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University Hearing Board

University Hearing Board:
The University Hearing Board (UHB) provides decisions regarding non-academic disciplinary violations that could result in the cancellation of a student's Housing License Agreement, suspension, or expulsion from the university. 

A University Hearing Board consists of as many as five members.  If the alleged misconduct may result in suspension or expulsion from the university, whenever possible, a faculty member or administrator will be included; however the absence of a faculty member or administrator will not prevent the University Hearing Board from hearing a case.  The minimum quorum of a University Hearing Board needed to hear a case is three students. 

The procedures of a University Hearing Board are detailed in Article 27 of the "Code of Student Conduct".  A student who does not appear for a scheduled University Hearing Board may have his or her case heard in his or her absence.

Students who met before a University Hearing Board should know that a University Hearing Board is convened to determine based upon a preponderance of the evidence if a student is “not in violation” or “in violation” of a university policies.  University Hearing Board members are trained to ask questions regarding the reported violation(s), identify aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and recommend a sanction, if appropriate.  Throughout a University Hearing Board, members will also encourage a student to reflect upon the personal decisions which lead to the reported misconduct and how a student may utilize this experience as a learning opportunity for the future.

Members of the University Hearing Board are selected through an application process facilitated by the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities each spring semester for the next academic year.  Student members of the University Hearing Board are not paid employees of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or the Office of Civility & Community Standards.

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University Hearing Board-level Disciplinary Conferences (UHB-DCs) and Election of Action:
According to Article 18 of the "Code of Student Conduct," a student charged with a disciplinary violation scheduled before the University Hearing Board may elect to have his or her case heard at a Disciplinary Conference instead.

UHB Disciplinary Conferences, called UHB-DCs, are proceedings where there is one Presiding Officer, instead of the panel of University Hearing Board members, who will review the case of the charged student.  A charged student is a Party to a disciplinary proceeding, and may also be referred as the Respondent.

In either type of proceeding, a member of the SRR staff will ensure the Parties of the disciplinary proceeding are afforded all of the rights afforded by the "Code of Student Conduct" and advise the UHB member(s) on procedural and technical matters.  Additionally, the full range of sanctions including the cancellation of a Housing License Agreement, suspension, or expulsion may be imposed in either type of disciplinary proceeding (UHB vs. UHB-DC).

The ultimate choice between a UHB hearing and a UHB-DC is one of personal comfort, whether or not the respondent feels comfortable having the case reviewed by the panel of University Hearing Board members or a sole Presiding Officer.   Some students prefer speaking with several people, having more eyes looking at the case; while others are more comfortable in a smaller setting and appreciate the one-on-one conversation with the Presiding Officer.

The Respondent will be informed of their ability to elect a UHB or a UHB-DC when they receive a Charge Letter for a University Hearing Board-level case.  The Respondent must complete and submit the Election of Action form to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities by the deadline listed in the Charge Letter.

Should a Respondent fail to submit to submit the Election of Action form, the Respondent will have the case heard before a University Hearing Board.

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Witnesses:
Parties appearing before the University Hearing Board may call witnesses to provide factual statements of the incident on their behalf.  Witnesses must confine their statements to the alleged violations being reviewed by the University Hearing Board as they pertain to the Parties’ involvement.  

Irrelevant or immaterial information will not be considered.  Additionally, the university does not allow character witnesses or character statements in any disciplinary proceeding. The reason is simple: no one is alleging the student is a bad person; the case is about whether or not the student violated university policy.  The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities makes the decision whether an individual may participate in the proceeding as a witness.  For more information regarding witnesses, please see Article 27 of the "Code of Student Conduct."

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Advisors:
Parties appearing before the University Hearing Board are afforded the opportunity to have an advisor present.  The advisor cannot question witnesses nor speak on the Parties' behalf.  The advisor is intended as a support person for the student, and may not interrupt the UHB or UHB-DC proceedings.

Examples of advisors include a friend, parent, an SA Student Judicial Advisor, or an attorney.  Parties bringing an advisor to a UHB or UHB-DC proceeding must inform the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities at least three business days prior to the scheduled proceeding.  For more information regarding advisors, please see Article 28 of the "Code of Student Conduct."

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What to Expect:
The University Hearing Board (UHB) is a mechanism through which students hold each other accountable for their behavior. The UHB typically consists of up to five members, three or four of whom are students. One of the UHB members, typically a student, is the Presiding Officer and facilitates the hearing.

Students appearing before the UHB should expect to answer questions regarding the reported violations, the level of the student’s culpability, the student’s decisions making process during the incident, and about how this incident will impact the student in the future.  Students should maintain a respectful tone when interacting with the UHB members and other individuals who may be present such as witnesses, and ask & answer questions in a complete and concise manner.

UHB proceedings can sometimes take on an air of formality, but students are not expected to come dressed in suits or ties. Most students wear what they would wear to class or an internship.

The order of a University Hearing Board or a University Hearing Board-level Disciplinary Conference is as follows:

  • Introduction to UHB or UHB-DC proceeding
  • Affirmation to be truthful to members of the University Hearing Board
  • Statement of Alleged Violation(s) to the Parties
  • Questioning of Witnesses by UHB members and the Parties of the proceeding.
  • Parties statement(s) and questioning by the UHB members
  • Parties clarification statement
  • Closing information regarding notification of decision and appeals process

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Breaks, Recesses, and Disruptions:
UHB hearings are usually 30 to 60 minutes in length, but may be longer under certain circumstances. The Presiding Officer or the SRR staff member who acts as the UHB Advisor may authorize short breaks or recesses as necessary.  Disruptions to UHB hearings will not be tolerated. Anyone disrupting a UHB hearing will be warned and/or removed from the hearing at the discretion of the Presiding Officer or UHB Advisor.

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Deliberations:
UHB deliberations are private and the discussions of the UHB members are kept strictly confidential.  UHB deliberations are bifurcated, or split into two parts.

The first question UHB members consider is whether the respondent violated university policy by finding a student “not in violation” or "in violation" of an Article of the "Code of Student Conduct" based upon a preponderance of the evidence standard.

The second question UHB members consider is what should be the University's response to the student's behavior?   This second question is where UHB members consider aggravating or mitigating circumstances of the case and appropriate sanctions for a student who violated University policy, if applicable.  Sanction recommendations are only made after a finding of "in violation" is determined.

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Recordings of UHB Hearings:
UHB hearings are audio recorded. UHB deliberations are not recorded. The audio recordings of hearings are accessible to the parties of the UHB. 

A party of the UHB may submit a request, in writing, to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities in order to receive a copy of the audio recording(s) the UHB proceeding.

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UHB Decisions:
Determinations of the University Hearing Board are presented in the form of the Adjudication Report to the Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or designee.  The Adjudication Report details the UHB members' finding(s) of fact and, if necessary, sanction recommendations. The Adjudication Report may also include any aggravating or mitigating factors considered by the UHB members in making their decision.

The Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or designee reviews the decision to ensure the UHB members followed university policy, considered all the facts of the case, and if necessary, recommended appropriate sanctions.

Sanction recommendations of suspension or expulsion from the University are forwarded to the Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs or designee for consideration. All other recommendations are considered by the Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or designee.

The Parties of the Hearing will receive a letter indicating the finding(s) and sanction(s), if any, within a reasonable amount of time from the date of the UHB hearing.  Generally, letters are available within five (5) to ten (10) business days of the UHB hearing.

Parties will be notified by the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities of when the outcome of University Hearing Board is available.   When picking up the outcome of a University Hearing Board, students can ask any questions he or she may have about the contents of the letter.

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Assigned Sanctions: 
Any sanctions assigned as a result of a violation of the "Code of Student Conduct" must be complied with and/or completed by the deadline(s) listed in the written hearing outcome letter.   Reasonable extensions of sanction deadlines may be granted by the Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or designee for extenuating circumstances outside a student's control.  Failure to complete a sanction by the listed deadline will result in additional disciplinary or administrative action taken by the university.

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Appeals:
Parties may appeal the finding of fact of the UHB or UHB-DC as indicated in the "Code of Student Conduct."  Requests for appeal must be submitted in writing to the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities within five (5) business days of the written hearing outcome letter.

Appeal requests should be addressed to the Executive Director of Planning & Outreach or designee.  Appeals must be based on new information that is relevant to the case, not presented during the hearing, and that significantly alters the finding of fact. In accordance with the "Code of Student Conduct," appeal requests for any other reason (e.g., severity of sanction) will not be accepted.

The imposition of sanctions will be deferred during the pendency of appellate proceedings unless, in the judgment of the Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs or designee, the continued presence of the student on campus poses a substantial threat to others, to himself or herself, or to the stability and continuance of normal University functions. 

For more information regarding appeals, please read Article 33, Article 34, Article 35, and Article 36 of the "Code of Student Conduct."

Further Clarification:
If you have questions regarding a University Hearing Board, please contact the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities at (202) 994-6757 or via e-mail at rights@gwu.edu.

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