How do students find themselves in the Office of Community Standards (OCS)?
Should a student make the choice to violate policies found in the Student Rights Rules and Responsibilities any member of the University community may initiate a complaint with the Office of Community Standards (OCS). If the circumstances surrounding the complaint indicate that a violation of the Code of Conduct may have occurred, disciplinary charges will be brought against the student. Alleged Code of Conduct violations are generally reported to OCS by Residence Life staff members, Housing staff members, and University of New Hampshire Police officers. Students will know that they have formal charges pending against them because they will receive electronic notification (sent to their University e-mail account) in the form of an incident report or violation form. These will include a list of the pending charges, a narrative of the incident and, potentially, a request for an informal meeting.
What is an informal meeting and do I have to attend?
For more serious cases an informal meeting is the first stage of the student conduct process where students are invited to review and discuss information contained in their incident report. They are encouraged to ask questions concerning all charges against them as well as options available within the student conduct system. If a student accepts responsibility for the violation(s) and accepts the sanctions described (by signing a statement acknowledging this) the information is forwarded to OCS where the information is reviewed, and if approved, the sanction(s) are applied and the case is closed. If a student accepts responsibility for the violation(s), but disputes at least one of the sanctions described, the student may request a sanction hearing where a hearing officer will determine sanctions. If a student denies responsibility for the violation(s) the student may request a formal responsibility hearing where a hearing officer will weigh all of the information presented and make a determination on responsibility and then sanctions if applicable.
If you choose not to attend your informal meeting the complainant in the case will forward all of the information to OCS and a formal responsibility hearing will be scheduled.
I’ve been told my case needs to go to a hearing. What are my options?
There are two types of conduct hearings: Responsibility Hearings & Sanction Hearings.
A Responsibility Hearing takes place to determine whether a student is responsible for violating University Code of Conduct charges. If you disagree with the complainant’s account of what happened or what you are being charged with, then it would be in your best interest to request a responsibility hearing. If you are found responsible for any charges in the responsibility hearing, the hearing officer will then decide the appropriate sanctions.
A Sanction Hearing takes place if you and the Complainant are in agreement about the details of the incident and violations but disagree on the proposed sanctions.
What is a responsibility hearing?
A Responsibility Hearing is the second step of the student conduct process in the more serious cases. The hearing is an administrative process – it’s not like a court of law. For students who deny responsibility for one or more of the pending violations, the case will be resolved through a hearing. Students alleged to have violated a policy are entitled to appear in person and present information on their own behalf. They may call direct witnesses and ask questions of the complainant, their witness, and the complainant’s witness. A University appointed Hearing Officer presides over the case. If the Hearing Officer determines, based on a preponderance of the information presented, that the Code of Conduct has been violated, a finding of responsibility will be made and the student will then receive sanctions.
Do I have to attend my hearing?
While OCS does not recommend missing your hearing, it is entirely your choice to attend. If you choose not to attend your hearing the hearing will progress without you being present, a finding of responsibility may be made based on the information presented by the complainant without your perspective and sanctions will be imposed if there is a finding of responsibility made.
What is a sanction?
A sanction is a consequence that a student receives upon accepting responsibility or being found responsible for violating University policy. Sanctions can include, but are not limited to: fines and restitution; probation; mandated attendance at educational programs; research and reflection papers and projects; eviction or expulsion from University housing; suspension or dismissal from the University.
Can I receive more than one sanction at a time?
Yes. Sanctions are reflective of the nature and severity of an incident and consider if the student had prior misconduct and a combination of educational and punitive sanctions may be imposed.
In all cases, education is the primary goal of any sanction applied. It is hoped that students will reflect upon the choices and decisions made in the situation, realize the impact these impacts had on both themselves and the community and determine changes that will ensure subsequent violations do not occur and their success at UNH.
If the complainant and I agree upon sanctions during a sanction hearing or responsibility hearing is this what will be imposed?
Sometimes, but not always. While each conduct case is heard individually by hearing officers, as a matter of fundamental fairness to all UNH students, cases with similar factors will have similar sanctions – or outcomes. A hearing officer has to maintain a perspective of history and there may be times when a hearing officer will impose seemingly more serious sanctions than what is being recommended by a complainant and respondent.
Can a Sanction/Responsibility hearing decision be appealed?
Yes. A student who is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct in a responsibility hearing may submit an appeal, based on four very specific criteria, in writing to OCS. An Appellate Officer will review the appeal and decide on the outcome. The appeal may be denied, the hearing decision may be modified or overturned, or the case may be reopened. The decision of the Appellate officer is final.
A student who accepts responsibility for violating the Code of Conduct and has a sanction hearing may appeal based on two very specific criteria. The appeal may be denied, sanctions may be modified, or the case may be reopened. The Decision of the Appellate Officer is final.
A student who accepts responsibility for violations and sanctions in an informal meeting waives their right to a hearing and appeal and the decision is final.
Can students be represented by legal counsel during the University student conduct process?
Generally, no. In cases where there are, or the potential for, criminal charges filed in a criminal court a student may be accompanied by legal counsel. The student conduct process at the University of New Hampshire is an educational administrative process, not a criminal or civil proceeding. As any information shared in a conduct hearing may be subpoenaed by a court the role of an attorney in the conduct process will be limited to protect a student’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The attorney may only advise the charged student on what information to provide and whether or not they should answer a question posed during the hearing.
Students may consult a student advisor if they have questions or concerns about the disciplinary process. A student advisor is a member of the University community and may be fellow students, faculty, or staff.
Are off-campus violations reported to the University student conduct system?
Violations of local, state, and federal laws may be reported to the University student conduct system. Students are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the law and may be subject to University action should they choose to violate local, state, or federal laws.
If I am on probation can I study abroad?
Generally, no. It will be up to you to contact the study abroad program you are interested in and the Dean of your College. These individuals will provide you with the correct information for your situation.
Will my disciplinary record affect my future plans?
Potentially. For cases resulting in sanctions less than residential expulsion and suspension from the University a disciplinary record is kept on file for three years from the date of the incident. After three years the record is completely expunged. For cases involving residential expulsion and suspension from the University a disciplinary record is kept on file for five years from the date of the incident. After five years the record is completely expunged. In cases of University dismissal the record is kept on file indefinitely and will not be expunged. If a student gives an employer permission to, or a graduate or professional school requests access to his or her disciplinary record prior to the record being expunged, information about the student's violation(s) and sanction(s) will be shared.
Will my financial aid package and/or scholarships be affected if I am responsible for a Code of Conduct violation?
The answer to this question depends upon the type of violation and the level of sanction applied. You should check with the Financial Aid Office or scholarship originator for further information about your specific situation.
Can I be held in violation if something's posted on-line?
Information posted to social media outlets can (and has been) be very damaging to a student’s reputation and may show the student in an unflattering light. The Office of Community Standards does not search on-line for pictures, video, postings, etc. of students violating policies, nor does the Office charge students solely on such on-line information. However, if a member of the University community brings information of alleged violations to the attention of the Office of Student Conduct, it is possible that this information will be forwarded to the appropriate University office for further investigation. If that subsequent investigation determines signs of a violation, then charges may be applied and the information originally sent to the Office of Student Conduct could be used as evidence presented during a hearing.
If my friend and I are both drunk and I believe they need help, if I call for medical attention for him, will I get in trouble, too?
Student health and safety are of primary concern at the University of New Hampshire. In cases of extreme intoxication and/or alcohol poisoning, you are strongly encouraged to seek medical assistance for yourself and/or others.
When a student acts on behalf of another student and calls for help to emergency personnel or a UNH staff member for a condition stemming from the use of alcohol, both the student(s) offering assistance and the student in need of medical attention have the option of filing for medical amnesty. If medical amnesty is determined to be applicable, the student involved would have to attend an alcohol awareness course provided by the Office of Health Education and Promotion at Health Services. Pending completion of the alcohol awareness course the student will be found not responsible for violation of the Code of Conduct. (Please see SRRR for applicable policy and requirements.)