Article IV: Conduct Resolution Procedures (2017)

A. Report of Violation
 

1. Subject to the special provisions for Title IX matters, any member of the University community may file a Report of Violation against any student for misconduct on a form prescribed by the Office Community Standards.

a. The Report of Violation will contain the following information about the alleged violation: the date, location, nature of the incident, a citation to the conduct code and recommended sanction(s).

b. A single Report of violation may report multiple violations of the Conduct Code arising from a single incident or course of conduct.

c. The Report of Violation shall be filed electronically with Community Standards upon completion.

d. The complainant shall transmit a copy of the Report of Violation in electronic form to the respondent upon filing it with Community Standards.

e. The person filing the Report of Violation shall be referred to as the complainant. A student may file a Report of Violation or be a co-complainant with another member of the University community. The student responding to the Report of Violation shall be referred to as the respondent.

f. Complainants are encouraged to file charges as soon as possible after the alleged incident to ensure witness and evidence availability. Any charge submitted later than twelve (12) months after the occurrence of the alleged incident and the discovery of the identity of the student(s) involved are subject to dismissal for good cause shown.

2. The Report of Violation shall contain a notice describing the available resolution procedures that apply to the conduct charges listed in the report and means for the respondent to notify Community Standards whether the charges are disputed.

a. Community Standards shall provide the respondent with appropriate information and resources to educate the student on the conduct resolution process and how to decide whether to contest the report of violation.

b. The respondent shall notify Community Standards by email within two business days of receiving the notice whether the charges are disputed or not disputed. If no response is sent within two business days, the charges shall be treated as not disputed.

3. Effect of a Pending Report of Violation:

a. A respondent who is ineligible to register for or attend classes at any one USNH institution because of a pending student disciplinary charge shall be ineligible to register for or attend classes at any other USNH institution for as long as the charge remains pending.

b. If a respondent has withdrawn or withdraws after the filing of such charges against him/her, either (1) a "hold" will be placed on the responding student’s academic record and the student notified that disciplinary action may be initiated upon the responding student’s application for read¬mission, or (2) the University may proceed to resolve the disciplinary action.

4. Members of a recognized student organization may be charged as an organization and/or individually with violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct. Guidelines for charging student organizations are:

a. One or more officers or authorized representatives acting in the scope of their capacities, commit the violation.

b. One or more members commit the violation after the action that constitutes the violation was approved by a vote of the organization or was part of a committee assignment of the organization.

c. The violation is committed at an activity funded by the organization.

d. The violation occurs as a result of an event sponsored by the organization.

e. One or more members of an organization or its officer’s permit, encourage, aid or assist in committing a violation.

f. Members of an organization fail to report to appropriate University authorities’ knowledge or information about a violation.

B. Resolution Process – Level I Sanctions

1. When Level I sanctions as provided in section IV.E.6.b are the highest available recommended sanction for the charge(s) contained in a report of violation, the following procedures apply to resolve the report of violation.

2. When a respondent receives the Report of Violation:

a. The respondent may choose to resolve the matter, accepting responsibility and the recommended sanction(s) by electronically acknowledging responsibility in a manner prescribed by the Office of Community Standards.

b. The respondent may request and the complainant may choose to meet to discuss the incident, the respondent’s responsibility, the conduct process, the respondent’s rights and recommended sanctions. The respondent must contact the complainant within 48 hours of receiving the Report of Violation to request a meeting.

c. When the complainant requests a meeting, the complainant and the respondent shall meet to finalize their understanding of the facts relating to the incident, the respondent’s level of responsibility and sanctions. Decisions made at the meeting by the complainant regarding the charge and sanction and by the respondent regarding responsibility are final.

C. Resolution Process – Level II Sanctions

1. When Level II sanctions as provided in section IV.D.5.b are the highest available recommended sanction for the charge(s) contained in a report of violation, the following procedures apply to resolve the report of violation.

2. When a respondent receives the Report of Violation:

a. The respondent may choose to resolve the matter, by accepting responsibility and the recommended sanction(s) by electronically accepting responsibility in a manner prescribed by the Office of Community Standards within 48 hours of receiving the report of violation.

b. If the respondent does not accept responsibility and the recommended sanction, the respondent shall request a meeting within 48 hours of receiving the report of violation. The meeting shall be conducted not more than 2 business days after the respondent receives the report of violation. During the meeting, the complainant and respondent will determine whether the student agrees to be responsible for the Violation Report, identify the appropriate sanction(s) and report the results of the meeting in a manner prescribed by Community Standards.

i. Decisions made in meetings are final if the respondent agrees to the resolution.

ii. If the respondent disagrees with either the finding of responsibility or the recommended sanction, the respondent may request a review of the finding of responsibility and/or proposed sanction by a member of the Office of Community Standards. In the event the respondent does not file a request for review within 48 hours after the Resolution form is filed, then resolution of the matter becomes final.

D. Resolution Process Level III Sanctions

1. In cases under this Student Code of Conduct, where the maximum sanction for a Report of Violation may include eviction, suspension, or dismissal, and subject to the special provisions for Title IX matters, a hearing shall be held before a hearing panel if the respondent requests one. In addition, a student may request a hearing before a hearing panel for any Report of Violation containing one or more of the following charges:

a. Misconduct that caused physical harm to others.

b. Misconduct that jeopardized the safety and/or well-being of others.

c. Misconduct that caused an adverse impact to the residential or University community.

d. Misconduct that caused serious damage to University property or the property of others.

e. Misconduct that violates conditions of probation or indicates repeated violations.

f. Misconduct that involves hosting a gathering where prohibited drinking has occurred or there are common sources.

g. Misconduct that is a violation of the University Drug Policy.

h. Misconduct that harms others because of their particular race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or other category protected by law or university policy.

i. Sexual misconduct.

j. Any Report of Violation that becomes the second or third offense for a "3 Strikes" charge.

k. Any Report of Violation where a student is the complainant.

2. In cases where a hearing may be required the complainant and respondent shall hold a preliminary meeting, not less than two (2) and not more than seven (7) business days from the date the respondent receives the Report of Violation. Preliminary meetings shall be conducted by the complainant except in cases where a student is the complainant. The agenda for the preliminary meeting shall include:

a. The respondent may agree to resolve the charge(s) at the preliminary hearing by accepting responsibility and the recommended sanction(s). If the matter is resolved, the complainant shall report the resolution in a manner prescribed by Community Standards. The Director shall review the proposed resolution to determine that it is consistent with the charges and sanctions in similar cases.

b. If the respondent does not accept responsibility or the recommended sanction for all charges, the matter will be scheduled for a hearing. At the preliminary the parties shall:

i. Discuss the violations identified in the report of violation, the hearing process, the proposed sanctions and the respondent’s and complainant’s rights in the hearing process,

ii. Identify agreed facts, charges or sanctions to save time at the hearing.

iii. Identify disputed facts, charges, sanctions or legal issues to focus each party’s presentation at the hearing.

iv. Review information provided by Community Standards regarding the hearing process.

v. The complainant shall report the resolution of the meeting in a manner prescribed by Community Standards.

3. In cases where a hearing is requested Community Standards shall transmit to the respondent and the complainant a notice listing all contested issues identified at the preliminary meeting and setting the date, time and place for a hearing. The hearing shall be held not less than three (3) nor more than ten (10) calendar days after the date of notice issued Community Standards. The respondent may waive the 3-day notice. .

4. No less than one (1) business day before the hearing the parties shall:

a. Exchange of copies of all documents, reports, photographs and written testimony that the hearing panel will consider.

b. Exchange witness lists.

c. Identify and present all requests for special accommodations or for preliminary rulings.

5. Hearings shall be conducted by a Hearing Panel.

a. Hearing panels shall be composed of

i. two members drawn from faculty and staff communities and,

ii. a student.

b. The complainant, the respondent and/or the Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer shall have 10 minutes to present oral testimony and to summarize arguments in their favor, subject to the right of members of the Hearing Panel to ask questions. Questions asked by the Panel shall not be counted as part of the 10 minutes given to each party. All witnesses, and parties to the hearing shall sign an honesty oath. All persons present at the hearing shall sign a confidentiality statement, except for employees of Community Standards.

c. Hearings normally shall be conducted in private. At the written request of either the respondent or the complainant, if the complainant is a student, a non-participating student advisor, parent or support person may be present if, in the discretion of the Hearing Panel, presence would not violate the rights of a third party, intimidate any person or threaten to disrupt the proceeding. The admission of non-participating persons shall be revoked by the Director or the Chairperson of the Hearing Panel at any time if it is found that the non-participating person has violated any instruction of the Director or Chairperson at any time during the hearing.

d. In matters where there is more than one respondent arising from the same incident, the Hearing Panel Chairperson, or Director, at their discretion, may order hearings concerning each student to be conducted jointly or separately. Respondents may request that hearings be conducted separately. Where hearings are conducted jointly, the Hearing Panel Chairperson may adjust the time periods for each party to present oral testimony.

e. When the complainant and/or the respondent are students, they have the right to be assisted by a student advisor. The complainant and/or the respondent are responsible for presenting their own cases. The primary role of a student advisor by Community Standards is to offer guidance to respondents (and complainants if they are students) before, during, and after a hearing. The student advisor does not represent a respondent at any point during the hearing process.

f. When criminal charges are pending or may be filed in connection with the incident described in the Report of Violation, the respondent may have an attorney present to advise the respondent. The attorney shall not participate in the hearing.

g. When the incident described in the Report of Violation states a claim of sexual harassment or sexual violence under Title IX, the victim/survivor or co-complainant or the respondent may have an advisor, who may be an attorney, present to advise them and may have one (1) support person. The advisor and support person shall not participate in the hearing.

h. Formal rules of evidence do not apply to conduct hearings. The presiding officer shall strive to control the testimony presented at each hearing to reach accurate, prompt and fair findings. Hearsay is admissible if the Hearing Panel Chairperson finds that it is generally reliable, but any party may present reasons that admitted hearsay evidence is or is not sufficiently reliable to be the basis for a finding of responsibility. Character witnesses and testimony regarding any student’s good or bad character is irrelevant and will be excluded. The Hearing Panel Chairperson may exclude unduly repetitious, irrelevant or character evidence.

i. All procedural questions at the hearing are subject to the final decision of the Hearing Panel Chairperson, who may confer at any time with the Director for procedural advice.

j. If a complainant or respondent chooses not to attend a hearing, the matter may be heard and he/she will be accountable for any decision made by the Hearing Panel, which will determine responsibility and assign sanctions as described in section IV.D. No respondent may be found to have violated the Student Code of Conduct solely because the student failed to appear before a judicial body. In all cases, the evidence in support of the charges shall be presented and considered.

k. Adjudicatory Standard - The Hearing Panel will determine whether the respondent is "responsible" or "not responsible" for the Report of Violation. The respondent will be presumed "not responsible" until determined otherwise by a preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence is reached when a majority of the members of the Hearing Panel determines that it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the Student Code of Conduct as stated in the Report of Violation. The Hearing Panel may also recommend sanctions according to the procedures in section IV.D.

l. The Hearing Panel shall base its finding(s) of responsibility solely on the oral and written evidence and argument presented at the hearing. The Hearing Panel, however, in its discretion, may give notice to the parties at the hearing that the evidence presented forms the basis for a finding of responsibility of a different violation of the conduct code than stated in the Report of Violation.

m. Hearings occurring at the end of an academic semester, including, but not limited to reading days and final exams, and during the summer, and over winter break, may be assigned to a single Hearing Officer.

n. There shall be a single verbatim record, such as an audio or video recording, of all hearings. The record shall be the property of the Office of Community Standards and the University and if it is available, the Hearing Panel may consult the record during its deliberations. Unless ordered by the Director, recordings shall be destroyed after the appeal process has concluded.

o. Selection and Training: The Director shall select persons qualified to participate on Hearing Panels. Persons selected to participate on Hearing Panels shall receive training from Community Standards.

p. If the respondent is a graduate student, the Hearing Panel shall include a student from the Graduate School.

q. The Hearing Panel shall submit its findings and sanctions in a manner prescribed by Community Standards.

6. Hearing Decision: Upon completing the hearing, the Hearing Panel shall submit a Hearing Decision to the Director. The Hearing Decision shall include.

a. The Hearing Panel’s findings whether the respondent is responsible for each violation of the Conduct Code contained in the Report of Violation.

b. A concise written summary of its findings of fact, and the reason(s) for them.

c. Its sanction(s) and the reason(s) for them. The Hearing Panel may request up to 48 hours after the hearing to submit sanctions and supporting rationale.

d. Within 24 hours of receiving the hearing decision, the Director shall review it and determine whether the findings and sanction are consistent with the Code and sanction guidelines. It shall be approved if it is consistent and remanded to the Hearing Panel for additional consideration if it is not.

e. The Hearing Decision becomes final upon the Director’s approval and shall be transmitted electronically to the parties within one (1) business day.

7. Time limits for scheduling of meetings and hearings may be extended at the discretion of the Director.

E. Sanctions

1. In recommending and imposing sanctions, complainants and Hearing Panels shall consider the list of sanction guidelines developed by the Director and may also consider the student’s present demeanor and past disciplinary record, arrest and criminal record, the nature of the offense, the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting therefrom, and other factors. In formulating a sanction, complainants and Hearing Panel shall consider the educational and developmental goals for the respondent as well as the needs of the community.

2. The University has special concern for incidents in which persons are subject to harassment because of their race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or marital status. More severe sanctions are appropriate for such conduct.

3. The Director shall establish a list of sanction guidelines to be used in cases where students are found responsible for a violation of the Conduct Code.

4. The Director shall review all sanctions imposed and affirm them unless the Director finds that the sanction imposed is disproportionate, either too lenient or too harsh, to other similarly situated responding students, victims and conduct cases. If the Director finds that the sanction imposed is disproportionate, the Director shall send it back.

5. Every sanction imposed under this Code shall carry a warning that repeat offenses may subject the student to mandatory discipline under the 3 Strikes protocol.

6. The following sanctions may be imposed upon any respondent found to have violated the Student Code of Conduct:

a. Level I Sanctions:

i. Warning—A notice in writing to the respondent that the student is violating or has violated institutional regulations. A Report of Violation that results in a warning may be used as the basis for a later report that the student has violated the 3 Strikes protocol.

ii. Limited Reformative Sanctions: writing reflection papers, preparing bulletin boards, write apology letter, having educational conversation with faculty or staff, or attending free program or event.

b. Level II Sanctions: Any sanction greater than a warning and/or limited warning sanction(s) may also impact a responding student’s ability to participate in university programs, study away and university scholarships.

i. Disciplinary Probation - A written reprimand for violation of specified regulations. Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe disciplinary sanctions if the student is found to be violating any institutional regulations(s) or provisions of the Conduct Code during the probationary period. Probation may be combined with alternative sanctions.

ii. Loss of Privileges—Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time, including but not limited to, participation in University athletics, membership in recognized student organizations, and use of specified University facilities.

(a) Banned from Entry—Prohibited presence in specific buildings or group of buildings on campus (including residence halls) for a definite period of time. Time period must be specified.

(b) Prohibition Against Personal Contact—Prohibited contact or presence near a specific person for a definite period of time. Time period must be specified.

iii. Fines—Previously established and published fines may be imposed.

iv. Restitution—Compensation for loss, damage or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement

v. Reformative Sanctions—Under the supervision of the Director, a respondent may be required to participate in reformative sanctions, including, but not limited to, writing reflection papers; participating in ethics, anger management, or alcohol/drug awareness classes; service to the University, or other related discretionary assignments.

c. Level III Sanctions:

i. In order to consider imposing one of the following sanctions, the Hearing Panel shall find that one or more of the following conditions is present:

(a) Misconduct that caused physical harm to others.

(b) Misconduct that jeopardized the safety and/or well-being of others.

(c) Misconduct that caused an adverse impact to the residential or University community.

(d) Misconduct that caused serious damage to University property or to the property of others.

(e) Misconduct that violates conditions of probation or indicates repeated violations.

(f) Misconduct that harms others because of their particular race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or marital status.

(g) Misconduct that involves hosting a gathering where prohibited drinking has occurred/common sources.

(h) Misconduct that is a violation of the University drug policy.

ii. Alternative Sanction Program, under guidelines developed by the Director.

iii. Residence Hall Eviction—Separation of the respondent from the residence halls for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified.

iv. Residence Hall Expulsion—Permanent separation of the respondent from the residence halls.

v. University Suspension—Separation of the respondent from the University for a definite period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified. Students are banned from campus for the duration of their suspension. Readmission to the University requires application and acceptance through the Office of Admissions. A respondent ineligible to register for or attend classes at any one USNH institution because of suspension entered upon a finding(s) of responsibility for violation(s) of the institution’s Student Code of Conduct shall be ineligible to register for or attend classes at any other USNH institution during the entire period of suspension. Students on suspension for any reason will not earn transfer credit for courses taken while on suspension.

vi. University Dismissal—Permanent separation of the respondent from the University. Students may conduct administrative business on campus with prior notice to University Police. A respondent ineligible to register for or attend classes at any one USNH institution because of permanent dismissal entered upon a finding(s) of responsibility for violation(s) of the institution’s student code of conduct shall be ineligible to register for or attend classes at any other USNH institution for a period of two (2) years following the date on which the student was permanently dismissed.

2. More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation. Lower level sanctions may be imposed for violations where higher-level sanctions are also available. Higher-level sanctions may not be imposed for violations where they are not available under the Sanction Guidelines.

3. The minimum sanction for those found responsible for sexual misconduct that includes either sexual contact or sexual penetration is suspension for one year or until the survivor graduates or otherwise leaves the University for an indefinite period of time, whichever is longer, when any one or more of the following aggravating factors are found:

a. Sexual contact or penetration when another person is incapacitated due to mental/physical disability and/ or substance ingestion.

b. Force, violence, threat, coercion or a weapon was used against the survivor/victim of the assault before during or after sexual contact or penetration.

c. The respondent has been found responsible for committing any previous instance of sexual misconduct by contact or penetration, whether or not it was committed against the same survivor/victim and whether or not the previous instance was at the University, another institution of secondary or post-secondary education or by a court.

d. The complainant provides notice in the Report of Violation and the evidence at the hearing demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence that the circumstances of the misconduct establish that community safety requires suspension.

4. When a respondent has been found responsible for a Report of Violation and the Hearing Panel finds by a preponderance of the evidence facts demonstrating that the respondent has directed his or her offending behavior towards any person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or marital status, the Panel may recommend enhanced sanctions.

5. Collateral consequences of a record of conduct sanction may include, but are not limited to, ineligibility to study abroad, participate in intercollegiate athletics, participate in University employment or programs and loss of scholarships.

6. If any respondent fails to comply with any final sanction imposed under this Code, the respondent may be further sanctioned with the University upon notice, hearing and proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent did not comply with the sanction

F. Appeal

1. The respondent or the complainant(s) may request a review a final Hearing Order by submitting a Request for Review electronically within two (2) business days of receiving the final Hearing Form.

2. Basis for Review: A Request for Review can be based on one or more of the following purposes:

a. Procedural Error: To determine whether the original hearing was conducted in conformity with the procedures contained in this Code of Conduct.

b. Sufficiency of Evidence: To determine whether the findings in the Hearing Form established (or not) the charged violations in the Report of Violation by a preponderance of the evidence.

c. Sanction: Subject to the limitations in section IV.B above, to determine whether the sanction(s) imposed in the final Hearing Form was appropriate. The Reviewing Board or Reviewing Officer shall not increase the sanction(s) imposed by a Hearing Panel or Hearing Officer, unless no sanction was imposed.

d. Newly Available Evidence: To consider whether there is new evidence, sufficient to alter a decision, provided, however, that the evidence was not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing.

3. Review Form: The Reviewing Officer shall consider the written evidence and the verbatim record of the hearing and any new evidence submitted to support a claim of newly available evidence. The Reviewing Officer shall determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence to overturn the original finding(s) and/or sanction(s). The Reviewing Officer shall complete the portion of the Review Form provided for the purpose of recording a decision and may provide a concise statement of the basis for the determination that the review standard is met or not.

a. If the Reviewing Officer finds that there was a procedural error or there is newly available evidence, the case shall be remanded to the original Hearing Panel to reopen the hearing.

b. If the Reviewing Officer finds that the sanction was not appropriate, the Reviewing Officer shall order the appropriate sanction, applying the standard found in section IV.D.

c. If the Reviewing Officer finds insufficient evidence to support a finding of responsibility or finds sufficient evidence to overturn a finding of no responsibility, the Reviewing Officer shall make the appropriate determination and, as applicable, impose a proper sanction, applying the standard found in section IV.D.

7. If a respondent is not found responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, and the finding is upheld by the Reviewing Officer, the respondent may not be charged again for the same violation arising from the same incident unless there is new evidence. The University or appropriate administrators, however, may address climate issues arising from the case.