Policy & Process for Alleged Commitment Violations

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.  (Link to Website) Charges should be submitted promptly through the Academic Misconduct Reporting Form 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:

  • Ensuring that procedures followed in the case conform to College policy, to protect the rights and make clear the responsibilities of all involved parties. 
  • Gathering evidence related to the charges. Dismissing charges where lack of evidence suggests that to be appropriate.
  • Consulting with the Office of Student Conduct in the Division of Student Affairs on matters relating to procedure and precedent. 
  • When a charged student accepts that their conduct constitutes misconduct, or when a hearing board finds a student responsible for misconduct, assigning an appropriate penalty according to College policy and reporting the admission and penalty to the Office of Student Conduct. 
  • Recommending a judicial hearing when appropriate.
  • Submitting a written report to the Judicial Hearing Panel summarizing the evidence.
  • Responding to questions from members of the Panel during a hearing regarding the process and content of their report.
  • Determining appropriate sanctions for potential violations based upon severity of incident, previous academic misconduct from the Respondent, and overall value of assignment.
  • Communicating any course grade changes to the registrar when appropriate.
  • Working with the Office of Student Conduct to ensure that records and applicable materials of all cases are properly documented. 

C.  Within five school days of receiving a written complaint, the Judicial Examiner shall consult with the person who filed the charge (“Complainant") to determine whether the complaint merits formal investigation. (“School days" are days when regularly scheduled classes meet.)  If the Judicial Examiner determines that the charge does not merit a formal investigation, the matter will be closed and the Complainant will be notified. Upon determining that a full investigation is in order, the Judicial Examiner will take the following steps:

  • Notify the Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs that a case may be brought before a Judicial Hearing Panel.
  • 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. Upon notification, the Respondent will arrange to meet with the Judicial Examiner within five school days. At that time, the Judicial Examiner will present evidence, explain the procedures to be followed, and advise the Respondent of their rights and responsibilities.

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

If the Respondent accepts that their 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 Director and Assistant Director of the Office of Student Conduct. If the Respondent denies the charges, the Judicial Examiner will refer the case to the Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs, who will schedule a formal hearing. The Respondent must meet with the Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs 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. The Hearing Panel is a fact finding body within an academic community that is guided by College regulations, and throughout the proceedings each member of the Hearing Panel  will respect the dignity of each of the participants. The Hearing Panel is charged with rendering a sound judgment on the question of whether the Respondent engaged in academic misconduct. 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 (Associate Dean for Student Academic Affairs or their designee), two other members of the faculty, two students and the Director or Assistant Director of Student Conduct. The Chair, with administrative assistance from the Office of Student Conduct, coordinates the appointments of the Judicial Hearing Panel. Panel members will be appointed as follows:

Each year the Faculty Council is responsible for identifying faculty to serve as panelists.

For each hearing, two students will be randomly selected from among the members of the Student Honor Board. In the event that any member of a Judicial Hearing Panel slate is unable to complete their 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. Once the Judicial Hearing Panel has been identified, both the Respondent and Complainant will receive a list of members of the panel.  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 “school” days in advance of the time of the first meeting. In the event a Panel member withdraws, the Respondent and Complainant must be informed of their replacement.

D. Both the Respondent and the Complainant may be assisted in the case by one advisor 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.  Outside counsel from family members or legal affairs are not permitted to serve as Advisors.  Advisors are present to assist and support; however, they do not have speaking privileges during the hearing, and may neither speak for, nor on behalf of, a Student. A hearing will not be canceled or postponed in the event a scheduled advisor does not attend or to accommodate an advisor’s schedule.

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 their right not to participate in the hearing.

III. Judicial Hearing Process:  Procedures

A. Hearings will be closed. 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 by the Office of Student Conduct . `

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 and the Respondent. 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 their hearing; however, the hearing will proceed in their absence. The finding and penalties, if any, will be based on the testimony available. The Complainant is expected to attend the hearing.

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 a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) 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 Complainant (if not a student), the instructor (if different from the Complainant), the Judicial Examiner, and the Director of Student Conduct, 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.  The Complainant does not have the right to request an appeal of a decision. A request for an appeal will be considered solely on the following grounds: 1. A procedural or substantive error occurred that could substantially impact the outcome of the Judicial Hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, refusal to consider relevant and material evidence). The Respondent must identify the error and explain the potential impact in their appeal. 2. To consider new evidence that could not have been discovered at the time of the original Judicial Hearing that could substantially impact the outcome of the Judicial Hearing. This new evidence, the reasons why it could not have been discovered by the time of the conduct meeting and an explanation of its potential impact must be included. The Vice President for Academic Affairs/Dean of the College will notify the respondent of the decision of the appeal within ten school days.  If an appeal is granted, the case will be referred back to the Associate Dean of Student Academic Affairs, who will determine, based upon the appeal, if the case will be dismissed or revised action (e.g. case reviewed by a new Judicial Hearing Board). 

K. If the Respondent is found not responsible an instructor cannot fail a student in the class or on the assignment for work cleared by this policy. For students found not responsible the entirety of a student's work in the class will be evaluated as usual, and the full range of grade outcomes are possible.

IV. Sanctions 

Violations of the Academic Misconduct Policy will result in educational and non-educational sanctions.  Non-educational sanctions will range from zero on an assignment, zero on a course, to probation and possibly suspension or expulsion from the college. The factors that determine the severity of the sanction are the number of times a student has been found responsible for academic misconduct, and whether a student is a first year or an upper-class student.  Transfer students who enter with sophomore, junior, or senior standing are considered upper-class students.  The following sanctioning matrix provides more detail to the sanctioning philosophy:

 

First Year Student

Upper-class Student

1st Time Found Responsible

zero on assignment; educational sanction

zero on assignment; educational sanction

2nd Time Found Responsible

zero on assignment; one semester probation, education sanction

zero in course; one semester probation, education sanction

3rd Time Found Responsible

zero in course; one semester probation, education sanction

zero in course; one semester suspension, education sanction

Additional Times Found Responsible

Increased sanctions including suspension

Increased sanctions including expulsion

Student Self-Admittance - 1st Time Only

educational sanction; individual faculty discretion (no change to grade on assignment, change of letter grade, maximum sanction of zero on assignment)

educational sanction; individual faculty discretion (no change to grade on assignment, change of letter grade, maximum sanction of zero on assignment)

 

 

Self Admittance Clause

Students who recognise that they have intentionally or inadvertently violated the Academic Misconduct Policy on a course assignment are highly encouraged to report themselves to the instructor of the course and the Judicial Examiner prior to any allegation of academic misconduct. Students who choose to self-admit are exhibiting a high sense of courage and morality.  Students who self-admit receive an educational sanction, and the instructor for the course has the discretion to impose a non-educational sanction up to but not exceeding a zero on the assignment. A student who has self admitted to academic misconduct once will go through the process outlined above for any future allegation of academic misconduct.

If a student wishes to self-admit, they can complete the Academic Integrity Report Form, and indicate on the form that they wish to self-admit.

Related Information

 

Last updated: July, 2021