Mercyhurst University uses a Conduct Code to govern its student body. The Code consists of a number of actions a student can take that are prohibited by the University, and the sanctions that are recommended to serve as punishment. The code is upheld by Mercyhurst's Student Conduct System. Students who violate the Code will face hearings, and if found responsible, sanctions.
Hearings will typically follow a process similar to the Title IX process, used for cases involving sexual misconduct, though special procedures are taken during the Title IX process. Once a complaint is filed against a student, an investigation will take place, with either specified University personnel or the University's Title IX coordinator leading it. At hearings the person who is facing charges will be known as the "respondent," while the person or entity pushing the charges forward will be known as the "complainant."
Lower level violations, including Title IX violations that are deemed less severe, can be handled at the level of an Administrative Hearing. The student accused of a violation will have a meeting with a single administrator. At an Administrative Hearing, the complaint or the complainant themselves will make a statement. The hearing officer will then question the complainant, and after this, the complainant will make a closing statement. The respondent will follow the same process. If there are any witnesses they will be presented and questioned by the hearing officers, and if necessary, the investigator will clarify any outstanding issues. The respondent will receive the results and outcome of this hearing in writing.
When a violation is of a more destructive nature or is higher-level offense, such as one that would result in expulsion or suspension, a hearing panel will be assembled to hear out and decide upon a case. The flow of a hearing panel meeting will follow the same process as an administrative hearing. The complainant will make a statement, then will be questioned by the hearing panel, and later make a closing statement. The respondent will then do the same. Witnesses will be heard and questioned by the panel, and any outstanding issues will be clarified by the investigator. Finally the panel will follow up with any parties necessary, then close the hearing for deliberations.
At either hearing, students are entitled to the assistance of an attorney at their side. Students with an attorney at their side will receive both a boost in confidence as well as the valuable counsel of a courtroom-tested lawyer. An attorney's counsel can provide helpful insight into methods of making arguments and presenting evidence that can be incredibly effective in a hearing.
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students can make an appeal within 7 calendar days of their decision letter. The grounds for appeal are a deviation from written procedures, new information, a decision not based on substantive information, or suspicion of bias from the adjudicating authority.
At times, the authority deciding on the appeal may request an appeal hearing with the student. Students can present information, witnesses, and other exhibits at the hearing. Similar to the initial hearing, attorneys are allowed to attend an appeal hearing as well.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Mercyhurst University, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.