Swarthmore College maintains governance over its student body using a Code of Conduct consisting of the College's Rules and Regulations. The Code and the procedures for maintaining the Code are located in Swarthmore's student handbook. Students who exhibit actions that are not in line with the Rules and Regulations of the Code of Conduct will face allegations of violations and judgement through the College's Student Conduct Procedures. If a student is held responsible for a violation, they will have sanctions imposed on them by the College.
Anyone within the College Community can file a complaint against a student for a violation. Throughout the Student Conduct Process, the person who filed the initial complaint will be known as the "complainant" while the student facing charges will be known as the "respondent." There are two separate procedures for resolving allegations of violations.
Minor Misconduct Process
The Minor Misconduct Process will be used for allegations that do not entail sanctions of suspension or expulsion. This process will involve a brief meeting, conducted by Associate Dean of Students or a designated staff member. This person will be known as the student conduct administrator. The respondent will receive the allegations in writing and will be given a meeting time and place. The respondent can review the information contained in the allegations and can make a response to allegations. The student conduct administrator will make a decision after all the information has been heard, and will issue sanctions, if necessary. The student conduct administrator can also choose to elevate the incident and refer the matter to College Judiciary Committee, if the investigation or discussion reveals things that make the case more serious.
Major Misconduct Process
The Major Misconduct Process will be used for allegations that can result in suspension or expulsion. Allegations resolved through the Major Misconduct Process have two types of hearings.
Either the complainant or the respondent can request an Administrative Hearing, but both parties must agree to use this hearing. The hearing itself will be conducted by a student conduct administrator. At the hearing, an investigative report will be used as the acceptable evidence for making a decision. An investigative report is a compilation of the written allegation, summaries of any investigative interviews, written statements and other documents. Administrative Hearings are commonly used to determine sanctions when a respondent has already admitted responsibility for a violation.
College Judiciary Committee Hearing
The College Judiciary Committee is made up of 5 voting panelists: 2 faculty members, 1 administrator, and 2 students. The Committee is supported by a student conduct administrator who does not vote but instead attempts to preserve procedural integrity and order.
The student conduct administrator will call the hearing to order. The investigator for the allegations will provide an investigation summary. Following this, the respondent, complainant, and Committee can question the investigator. Next, the complainant will make an opening statement, followed by the respondent's opening statement. After the opening statements have been made, the Committee will call witnesses forward. The Committee can question witnesses for their own purposes. If the complainant or respondent wish to question witnesses, they must first present their questions through the Committee. The student conduct administrator can call back any witness for additional questions. Finally, complainant and respondent will make their closing statements, with the complainant going first. The complainant and the respondent can also submit an impact statement to be used during the sanctioning phase if the respondent is held responsible. The respondent's responsibility for a violation is determined using the standard of a "preponderance of evidence."
At hearings, students are normally assigned a "case manager" who is automatically selected for them by the College. Students can request their own, however, because a member of the College community is likely to be limited in the scope of how they can help. An attorney offering counsel to a student from behind the scenes can be of great assistance. Students who receive counsel from an attorney will gain valuable insight into courtroom-proven methods of witness questioning and argument construction, which can be incredibly helpful in a College hearing setting.
Swarthmore College Appeals
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students will have the chance to appeal. Appeals must be made within 3 business days of the written notice of the outcome. The grounds for appeal are new evidence, procedural error, or disproportionate sanctions.
If you or your student is facing disciplinary action from Swarthmore College, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.