When allegations of serious policy violations arise that do not involve harassment, sexual misconduct, domestic or dating violence or misconduct, or stalking, they are addressed through either the Conduct Judicial Board or the Disposition Without Hearing process.
The official judicial process can be found in the Student Conduct Disciplinary Process document. The information below is provided as a supplement in order for the MIIS community to become familiar with the judicial process.
The judicial process generally follows this sequence:
- Initiation of Charges
- Receipt of a Charge Letter
- Meeting with the Associate Dean of Student Services (ADSS)
- Respondent Pre-Hearing Preparation
- Board Member Pre-Hearing Preparation
- The Hearing
- Board Deliberations
When non-academic policy violations are alleged to have taken place, they are generally documented in Incident Reports recorded by Campus Security or they may also be reported directly to the Associate Dean of Student Services (ADSS). When the alleged violations are sufficiently grave that some form of official Institute discipline is a possible outcome, a Conduct Judicial Board hearing is scheduled.
Charges of alleged academic dishonesty are typically generated when a professor becomes concerned that an Academic Honesty Policy violation may have taken place through his or her own observations, or when a student reports to a professor, dean or the ADSS that s/he suspects another student of violating the policy. The professor then contacts the ADSS and relays the information in writing, and the professor also notifies the student that s/he has reported the alleged violation.
Students who have been charged with violating the Academic Honesty Policy or the General Conduct policy are referred to as the “respondents.” Each respondent receives a letter from the ADSS during their meeting detailing the charges against him/her and providing the complete text of the policy the respondent is suspected of violating. In most cases, the letter identifies the two options available to resolve those charges: a hearing with the Conduct Judicial Board (CJB), or in cases where the student does not contest the charges, the option of Disposition Without Hearing (DWH).
Normally students may also review all of the evidentiary materials available at that time. In cases in which these materials contain confidential information about other students involved, respondents may review these materials at the office of the ADSS but will not receive hard copies.
Each student who has been charged in an incident generally meets individually with the Institute’s ADSS. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the possibility of DWH when appropriate; to make sure the respondent has a clear understanding of their choices to resolve the matter, and how each option works; and to allow the respondent to ask questions of the ADSS. The ADSS is available to answer questions throughout the adjudication process.
Disposition Without Hearing
In cases where the facts are not in dispute, and the student is prepared to accept responsibility for their actions, the ADSS may offer the option of Disposition Without Hearing (DWH). DWH is not akin to the plea bargain option in a United States court of law, whereby a lesser sanction is offered in exchange for an admission of guilt. Rather, the ADSS offers a sanction meant to approximate the kind of sanction that would be levied by the CJB. If the student agrees, the sanction is applied, and this process replaces the judicial hearing. No appeal option is available for students who accept DWH. If the student does not wish to accept this sanction, CJB hearing will take place. The student may not choose to accept the sanction initially offered through DWH after a hearing has taken place.
Proceeding with a Hearing
If the student chooses to pursue a hearing, the ADSS will work with the respondent to complete the Confirmation of Judicial Hearing Procedures Form. Completing this form together ensures that key aspects of the hearing process are reviewed, and that the respondent is clearly informed about the opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the upcoming hearing. This includes reviewing a hearing’s choreography, and identifying potential board members and asking the respondent if they have any concerns about the ability of any of the board members to be fair and impartial in hearing this case. In the event that the respondent expresses concern about a particular board member serving on the hearing panel, if the concern is deemed appropriate, that board member would be excused and an alternate member would be substituted. This meeting is not required, but is offered as a useful resource for students.
Respondents have several areas of preparation prior to a hearing:
- Advisor: They may select an advisor to join them at the hearing for support. This individual can be any member of the Institute community. The respondent and advisor sit next to each other throughout the hearing and may communicate privately through notes, but the advisor does not communicate with the board directly or play a formal role in the hearing procedures. The respondent is responsible for making arrangements for their advisor’s participation.
- Character reference: Respondents may also arrange to have a character reference. This individual may appear in person, or may submit a written statement. Written character references may be submitted by any individual the respondent wishes, but character references offered in person may only come from members of the Institute community. Character references may not make reference to any aspect of the case in question, but are meant to provide general commentary on and examples of the respondent’s character. When a written statement is provided, it is read to the board by the ADSS. The respondent is responsible for making arrangements for their character reference.
- Opening statement: At the beginning of the hearing, the respondent may share an opening statement which is unrestricted in length or content. This is an opportunity to orient the members of the board to the respondent’s thoughts and recollections about the matter at hand, and to share their own version of events.
- Closing statement: At the end of the hearing, the respondent may share a similarly unrestricted closing statement, offering any final thoughts or information they want to make sure are emphasized or considered by the board.
- Evidentiary materials: If there are materials that the respondent feels are important to have included in the hearing packet provided to the board, they may submit them for consideration to the ADSS during the days prior to the hearing. Materials not submitted in advance of the hearing must be submitted to the chair of the board, and may not be approved.
In CJB hearings related to academic dishonesty violations, the faculty member is present throughout the hearing. Faculty members are invited to give opening statements at the beginning of the hearing, and to share closing thoughts at the end of the hearing. It may be helpful for faculty members to consider in advance how to share their information in a way that the board will understand.
In an effort to preserve the integrity of the process, the student, faculty and staff members of the judicial board are not provided with any information in advance of their arrival at the hearing location about a hearing’s topic or participants. As members arrive in the hearing room, each receives a packet of materials including the charge letter, the completed Confirmation of Judicial Hearing Procedures, and any of the additional evidentiary materials. The respondent will have access to all materials provided to board members prior to the hearing, and will have these materials during the hearing. Board members arrive early to review these materials. If a board member learns that they have prior knowledge of the incident in question, or have had previous interactions with the respondent that may compromise impartiality, the board member may recuse himself/herself at that time.
When respondents and their advisors arrive at the hearing location, they will be directed to a waiting space. When there are multiple respondents, it is likely that they will all wait in the same location. In cases where there is tension between respondents, an effort is made to provide them with individual waiting spaces, but this is not always possible. Witnesses are also asked to arrive at a designated time and to wait outside the hearing room. In academic dishonesty cases, professors arrive at the same time as respondents, and are given a separate waiting space.
Once the board members have reviewed the hearing materials, the ADSS, who oversees the hearing logistics, will escort the respondent(s) and advisor(s), and in academic dishonesty cases, the faculty member, into the hearing room. The hearing generally takes place around a large table or desks situated in circle or rectangular way: board members sit on one side and the respondent(s), advisor(s), and ADSS sit on the other side. In most non-academic cases, charges against students are brought by the Institute, but in cases where a student has allegedly been the victim of another student’s policy violation, this student will also be present in the hearing room with an advisor, and will sit on the other side of the ADSS.
When all parties are settled, the designated CJB chair will begin the hearing by activating the recording device, and reviewing a script of preliminary instructions, including the following:
- Acknowledgment that the hearing is being recorded
- Affirmation that the hearing is confidential
- Introductions of all participants, including board members, respondents, advisors, ADSS
- Clarification that a judicial hearing is not a court of law, and that its goal is fundamental fairness
- Request that all board members state their name once again, and that each one affirm “I can be fair and impartial.” Second invitation to the respondent to challenge the presence of any board members based on their ability to be fair and impartial (this option is first raised during the completion of the Confirmation of Judicial Hearing Procedures Form).
- Affirmation that honesty is expected of all who testify, and that dishonesty on the part of the respondent could result in additional charges.
- Review of procedures, and opportunity for respondent to ask procedural questions.
The respondents are invited to read opening statements in which they may share whatever they wish the board to know about their actions as they relate to the charges against them. As noted above, opening statements are unrestricted in length or content. In academic dishonesty cases, the faculty member is also invited to give an opening statement.
Questioning the Respondents:
Once the opening statements are finished, members of the board will ask questions of the respondent(s), and in academic dishonesty hearings, the faculty member, based on the opening statement(s) and on the hearing materials. The questioning process is facilitated by the board chair, and the questions are asked in no particular order. The tone of all communications in a hearing is very respectful.
After the board has questioned the respondent(s), witnesses will be brought in one at a time; some witnesses may testify by speaker phone. Before each witness testifies, the chair will review the expectation of honesty; request that the witness honor the confidentiality of the hearing by not discussing its content; and acknowledge that the hearing is being recorded. The witnesses will be asked to contribute whatever relevant information they possess, and board members will question them as needed. Once the board has finished questioning a witness, the respondent may question the witness as well. They will be directed to do so through the board chair rather than speaking directly to witnesses.
Final Questions for Respondents:
Once all witness testimony has been heard, the board will ask any remaining questions of the respondent.
At this point, the respondent character witness will be heard, either through an in-person statement, or through the reading of a written statement.
Finally, in academic dishonesty cases, the faculty member will be invited to share any closing thoughts, and each respondent will have an opportunity to make a closing statement. This is a final invitation to share any mitigating circumstances, to comment on the preceding testimony, or to articulate any additional information the respondent would like the board to consider in its deliberations. Again, closing statements are unrestricted in content or length.
After the closing statement, faculty members, respondents and advisors are excused, and the recording device is turned off. The respondent may leave the building until an outcome has been reached, at which point they will be summoned to return to the hearing room or will be notified by email, depending on timing of outcome determination.
The board must deliberate as a group in order to determine whether to find the respondents responsible for violating the policies listed in the charge letter. The judicial board’s evidentiary standard is “preponderance of evidence,” that is, that it is more likely than not that the student has violated policy. Reaching an outcome may happen swiftly, or may involve lengthy group discussion. When the board members feel ready, they will vote on each charge. Regulations require that three votes are needed for a finding of responsibility for a policy violation. If the respondent is not held responsible for any of the charges, all record of the hearing will be removed from the student’s file. If the respondent is found responsible for violating policy, the board must then recommend an appropriate sanction. Final sanctions for non-academic violations are determined by the ADSS and the dean of enrollment, advising and student services. Final sanctions for academic violations are determined by the dean of the relevant graduate school.
Once a respondent is held responsible for violating policy, the board members are apprised by the ADSS of any previous conduct issues and outcomes. Because discipline is cumulative at the Institute, this means that the same violation might result in very different outcomes for two students with differing disciplinary records. The board will take into account the particular circumstances of each respondent and each case in recommending a sanction, and recommended sanctions may include multiple components. The Student Conduct Disciplinary Process includes detailed information on possible sanctions for academic and non-academic offenses.