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Formal Hearing Guide

The Student Hearing Panel (SHP) conducts Formal Hearings regarding violations of the Board of Regents: Student Conduct Code for all cases except Scholastic Dishonesty and Sexual Misconduct/Title IX, determines responsibility, and (when necessary) determines appropriate sanctions. The Respondent may invoke their right to a Formal Hearing if they do not accept the initial decision and/or informal resolution offered. Formal hearings are fundamentally fair to all parties.

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 email. 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 the 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, Decisions, and Sanctions

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. A full list of possible sanctions is provided in the Board of Regents Student Conduct Code.

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, advocate, support person, family member, 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. Advisors will also be asked to sign the appropriate Roles & Responsibilities of Advisors agreement.

Learn more on the Respondent Resource Pool webpage.

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 accompanied 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 provide 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 email 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

Parties may request to participate in the hearing 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 complete this form in preparation 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.
  • Advisors must complete the Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors for General Conduct agreement.
  • 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.

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 their motivation for filing the report.
  • The complainant and respondent may state their expectations for the outcome of the hearing.

Formal Hearing Checklist

Participants should use this CHECKLIST to prepare for a Formal Hearing.

For cases of Sexual Misconduct please visit the Responding to Sexual Misconduct at UMD page.