Student Code of Conduct

The Office of Community Standards | Bridgewater State University

Part IV: Community Standards Procedures

The following procedures are the procedures followed to adjudicate all violations of The Student Code except that allegations of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking committed by a student  or Student Organization are adjudicated under the Investigation and Resolution Procedures (which may involve participation by one or more Community Standards officers). Please see the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan, the Sexual Violence Policy and the Investigation and Resolution Procedures for further information.  

Community Standards officers may involve or seek input from other university officials in any or all parts of the Community Standards Procedures as they deem appropriate, such as university officials from the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership or the Department of Athletics and Recreation with respect to Student Organization respondents.

A. Allegations

                1.   Any person may file a report regarding any student or Student Organization alleging misconduct.  To initiate the Community Standards process, reports shall be prepared in writing and directed to the Director of Community Standards or to a designee. A report should be submitted as soon as possible after the alleged misconduct takes place.

                2.   The Director of Community Standards or designee shall determine if a complaint alleges or addresses a potential violation of The Student Code and will notify the respondent of such allegations. The decision to continue a complaint through the Community Standards process is the decision of the Director of Community Standards or designee.

                3.   Generally, the Director of Community Standards or designee will assign a Community Standards officer(s) to the case who will investigate, schedule a conference with the respondent(s) and other individuals as deemed necessary and appropriate.

                4. The Director of Community Standards, or designee, will determine what testimony, witnesses, or other information is relevant and may exclude information or witnesses that are deemed immaterial and/or irrelevant.

                5. The Director of Community Standards, or designee, may consult with the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, the Department of Athletics and other relevant University Officials regarding allegations regarding Student Organizations or that imply Student Organization involvement.

B.  Educational Conference

  1.  The Director of Community Standards, or designee, shall determine the appropriateness of adjudicating a complaint/incident via Educational Conference.  In such instances, a Community Standards officer will meet with the respondent to review a complaint/incident and explain the Community Standards process.
  2. Educational Conferences provide students with the opportunity to reflect on their behavior and reframe the university’s expectations for future student conduct.
  3. While Educational Conferences do not result in a finding of responsibility or sanction/s, the outcome will be considered part of the student’s Community Standards file and  may be considered in determining future sanctions.

C.  Adjudication by Letter

1.     The Director of Community Standards, or designee, shall determine the appropriateness of adjudicating an incident by letter.  In such cases, a student shall receive a letter from the Community Standards officer outlining the violations, findings of responsibility, and sanction/s.

2.     Students will have the opportunity to appeal said findings and sanctions within three (3) business days.

3.     If students choose not to appeal the decision communicated by letter, the findings and sanctions will be considered final.

4.     Examples of incidents that may be adjudicated by letter include but are not limited to: off campus incidents, violations of the Residence Hall License Agreement, and minor alcohol and/or drug offenses.

D.   Administrative Conference

                1.   An Administrative Conference is a meeting between a respondent and a Community Standards officer to review a complaint/incident, explain the Community Standards process, and review possible options for resolving the matter.

                2.             After reviewing the incident with the respondent, the Community Standards officer will determine appropriate allegation(s) and/or violation(s), if any, and whether or not the situation may be resolved by way of an Administrative Conference Agreement or by an Investigation/Administrative Review.  Respondents can also request an Investigation/Administrative Review.

                3. If a respondent does not schedule or attend a conference by the date specified, or if the respondent schedules a conference, but does not attend or attends but does not participate, the incident may be referred to an Investigation/Administrative Review.

                4. If the Community Standards officer and respondent are able to resolve the incident regarding the allegations and/or violations, but not the sanctions, the Investigation/Administrative Review shall focus on the sanctions.

                5. Typically, findings of “not responsible” result in the matter being closed and students will receive this disposition in writing.

                6. A respondent who agrees to resolve any allegation(s) and/or violation(s), and/or sanctions without an Administrative Review shall have no right to appeal.

  E.  Investigation/Administrative Review on Allegations/Violations:

                1. If a situation cannot be resolved in an Administrative Conference, a full investigation will be conducted by the investigator.

                2. If a respondent does not schedule or attend a conference by the date specified, or if the respondent schedules a conference, but does not attend or attends but does not participate, the investigator may complete the investigation based on the information obtained.  This includes the use of police investigation reports.

                3. The complainant, any alleged victim, and the respondent shall each have the right to:

                      a.   Be notified of all alleged allegation(s) and/or violations. This will typically be done through the university e-mail system. Notifications of Student Organization respondents will be done through the university e-mail system to the president of the Student Organization (for notice of allegations) and the Student Organization Representative thereafter. Students and Student Organization leaders and Representatives are responsible for checking their university e-mail and following the instructions contained within the e-mail.

 

                      b.   Review any written complaint(s) submitted in support of the allegation(s) and/or violations.

 

                      c.   Be informed about the Community Standards process.

 

                      d.   Submit a written account or present a personal statement regarding the incident. The decision to not present information is not an admission of responsibility and will not be considered as such.  A Student Organization Representative may submit one statement regarding the incident on behalf of the Student Organization.

 

                      e.   Present relevant information, including names of witnesses, questions for witnesses (including the individual reporting the misconduct) and other documentation, regarding the incident.

 

                      f.        Be accompanied by one advisor during any Community Standards meeting in which the student or Student Organization is participating. A student or Student Organization should select an advisor of their choice whose schedule allows attendance at the scheduled date and time for the meeting(s) because delays will not normally be allowed due to the scheduling conflicts of an advisor.

                      g.   Receive upon written request, at the conclusion of the investigation and appropriate review, a copy of the investigator’s report, to the extent permitted by law.

                      h.   Present a personal and/or community impact statement regarding potential sanctioning to the Administrative Review officer(s).  A Student Organization Representative may submit one statement on behalf of the Student Organization.

                4. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will attempt to meet with the student to review the findings of the investigation.

                5. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will submit to the Director of Community Standards, or designee, a report containing factual findings based on a preponderance of evidence standard, a determination of responsibility, and a recommendation regarding any disciplinary action that may be appropriate.  If there is a finding of responsibility, the investigator will request that a respondent and/or complainant submit a community impact statement and notify the respondent and/or complainant of the Administrative Review to the extent permitted by law.

                6. One or two Administrative Review officers will be assigned to review the report, minus the recommendation regarding any disciplinary action as well as community impact statements, and issue a formal decision regarding findings of responsibility.  The Administrative Review Committee may adopt the investigator’s report, consult with the investigator, request that further investigation be done by the same or another investigator (including questioning of the parties), or request that the investigation be conducted again by another investigator.  The Administrative Review Committee may not, however, conduct its own investigation or Administrative Review.

                7. If there is a finding that the respondent has violated The Student Code, the Administrative Review officers will review the respondent’s complete educational record, including but not limited to their academic transcript and Community Standards history, if one exists, the recommendations regarding any disciplinary action, and any submitted personal and/or community impact statements.

                8. Once the Administrative Review Committee has completed its review on findings and sanctions, the investigator shall send the final report to the Director of Community Standards, or designee.  The respondent will be notified in writing of the findings and imposed sanctions.  The complainant will be notified in writing of any sanction that has a direct impact on them if permitted or required by law.  Upon written request, a copy of this report shall be made available to the respondent, alleged victim, and complainant if permitted or required by law.  The respondent, the alleged victim, and the complainant will be simultaneously notified of the factual finding(s) in writing if permitted or required by law.  

F. Administrative Review on Sanctions:

                    1. If a Community Standards officer and respondent are able to resolve the incident regarding the allegation(s) and/or violation(s), but not the sanctions, the Administrative Review shall focus on the sanctions.

                2. The complainant, any alleged victim, and the respondent shall each have the right to:

                      a.   Be informed about the Community Standards process.

 

                      b.   Receive upon written request, at the conclusion of the investigation and appropriate review, a copy of the investigator’s report, to the extent permitted by law.

 

                      c.   Present a personal and/or community impact statement regarding potential sanctioning to the review officer(s). A Student Organization Representative may submit one statement on behalf of the Student Organization.

                4. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will submit to the Director of Community Standards, or designee, a report containing factual findings based on a preponderance of evidence standard, a determination of responsibility (typically, a signed agreement where the respondent has taken responsibility for the allegation(s) and/or violation(s), and a recommendation regarding any disciplinary action that may be appropriate.

                5. One or two Administrative Review officers will be assigned to review the report and issue a formal decision regarding sanctioning. The Administrative Review officers will review the respondent’s complete educational record, including but not limited to their review the respondent’s academic transcript and Community Standards history, if one exists, and any submitted personal and/or community impact statements. The respondent will be notified in writing of the findings and imposed sanctions.  The complainant will be notified in writing of any sanction that has a direct impact on them as permitted or required by law.

                6. Once the Administrative Review Committee has completed its review on findings and sanctions, the investigator shall send the final report to the Director of Community Standards, or designee.  Upon written request, a copy of this report shall be made available to the respondent, and complainant as permitted or required by law.

G. Determination of Facts Relative to an Alleged Violation

1.         The standard used in determining whether or not the respondent violated The Student Code is a preponderance of the evidence (whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred).

 

H. Sanctions

1.     If the respondent is found responsible for violating The Student Code, appropriate sanctions will be imposed.  Sanctions are determined by considering the nature of the misconduct, precedent regarding such misconduct, the respondent’s complete educational record (including but not limited to; student’s academic transcript, and community incident reports and associated information), respondent’s present demeanor, the community impact statements and/or mitigating or aggravating factors. With respect to respondents that are Student Organizations, Community Standards officers will obtain recommendations of and other applicable university departments and offices, which may include, but is not limited to, the Office of Student Involvement & Leadership, the Department of Athletics and Recreation and may also include a review of the Community Standards history of individual members of the Student Organization.

 

2.     Sanctions for violations of the Sexual Violence Policy (e.g., sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or hostility based on sexual or gender-based harassment), are described in the Investigation and Resolution Procedures.

 

3.     The university has a special concern for incidents in which persons are mistreated because of race, gender, disability, age, marital status, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, genetic information, or other personal characteristic. Such incidents damage not only individuals, but also the free and open academic environment of the University. More severe sanctions are appropriate for such misconduct. Please see the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan and the Investigation and Resolution Procedures.

 

4.     Some university policies specify sanctions for violations. See individual policies for sanctions required, if any.

 

5.     A campus department, separate from the Office of Community Standards, may place a restriction on a student or Student Organization found responsible for violating The Student Code.  Examples include, but are not limited to: Athletics, Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, Residence Life, and the Office of Study Abroad.

 

6.     Sanctions such as University Expulsion, University Suspension, Permanent Residence Hall Suspension or Temporary Residence Hall Suspension may result in the forfeiture of certain monies.  Please refer to the Undergraduate/Graduate Catalog and/or the Residence Hall Policies and Procedures for additional information.

 

7.         In addition to other mitigating and aggravating factors considered in connection with imposing sanctions, additional factors may be considered with respect to Student Organizations including, but not limited to:

 

a.     The role of leaders and the seniority of the members of the Student Organization involved in the behavior supporting the violation;

b.     Whether leaders had knowledge of the misconduct before or while it occurred and failed to take corrective action;

c.     The number of members of the Student Organization involved in the behavior supporting the violation and the extent to which members acted in concert in connection with such behavior;

d.     Whether the leaders of the Student Organization self-reported the behavior underlying the violation;

e.     The extent to which the Student Organization leaders and members cooperated, responded honestly to questions, and accepted responsibility for the behavior underlying the violation;

f.      The misconduct involves a violation of the university’s Hazing Policy, Alcohol Policy, Drug Free Policy, the Sexual Violence Policy or the Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Affirmative Action Plan, or violation of law.

 

8.     The following sanctions may be imposed, individually or in various combinations, on any student found to have violated The Student Code.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of sanctions:

a.     University Expulsion: Permanent separation of the student from the university.  A student who has been expelled is prohibited from participating in any university activity or program.  The individual may also not be in or on any university premises. Students found in violation of this restriction, including attempts to enter the lands or buildings of the university will be subject to immediate arrest for trespassing under M.G.L. c. 266, s. 120.  Please be aware that the student’s academic record will be updated to reflect an expulsion, including any grade change which might be assigned.

 

b.     University Suspension: University Suspension is a separation from the university for a designated period of time.  Students who are suspended from the university are restricted from all university premises and activities, including but not limited to, course registration, class attendance, participation in co-curricular activities and university housing.  Students found in violation of this restriction, including attempts to enter the lands or buildings of the university will be subject to immediate arrest for trespassing under M.G.L. c. 266, s. 120, as well as further sanctions from the university. Students who have been separated from the university for a period of time must meet with the Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management or designee two weeks prior to the next registration period for which the student is eligible to review any outstanding sanctions and the readmission process.  Please be aware that the student’s academic record will be updated to reflect a suspension, including any grade change which may be assigned.

c.     University Probation: University Probation is a set period of time during which the respondent or student organization is given the opportunity to modify behavior, to complete specific assignments, meet with designated persons, and demonstrate a positive contribution to the university community in an effort regain privileges within the university community.  Please be aware that a responsible finding for any violation(s) of any university policy during the probationary period will be viewed as a violation of probation, and will result in further disciplinary action being imposed, including, but not limited to, University Suspension or University Expulsion.  Additionally, as students and organizations which are on University Probation are not considered to be in good disciplinary standing with the university, this may impact their ability to participate in intercollegiate athletics, represent the university, student leadership positions, study abroad opportunities, extracurricular and/or residence life activities.

 

d.     Warning: A written notice that the respondent has violated university policy or The Student Code and a warning that another violation will likely result in more severe sanctions which could include University Probation, Temporary or Permanent Residence Hall Suspension, University Suspension, or University Expulsion or Loss of Recognition with respect to a Student Organization.

e.     Permanent Residence Hall Suspension: Permanent separation of the student from the residence halls.

f.      Temporary Residence Hall Suspension: Temporary separation of the student from the residence halls for a specific period of time, after which the student may reapply for housing. Reapplication for housing does not guarantee immediate placement. Conditions for returning to the residence halls may be specified.

g.     Housing Probation: A period of time during which the respondent will be subject to removal from the residence halls if there is an additional documentation.

h.     Relocation of Residence: Required assignment to another residence area.

i.      Loss of Privileges: Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.

j.      Restriction: Denial of access to any campus facility, activity, class or program. This includes No Contact Orders.

k.     Fines: Financial sanction.

l.      Disciplinary Hold: A hold may be placed on a student’s account.  This may impact the student’s ability to register for classes, obtain certain academic records, or register for housing.

m.   Restitution: Compensation for loss, damage or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service or monetary or material replacement.

n.     Community Restitution Project: Assignment of an appropriate service project that will benefit the University community, responsible student or others.

o.     Assessment: A student may be referred to an appropriate office or local agency for consultation or assessment.  These may include Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Assessments and Anger Assessments.

p.     Educational Program/Project: Participation in a health or safety program (the student may be required to pay a fee); seminar; and other assignments as warranted.  Examples include, but are not limited to: BASICS, SALT, written research projects, or reflective essays.

q.     Revocation of Admission or Degree: Admission to the university or revocation of a degree awarded from the university may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or another violation of The Student Code committed during the course of obtaining the degree or for other serious violations committed by a student after admission or prior to graduation.

r.      Withholding Degree: The university may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the disciplinary process set forth in The Student Code, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any.

 

9.     The following sanctions may be imposed upon any Student Organizations found to have violated The Student Code.  Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of sanctions:

 

a.     Those sanctions listed above.

b.     Loss of Recognition: Loss of all university privileges for a designated period of time.  Loss of recognition for more than two consecutive semesters requires a Student Organization to reapply for university recognition.  Conditions for future recognition may be specified.  Students may not continue to participate or associate in a Student Organization or accept further members during any Loss of Recognition.

c.     Disciplinary Hold.  A hold may be placed on the Student Organization’s ability to use all or specified university privileges.

          

I. Appeals

1.     A decision reached through an Administrative Conference, where the student accepts responsibility and agrees to sanctions, cannot be appealed.

 

2.     A decision reached through the Administrative Review Committee may be appealed by the respondent(s) or complainant(s), when legally appropriate, to an appellate body within five (5) business days of the decision.  Only the Student Organization Representative may submit an appeal on behalf of a Student Organization respondent.

 

3.     All appeals shall be submitted through the form found online at: http://bridgew.edu/maxient/forms. The appeal form must state the reasons for the appeal and provide information as to the basis of the appeal.

 

4.     Except as required to explain the basis of new information, an appeal shall be limited to a review of the investigation report and review findings. The review shall be limited to the following reasons:

a.     To determine whether the Administrative Review was conducted in conformity with prescribed procedures giving the complainant and victim a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present information that The Student Code was violated, and giving the respondent a reasonable opportunity to prepare and to present a response to those allegation(s) and/or violation(s).

b.     To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original investigation, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of the investigation.

 

5.     Sanctions are normally placed on hold pending the decision of the appellate body.  However, the university reserves the right to maintain the status of any/all sanctions it deems appropriate.

 

6.     If an appeal is upheld by the appellate body, the matter shall either be referred to the original Administrative Review Committee to allow reconsideration of the original determination or the appellate body will determine any change. If an appeal is not upheld, the matter shall be considered final and binding upon all involved.

 

7.     All parties to an appeal will promptly receive simultaneous written notice of the outcome of the appeal.

 

J. Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

 

      1.     A student with a disability who desires an accommodation in regard to an

Administrative Conference, Administrative Review, appeal, or probation review meeting must request an accommodation by following the procedure for requesting an accommodation through Disabilities Resource Office.  It is the student’s responsibility, and not that of a university official, to request an accommodation.  The Disabilities Resource Office will make a determination regarding the request and notify the appropriate parties. A student will not be considered to have a disability unless and until the student registers with the Disabilities Resources Office.  Please contact the Disability Resources Office at 508.531.1214 or by email at Disability_Resources@bridgew.edu for further information.

 

    2.        Reasonable accommodations depend upon the nature and degree of severity of the

individual’s documented disability and the setting for which the accommodations are requested.  The University is not required to grant a requested accommodation that is unreasonable, ineffective, an undue burden or substantially alters a University program, service or practice.  Reasonable accommodations will be provided as required by law. 

Updated 8/2017 by Peter Wiernicki, Office of Community Standards