A support person is an individual who has been selected by an accused student or student organization (respondent) to advise them through the student conduct process and who has agreed to assist the respondent. However, in cases where the complainant or reporting party participates, they may also be granted the option to have a support person on a case-by-case basis. Support persons can assist by offering advice for how to participate in the student conduct process, as well as basic emotional support and appropriate referral to resources. Different support persons may emphasize one of those more than the other, depending upon the support person's skill set and the needs of the student. That said, student conduct proceedings are not as complicated as a court of law and many people navigate the process without a support person.
Student Rights & Responsibilities (SRR) staff can provide information on the process, but must also remain impartial throughout. Support persons fill a special role directed at helping a student through this process by being supportive and by helping the person prepare for their student conduct proceeding.
A support person can be anyone of the student's choosing, so long as they are not otherwise involved in the incident. This could include:
- a GW faculty or staff member,
- a GW student,
- a parent or family member,
- or a friend.
An attorney may serve as a support person, but may not represent the respondent. Because of the educational nature of the process, participants are expected to articulate on their own behalf.
A respondent may choose to have more than one support person throughout the student conduct process. However, only one support person may be present at any student conduct proceeding (also referred to as a panel or conference) or meeting with SRR staff.
Support persons are not permitted to speak for the student, nor are they permitted to ask questions of witnesses or others during a student conduct proceeding. They are present to support the respondent only.
Role of a Support Person
Prior to a student conduct proceeding:
- Arrange to meet with the student to review the information and determine how best to approach the student conduct process.
- Ensure the student has been truthful with you about the totality of the incident and that they have provided all relevant communications and documentation related to this incident.
- In some situations, the student may sign and submit a Student Rights & Responsibilities - Consent to Release Confidential Information Form.
- Assist the student with compiling information that they can present at the student conduct proceeding, including brainstorming a list of witnesses and relevant evidence.
- If invited by the student, attend any pre-hearing meetings with SRR staff.
- Help the student practice and otherwise prepare for the student conduct proceeding.
- Provide basic emotional support and referrals to the student.
During a student conduct proceeding, a support person may:
- Consult quietly with the student.
- Suggest questions for the student to ask in a manner that that does not interrupt the conduct proceeding.
- Assist the student in clarifying their response to questions.
During a student conduct proceeding, a support person may not:
- Question witnesses.
- Speak on the student’s behalf.
- Object in any manner to questions asked or discussions raised.
- Interrupt the proceeding.
Should a support person disrupt a student conduct proceeding, they may be removed by the presiding officer or the Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities, or designee. For support persons who are students, such disruption may be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, and a person may be charged following their disruption and removal.