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Procedural Rights of Students

SUNY Potsdam is committed to fairness and equality. Students’ procedural rights are outlined by the Student Community Rights and Responsibilities.

  1. 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:
  2. the specific charge(s) from the appropriate section of the Student Community Rights and Responsibilities,
  3. a brief description of the actual allegations against the students,
  4. time and place of the proposed hearing, and
  5. a brief description of the procedural rights of students and procedures to be followed during the hearing.
  6. The accused student shall have the right to have his/her case heard by an impartial hearing board/officer.
  7. The accused 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).
  8. The accused student shall have the right to be advised or supported by any person of their choosing during any conferences or hearings. The advisor can be any individual who provides support, guidance, and/or advice. An advisor may be a friend, parent, faculty, mentor, attorney, or any person they wish. The advisor will not be permitted to speak for them in the process or to have any role in the process other than to advise and assist them.
  9. Responsibility shall be established on the basis of the preponderance of evidence, which asks whether it is “more likely than not” that the violence occurred. If the evidence presented meets this standard, then the accused/respondent should be found responsible. 
  10. The accused student shall enjoy the presumption of innocence in all cases.
  11. 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 Conduct System

What does it mean to be charged with violating the Code? 
A charge letter is sent when a complaint or report is filed claiming that you have violated one or more College regulations. The charge letter is the beginning of the formal conduct 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 with whom you are scheduled to meet to reschedule.

What happens when I meet with the conduct staff person the first time? 
The primary purpose of this first meeting is to ensure that you are aware of your options within the conduct system. A detailed explanation of those options can be found in the Student Community Rights and Responsibilities.   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. 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 conduct process, they are not active participants. Other than speaking with and supporting you, they are not allowed to speak with others, ask questions, or otherwise join in the conduct process. In other words, they are not your "defense attorney" as would happen in court, but your advisor.

How are charges resolved? 
A student charged with a violation of policy will have the opportunity to resolve the charges at the first meeting. A student charged actually has three options to resolve their charges. Two of these 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 with a conduct violation choose this option. In an Administrative Agreement, the student accepts responsibility for his/her charges and then works with the conduct officer to develop a set of sanctions that are appropriate based on the incident and the student's conduct 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. After all testimony and evidence is heard, the Hearing Officer/Board will then make a decision about the charged student’s responsibility for each charge.

What if I Don't Like the Decision from the Hearing? 
There are three reasons to appeal a Hearing Officer's/Board's decision:

  1. That the sanction imposed is too harsh for the incident.
  2. That your due process rights were ignored.
  3. 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 conduct system is the same as the court’s downtown. The College’s rules, regulations, and procedures are very different from the court system and one doesn't take the place of the other. You may be charged through the campus conduct system even though you have to go to court for the same incident.

Should you have additional questions about the conduct system or process, please feel free to call the Office of Student Conduct at 315-267-2579 or email at studentconduct@potsdam.edu.