Conduct Review Process

The Conduct Review Process is used to support and enforce the Student Code of Conduct by providing a fair and equitable process to determine if a student is responsible or not responsible for an alleged violation. For cases involving allegations of sexual/gender-based misconduct, please see the Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct policy for the procedures applicable to those cases.

The University administers the Conduct Review Process in good faith, making every reasonable effort to be fair to all involved. Past student conduct violations will not be considered when a decision of responsibility is being made concerning a current alleged violation; however, past violations may be considered when determining a sanction for an individual found to be responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution generally follows the procedures under the RWU Email Policy whenever contact with students is necessary.

Students may not withdraw from the University during a pending investigation and/or until completion of the Conduct Review Process.

Students requesting reasonable accommodations should contact Student Accessibility Services.

Notice to Parents, Families, or Third Parties 

The Federal Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students the right to restrict access to their education records, which includes student conduct records. We view students as adults, capable of making their own decisions, as well as accepting the consequences for those decisions. Except in limited circumstances, it is the student who notifies the parent(s) or self-selected third parties about a pending case. If a student decides to include a concerned third party in the conduct process, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution will be responsive to the inquiry in compliance with FERPA. Nevertheless, the student must reply to University communications related to the conduct process such as meeting requests, and the student must forthrightly participate in the process. Communications during the conduct process are between the University and its students.

If a student is found responsible for an alcohol or drug violation, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of dependent student under 21 will be notified. The University may waive parental notification in exceptional circumstances if a student makes a bona fide showing that such notification will create a significant hardship for the student.

The University reserves the right to notify parents or families without a student’s prior consent in health or safety emergencies.

Conflict Resolution 

The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution is committed to contributing to the overall growth and development of the Roger Williams community. Our goal is to help students resolve conflicts peacefully and to develop the skills needed to successfully navigate conflict and difficult situations throughout their lives. We offer a variety of tools for conflict resolution used to meet the unique needs of students, foster learning experiences, and promote citizenship in the community.

Restorative Justice Conference

A Restorative Justice Conference is a process of dialogue with the intent of restoring relationships and repairing harm that is facilitated by a trained staff member after an incident has occurred that has negatively impacted a community. This is achieved only after a person or persons who have caused the harm have accepted responsibility for their actions and expressed interest in speaking with those who were affected. Both the responsible person(s) and the community members affected by the incident come together to identify the impact of the incident and collaboratively determine how to rebuild trust and repair any harm that has been caused.

Diana Proto, Director of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, Lisa Lyons, Assistant Director of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, Rev. Nancy Hamlin Soukup, University Multifaith Chaplain & Director of Spiritual Life , Katie Graffum, Assistant Director of Housing, and Gabby Porcaro, Assistant Director for Queer and Trans Initiatives, are trained in facilitating restorative conferences.

Mediation

Mediation is a meeting between two (2) or more people, facilitated by a trained mediator, primarily from the Department of Residence Life and Housing, who serves as a neutral third party. Residence Life and Housing is a great initial resource for conflict experienced by students who live in the residence halls, but may also be effective outside of the roommate relationship. The mediator’s role is to guide the participants through the mediation process; they do not choose sides, give advice, make suggestions, or otherwise take any position in the process. The purpose of mediation is to assist students in a conversation with the hopes of reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement regarding a specific issue or
conflict.

Reports of Violations and Notifications 

Any individual who witnesses or becomes aware of an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct should report the violation to Public Safety, any member of the Residence Life staff, the Dean of Student Life or designee, or the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. Once an alleged violation is reported, an incident report will be prepared describing the nature and circumstances of the incident and the parties involved. Further investigation may be conducted if additional or supplemental information is needed. All incident reports are reviewed by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and those that warrant action are then referred for either an informal resolution/educational conversation or a hearing, depending upon the nature of the alleged violation.

Informal Resolution/Educational Conversation 

An informal resolution/educational conversation may take place when a complaint or information received by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution is determined not to rise to the level of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. A member of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, the Department of Residence Life and Housing, or other member of the University community may contact the student to hold a developmental discussion that engages the student in self-reflection and raises awareness of the impact of their actions on the community and the potential consequences of repeated behavior in the future.

Formal Resolution/Hearing 

When an incident report is referred for a hearing, the student will receive a notification describing the alleged violation and the time and place for the hearing and/or a pre-hearing conference. Students have the right to access their education records under certain conditions (see Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for University policies on access to and release of student records).

The hearing officer will consult the student's academic schedule prior to scheduling any conferences or hearings. If there is a legitimate need to reschedule a hearing or conference, the student must contact the hearing officer as soon as possible before the scheduled date to request rescheduling. Any unexcused failure to attend a hearing or conference will result in the hearing being held in the student’s absence, at which the hearing officer or panel will not have heard the student’s account of the incident.

Types of Hearings 

There are two types of conduct hearings:

  1. Administrative Hearings are held before a single hearing officer from the Department of Residence Life and Housing, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, or another trained University administrator. Less serious violations are typically referred to an administrative hearing. A student who is assigned to an administrative hearing may request a panel hearing if preferred.
  2. Panel Hearings are conducted in front of a panel made up of three (3) trained panelists from the University community. More serious violations that may result in a sanction of suspension or dismissal are typically referred to a panel hearing.

Pre-Hearing Conference 

Before a panel hearing, the hearing officer will notify the responding student of the potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct and schedule a time for a pre-hearing conference. This conference is designed to prepare the student for the next steps, review options, and answer to questions. During the pre-hearing conference, the hearing officer will outline the Conduct Review Process, review the incident report and/or allegations, receive any statements related to the incident, and ask whether the student wishes to waive a formal hearing (i.e., panel hearing) by acknowledging responsibility. If the student acknowledges responsibility, sanctions will be imposed and the student will not be entitled to an appeal. If the student does not wish to acknowledge responsibility, a panel hearing will be scheduled for a future date and time in accordance with the student’s academic schedule.

Rights of a Responding Student 

For cases involving allegations of sexual/gender-based misconduct, please see the Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for procedures and reporting and responding student rights applicable to such cases.

The right to:

  • written notification of charges and details of the alleged incident
  • an investigation and resolution that is prompt, fair and impartial from the initial investigation to the final result
  • a hearing conducted by unbiased University officials who receive annual training
  • a hearing process that protects the safety of the parties and promotes accountability
  • present relevant materials and witnesses with personal, relevant knowledge of the incident as outlined above
  • to be accompanied to the hearing and any related meeting by an advisor of their choice from the University community
  • be informed in writing of the outcome of the hearing
  • to request an appeal as outlined (under Appeal). A student who acknowledges responsibility will not be entitled to an appeal.

Rights of a Reporting Student 

Reporting students have the right, and can expect, to have any complaint made in good faith taken seriously by the University when reported, and to have those incidents reviewed, investigated and properly resolved through the Conduct Review Process. Reporting students who have experienced harm or injury related to their complaint may choose to participate in the Conduct Review Process by providing any relevant materials, witnesses, and verbal or written statements to the hearing officer or panel. Reporting and responding parties do not have the right to confront the other party at any time during the hearing. Upon request, the reporting student will be informed in writing of the outcome of the hearing and any sanction imposed.

For cases involving allegations of sexual/gender-based misconduct, please see the Sexual Misconduct/Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for procedures and reporting and responding student rights applicable to such cases.

Advisors 

Being involved in a Student Conduct hearing can be stressful, and many students find it helpful to have the support of someone they trust during the process. An advisor is someone who can provide emotional support to a student during the Conduct Review Process.

A student may bring one advisor of their choice from the University community. The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution can provide an advisor from the University community if a student requests. In the event that a student has been charged with criminal charges related to the alleged violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct, the student will be permitted to have an attorney as an advisor. An attorney serving as an advisor in the Conduct Review Process will be held to the same participation guidelines as any other advisor. Advisors may attend any meetings and the hearing with the student, but cannot participate in any manner.

If there is a conflict of interest related to the advisor, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution reserves the right to disqualify an advisor. The student would then be required to obtain a new advisor. When possible, the hearing officer will make reasonable adjustments in order to accommodate an advisor’s schedule. However, the hearing officer is not obligated to reschedule meetings and/or hearings to accommodate the advisor. A student may select a new advisor in the event of a scheduling conflict. Except for witnesses and advisors, additional people may not attend the hearing with the student.

Students are responsible for presenting their own information, and the University’s communications during the process will be with the student, not with the advisor.

Hearing Process 

A student may bring any relevant materials and witnesses with personal, relevant knowledge of the incident to the hearing. A student may also bring an advisor. Advisors may attend the hearing with the student, but cannot participate in any manner. If the student chooses not to participate or fails to attend, the hearing will be held in the student’s absence, at which the hearing officer or panel will not have heard the student’s account of the incident.

During an Administrative Hearing, Pre-Hearing Conference or Panel Hearing, the hearing officer or panel will:

  1. outline the process
  2. review the incident report and/or allegations, and any supplemental information
  3. hear any statements relating to the incident
  4. hear or review the statements of witnesses with personal, relevant knowledge of the incident (but other witnesses, such as character witnesses, will not be allowed to attend or be heard)
  5. hear or review the statements of other relevant witnesses (and where confidentiality is a consideration, the identity of such witnesses will not be disclosed to the student)
  6. either defer the decision or render a decision of "responsible" or "not responsible." Hearing officers and panels use a preponderance of evidence standard, understood as "more likely than not" (i.e., 51%) to evaluate alleged violations.
  7. issue one or more appropriate sanctions if the student is found responsible. For panel hearings, the panel may recommend one or more sanctions to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution will review the recommendation and make a final determination of appropriate sanction(s), taking into consideration prior conduct violations.

The student will receive a final written decision, which will set forth the final result and the sanction(s) imposed. The written decision will include information regarding the appeal process and the deadline for filing an appeal.

Appeals 

The decision of the hearing officer (for administrative hearings) or the panel (for panel hearings) is final unless it can be demonstrated that 1 of the following has occurred:

  1. Relevant, new information (not available at the time of the hearing) has come to light since the decision was made.
  2. A procedural error occurred during the Conduct Review Process which materially affected the outcome.
  3. The imposed sanction of University Dismissal, University Suspension or Suspension from Housing is substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation. Sanctions other than these are not eligible for appeal.

To request an appeal, a student must submit a request in writing to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. The request must be submitted within five (5) business days after the date of notification of the outcome of the hearing and must state clearly the basis for the appeal. The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution will refer the request to the designated appeal officer, appointed by the Vice President of Student Life. The appeal will be reviewed by upon receipt, and a decision concerning the appeal will be available within seven business days. Where new information or a procedural error is presented, the appeal will either be granted, remanding the case back for a new hearing, or denied. If the appeal is granted, a new panel or hearing officer will administer the hearing. Any new information will be collected and submitted to the panel or hearing officer, and the student will have the same rights afforded to them as in the original hearing process. In reviewing a challenge of imposed sanctions, the original sanction is presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, thus the burden is on the appealing party to show clear error. The VPSL and/or designee may decide to change the imposed sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so. The decision of the appeal officer will be final. A student is entitled to one (1) appeal.

Sanctions 

When a student or student organization is found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, a sanction appropriate to the policy violation(s) may be assigned by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. Sanctions are designed to help prevent subsequent violations, to guide students in future decision making, and where appropriate, remedy any harm to the community. When considering the sanctions to be imposed, a range of factors may be considered, including the

  • nature, context, and severity of an incident,
  • developmental needs of the student,
  • level of accountability and responsibility taken by the student,
  • level of cooperation from the student,
  • need to stop the misconduct and prevent its recurrence,
  • need to remedy and address the impact or effects of the conduct on others,
  • disciplinary history of the student,
  • best interests of the University community, and
  • any other aggravating, mitigating, or relevant factors.

Compliance with all assigned sanctions within the time allocated is mandatory. Failure to complete or comply with any assigned sanction, or failure to meet an assigned deadline (if applicable), may result in further disciplinary action, and/or the placement of a hold on a student’s University account. If a student withdraws or takes a leave prior to the completion of their sanctions, they must complete all assigned sanctions before they will be able to reenroll.

One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed if a student is found responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Fines and Restitution 

Fines will be recorded and attached to the student’s Bursar Account in the form of a “Conduct Fine”. Restitution is assessed to compensate the University for loss, damage or injury. Restitution may take the form of a monetary payment, the repair or replacement of damaged property, or participation in a campus or community work or service project. Fines and restitution must be completed by the date specified when the sanction is given. All fines go back to educational programming.

Community Service Hours 

Community service contribution to the University or a recognized nonprofit agency of the student’s choice for a specified number of hours. Community service hours must be completed by the date specified when the sanction is given and be pre-approved and verified by the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Suspension of Privileges 

For a specified period, a student may lose the privilege to host student or non-student guests in their residence hall room and/or on campus. A suspension of privileges may also prohibit the student from participating in specified activities, from entering certain University buildings or facilities, or from operating or parking a motor vehicle on campus.

Educational Intervention 

A student may be required to meet with another individual or group (i.e., Substance Abuse Specialist, Anger Management course). The number of meetings may be determined by the Hearing Officer or by the party to which the student has been referred. Should a student need an outside assessment, the student is solely responsible to pay for all required assessments and any resulting recommended treatment.

Educational/Restorative Sanctions 

Educational sanctions include required attendance at an educational program or workshop, reflective/research papers, classes, interviews, presentations, projects, and/or other creative sanctions. Our Mentoring and Involvement Program (MIP) and Restorative Justice practices fall within the educational sanctions category. These practices require a student to engage in actions to restore the impact of a violation and repair the harms resulting from misconduct on other members of the community. These actions may include letters of apology, drafting and implementing a plan of resolution, engaging in restorative justice conferences, and developing plans for reintegration. Educational sanctions must be completed by the date specified when the sanction is given.

Parent or Family Notification 

Contact with a student’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) may occur or be required in certain circumstances in connection with a matter involving alleged student misconduct, including when (a) there has been a determination that the student’s use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance constitutes a violation of University policy or any federal, state, or local law and the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the underlying incident; (b) knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student in connection with an emergency; or (c) the disclosure is otherwise authorized by law or University policy.

Other Reasonable Sanctions 

Any reasonable sanction may be assigned that appropriately promotes the education and development of a student or student organization, ensures safety, or otherwise furthers the mission of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution.

Conduct Warning 

A warning given for minor misconduct, which indicates that additional sanctions may be imposed if the student engages in future violations of the Student Code of Conduct. A warning may or may not be accompanied by other sanctions.

Conduct Probation 

Conduct Probation may be assigned for repeated misconduct or for more serious misconduct. Students who receive a sanction of conduct probation and have subsequent policy violations may face more severe sanctions, up to and including suspension or dismissal from the university.

Suspension from Housing 

A relocation or temporary removal from University housing, given when serious and/or repeated misconduct in the community warrants separation of the student from that community. Suspension from University housing prohibits the student from residing in or visiting specified residence halls and adjacent grounds for a stated period of time. During the period of removal, the student is not eligible for any housing refund.

Dismissal from Housing 

Permanent dismissal from University housing, which prohibits the student from living in or being a guest in any University housing. In the case of dismissal from housing, the student is not eligible for any housing refund for the remainder of the term during which the dismissal takes effect.

University Suspension 

A temporary suspension from the University (noted in the student’s education records), which prohibits the student from attending the University (at any campus or learning site, or online) or any University events and from entering or being present without permission on any property of the University. During a period of suspension, a student's transcript is stamped: "Disciplinary Suspension from RWU". Reinstatement will not be granted until all assigned sanctions are completed and any other conditions met. A student who is suspended from the University will still be responsible for certain tuition and housing charges, subject to any applicable refund policy.

Interim Suspensions 

An immediate, temporary suspension that remains in effect until the Conduct Review Process has been completed. An interim suspension can be a suspension from the University, housing, a classroom, other University room, space or premises, an academic course, lab, practicum, and/or a suspension of privileges. Interim suspensions are used when the University perceives that because of the nature of the alleged violation or other factors, an interim suspension is advisable to help protect an individual or the University community, property or the normal operations of the University until the Conduct Review Process has been completed.

University Dismissal 

Permanent dismissal from the University (noted in the student’s education records), which prohibits the student from attending the University (at any campus or learning site, or online) or any University events and from entering or being present without permission on any property of the University. A student's transcript is stamped: "Disciplinary Dismissal from RWU". A student who is dismissed from the University will still be responsible for certain tuition and housing charges, subject to any applicable refund policy.

Group Probation 

A status imposed on a student group or organization for a specific period of time to alert the group to the fact that their choices and behaviors are significantly inconsistent with University policy and expectations. During this time, the group is asked to take active steps toward improving the actions of their group and to demonstrate that they can abide by University policy. Any policy violations while a group is on Disciplinary Probation will result in strong consideration of Group Suspension or Group Dissolution. Group Probation will be assigned for a minimum of three months and typically not more than two years. Probation will frequently be accompanied by a Loss or Restriction of Privileges or Activities sanction.

Group Suspension 

This action is a total separation of the group from the University for a specified period of time. This includes total restriction on the organization and its members or supporters conducting any activity on the campuses of the University or at off-campus University-associated events that in any way promote the goals, purposes, identity, programs, membership, or activities of the organization. Group suspension is typically assigned for a minimum of the remainder of the academic year. Once the suspension period is over, if the group has met all other terms of its sanction, it will be allowed to resume activity as a recognized group.

Group Dissolution 

Group Dissolution is the termination of the group or organization’s recognition by the University. This action is a total separation of the group from the University. This includes total restriction on the organization and its members or supporters from conducting any activity on the campuses of the University or at off-campus University- associated events that in any way promote the goals, purposes, identity, programs, membership, or activities of the organization. Once dissolved, a group or organization may only reapply for recognition once all current members have left the University community.

Notification to National Organization Representatives 

The organization’s national representative, officers, and/or advisers may be notified of the violation for which the student organization has been found responsible.

Conduct Records and Confidentiality 

Student conduct records are maintained in the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act), and University regulations. Student conduct records are maintained separate and apart from all other student records. Conduct records are maintained for seven (7) years after the date of graduation or withdrawal from the University. In cases where the outcome results in a suspension or dismissal, the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution retains student conduct records indefinitely. Conduct records and related information may be made available to hearing panels and University personnel as necessary. Students may arrange to review their own conduct records and related information by contacting the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. The University may not communicate a student’s conduct record and related information to any person or agency without the prior written consent of the student, or except as required by law. All student conduct proceedings are closed to the public and private.

Administratively revised 8/15/18

For a full list of Roger Williams University's policies go to the Policies & Guidelines page.