Resolution Processes Involved within the Campus Judicial System
In lieu of adjudication, members of the WPI community may choose alternate dispute resolution to settle conflicts. Mediation uses a neutral third party to help resolve disputes, leaving the final resolution in the hands of the disputing parties. The purpose of mediation is not to judge responsibility but to help parties get to the root of their problems and to devise their own solutions. If a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached through mediation, the complainant may refer the complaint to the case officer for judicial action. Students interested in pursuing mediation should contact one of the case officers in the Dean of Students Office.
2. Informal Administrative Judicial Conference
Violations of residence hall policy will be adjudicated by an administrative judicial officer. The judicial conference will be conversational in nature and non-adversarial. During the conference, the judicial hearing officer will elaborate on the nature of the complaint and present any evidence. The accused shall have an opportunity to respond to the complaint and present evidence on their own behalf. After due consideration, the judicial officer will make a determination of the student's responsibility and appropriate sanction( s). Decisions may be appealed to the next highest administrator. All appeals must be submitted in writing within five (5) days following communication of the initial decision. More serious violations may be referred to the Campus Hearing Board for resolution.
3. Informal Hearing Procedure
Student organizations, clubs, sports teams, fraternities, and sororities that are charged with violating policy shall have their case adjudicated before a WPI representative designated by the dean of students, utilizing the Informal Hearing Procedure.
- The organization's representative will be informed of the complaint and the time, date, and location of the informal hearing, in writing, at least two days prior to the hearing.
- The informal hearing will be conversational in nature and non-adversarial.
- Prior to the hearing, the organization's representative has the opportunity to discuss the allegation with an advisor or a member of the WPI community.
- During the hearing, the WPI representative will elaborate on the nature of the complaint and present any evidence that is being considered against the group.
- The organization's representative will have an opportunity to respond to the complaint and provide any additional evidence to refute the charge.
- After due consideration, the WPI representative will make a determination of the organization's responsibility. The WPI representative will also determine an appropriate sanction based on the organization's past record.
- Decisions may be appealed to the next higher administrator. All appeals must be submitted in writing five (5) days following communication of the initial decision.
- The WPI representative may refuse to hear a complaint utilizing the Informal Hearing Procedure and may instead refer it to the Campus Hearing Board for resolution.
4. Informal Hearing Procedure at Off-Campus Residential Program Sites
Students at off-campus residential program sites, accused of violating the WPI code of conduct or any other WPI policy as outlined in the annual Campus Planner and Resource Guide shall be accorded an informal on-site hearing before a WPI representative designated by the dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. The following guidelines will be applicable.
- Students will be informed of the complaint pending and the time, date and location of the informal hearing, in writing, at least two (2) days prior to the hearing. This notice should include a full description of the incident, names of witnesses, if any, and a reference to the section(s) of the campus code allegedly violated.
- The informal hearing shall be conversational in nature and non-adversarial.
- Before the hearing, the student shall be given the opportunity to consult with an on-site advisor of their choice or a member of the WPI community.
- During the hearing, the WPI representative shall elaborate on the nature of the complaint and present any evidence or witnesses in support of that complaint.
- The accused student shall have an opportunity to respond to the complaint and present any evidence or witnesses in response to the complaint.
- The WPI representative will make a determination of the student's responsibility for the complaint based on the outcome of the informal hearing.
- If the student is found responsible, the WPI representative must contact the dean of students or her/his designee to review the student's past record, if any, before a sanction is determined. The WPI representative must then consult with the Dean of Students Office and the director of global operations in the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division to determine an appropriate sanction for the offense.
All decisions shall be final and not subject to appeal on site. The decision may be appealed to the dean of Interdisciplinary Studies Division once the student has returned to the WPI campus. Appeals may be submitted in writing to the dean of the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division within five (5) days of the start of classes of the term following the off campus project experience. The appeal must be specific and contain a full description of the basis for the appeal. Grounds for an appeal must be based on one or more of the following criteria:
- Failure to follow the procedures outlined in the Campus Planner and Resource Guide;
- Inappropriate gravity of the sanction in relationship to the offense;
- That no reasonable person could conclude, on the basis of the evidence presented, that the accused was responsible.
- If the on-site WPI representative determines that continued presence at the project center by the student would constitute a danger to the safety of persons or property on the premises of the project center, a recommendation for interim suspension may be made to the vice president for student affairs or his/her designee.
Note: WPI's Academic Honesty Policy and the procedures described therein also apply to the offcampus residential programs. The WPI representative must communicate with the dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division and Dean of Students Office before taking action.
5. Administrative Agreement
Members of the WPI community who accept responsibility for the complaint against them may choose, with the agreement of the plaintiff, to waive their right to a hearing before the Campus Hearing Board and instead accept a sanction imposed by the case officer.
6. Campus Hearing Board
Section A — Membership
- The Campus Hearing Board (CHB) shall consist of five (5) elected voting members, and an appointed nonvoting chief justice.
- Its membership shall be composed of two full-time students (generally one undergraduate and one graduate student), one member of the faculty, one member of the administration, and one member of either the faculty or the administration.
- During vacation periods and under other special circumstances the Campus Hearing Board shall have the authority to operate with three voting members (one faculty, one administration, and one student). All procedures for the Campus Hearing Board shall remain the same as those of the five-member board.
- No member shall be allowed to serve simultaneously as a member of another branch of the Campus Judicial System.
- There shall be undergraduate and graduate student alternates who will be used to replace absent or disqualified student members of the Campus Hearing Board.
- There shall be faculty alternates who will be used to replace absent or disqualified faculty members of the Campus Hearing Board.
- There shall be administration alternates who will be used to replace the absent or disqualified administration members of the Campus Hearing Board.
Student Body Election
- Any full-time member of the student body shall be eligible for election except where prohibited. Student candidates must be in good academic and judicial standing; any academic and/or disciplinary suspension precludes one from serving on the Campus Hearing Board.
- The undergraduate student body shall elect six students and one faculty member to the Campus Hearing Board.
- Undergraduate students who submit to the Student Government Association Office a petition of 60-80 signatures shall have their names placed on the ballot.
- Incumbent students may have their names placed on the ballot at their request.
- The Executive Council of the Student Government Association shall nominate three faculty members for the ballot.
- There must be at least six undergraduate students on the ballot before the election can be held.
- The first six ranking undergraduate student candidates in the balloting shall be elected members of the Campus Hearing Board.
- The student body election shall be held in Term D. The election shall be under the direction of the Student Government Association.
- The Graduate Student Government shall appoint two graduate students to the Campus Hearing Board.
- The term of office of all student-elected CHB members is one year, commencing on the first day of Term A.
- Six CHB justices are members of the faculty, and one CHB justice who is a fulltime undergraduate student, are elected by the faculty. The term of office of the faculty-elected student is one year; the terms of office of the faculty are two years. Each year, to assure staggered terms and maintain a pool of faculty justices, the faculty normally will elect three faculty justices, and one student justice for the CHB.
- Faculty election shall be held under the direction of the Faculty Committee on Governance.
- The term of office for all CHB justices elected to the board by the faculty shall begin the first day of Term A following the election.
- The administration justices shall be appointed by the president of the university or his/her designee.
- Student Body Election
- Any justice who deem themselves partial in any hearing or whose impartiality is successfully challenged shall be disqualified from that hearing.
- The Campus Hearing Board shall have the power to expel, for cause, one of its own members, following an appropriate hearing, by a vote of 3/4 of its total voting membership.
- The Committee on Governance shall have the power to expel for cause the chief justice, following an appropriate hearing, by vote of 3/4 of its total voting membership.
Section B — Officers
- The chief justice shall be a member of the faculty. The term of the chief justice shall be three years.
- The Committee on Governance shall appoint the chief justice.
- One year before the expiration of the term of the chief justice, the Committee on Governance shall appoint a chief justice elect or reappoint the incumbent chief justice to another three-year term, to begin at the expiration of the current term.
- The Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Government shall endorse the appointment of a chief justice or chief justice-elect.
- When the incumbent chief justice vacates the position, the chief justice elect automatically becomes the chief justice.
- The chief justice shall preside over all meetings and conduct all hearings of the Campus Hearing Board.
- The chief justice shall maintain order during hearings, and to that end may close or suspend a hearing.
- The chief justice shall provide for the observance of fairness at all hearings.
- The chief justice shall not participate in deliberations at a hearing except to advise on matters of fairness, to make procedural rulings and to advise on precedents. The chief justice shall not vote on the outcome of any case or on the imposition of sanctions.
- The chief justice shall advise the parties to a dispute of the decision of the CHB following a hearing.
- In the event of the chief justice's absence or disqualification, the chief justice pro tempore will preside.
Chief Justice Pro Tempore
The Chief Justice pro tempore shall be elected by and from among the members of the Campus Hearing Board and will preside in the absence or disqualification of the chief justice. The chief justice pro tempore must be a faculty member in at least his/her second year of serving on the CHB.
The chief justice-elect shall observe for training purposes all disputes before the CHB but shall not take part in any deliberations or votes before the hearing board unless he/she is concurrently serving as a CHB member.
The case officer is a designated member of the Dean of Students Office staff, appointed by the vice president for student affairs. The case officer is held directly accountable by the Campus Hearing Board for providing the operational and logistical services necessary for the CHB to conduct fair and impartial hearings. The case officer's prehearing duties involving plaintiff(s) and accused are specifically defined to maintain impartiality.
Once designated as case officer for a hearing, the case officer may not become involved in any aspect of the case other than those duties outlined below or assigned by the CHB with the full knowledge of all parties involved in the case. If the board finds that the case officer has failed to meet his/her responsibilities in a way that could substantively alter the outcome of a case, the board may call for a rehearing with another case officer.
The case officer is not a member of the Campus Hearing Board and does not participate in any votes before the Campus Hearing Board.
Duties of the case officer are to:
- coordinate all aspects of WPI campus code procedures, including advising persons of charges lodged against them, scheduling hearings, notifying all persons concerned, providing for all necessary forms and records, assisting with and forwarding appeals, and undertaking such other activities as may be necessary to implement the provisions of this code;
- as provided in this code, process all complaints referred to the CHB of WPI;
- collect all statements relevant to the complaint( s);
- conduct prehearing interviews, at which time the accused shall be fully informed of the complaint lodged, advised of his/her rights under this code, and given an opportunity, if the accused desires, to discuss the matter;
- present these statements to the chief justice and CHB members prior to or at the beginning of the scheduled hearing as appropriate;
- when requested, advise the CHB on the meaning, interpretation and application of this code;
- refrain at all times from commenting before the CHB on the merits of the matter being heard.
- maintain all CHB records in accordance with WPI policy;
- as necessary and appropriate, provide for the training of persons serving on the CHB, the Presidential Appeals Board or related committees;
- serve as liaison, when appropriate, with other members or committees of the WPI community whose responsibilities may bear on a particular case;
- provide for the publication and distribution of this code;
- upon recommendation from the chief justice, suspend the hearing proceedings to another date.
Section C — Jurisdiction
- The Campus Hearing Board shall have jurisdiction over cases involving violation of campus regulations of social and academic behavior by a WPI community member, his/her guest to the campus, or involving transgressions against the WPI community—its members, property, and rights.
- The Campus Hearing Board shall have jurisdiction over cases involving off-campus actions of WPI students when a) the victim of such offense is a member of the campus community, b) the offense occurred at a university sponsored or sanctioned event, c) the accused student used his/her status as a member of the WPI community to assist in the commission of the offense, or d) the offense has a detrimental effect on the reputation of the college.
- The Campus Hearing Board shall have jurisdiction over cases involving student organizations, clubs, sports teams, and fraternities and sororities that are referred by the WPI Administration in lieu of using the Informal Hearing Procedure. Any group or organization may be held accountable for actions of any of its members if the violation of this code of conduct is in any way related to the group or organization. Group misconduct need not be officially approved by the entire membership in order to be considered grounds for possible disciplinary action against the group. There is no minimum number of group members who must be involved in an incident before disciplinary action may be taken against the entire group. In some instances the conduct of a single member may provide sufficient grounds for action against the entire group. An appropriate test to determine whether a group may be held accountable for the conduct of individuals is to ask whether or not it is likely that the individuals would have been involved in the incident if they were not members of the group or, if by group action, the incident was encouraged, fostered, or might have been prevented.
- The Campus Hearing Board shall have authority to refuse to hear any case or to refer any case to a more appropriate agency. In any such instance, the Campus Hearing Board must provide a written explanation for such a decision to the parties concerned and to the Presidential Appeals Board. Dissatisfied parties may seek redress by appealing to the Presidential Appeals Board.
- The Campus Hearing Board shall use "preponderance of evidence" as the standard for proof in all cases.
The Campus Hearing Board shall have the authority to appoint and invoke a board of inquiry into matters of violation of campus regulations, transgressions against the WPI community and infringement of individual rights.
- The board of inquiry shall be composed of one faculty member, one administrative member, two fulltime students (generally one undergraduate and one graduate) and one member from either the faculty or the administration not currently a member of another branch of the campus judicial system.
- The board of inquiry shall call witnesses and hear testimony regarding the allegations and shall report its findings to the case officer who together with the chief justice will determine if the Campus Hearing Board will proceed with the complaint.