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Formal Hearings

Formal Hearing Procedures

The Student Hearing Panel (SHP) conducts formal hearings regarding violations of the Board of Regents: Student Conduct Code, determines responsibility, and (when necessary) determines appropriate sanctions. The respondent, or if applicable the complainant, may invoke their right to a Formal Hearing if they do not accept the initial decision and/or informal resolution offered. All parties are entitled to a fundamentally fair hearing.

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The Hearing Process

Preparing for a Hearing

The Student Hearing Panel

The Hearing Process

  1. Opening: The hearing begins with a script read by the chairperson.
  2. Presentations: The hearing officer presents the case on behalf of the University, then, the Chair welcomes opening statements and presentation of witnesses by the respondent and, if applicable, the complainant.
  3. Question & Answer: After these presentations are complete, a question and answer period allows panelists, as well as the respondent and, if applicable, the complainant to ask questions.
  4. Closing Statements: Finally, the respondent and, if applicable, complainant are given a ten minute period to provide a closing or summary statement. This marks the end of the hearing.
  5. Deliberation: Afterwards, the panelists participate in a closed deliberation session to determine responsibility and (if necessary) assign appropriate sanctions.
  6. Notification of Outcome: Respondents, and if applicable, complainants, typically receive an outcome letter within one business day of the hearing by official UMD e-mail. However, decisions may take up to one week from the date of the hearing.

Notice of Formal Hearing

The Office of Student Conduct (OSCCR) gives notice to respondent and, if applicable, the complainant in advance of the hearing. The notice is sent using the University’s official means of communication – UMD e-mail.   The notice includes the date, time, and location of the hearing as well as the alleged violation(s). Timely and equal access to information used during the formal hearing will be provided to the respondent, and if applicable, the complainant. 

Attendance

It is the respondent’s responsibility to attend the hearing. Hearings may be held in the absence of the respondent, student organization, or complainant.

Information for the Hearing

Pertinent records, citations, written statements, photos, audio recordings, physical evidence and/or videos may be accepted as information for consideration by the SHP. The SHP Chair has discretion to determine what information is presented in the hearing.

Questioning

The complainant, respondent, and members of the SHP may ask questions of each respective side during the allotted time within the hearing. Questions are to be relevant to the case at hand. The Chair will rule on the appropriateness of a question or a line of questioning.

Questions directly to the complainant and respondent from one another are not allowed. Questions must be given to the Chair of the panel who will then rule on the admissibility of the question and pose the question to the respective side.

Rules of Evidence – Preponderance Standard

The question of whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a violation will be decided based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means that which is more convincing, credible, and of greater weight or probability.

Deliberations

After all information has been presented and the hearing has been adjourned, the SHP goes into a closed deliberation to determine whether the respondent is responsible or not responsible for the alleged policy violation. The determination between responsible and not responsible is made by a majority vote of the SHP. If the Respondent is found responsible, any previous student conduct findings of responsibility are shared with the panelists. The panel determines appropriate sanctions. In cases of sexual misconduct, the panel references the University of Minnesota System’s shared sanctioning rubric.

Hearing for Multiple Students

In the event that there is more than one respondent, OSCCR may allow a joint hearing provided all parties agree.

Advisors

Complainant and respondents are each allowed to have up to two advisors present during the hearing. An advisor may be an attorney, union representative, advocate, support person, or any other individual of the student’s choosing with the exception of those who are witnesses with information about facts material to the underlying case. The advisor cannot actively participate in the hearing process. Notification that an individual will be bringing an advisor, which includes the advisor's name and their relationship to the advisor, should be made in writing to OSCCR no less than 24 hours in advance of the hearing. In cases involving concerns of sexual misconduct, any student accompanied by an advisor must complete the Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors agreement in advance of the hearing’s commencement.  In all other cases, any student accompanied by an advisor must complete the Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors: General Non-academic Misconduct agreement

Legal Representation

If attorneys are present during the hearing, they may not play an active role in the process and instead will act as an advisor as described above. If the complainant and/or respondent are represented by an attorney, an attorney from the University’s Office of the General Counsel will be present in person or via teleconference on behalf of the University.  Students planning to bring an attorney as an advisor, are encouraged to provided as much advance notice as possible to prevent the hearing from having to be rescheduled. 

Witnesses

The complainant and/or respondent may have witnesses in attendance to present pertinent information to the case. Witness names must be provided to OSCCR no later than 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Respondents and complainants are responsible for notifying their own witnesses and/or advisors about the hearing.  The hearing officer may invite additional witnesses in the presentation of their. Witnesses who are not able to attend may submit written statements from their UMD e-mail accounts to conduct@d.umn.edu. Witnesses who are not members of the UMD community who are not able to attend may submit notarized statements to conduct@d.umn.edu.

Closed Hearings

All hearings are closed to the public. All hearing participants will be instructed to turn off mobile devices for the duration of the hearing.

Recordings

The SHP may make an audio recording of the hearing with the resulting recording housed in the OSCCR database. The recordings are the property of the University of Minnesota Duluth and no other recordings may be made of the hearings.

Video conferencing

In cases involving concerns of sexual misconduct and/or personal violence, complainants are not required to be in the same room as he respondent for a hearing. Complainants may opt to participate via phone/video conferencing facilitated by OSCCR.

Procedural Questions

All procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the SHP Secretary. The student conduct hearing is unique to higher education and is outside of any criminal and civil court proceedings, thus formal rules of process, procedure, and technical rules of evidence from criminal or civil court proceedings are not applicable.

Preparing for a Hearing

Respondents & Complainants should use this form to help prepare for a formal hearing.

  • Respondents and complainants are responsible for notifying their own witnesses and/or advisors about the hearing.
  • Witnesses should be prepared to answer questions.  
  • Hearing participants should know that the hearing could last 1-3 hours (or more).
  • Witnesses are more credible when they appear in person, as opposed to unchallenged written statements.
  • Advisors may not speak on behalf of the respondent or complainant and may not interfere in the hearing process.
  • In cases involving concerns of sexual misconduct, advisors must complete the Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors agreement.  In all other cases, advisors must complete the Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors for General Non-academic Misconduct.
  • Students are encouraged to bring notes made prior to the hearing. Focus on the incident at hand, and information directly applicable to the regulations in question. Organize notes chronologically for use as a presentation outline.
  • Take notes during each presentation. Put notes in question form.
  • Note discrepancies in evidence, and present those at the appropriate times.
  • In summarizing, work from notes – repeat the important details of the incident. Show how the behavior does or does not violate the regulation(s). Refute those point(s) made by the respondent or complainant as appropriate. Clarify the reasons for refute evidence and state relevant opinions. Only include relevant information about the case at hand.
  • The complainant may want to establish his/her motivation for filing the report.
  • The complainant and respondent may state his/her expectations for the outcome of the hearing.

Tips for Participating in the Hearing

  • Take notes during each presentation. Put notes in question form.
  • Note discrepancies in evidence, and present those at the appropriate times.
  • In summarizing, work from notes – repeat the important details of the incident. Show how the behavior does or does not violate the regulation(s). Refute those point(s) made by the respondent or complainant as appropriate. Clarify the reasons for refute evidence and state relevant opinions. Only include relevant information about the case at hand.
  • The complainant may want to establish his/her motivation for filing the report.
  • The complainant and respondent may state his/her expectations for the outcome of the hearing.

The Student Hearing Panel

The formal hearing body at UMD is known as the Student Hearing Panel (SHP). Membership of the SHP is comprised of students, faculty, and staff of UMD. Those that wish to be a member of the panel undergo an extensive training process and must be in good standing with the University. OSCCR then appoints the respective students, faculty and staff members to the panel.

Panel Composition

When a formal hearing is requested, OSCCR polls the panel to assess their availability to serve in a formal hearing. Names of the complainant and respondent are provided with the poll so that those with a conflict of interest or a possible perceived conflict of interest will recuse themselves. Panel members are assigned to cases with a goal of diversity of University role (faculty, staff or student), race, and gender on each panel and to ensure that certain members of the panel pool are not hearing a disproportionate amount of cases. After an initial panel is selected, the panel is provided the case file to review in advance of the hearing. The case file may include the investigation report and initial findings, and case correspondence between OSCCR and the students. During their review of the case file, should a panelist come to realize a conflict of interest, or a perceived conflict of interest, they are responsible for recusing themselves.

A quorum for the Student Hearing Panel is three (3) members.

Autonomy

The Student Hearing Panel has autonomy in their decisions. The Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution does not have the authority to override a panel’s decision regarding the determination of responsibility or sanctions assigned.

Secretary

The Secretary of the panel is designated by the Director of OSCCR. The Secretary is not a voting member. The Secretary attends the hearing and handles all logistics. The Secretary attends, but does not participate in panel deliberations. After the panel reaches a conclusion, the secretary writes the panel decision explaining the panel’s reasoning based on the information provided to them by the panel. Each panel member reviews and approves the decision.

Training

Hearing officers and panelist will receive annual and on-going training throughout their service as a member of the SHP pool. Additional trainings are required to serve on Hearing Panels involving sexual misconduct. Trainings include but are not limited to understanding student rights, civil rights, cultural competencies, bias training, effective questioning, trauma informed interviewing, sanction practices, etc.

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