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Procedural Rights of Students
SUNY Potsdam is committed to fairness and equality. To that end, all students are protected by the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct. Be advised that the code is published in the College's Student Handbook. In addition, copies are available in the Office of Residence Life and Student Development.
- The accused student shall be entitled to proper notice of charges, which shall be in writing with sufficient particularity and delivered in sufficient time (at least three days prior to a hearing) to insure opportunity to prepare for the hearing. Notice shall include:
- the specific charge(s) from the appropriate section of the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct,
- a brief description of the actual allegations against the students,
- time and place of the proposed hearing, and
- a brief description of the procedural rights of students and procedures to be followed during the hearing.
- The accused student shall have the right to have his/her case heard by an impartial hearing board/officer.
- The student shall have the right to present evidence, testimony and witnesses in his/her own behalf, and shall have the opportunity to know the nature and source (does not always mean identity of the source) of the evidence and testimony presented against him/her, and to question such evidence and testimony. The student also has the right to be present when evidence is offered, to respond to and ask questions, or to refuse to answer questions. Refusal to answer questions is not considered an admission of responsibility for violating a rule(s).
- The accused student shall have the right to be advised or supported by any person of his/her choosing during any conferences or hearings. Any party involved in the disciplinary proceedings may be represented by any member of the College community, and also has the right to the assistance of legal counsel. Any representative serves only as an advisor to the accused student, and does not actively participate in the hearing.
- The accused student shall enjoy the presumption of innocence in all cases.
- Responsibility shall be established on the basis of weight of evidence and not on the more stringent grounds of "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
- The accused student shall receive a written decision and shall have the right to appeal.
Frequently Asked Questions by Students Who Have Been Charged through the Campus Judicial System
The campus judicial system has been created to help develop and support our educational community. Hopefully, the following information will help you better understand the judicial system and your options within it. A more detailed explanation of those options can be found in the Guide to Student Life: "I was a stranger here myself."
What does it mean to be charged with violating the Code?
A charge letter is sent when someone submits a complaint or report claiming that you have violated one or more College regulation. The charge letter is the beginning of the formal judicial process. It is not a statement that you are responsible.
What if I cannot meet at the scheduled time?
Because attendance at this meeting is your responsibility, you need to call the person you are scheduled to meet with to reschedule the meeting.
What happens when I meet with the judicial staff person the first time?
The primary purpose of this first meeting is to ensure that you are aware of your options within the judicial system. A detailed explanation of those options can be found in the Guide to Student Life: "I was a stranger here myself." Once you understand your options, you will have the opportunity to begin to resolve the charges at that first meeting.
Can someone be with me during the judicial process?
Yes and that person is called an advisor. The role of the advisor is to support you. While they can be present at any and all parts of your judicial process, they are not active participants. What this means is that, other than speaking with and supporting you, they are not allowed to speak with others, ask questions, or otherwise join in the judicial process. In other words, they are not your "defense attorney" as would happen in court, but your advisor.
How are charges resolved?
As mentioned, you will have the opportunity to resolve your charges at your first meeting. A student charged actually has three ways or choices to resolve their charges. Two of the choices involve formal hearings - one with a Hearing Officer (an individual faculty or staff person) or another with a Hearing Board (one student and two faculty or staff). The third option is called an Administrative Agreement in Waiver of a Hearing. Approximately 95% of all students charged judicially choose this option. In an Administrative Agreement, the student accepts responsibility for his/her charges and then works with the judicial officer they're meeting with to develop a set of sanctions or punishments that are appropriate based on the incident and the student's judicial history, if any.
What if I don't like the Administrative Agreement?
Any student who chooses to resolve their charges through an Administrative Agreement always has the opportunity to stop the process and have their charges resolved at a formal hearing. However, once you sign the Agreement, there is no appeal.
What Happens at a Hearing?
A hearing is a formal process where a Hearing Officer/ Board listens to all the facts associated with an incident with the intent of determining what happened. All parties directly involved get to make opening statements, each witness tells their "side of the story", and the Hearing Officer/Board can ask clarifying questions. At that point, the Hearing Officer/Board will then make their decision as to whether or not the student charged is responsible for some or all of the charges.
What if I Don't Like the Decision from the Hearing?
There are four reasons to appeal a Hearing Officer's/Board's decision:
- The Hearing Officer/Board didn't follow their rules
- That the sanction imposed is way too harsh for the incident.
- That your due process rights were ignored (see sheet "Procedural Rights of Students").
- You have found new evidence that you didn't know about at the hearing. You are not able to appeal just because you don't like the decision.
I've been charged by the police and have to go to court downtown. Why have I been charged on-campus as well?
The College's rules apply to student behavior both on and off campus. One of the most misunderstood ideas is that the College's judicial system is the same as the courts downtown. Our rules, regulations, and procedures are very different and one doesn't take the place of the other. Therefore, you may be charged through our judicial system even though you have to go to court for the same incident.
Should you have additional questions about the judicial system or process, please feel free to call or email Janel Newman at x2358 or firstname.lastname@example.org.