Academic Misconduct

Students are responsible for knowing the following:

Academic misconduct is subject to disciplinary action.  Charges of academic misconduct against students are investigated and adjudicated according to the following procedures.  To protect all participants in such investigations, confidentiality is observed.   Cases involving other members of the College community will be handled by the appropriate authority and process.

I. Academic Misconduct Complaint and Resolution Process

A.  Any student, faculty member, staff member, or administrative member of the College may initiate the complaint and resolution process by filing a formal charge with the College’s Judicial Examiner.  (To find out who currently serves in this position, contact one of the Associate Deans of the College or the Associate Dean of Students.)  Charges should be submitted promptly in writing following observation of the alleged misconduct, and they should be accompanied by (1) evidence that misconduct may have occurred and (2), in cases of cheating in a course, an indication of the significance of the assignment where the cheating is alleged to have occurred to the course grade (see "Penalties").

B.  The Judicial Examiner is appointed by the Faculty Council for a term of two years.  The Judicial Examiner is responsible for the following:

  1. Ensuring that procedures followed in the case conform to College policy, to protect the rights and make clear the responsibilities of all involved parties.
  2. Gathering evidence related to the charges.
  3. Dismissing charges where lack of evidence suggests that to be appropriate.
  4. When a charged student accepts that her/his conduct constitutes misconduct, assigning an appropriate penalty according to College policy and reporting the admission and penalty to the Dean of Students or designee.
  5. Recommending a judicial hearing when appropriate.
  6. Submitting a written report to the Judicial Hearing Panel summarizing the evidence.
  7. Responding to questions from members of the Panel during a hearing regarding the process and content of her/his report.

C.  Within five school days of receiving a written charge, the Judicial Examiner shall consult with the person who filed the charge (“complainant") to determine whether the charge merits formal investigation. (“School days" are days when regularly scheduled classes meet.)  Upon determining that a full investigation is in order, the Judicial Examiner will take the following steps:

  1. Notify the Chair of the Student Progress Committee that a case may be brought before a Judicial Hearing Panel.
  2. Notify in writing the student(s) against whom the charge was filed ("respondent") of the charge. After notification, and while the case is pending, a respondent may not drop the course (if the charge is course-related) and will refrain from any behavior that could compromise the judicial process.
  3. Upon notification, the respondent will arrange to meet with the Judicial Examiner within five school days. At that time, the Examiner will present evidence, explain the procedures to be followed, and advise the respondent of her/his rights and responsibilities.

D.  Within five school days of meeting with the respondent, the Judicial Examiner will take one of the following actions:

  1. If the case is not to be pursued, the respondent and course instructor (when appropriate) will be notified in writing.
  2. If the respondent accepts that her/his conduct constitutes academic misconduct as charged, the penalty is assigned by the Judicial Examiner as specified below (See "Penalties"). The penalty cannot be appealed. The Examiner will send a letter summarizing the charge and specifying the penalty to the respondent, to the complainant, to the course instructor when appropriate, and to the Dean of Students or designee. The Dean of Students or designee may request an interview with the respondent subsequent to the assignment of the penalty.
  3. If the respondent denies the charges, the Judicial Examiner will refer the case to the Chair of the Student Progress Committee, who will schedule a formal hearing. The respondent must meet with the Chair within five school days from the date of referral by the examiner.

II. Judicial Hearing Process:  Hearing Panel

An Academic Judicial Hearing is not a court of law, characterized by adversarial relationships among those involved in the proceedings. Rather, it is a fact finding body within an academic community that is guided by College regulations and a sense of fair play. The Hearing Panel is charged with rendering a sound judgment on the question of whether the respondent engaged in academic misconduct and, when misconduct is determined to have occurred, setting a penalty. Issues related to the course, circumstances, respondent, instructor, or other parties or other issues that are not germane to whether the respondent engaged in the alleged misconduct are beyond the Hearing Panel's purview.

A. The Judicial Hearing Panel shall consist of a faculty member who will serve as Chair (the Chair of the Student Progress Committee or her/his designee), two other members of the faculty, two students and one administrator from the Office of the Dean of Students (or designee).  Panel members will be appointed as follows:

  1. Each year the Faculty Council will randomly select 10 faculty members to serve as panelists. The random selection will proceed until 10 persons have agreed to serve.
  2. For each hearing, two students will be randomly selected from among the members of the Student Honor Board.
  3. In the event that any member of a Judicial Hearing Panel slate is unable to complete her/his term or, upon review of the College policy on Academic Ethics is unwilling to serve, an alternate will fill the vacant seat for the remainder of the term and the Faculty Council will select a new alternate.

B. The Chair will be a non-voting member whose role is to protect the rights of the person who filed the charge, the respondent and all other participants in the hearing; to guarantee that the relevant issues will be presented; to maintain order; and to conduct the hearing in a judicial manner that conforms to these procedures.

C. The respondent or complainant may challenge the right of any member of the Judicial Hearing Panel to serve on the case. Each may challenge no more than three persons. Challenges by the respondent or complainant must be made to the Chair no fewer than five days in advance of the time of the first meeting. In the event a Panel member withdraws, the respondent must be informed of her/his replacement.

D. Both the respondent and the complainant may be assisted in the case by advisers of their choosing, provided that these advisers are current members of the Occidental staff, faculty or student body, and are neither the Judicial Examiner nor a member of the Judicial Hearing Panel.

E. Both the respondent and the complainant, in addition to the Chair, may call witnesses. All witnesses must be able to give evidence related to the specific charge.

F. Where two or more students are involved in disciplinary cases arising from the same action, the hearing may be consolidated if, in the judgment of the Chair, it would not be prejudicial to any of the students. Any of the students may request a separate hearing before the same panel, subject to the final determination of the Judicial Hearing Panel.

G.  In the event that a respondent fails to meet, as required, with the Judicial Examiner or Chair of the Student Progress Committee, the Chair may convene a Hearing Panel to resolve the case. The respondent will be invited to participate, as described below, and will be given three school days to meet with the Chair to join the process. The respondent reserves her/his right not to participate in the hearing.

III. Judicial Hearing Process:  Procedures

A. Hearings will be closed but may be opened at the respondent's request. A recording will be made of the hearing. The recording will be destroyed if the respondent is not found to have engaged in misconduct. If the respondent is found to have engaged in misconduct, the recording will be held in the Dean of Students Office until the respondent has graduated from the College.

B. The Judicial Examiner will submit a written summary of all relevant evidence to the Chair in advance of the hearing.  Copies of this report will be given to the respondent and to the person who filed the charge, and to the members of the hearing panel.

C.  The Chair formally opens the hearings with a brief review of the procedures to be followed and reads the charges made against the respondent.

D.  The Judicial Examiner will present the summary of evidence to the full Judicial Hearing Panel for consideration. Panel members will examine the evidence and question witnesses as appropriate. Those presenting evidence may be cross-examined by the person who filed the charges, the respondent, or the adviser(s). The members of the Panel may raise questions at any time during the proceedings.

E.  The burden of proof will rest with the Judicial Hearing Panel. The student may choose to remain silent; such action will not be viewed as an admission of misconduct.

F.  The respondent may choose not to appear at her/his hearing; however, the hearing will proceed in his/her absence. The finding and penalties, if any, will be based on the testimony available.

G.  After all documents and witness testimony are examined, the Chair will call an executive session to deliberate and vote. Panel members will vote for a finding of misconduct if and only if they believe that clear and convincing evidence of academic misconduct by the respondent has been presented. A simple majority will be needed for a finding of misconduct and to apply penalties.

H.  The Chair will promptly distribute written notification of the decision of the Judicial Hearing Panel to the respondent, the person who filed the charge, the Judicial Examiner, and the Dean of Students or designee, and, for findings of misconduct only, will transmit a summary of the hearing to the Dean of the College.

I.  The entire judicial process will be completed within 25 school days from the day the respondent is notified of the charges.

J.  A student found by a Hearing Panel to have engaged in misconduct can appeal the finding and/or penalty to the Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the College, whose decision on the appeal is final. The appeal must be submitted in writing within five school days of notification by the Chair of the Hearing Panel's decision.

K.  If a respondent is not found to have engaged in misconduct, the course instructor must evaluate the assignment based on the quality of the work as if there were no academic misconduct, and reserves the right for this evaluation to result in a failing grade on the assignment and/or in the course. In such a case the respondent may elect to withdraw from the course under guidelines set forth under the tuition adjustment policy. The date of the alleged misconduct will provide the reference date for action.

IV. Penalties

A. First Findings of Academic Misconduct:  In the case of a student found for the first time to have engaged in misconduct:

  1. The student will, at a minimum, be put on disciplinary probation, in addition to other penalties, for one semester. Notation of such will go into a sealed letter in her/his file, to be removed only when the student has permanently left the College;
  2. In any significant assignment, the penalty will include a letter grade of failure for the course. Any assignment that constitutes 15 percent or more of the course grade is considered a significant assignment. If a student is assigned a letter grade of failure for a course, she or he may not drop the course, even if the penalty is applied prior to the deadline to drop a course without notation on the transcript;
  3. In assignments constituting less than 15 percent of the course grade, the penalty will include no credit or letter grade of failure for the assignment. The instructor reserves the right to fail the student in the course if that is his or her judgment of the student's performance.
  4. For purposes of setting a penalty, the credit associated with draft work is equal to the credit for the assignment, unless specified otherwise in advance of the due date.

B. Subsequent Findings of Academic Misconduct:  In the case of subsequent findings of academic misconduct, previous findings of academic misconduct will only be considered during the penalty phase. A penalty more severe than for the first penalty, will be applied. Penalties include:

  1. Failure in the course rather than on the assignment for work constituting less than 15% of the course grade.
  2. Disciplinary Probation status for a specified period, during which time any infraction of College regulations will automatically result in a more severe penalty.
  3. Notation of the findings of academic misconduct in the student's conduct record.
  4. Suspension: Termination of student status for a specified period of time. The student must remain off campus during the time of her/his suspension.
  5. Permanent Separation from the College: Permanent termination of student status and exclusion from College premises, privileges, and activities. This action will be permanently recorded on the student's academic transcript.


Last updated: August, 2020