Formal Hearings


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The Student Hearing Panel is UMD's formal hearing body.

The panel hears cases regarding violations of the Board of Regents:  Student Conduct Code, determines responsibility, and (when necessary) determines appropriate disciplinary action.

Hearing Summary

The hearing begins with a script read by the chairperson. 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. 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. Finally, 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. Afterwards, the panelists participate in a closed deliberation session to determine responsibility and (if necessary) appropriate sanctions. 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.

Both the complainant and respondent are entitled to a fundamentally fair hearing by UMD’s formal hearing body. The formal hearing body at UMD is known as the Student Hearing Panel (SHP).

Membership of the Student Hearing Panel is comprised of students, faculty, and staff of UMD. Those that wish to be a member of the panel undergo an extensive application and training process and must be in good standing with the University. OSCCR then appoints the respective students, faculty and staff members to the panel.

Training - hearing officers and panelist will receive annual and on-going training throughout their time with The Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution. 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.

The advisor to the panel is designated by the Director of The Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution. The advisor is not a voting member.

Autonomy - The Student Hearing Panel has autonomy in their decisions.

Attendance - It is the complainant’s and respondent’s responsibility to attend the hearing. Hearings are held in the absence of the respondent, student organization, or complainant.

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

Notice of Formal Hearing
OSCCR gives notice to the complainant and respondent in advance of the hearing. The notice is sent to UMD email only. The notice includes the date, time, and location of the hearing as well as the alleged violation(s).

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

Witnesses
The complainant, respondent, and student organization 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. The hearing officer may invite additional witnesses in the presentation of their case when needed.  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.  

Questioning
The complainant, respondent, student organization 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.

In cases of alleged sexual misconduct or violence, 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 pose the question to the respective side.

Information
Pertinent records, citations, written statements, photos, audio recordings, and/or videos may be accepted as information for consideration by the SHP.

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

Rules of Evidence
The question of whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a violation will be decided based on the preponderance of the evidence. This means that which is more convincing, credible, and of greater weight or probability. It is also known as 50% plus a feather.

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. The determination between responsible and not responsible is made by a majority vote of the SHP. 

Hearings Closed
All hearings are closed to the public.

Advisors
The complainant, respondent or student organization is allowed to have up to two advisors each 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, must be made in writing to OSCCR no less than 24 hours in advance of the hearing.

Legal Representation
If attorneys are present during the hearing, they may not play an active role in the process.

Personal Safety Consideration
OSCCR, when necessary, provides accommodations with respect to concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the complainant, respondent or student organization.

Recordings
There may be an audio recording of the hearing to be housed in OSCCR database. The recordings are the property of the University of Minnesota Duluth and no other recordings may be made of the hearings.

Notice of Formal Hearing Outcome
The Respondent will receive written notification of the hearing outcome. In sexual misconduct cases and cases involving physical violence, complainants will also be notified of the hearing outcome. All outcomes will be sent via UMD email.

Preparing for a Hearing

Respondents and complainants are responsible for notifying their own witnesses and/or advisors about the hearing.
Witnesses shold 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.
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.

Respondents & Complainants can use this form to help prepare for a SHP.

The Hearing Process

After a brief introduction of all participants, the chairperson will briefly describe the procedures.
First, the hearing officer will share a summary of the case.
Next, the complainant and respondent are each given up to 30 minutes to present their points of view, supporting information, and witnesses.
Then, a time for questions and answers is provided. This process is typically the longest portion of the hearing.
The complainant and respondent will each be given up to 10 minutes for a closing statement.

Tips for participating in the hearing

Take notes during each other’s presentations. Put notes in question form.
Note discrepancies in evidence, and present at the appropriate times.
In summarizing, work from your 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 with which you disagree. Clarify why you refute it and your own opinion about it.
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.

Deliberations and Decisions

The Student Hearing Panel will consider the charge. Then the panel will review and weigh the information and decide whether an allegation has been supported by the information. Findings are based on a standard of evidence called “Preponderance of Evidence:” “evidence which is more credible and convincing to the mind…that evidence which when fairly considered produces the stronger impression…and is more convincing as to its truth when weighed against the evidence in opposition thereto.” 

If none of the allegations are supported by the preponderance of evidence, the respondent will be found not responsible. If any allegation is supported, the panel will decide on an appropriate educational action. Any prior conduct record is then considered.

Sanctions

If the respondent admits to violations, the panel determines appropriate sanctions. If the respondent does not admit to violations, the panel determines a finding of not responsible or responsible with appropriate sanctions. The Student Hearing Panel has autonomy in their decisions, through expulsions. 

Get Involved! Student Hearing Panel Member Application

Hearing panelists are selected and trained by The Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution. A training retreat for current and new members is held annually. Additional training may be conducted on an as-needed basis.