing.
  5. Witnesses requested by the investigating committee shall then be called to testify. They shall be questioned in the same manner as members of the investigating committee.
  6. After the investigating committee and all witnesses requested by it have presented their evidence, the accused and/or witnesses for the accused shall testify in an order to be determined by the accused and the accused’s student advocate. The testimony shall be conducted in the manner set forth for previous witnesses.
  7. At any time during the hearing, the chairwoman may direct that the Honor Council withdraw for deliberation and/or discussion, out of the presence of the accused and the accused’s student advocate. The accused and the accused’s student advocate may request of the chairwoman a brief recess for deliberation and/or discussion.
  8. Witnesses shall be allowed to testify to any matter considered by the chairwoman to be relevant to the issue of the guilt or innocence of the accused. Questions of relevance shall be within the discretion of the chairwoman. No questions shall be allowed concerning previous misconduct, or honor or judicial offenses. The chairwoman will ask each witness if they would like to be informed when the hearing has reached conclusion.
  9. At the conclusion of the evidence the council shall retire to deliberate. A student shall be found in violation of the codes only if the committee finds that the offense has been proven by clear and convincing evidence. If more than one member of the Honor Council present casts a vote of “not in violation” at the conclusion of the deliberations, the charges shall be dismissed and the accused is notified.
  10. If a student is found in violation of the codes, the Honor Council shall recall the accused and the accused’s student advocate and so inform them.
  11. Proceedings shall then begin concerning the appropriate penalty. During this portion of the hearing, the accused may testify on her own behalf concerning the penalty and may call witnesses on her behalf (including character witnesses) who may provide any information relevant to the determination of the penalty. She may not present evidence weighing on her guilt or innocence. The Honor Council may consider past honor convictions, but may not consider any past honor accusations.
  12. After hearing the evidence concerning the penalty, the Honor Council shall return to its deliberations and determine the penalty by a majority vote. The appropriate penalties are as set forth in the Student Handbook.
  13. The Honor Council shall notify the accused in person of the penalty imposed. The accused shall be presented a written statement of the offense, verdict, and penalty, signed by the secretary of the Honor Council.
  14. The Honor Council chairwoman (or her designee) shall maintain: a tape recording and, if necessary, typed summary of the procedures except the deliberations of the council; written minutes of the hearing; and as part of the record of the hearing; the summons, the signed statement of rights, a signed copy of these procedures, and a copy of the written statement described in Paragraph E.
  15. These materials shall be used in the event of appeal.
  16. The chairwoman will direct that all interested witnesses may be informed that a hearing has reached its conclusion.

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G. PENALTIES

  1. Minor
    a. Alternative Penalties: Council may require such penalties as it deems advisable. These may include, but are not limited to, community service, educational tasks, and restitution.
    b. Probation: Probation is a testing period and acts as a warning that further offenses will warrant severe action. The Honor Council also may assign alternative penalties and/or place conditions on the probation as it deems appropriate.  If a student is found in violation of their probation a major penalty will then follow.
  2. Major
    a. Suspension is an immediate temporary termination for a stated period of the student’s enrollment in the college. Suspension always includes the remainder of the term in which the student was enrolled at the time s/he was suspended. Suspension usually is for a period of no less than two terms. The student who is suspended must leave the college within 48 hours. No credit is given for courses in which the student was enrolled at the time she was suspended. The Honor Council also may place the suspended student on probation after her return to the college and may place other conditions on the suspension, as it deems appropriate.
    b. Dismissal is immediate termination of the student’s admission and enrollment in the college. The dismissed student may apply for re-admission after one year. Her application must include evidence of good conduct in the interim. The application will be considered on its merit.
  3. Additional Penalties
    Council may impose additional sanctions and conditions, as it deems appropriate. When a student is found in violation of plagiarism, the council will determine whether the work is valid, and may be revised, or whether the work is invalid, and will be graded zero. When a student is found in violation of cheating, the work affected is automatically invalid and will be graded zero. The Honor Council may suggest to a faculty member that a grade of F (or NC in the case of a course taken P/NC) be given to a student who has been found in violation of cheating or plagiarism. The Honor Council chairwoman will notify the professor of its determinations regarding students’ work in cases of plagiarism or cheating and of its recommendations regarding the course grade.
  4. Uncompleted Penalties
    If a student found in violation does not complete their penalty it is then at the discretion of the Honor Council Chairwoman to look at the nature of the original violation and the student’s efforts towards completing the sanction.  It will then be up to the Honor Council to impose additional sanctions, and conditions, as it deems appropriate.
  5. Notation on Transcript
    All penalties of dismissal or suspension will be noted on the student’s transcript. Probation will be so noted only when the Honor Council specifically makes such notation a condition of the probation.
  6. Notification
    Council may at its discretion notify members of the college community that it has disposed of a matter brought to its attention. The notification will not include information as to the disposition of the case nor the verdict nor penalties imposed, unless council determines that it requires the assistance of a member of the college community in carrying out the penalty or sanctions.

The Honor Council chairwoman will notify the associate vice president for student affairs when a student has been placed on probation, suspended, or dismissed. The associate vice president for student affairs will send the student a letter stating the Honor Council’s penalty and outlining any additional sanctions and conditions. The associate vice president for student affairs will send a copy of the letter to the registrar if the penalty is suspension or dismissal, or if the council has determined that the probation will be noted on the student’s transcript. The associate vice president for student affairs will destroy the file copy of the letter at the end of the student’s probationary period if there are no other offenses.

When the registrar receives from the associate vice president for student affairs  notice that a student has been suspended or dismissed, or that probation will be noted on the student’s transcript, he/she will note: “Disciplinary [Suspension/Dismissal/Probation] Imposed by Honor Council on [date] for offense of [lying, cheating, stealing] [for a period of ... ].” The registrar will destroy the letter he/she receives from the associate vice president for student affairs.

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H. PROCEDURE FOR APPEAL
1. Membership
The Dean of the College is chair of the Board of Appeals.
The Board of Appeals consists of the Dean of the College, chair; either the chairwoman of the Honor Council (for an appeal of a decision by the Judicial Board) or the Chairwoman of the Judicial Board (for an appeal of a ruling by the Honor Council); the Lead Advocate; one full-time member of the faculty; one member of the staff. The faculty and staff members are appointed annually by the Executive Committee of SGA and approved by the Senate.
Alternates for Board members may sit at the discretion of the chair, who will in writing notify the appellant of the composition of the Board at least 48 hours in advance of a hearing, not including Saturdays, Sundays, and days when the college is not in session.

The Board meets early in each academic year to review duties and procedures, including those set forth in the Board of Appeals Handbook, which is updated annually by the chair in consultation with the chairs of Honor Council and the Judicial Board.

The associate vice president for student affairs provides support for students involved in the process of an appeal, including members of the Boards. S/he is not a member of the Board of Appeals.

2. Conditions for Appeal
A student who is found in violation by the Honor Council or the Judicial Board and who is assigned a sanction of suspension or dismissal, or any sanction that appears on the student’s transcript, may appeal the Board’s decision on either or both of the following grounds: (1) the Board failed to follow stated procedures AND the failure affected the sanction given, or (2) a sanction that appears on the student’s transcript is not supported by evidence heard by the Board.

The student may remain on campus until the appeal process is complete, unless subject to a summary suspension. The student may attend class during the appeal process. The student will receive credit for work submitted prior to the effective date of a suspension or dismissal. Class attendance policies are the course instructor’s prerogative.

The effective date of a suspension or dismissal is the date on which a Honor Council or Judicial Board decision is handed down, or the date stated in that decision. Work submitted after the effective date is automatically invalid, although it may have been submitted during an appeal process.

3. Rights of a Student In An Appeal:
To receive 48 hours’ notice of a hearing, not including Saturdays, Sundays, and days when the college is not in session.

To present to the chair of the Board of Appeals a written statement of reasons for objecting to the participation of any member of the Board of Appeals. The student must present her statement at least 24 hours in advance of a hearing (not including Saturdays, Sundays, and days when the college is not in session). The chair may appoint an alternate to the hearing panel in his/her own sole discretion. The signed statement becomes a part of the hearing record.

To receive a delay for cause, granted at the sole discretion of the chair.

To choose an advisor who is a member of the Mary Baldwin College community, or to choose or to be assigned a Student Advocate, for support and advice during the appeal process.

To question witnesses who testify in the appeal hearing.

To discuss the case and to receive support from all persons with whom the student is permitted to discuss a pending honor or judicial case.
Students may waive their rights by signing an explicit written statement of the right being waived.  The signed statement becomes part of the hearing record.

4. Appeal Process
To appeal a decision of the Honor Council or Judicial Board the student must hand deliver a written appeal directly into the hands of a staff member in the office of the Dean of the College or his/her administrative assistant (not a student assistant), within 48 hours of the close of the hearing, not including Saturday, Sunday, and official college holidays. Notes: Do not use e-mail. The schedule of official college holidays is posted on the college’s web site.

The student’s written appeal of a procedural violation that affected the sanction must include both of the following:
a. The statement in the Student Handbook requiring the procedure that the appellant claims was not followed, and
b. Her reasons for believing that the failure to follow the procedure affected the sanction.

The student’s written appeal that a sanction is not supported by the evidence must include:
a. Concrete and specific reasons for believing that the sanction is not appropriate to the offense of which she was found in violation. Note: penalties imposed by the College’s disciplinary Boards are individual to the student found in violation and to the specific circumstances of the offense committed. Sanctions may not appropriately be compared, and such a comparison may not form the basis of an appeal of a sanction.
b. Information that was not considered by the hearing Board, if any.

5. Hearing Process
The chairwoman of a Board that has handed down a decision that may be appealed will notify the chair of the Board of Appeals that such a decision has been handed down.

Prior to a Board of Appeals hearing the chairwoman of the Honor Council or Judicial Board will forward to the chair of the Board of Appeals a written summary of the hearing, signed by the appellant to indicate that she also has received it. The written summary includes items of evidence and/or questions excluded from the hearing, the summons, the signed statement of rights, and the Board’s written statement of offense, verdict, and penalty. At his/her sole discretion, the chair of the Board of Appeals may request the tape recording of the hearing.

The chair of the Board sets a time for the hearing and notifies the appellant of the time, place, and composition of the Board (see Rights of a Student in an Appeal).

The Board of Appeals may meet in advance of the hearing to review procedures and the written materials, including the student’s statement of appeal. During the hearing, the Board of Appeals will question the appellant and the chairwoman and advisor of the Board whose decision is in question. The Board will not call other witnesses. However, the chair may seek information from any source in his/her own sole discretion.

The following also may ask questions in an order determined by the chair: the chair, the members of the Board of Appeals, the appellant and her advisor, and the chairwoman and advisor of the Board whose decision is under appeal.

The Board may recess at the discretion of the chair.

Following questioning, the Board of Appeals will retire to deliberate. The Board will determine whether the sanction imposed was affected by a failure of the Honor Council or Judicial Board to follow stated procedures, and/or whether the sanction imposed is supported by evidence heard by the Board. The Board of Appeals may affirm the sanction or remand the case to the Honor Council or Judicial Board for a new hearing. The Board will state briefly the reasons for its finding.

At the conclusion of the hearing the chair of the Board will state its determination orally to the appellant and may include a statement of the reasons for the finding.

On the next day the college is open, the chair will make available to the student a written statement of the Board of Appeals’ determination, including a written statement of the reasons for the finding, with a copy to the president of the college, the associate vice president for student affairs, and the chairwomen of the Honor Council and the Judicial Board.

If the Board of Appeals affirms the sanction, the student may within 48 hours appeal to the president of the college, by giving a written statement directly into the hands of a member of the president’s staff (not a student assistant). The president or a staff member will notify the chair of the Board of Appeals, who will forward to the president the materials the student presented to the Board, a summary of the student’s involvement in the case, a copy of the student’s letter of appeal, the hearing record, and a copy of the chair’s letter to the student, including the statement of the reasons for the Board of Appeals’ finding.

The president shall make a final decision and notify the student in writing. The president may affirm the sanction assigned by the Honor Council or Judicial Board or return the case to that Board for a re-hearing. The president will communicate her/his decision to the student in writing, with a copy to the dean of the college, the associate vice president for student affairs, and the chairwomen of the Honor Council and the Judicial Board.

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I. CONFIDENTIALITY
All members of the Honor Council/Judicial Board, students reporting offenses, members of an investigating committee, witnesses at a hearing and/or investigating committee, advisors and members of the Board of Appeals shall strictly maintain the confidentiality of proceedings. An accused student may discuss her case while an investigation is proceeding with the following individuals: her parents, her student advocate, the chairwoman of the Honor Council/Judicial Board, the advisors to the Honor Council/ Judicial Board, and faculty, administration and staff of the college. An accused student may not discuss her case with any other individual, especially those involved with an investigation. If an accused student is found responsible and given a sanction, the student may tell others her sanction. She may not discuss any other aspect of the case with anyone except those persons listed above. Failure to maintain confidentiality will result in an action by the Honor Council.

The Honor Council shall post the results of cases in which a student has been found in violation, without names, once each semester; however, if there is a breach of confidentiality, the Honor Council reserves the right to post a statement without names, of the facts of the case for one and a half to two days, at four places on campus.

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J. HONOR COUNCIL POLICY

  1. All persons testifying in an Honor Council proceeding shall be subject to the Honor System. In the event that a student is suspected of lying during a hearing, the hearing will proceed to a conclusion. The separate suspected offense of lying shall be investigated following the procedures applicable to other honor offenses.
  2. If a student is accused of an act constituting both a judicial and an honor offense (e.g., vandalism and stealing, violation of regulation and lying about it) the honor offense shall take precedence. However, Judicial proceedings can begin. In the event of findings of in violation on both offenses, the Judicial Board may consider the penalty imposed by the Honor Council in imposing its sanctions.

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K. SEARCH POLICY
Searches of students’ rooms will be conducted only upon authorization of the dean of students or the director of residential community, with exception noted below. Permission to search will be granted whenever the Honor Council presents reason to believe that:

  1. The search will produce evidence that an honor offense has been committed.
  2. A specific item or items may be found,
  3. Unusual circumstances require a search.

The chairwoman of the Honor Council shall appoint at least two members of the Honor Council to a committee to conduct the search.

The chairwoman may be one of the members. The search committee will make available to the student(s) whose room is to be searched a written statement of the reason for the search and the object(s) sought.

A search may be conducted in the absence of the student(s) whose room is being searched. If an occupant of the room is present at the time a search is started, she has the right to remain in her room for the duration of the search.

Exception: The chairwoman of the Honor Council, in her sole authority, may authorize a search if she has reason to suspect that an honor offense is or is about to take place, and that delay may result in destruction of evidence or immediate harm to the college community. The Honor Council chairwoman will always notify the dean of students as soon as possible if she has to authorize a search in this type of special case.