Student Code of Conduct
Below is the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Student Code of Conduct (PDF) for the 2022-2023 Academic year.
WPI is committed to offering students a nurturing, supportive, collaborative, and positive learning environment encouraging the active exchange of ideas, deep reflection, and sound decision making.
Each WPI student is responsible for reading and understanding WPI’s expectations, which are documented in this Code. By enrolling at WPI, students voluntarily agree to comply with the standards of performance and behavior described in this Code and in WPI’s policies.
The Dean of Students Office determines the applicability of this Code, its policies, and interpretation. This Code, and its policies regarding student behavior, are updated regularly by the Dean of Students Office. The most updated version is published online.
The Dean of Students Office is a resource for WPI students. Students are welcome to stop by the office in the Rubin Campus Center Suite 226 with questions about this Code or any other concerns.
Applicability of the Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct and all WPI policies apply to all undergraduate, graduate, and special/visiting students. WPI students are responsible for their conduct from the time they matriculate until they graduate or permanently withdraw from WPI. Matriculation for the purposes of this Code is defined as the earlier of a student’s arrival on campus or WPI’s first day of classes for the term/semester.
The Code of Conduct and other WPI policies apply throughout a student’s academic affiliation with WPI, including regular academic terms; during academic breaks (e.g., summer or winter breaks); and while students are on a leave of absence. The Code of Conduct and all WPI policies apply to a student’s behavior that occurs (i) on or off-campus , including international and domestic project centers; (ii) while attending WPI-affiliated programs and activities, whether in-person or online; (iii) during WPI-sponsored travel and trips; and (iv) while cross-registered at other universities.
The Code of Conduct and other WPI policies also apply to (i) all student organizations registered with, recognized by, or affiliated with WPI, and any other WPI student organizations designated by the Student Activities Office; and (ii) all varsity athletic teams.
Philosophical Standards of the WPI Community
WPI calls upon all students to uphold the following community standards and, in doing so, to learn and practice behaviors that are essential for intellectual, emotional, and social development as global citizens and leaders. Students are expected to:
EXHIBIT THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF INTEGRITY
WPI students will (i) consider the broader implications of their decisions and conduct all of their interactions in an ethical manner; (ii) hold themselves accountable for the outcomes of their actions; and (iii) practice academic integrity and respect intellectual property rights, including being truthful, forthright, and accurate when preparing all records, documents, reports, and publications.
ENGAGE RESPECTFULLY AND CIVILLY WITH THE COMMUNITY
WPI students will (i) recognize that they are part of a larger community and therefore their actions can enhance or detract from the experiences of others; (ii) treat fellow community members and guests with dignity, respect, and civility and create an environment where all students enable each other’s excellence; (iii) respect the property and privacy of others; and (iv) inclusively value different identities, perspectives, opinions, and ideas.
FOSTER AND MAINTAIN MATURE INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
WPI students will (i) foster the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of fellow community members and guests; (ii) be mindful of, advocate for, and foster a safe environment that supports their and others’ welfare; and (iii) communicate respectfully, exhibit a spirt of cooperation, and resolve conflict appropriately.
POSITIVELY REPRESENT WPI IN ALL INTERACTIONS
WPI students will (i) represent WPI as ambassadors and advocates who embody its high standards; and (ii) at all times behave in ways that reflect positively on the institution.
RESPECT THE LAW AND INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES
WPI students will (i) adhere to local, state, and federal laws and regulations; (ii) respect and abide by WPI’s policies and procedures; and (iii) cooperate with WPI employees and other community members and officials.
Policies Regarding Student Behavior
Students are required to follow all WPI policies, including but not limited to the policies listed in this Code, the WPI Policy Library, Student Organization Manual, and any policies related to Fraternities and Sororities.
E. Aiding Policy Violations by Others and Attempted Policy Violations
WPI prohibits engaging in or encouraging or assisting others to engage in violations of this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community, even if the student does not complete the act of misconduct. Attempted misconduct may be sanctioned to the same extent as completed misconduct.
F. Bias-Motivated Conduct
WPI does not tolerate conduct motivated in whole or in part by bias against an individual’s perceived or actual race, sex, age, color, national origin, religion, genetic identity, disability, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, transgender status, veteran status, or any other legally protected status.
G. Computer Network Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and Network Security Policy.
H. Conduct Negatively Impacting Community Well-Being
WPI expects that members of its community will not engage in behavior that compromises or negatively affects their or others’ physical and mental health, safety, academic progress, or professional responsibilities. For example, WPI prohibits behavior or interactions that can generally be perceived as uncivil, unprofessional or retaliatory towards others.
I. Events Policy and Procedures
K. Failure to Comply with a WPI Official and Emergency Responders
Students must comply with the directives of WPI officials and emergency responders during the performance of their official duties.
L. Fire Safety, Safety Equipment, and Residence Hall Security Devices
Any usage of fire or flames shall comply with applicable public codes and laws and with WPI’s fire safety policies. WPI prohibits tampering with or misusing safety equipment and building security features including but not limited to fire extinguishers, alarms, fire protection sprinklers, smoke detectors, automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), card readers, video monitoring equipment, blue light emergency phones, window security screens, and intrusion detection sensors and alarms. WPI students shall not activate an alarm in the absence of fire or safety concerns.
M. Notice of Non-Discrimination
O. Off-Campus Behavior
WPI expects students to be good community members when off campus, whether in a residential setting or when involved in academic (e.g., project-related) work. For example, WPI prohibits behavior that causes a neighborhood disturbance or violates local ordinances, including but not limited to creating excessive sound and vibration, hosting an excessive number of people in your apartment, building, or property, disturbances caused by pets, and failing to maintain your residence in a safe and habitable condition.
P. Parental Notification Guidelines
Q. Physical Abuse and Reckless Endangerment
WPI prohibits the intentional contact with another without their permission, the physical abuse of others, and other behaviors that are reckless and endanger oneself or others. Reckless endangerment is conduct that could foreseeably result in physical injury even if no injury actually occurs.
Reports or complaints involving sexual misconduct will be resolved according to WPI’s Interim Title IX & Sexual Misconduct Policy.
R. Property Damage and Vandalism
Students shall not engage in conduct that causes or is likely to damage, destroy, or vandalize WPI property or the property of others.
WPI students are expected to exercise respect for the property of others, including property owned and maintained by WPI. WPI prohibits theft and possession of stolen property. Theft is the unauthorized taking of property. Possessing stolen property occurs when a student knows or reasonably should know that they possess property obtained through theft.
U. Threatening Behavior
WPI prohibits threats, intimidation, coercion, and other verbal or physical conduct intended to endanger the mental or physical health or safety of any person, when such conduct is persistent or severe and is subjectively threatening to the complainant and would be objectively threatening to a reasonable person. Threats, intimidation, coercion, and other threatening conduct can occur in person, by phone, through third parties, online, or in other venues.
V. Unauthorized Access
WPI prohibits students from entering or using buildings, roofs, or spaces without authorization, including WPI property and property belonging to others. Unauthorized entry includes breaking and entering or entering or accessing a restricted area by circumventing established security procedures (e.g., using another person's credentials or following authorized individuals into a restricted area). WPI prohibits unauthorized possession or duplication of means of access to any WPI building, including keys or ID cards. All WPI roofs are prohibited areas without specific written authorization.
W. Unauthorized Recording
WPI prohibits making or attempting to make audio, video, or photographic recordings of a person who has a reasonable expectation of privacy without (1) that person's consent, or (2) authorization under WPI’s Security Camera Policy. Disseminating such recordings is also prohibited.
X. Unmanned Aircraft and Drones Policy
Y. Violations of Other University Policies
Students are required to follow all WPI policies, including but not limited to policies of the Student Affairs Office and the Student Activities Office (including the Student Organization Manual); the Residential Services Office; and the Environmental Health and Safety Office.
Reports or complaints involving sexual misconduct will be resolved according to WPI’s Interim Title IX & Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Z. Wheeled Devices
Students are not permitted to use skateboards, roller blades, roller skates, bicycles, and similar wheeled devices inside university buildings, or residence halls. Skateboards and other wheeled items may not be ridden on railings, curbs, benches, or any such fixture that may be damaged by these activities.
WPI prohibits any individual other than a WPI police officer or other authorized law enforcement officer from possessing, carrying, storing, using, or having in their custody or control a firearm or other weapon anywhere on the campus grounds or in any campus building. This policy includes, but is not limited to, firearms of any nature, including shotguns, rifles, pistols and revolvers, paint ball guns, BB/pellet guns; firearm replicas; ammunition; martial arts-type weapons; explosives (including fireworks); bows, crossbows, arrows; slingshots; switchblade knives, double-edged knives, hunting knives of any length, throwing knives, folding knives with a blade length of four inches or greater; swords; axes; mace, pepper gas/spray and other dangerous chemicals; or any other destructive device or instrument that may cause bodily injury or damage to property. WPI Police will confiscate weapons and violators may be subject to criminal prosecution and/or referral for disciplinary action.
Resolution and Appeals Process
The Resolution and Appeals Process (RAP) provides a consistent, fair, and effective mechanism to resolve cases in which students, student organizations, or varsity athletic teams allegedly violate the standards of the WPI community. WPI views the RAP primarily as an educational experience intended to help resolve conflict, promote growth, increase understanding of one’s role as a member of an academic community, and facilitate the responsible exercise of one’s rights and responsibilities. The RAP is also a mechanism to maintain a safe community, enforce WPI policy, and promote accountability.
All complaints that a student, student organization, or varsity athletic team has allegedly violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community should be reported to the Dean of Students Office.
Reports or complaints involving sexual misconduct will not be addressed through the Student Code of Conduct, but rather through WPI’s Interim Title IX & Sexual Misconduct Policy.
The following definitions apply to terms contained in the RAP:
A Complaint is a written allegation that a student, student organization, or varsity athletic team has violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community.
The Complainant is the person(s) alleging misconduct on the part of a student, student organization, varsity athletic team, or WPI itself.
The Respondent is the student, student organization, or varsity athletic team who allegedly violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community. In a student organization or varsity athletic team, the individual student(s) who is/are registered as the leader(s) or representative(s) of the group will receive communication about alleged violations and may act on behalf of the organization or team, including representing the organization at meetings and hearings.
(a) Any Complainant or Respondent involved in the RAP may have one (1) advisor of their choice. The advisor may be a faculty mentor, a friend, a family member, an attorney, a chaplain, a mental health clinician, or another person of the student’s choosing. The advisor may not be a member of the media. No one will be required to have an advisor.
(b) The role of the advisor is to provide support to the student they are advising, not to advocate on behalf of the student. Advisors may assist the student in organizing their thoughts, help the student prepare for hearings and meetings, and provide personal or emotional support. Regardless of whether a Complainant or a Respondent works with an advisor, the parties are responsible for understanding the process and making their own decisions.
(c) Advisors may attend meetings and hearings but may not actively participate in the process. Advisors who disrupt the proceedings may be excluded.
(d) Advisors may not write complaints, responses, or other documents on behalf of students or correspond with the Dean of Students Office on behalf of the student.
(e) WPI does not provide professional advisors for students, student organizations, or varsity athletic teams. Upon request, the Dean of Students Office may help a party find an advisor, but WPI will not appoint any advisor on behalf of a party. WPI makes no representations concerning the skills, knowledge, or effectiveness of any advisor.
(f) WPI employees may be willing to be advisors to students, but employees are not required to act as advisors.
(g) A party who intends to have an advisor at a hearing or meeting must provide the Case Officer with written notice of the advisor’s identity (name, relationship to the student, whether the advisor has had any legal training and the nature of that training, and the advisor’s address and contact information) no later than three (3) business days prior to any hearing or meeting where the advisor will appear. The student is responsible for all communication with their advisor, and for arrangements with their advisor to be a part of any meetings or hearings.
5. Appellate Officer
The Appellate Officer considers and decides appeals from findings of responsibility and/or sanctions. All Appellate Officers are trained in the RAP.
6. Business Day
A Business Day refers to a standard day of WPI operation, meaning 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, with the exception of WPI holidays or closures. Academic breaks during which WPI is open for business (e.g., spring break) are considered business days.
7. Case Officer
The Case Officer is a designated member of the Dean of Students Office. The Case Officer provides operational and logistical assistance for the Campus Hearing Board.All Case Officers are trained in the RAP.
8. Conduct Officer
The Dean of Students Office authorizes staff members to serve as Conduct Officers who resolve cases. Some Conduct Officers are authorized to serve as Case Officers. All Conduct Officers are trained in the RAP.
9. Campus Hearing Board
The Campus Hearing Board (CHB) is the body at WPI that resolves certain complaints involving a student’s, student organization’s, or varsity athletic team’s alleged violation of this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community. This body consists of faculty, staff and students as described later in the Code. All members of the CHB are trained in the RAP.
10. Student Records Hold
If a student has an unresolved case, a hold may be placed on a student’s record. This hold may remain in place until the case is resolved.
11. Preponderance of Evidence
All decisions about whether a Respondent violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community are made using the Preponderance of the Evidence standard. This means that the Conduct Officer or CHB will weigh the available information and decide whether it is more likely than not that the facts are true, and a violation has occurred.
Student Rights and Responsibilities in the Resolution and Appeals Process
Complainants and Respondents have the right to:
- Receive written notice of the alleged violation(s) of the Code of Conduct, including a list of the WPI policies and/or standard(s) allegedly violated; and
- Receive an explanation of the RAP upon written request; and
- Participate in the process. If a Complainant, Respondent, witness, or other participant has a disability and requires accommodations to participate in the RAP, they should contact WPI’s Office of Accessibility Services at 508-831-4908 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and
- Be presumed not responsible of the alleged conduct unless the available information establishes otherwise, by the Preponderance of the Evidence standard, after they have received notice of allegations and had an opportunity to respond; and
- Be accompanied by an Advisor of their choice; and
- Receive written notification of the parts of the outcome of the conduct process, including the decisions on responsibility and sanctions (if applicable) that are relevant to them.
In matters that are handled through a Hearing, the Complainant and the Respondent additionally have the right to:
- Receive advance access to the Prehearing Packet, as defined below; and
- Be present during the entire hearing, but not during the CHB panel’s deliberations; and
- Question any party or witness present at a hearing, either directly or indirectly, at the discretion of Chair of the CHB panel; and
- Present relevant witnesses (the Respondent and Complainant are responsible for contacting and arranging for the attendance of their own witnesses in all cases).
The Complainant and Respondent also have a responsibility to:
- Participate honestly in the process; and
- Interact professionally with others involved in the process.
Procedures for Reporting an Alleged Violation
1. Complaint. Any person may submit a Complaint alleging that a student, student organization, or varsity athletic team has violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community. WPI may itself submit a Complaint.
(a) Complaints shall be submitted in writing to the Dean of Students Office.
(b) A Complaint should describe the incident or circumstance (e.g., date, time, location); the details of the alleged violation; and the identity of the student, student organization, or varsity athletic team alleged to have committed the violation. The Complaint will be accessible to the Respondent.
(c) In general, a Complaint against a current WPI student, student organization, or athletic team should be submitted as soon as possible after an event takes place. Although there is no time limit for the submission of a Complaint, the passage of time may have an impact on the availability and quality of relevant information.
(d) Prior to the submission of a Complaint, a Complainant may meet with the Dean of Students Office to ask questions and discuss options for resolving Complaints.
2. Sexual Misconduct Complaints. Reports or complaints involving sexual misconduct are governed by WPI’s Interim Title IX & Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Complaints or allegations of misconduct occasionally require WPI to take immediate action in order to protect the health, safety, or well-being of individuals or the community; to maintain academic integrity; to uphold WPI’s values; to end or prevent further misconduct; to separate individuals involved in a case; or for other similar reasons. To that end, the Dean of Students Office and its designees are authorized to impose immediate interim actions when, in their judgment, such actions are necessary and appropriate under the particular circumstances.
Possible interim actions include, without limitation: interim suspension of a student from WPI; interim suspension of a student organization or varsity athletic team; removal of a student from housing or relocation to another room or residence hall; alcohol, drug, anger management or other types of assessments; restricting a student’s access to certain campus locations; or changes to academic or work schedules.
If a student is on interim suspension, the student is not permitted to access any building, facility, or activity of WPI, including classes, residence halls, employment, and co-curricular or WPI-affiliated events and activities, unless permitted by the Dean of Students Office (or designee) in writing on a case-by-case basis.
Interim actions will usually remain in place until a Complaint is resolved.
Stay Away Requests and No Contact Orders
The Dean of Students Office (or designee) may issue, in its discretion, a Stay Away Request (SAR) or No Contact Order (NCO), as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis. If you believe an SAR or NCO may be appropriate, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
An SAR or NCO may prohibit direct or indirect communication or contact between the parties, including in person, mail, email, telephone, messaging, social media, or contact through friends or third parties.
SARs or NCOs may stay in effect until further notice is given to the involved parties.
An SAR or NCO is a directive, not a disciplinary action, and has no disciplinary consequences unless violated. It is not a finding of responsibility for any disciplinary action, nor does it preclude future disciplinary action.
Failure to abide by the terms of an SAR or NCO may inform future action, including possible removal from campus housing, loss of privileges, probation, and suspension. Disregard of an SAR or NCO may be used as evidence in a claim of harassment.
In certain instances, additional information gathering or investigation may be needed after the Complaint is received. Such information gathering may be conducted by the Dean of Students Office or other WPI staff. In appropriate circumstances, information gathering may occur in cooperation with the WPI Police Department, academic departments, and other relevant offices, agencies, and departments. Information gathering may include interviewing witnesses or victims and reviewing information relevant to the Complaint.
Effect of Legal Proceedings
In some instances, an action that violates this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community may also violate local, state, or federal law. Such violations of law may be pursued in civil or criminal court simultaneous with, and separate from, the resolution of a Complaint within WPI. Although information from legal proceedings may be considered in connection with the resolution of a Complaint under the RAP, in general the RAP will proceed without waiting for the resolution of criminal, civil, or other legal action. The Dean of Students Office may defer the RAP for a short period of time as necessary and appropriate under the circumstances of each case.
Once a Complaint is submitted, the Dean of Students Office, or designee, will review the Complaint and assign the Complaint to a Conduct Officer for resolution. After reviewing the Complaint and any other documentation they deem appropriate, the Conduct Officer determines whether the Complaint is within the jurisdiction of the RAP and, if so, which resolution method will be used. The Conduct Officer may consult appropriate individuals in making these determinations. The determination by the Conduct Officer of the method of resolution is final and not appealable.
WPI generally uses one of five (5) methods of resolution: Administrative Decisions; Administrative Agreements; Hearings; Restorative Conferences; and Informal Resolutions.
- Administrative Decision. The Dean of Students staff or the Conduct Officer may resolve a complaint through an Administration Decision. Administrative Decisions may be used in situations involving alleged violations of (1) a residence hall policy, (2) a project center policy, or (3) a student organization policy or expectation.
- Administrative Agreement. In appropriate cases, students may discuss and respond to the Complaint and critically evaluate their behavior during a one-on-one meeting with a Conduct Officer. The Administrative Agreement may include an agreement as to (1) responsibility only, or (2) responsibility and sanctions. If responsibility and sanctions are not fully resolved with an Administrative Agreement, then the case may proceed to a hearing.
- Hearings. Hearings are used in cases where (1) a Conduct Officer determines a hearing is appropriate, (2) the student requests a hearing, or (3) the Respondent does not accept responsibility or sanctions, or both, in an Administrative Agreement. Hearings allow the Complainant and Respondent to appear before an impartial panel of the CHB.
- Restorative Conference. A Restorative Conference is designed to identify and respond to the harm caused by the Respondent’s actions and give the Respondent an opportunity to repair the harm.
- Informal Resolution. In appropriate cases, the Dean of Students Office or the Conduct Officer may resolve a Complaint informally.
Procedure for Responding to a Complaint
- Participation in the RAP
- The Conduct Officer or Case Officer will offer Respondents the opportunity to participate in the RAP.
- In the absence of participation from a Respondent, the Conduct Officer may proceed with a resolution without input from the Respondent.
- All people involved in the RAP are expected to be honest and truthful.
- Anyone who knowingly provides false information will be subject to disciplinary action.
- WPI expects students to engage appropriately with the RAP and considers sanctions assigned as a result of the RAP to be required components of the student’s education.
- Respondent’s Status While a Complaint of Academic Integrity is Pending
- Once a Complaint concerning an academic integrity violation has been filed, a student may not drop the course, change to audit status, change course grading to Pass/Fail, or withdraw from the course.
- If the student is found not responsible, the assignment/exam in question will be graded on its own merit and no grading penalty may be imposed.
- The student has the right to continue in the course while the case is pending and after resolution is reached, regardless of the grading penalty imposed, unless a sanction of suspension or expulsion is imposed.
- No disciplinary action or other restriction on a student’s participation in academic or co-curricular activities will be imposed prior to a final determination on the academic integrity violation, except interim actions set forth in this Code.
- Once a Complaint concerning an academic integrity violation has been filed, a student may not drop the course, change to audit status, change course grading to Pass/Fail, or withdraw from the course.
- Charge Letter
When a Complaint is received, the Respondent will be notified in writing that a Complaint has been submitted and the WPI policy(ies), standard(s) of the community, or particular part(s) of this Code alleged to have been violated.
- The Conduct Officer will send the Respondent a charge letter detailing the alleged violations and inviting the student to schedule an initial meeting with the Conduct Officer to discuss the case.
- The charge letter and all subsequent notices will be sent electronically to the Respondent’s WPI.edu email address. All students are responsible for regularly checking their WPI email address.
- The Respondent’s failure to respond to an initial charge letter will result in the Conduct Officer proceeding with the RAP without the Respondent's input.
Hearings are designed to facilitate an examination of a case by a panel of the Campus Hearing Board (CHB) composed of students, faculty, and staff who are trained in resolving cases under the RAP. Hearings are structured conversations that are not intended to be adversarial or judicial in nature. Hearings may involve one student or multiple students, or organizations, at the discretion of the Conduct Officer.
- Scheduling and Notice. A hearing is scheduled as soon as reasonably possible based on the class schedules and availability of the Complainant, Respondent, and CHB panel members. Hearings are not scheduled around the availability of advisors, nor around co-curricular activities of Complainants, Respondents, or witnesses.
- The Complainant and Respondent will be notified, in writing, of the date, time, and place of the hearing at least five (5) business days in advance. Hearings may occur in-person or virtually. The Complainant and Respondent are each responsible for notifying their advisor and their witnesses.
- Both parties will be provided with guidelines for submitting documents before the hearing, which collectively will comprise a “Prehearing Packet.” Any documents either party intends to present at the hearing must be submitted three (3) business days before the hearing. Information submitted following this date may only be considered at the discretion of the Chair.
- The Complainant, Respondent, and CHB panel members will have access to the Prehearing Packet before the hearing. Typically, the Prehearing Packet will be distributed two (2) business days before the hearing.
- At the discretion of the Chair, the CHB panel may consider additional information gathered by the Dean of Students Office, as set forth in this Code.
- Campus Hearing Board Panel. The composition of a CHB panel is decided by the Dean of Students Office. In most cases, the CHB panel will be composed of five (5) voting members, consisting of three (3) faculty or staff members and two (2) students. During vacation periods and under other special circumstances, the Dean of Students Office may decide to utilize a CHB panel consisting of three (3) voting members, consisting of one (1) student, one (1) faculty member, and one (1) staff member.
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to a fair and impartial CHB panel.
- The names of the CHB panel members who will participate in a hearing will be given to the parties when the Prehearing Packet is distributed.
- A CHB panel member may be replaced if a potential bias or conflict of interest issue is raised by one of the parties or by a panel member. The CHB or the Chair will consider the nature of the potential bias or conflict of interest, assess any bias or conflict of interest, and determine if a different individual should be assigned to the CHB panel.
- The mere fact that a CHB panel member has taught or is teaching a class in which one of the parties was or is enrolled, or that a CHB panel member has been or is in a class with a party, is not grounds, per se, for the disqualification of the CHB panel member based on bias or conflict of interest
- Privacy. Hearings are open only to the Complainant, Complainant’s Advisor, Respondent, Respondent’s Advisor, scheduled witnesses, the CHB panel, the Chair and the Case Officer. No one else is permitted to attend without the permission of the Chair.
- Audio Recording. Each hearing will be recorded.
- A list of witnesses must be provided to the Case Officer no later than three (3) business days prior to the hearing.
- Witnesses will be asked to speak to what they have directly observed, heard, or done—not what the witnesses believe or may have heard happened.
- Both parties will have an opportunity to indirectly ask questions of all witnesses.
- Witnesses are required to be present at hearings so that they may respond to questions. In extraordinary circumstances and based on the Chair’s sole discretion, the Chair may decide to accept witness statements instead of appearing in person.
- Hearing Board Chair. The Chair presides over hearings of the CHB and has the authority to maintain order within the hearing environment and suspend a hearing. The Chair may ask questions of the parties and witnesses during the hearing, but the Chair does not participate in the CHB panel’s deliberations, responsibility decisions, or sanctioning decisions, except to provide advice to the CHB panel on matters of fairness, procedural rules, and precedents.
- Hearing Procedures. Hearings will generally adhere to the following procedure. The Chair may alter this procedure by agreement of the Complainant and Respondent or otherwise as necessary to ensure a fair hearing.
- The Chair reads introductions and a description of the hearing procedures to the parties.
- The Chair reads the alleged violation(s) and asks the Respondent to plead either “Not Responsible” or “Responsible.” In a case where a Respondent has accepted responsibility, the purpose of the hearing is to determine an appropriate sanction.
- The Complainant may make an opening statement.
- The Respondent may make an opening statement.
- The Complainant may present evidence (as provided in the Prehearing Packet) and may call witnesses to make a statement.
- The Respondent may present evidence (as provided in the Prehearing Packet) and may call witnesses to make a statement.
- The Chair and the CHB panel may ask questions of both parties and all witnesses, and may recall witnesses for questions, to aid the CHB panel in their decision making.
- The parties may indirectly ask questions of all witnesses.
- The Complainant and the Respondent may each make a closing statement.
- The Chair closes the hearing.
- Deliberations and Decision.
- Once the hearing has concluded, the CHB panel meets in executive session to deliberate and reach a decision.
- The Case Officer will be present during hearing deliberations, but will not participate in the CHB panel’s deliberations, responsibility decisions, or sanctioning decisions, except to provide advice to the CHB panel on matters of fairness, procedural rules, and precedents.
- In cases where the Respondent has not accepted responsibility, the CHB panel decides first, using a preponderance of the evidence standard and based on a majority vote, if the Respondent is responsible for committing the alleged violation(s) of WPI policy(ies), standard(s) of the community, or particular part(s) of this Code.
- In cases where the student has accepted responsibility, or responsibility has been determined by the CHB panel, the CHB panel decides the appropriate sanction or sanctions to impose. In deliberations on sanctions, the CHB panel may review any prior findings of responsibility of the Respondent.
- Except as provided in the “Appeals” Section, below, the CHB panel’s decision is final.
- Written notice of the decision on responsibility and sanctions is provided to the Respondent, and when permitted, the Complainant, as soon as possible after the hearing.
- Record Keeping. A documentary record of the proceedings, including audio recordings of the hearing, will be kept in the files of the Dean of Students Office. This record includes (1) the Pre-Hearing Packet (2) all documents submitted at the hearing, and (3) the written notice of the decision on responsibility and sanctions, and any appeal.
Violations of this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community are addressed through sanctions, which can take several forms, as noted below. Sanctions may be issued by the Conduct Officer or by the CHB panel and may apply to students, student organizations, or varsity athletic teams. Sanctions may include but are not limited to:
- Disciplinary Warning. This status indicates that a student, student organization, or varsity athletic team’s behavior has violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community and that further similar behavior may result in more serious disciplinary action. Warnings are a prompt to consider behavior more carefully in the future.
- Disciplinary Probation. This status indicates that a student, student organization, or varsity athletic team has violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community Probation communicates that urgent action and significant change are required, and a warning that continued inappropriate behavior may result in disciplinary suspension or expulsion. During the probation period, students, student organizations, and varsity athletic teams are directed to take active steps toward improving their behaviors and to demonstrate that they can uphold the standards of the WPI community. Disciplinary probation lasts for a specified period of time as determined by the Conduct Officer or by the CHB panel.
The probationary period may be accompanied by a loss of privileges including without limitation ineligibility to hold certain campus employment and leadership roles, ineligibility to study abroad, ineligibility to participate in varsity athletics and other extracurricular activities.
- Disciplinary Suspension. This status indicates that a Respondent’s behavior has violated this Code, any WPI policy, or a standard of the WPI community. Suspension communicates that the Respondent’s behavior was inconsistent with the mission and values of WPI and that the Respondent must take time to reflect and change in order to return to the academic community. A suspended student is not permitted to access any building, facility, or activity of WPI, including classes, residence halls, employment, and co-curricular or WPI-affiliated events and activities, unless permitted by the Dean of Students Office (or designee) in writing on a case-by-case basis. A suspension may be “deferred” as determined by the Conduct Officer or CHB Panel to allow the Respondent to complete their academic coursework for a specific period of time on campus.
(a) Respondents may be required to complete additional sanctions or action items while suspended in order to return to WPI. Return to WPI is coordinated through the Dean of Students Office and is contingent upon satisfaction of all requirements stated in the sanction.
(b) Unless otherwise determined by the Conduct Officer or by the CHB Panel, a student who is suspended after having satisfied all degree requirements (i) will not be awarded their degree until the period of suspension is over and they have met all conditions for return to WPI; and (ii) will not be permitted to participate in Commencement exercises until the period of suspension is over and they have been approved to return to WPI by meeting all the terms of the suspension.
- Disciplinary Expulsion. Expulsion is the permanent dismissal of the Respondent from WPI without the possibility of readmission or reinstatement in the future. Expulsion communicates that the Respondent’s behavior was fundamentally inconsistent with the mission and values of WPI and the Respondent is no longer eligible to be a part of the WPI community. Expulsion results in the forfeiture of all of the Respondent’s rights and degrees not conferred prior to the time of the expulsion. An expelled student is not permitted to access any building, facility, or activity of WPI, including classes, residence halls, employment, and co-curricular or WPI-affiliated events and activities. Students who are expelled are not permitted to be on campus at any time for any reason.
- Removal from or Relocation within On-Campus Housing. A student may lose the privilege to reside in on-campus housing or to reside in a specific residence hall, house, building, or other residence.
- Loss of Privileges. A student may lose WPI-specific privileges for a specified period, including the eligibility to have a car on campus, parking privileges, participation in certain events, access to electronic resources, access to residence halls, or use of WPI-owned equipment. Loss of privileges may also entail the loss of membership or leadership positions such as student staff positions or positions on athletic teams.
- Restitution. Restitution is the payment for all or a portion of injury or damage caused by them as an individual or a group.
- Substance Abuse Assessment. Students may be assigned to obtain a substance abuse assessment from an appropriate professional. The student will typically be required to complete any education or treatment that is recommended as a result of the assessment.
- Participation in a Workshop, Training, Course, or Seminar. Students, student organizations, and varsity athletic teams may be required to complete an educational program. Such programs may include plagiarism prevention tutorials, bystander intervention training, workshops about hazing prevention, an Academic Integrity Seminar, or other relevant educational program.
- Required Writing Project. Students, student organizations, or varsity athletic teams may be assigned to complete written reflections or projects. Such projects may include reflection essays, proposals to address a campus issue, research reports, or other written projects. Written projects are expected to exhibit the quality of writing expected of WPI students.
- Personal Accountability Plan. Students may be assigned to consider the factors that led to the violation(s) and to create personal, academic, professional, and/or other goals to avoid future violations. A Personal Accountability Plan typically includes required metrics to assess progress toward a student’s stated goals and follow-up meetings to discuss progress.
- Required Meeting(s) with the Dean of Students Office. Students, student organizations, and varsity athletic teams may be required to attend one or more meetings with the Conduct Officer or another advisor in the Dean of Students Office.
- Referral to Other Offices or Services. Students, student organizations, and varsity athletic teams may be directed to meet with or attend programs facilitated by other offices on campus. Referrals may include a meeting with an academic advisor, workshops at the Academic Resource Center, or other relevant services.
- Restorative Actions. Restorative actions require a student to repair the harms resulting from misconduct on other members of the community. This may include letters of apology, drafting and implementing a plan of resolution, and developing plans for reintegration. Restorative actions also may include any plan of behavioral changes agreed to during a Restorative Conference.
- Additional Sanctions. Additional sanctions (e.g., projects, community service, removal from activities) may be imposed as appropriate as determined by the Conduct Officer or by the CHB panel.
Grounds for Appeal
Respondents may only appeal Administrative Decisions or Hearings. Appeals may be based on only three (3) grounds:
- Newly Available Information. Substantive and relevant information exists that was not available to the parties at the time of the decision or could not have been discovered through due diligence at the time of the decision.
- Denial of Fair Process. There was a substantial departure from the procedures outlined in the RAP that significantly affected the fairness of the process.
- Severity of the Sanction. The sanction varies significantly from the range of sanctions appropriate to the violation(s).
- A Respondent may appeal the decision and/or sanction within five (5) business days following the Administrative Decision or CHB panel’s determination after a hearing. The Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, will serve as the Appellate Officer for all appeals.
- If the Respondent raises a potential bias or conflict of interest issue regarding the Appellate Officer, the President (or designee) will consider the nature of the potential bias or conflict of interest, assess any bias or conflict of interest, and determine if a different individual should be assigned the role of Appellate Officer.
- The appeal must be in writing. The appeal must be delivered to the Dean of Students Office.
- The appeal must set forth in detail the grounds for the appeal and must identify or attach all materials to be considered in the appeal process. Respondents appealing a finding of responsibility and/or sanctions by the CHB may request a copy of the audio recording of the hearing.
- The Appellate Officer will decide the merits of the appeal within fourteen (14) business days after receiving the appeal (including additional materials, if any) from the Dean of Students Office. In deciding the appeal, the Appellate Officer will review relevant evidence and may also consult with other persons the Appellate Officer deems appropriate.
- In a case where the Appellate Officer overturns a decision of the CHB panel, the Appellate Officer may consult with the CHB panel and any other individual that the Appellate Officer deems appropriate.
- Sanctions may be imposed, in full or in part, while an appeal is pending.
- The Appellate Officer’s decision is final and shall be maintained with records relating to the case.
Record Keeping and Reporting of Student Conduct Records
Student conduct records are maintained by the Dean of Students Office.
(a) For cases where a student (1) has not completed the sanction(s) or (2) has been suspended or expelled for disciplinary reasons, the student conduct record is retained by the Dean of Students indefinitely.
(b) For all other cases, the Dean of Students Office retains the student conduct record and will only report a student’s conduct record with the student’s permission and in accordance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations for two (2) years following student’s date of graduation, transfer, or withdrawal from WPI. Students are expected to be honest when answering questions about their conduct record. The Dean of Students Office may report the following information upon request and with the student’s permission: date of the violations(s), conduct violations, sanctions imposed and the status of the sanctions. After two (2) years, the Dean of Students Office will only report that the student does not have a conduct record from WPI on file.
A student’s academic transcript does not include the existence, or outcome of, a student conduct proceeding.
A student’s conduct record does not preclude a student from participating in co-curricular or WPI-affiliated events, academic opportunities at WPI or another institution, or employment opportunities at WPI or outside of WPI, unless the sanction(s) imposed prohibits these activities at WPI and the sanction has not yet been completed.
For additional information on reporting of student conduct records, please contact the Dean of Students Office.