Westminster College makes uses a Student Code of Conduct to govern its student body. the Code itself is located within Westminster's student handbook. Students who are suspected of violating the Code will be tried by the College's Judicial Process. If a student is found to be responsible for a violation, they will have sanctions imposed upon them by the College as punishment.
When a report of a violation is filed against a student, the process begins. Students will receive notice of violation accusations in writing, along with an invitation to a pre-hearing conference with an assigned hearing officer.
The Pre-Hearing Conference is a brief meeting between an accused student and the hearing officer following a report of an alleged violation. The purpose of the conference is to explain the judicial process, present the student with allegations against them, review the facts of the reports, and allow for an informal discussion of the matters with the hearing officer. After the conference has concluded, the student will then be able to select which manner to proceed: either an Administrative Hearing or a College Judicial Board Hearing.
An Administrative Hearing can be used when it is requested, or if the student admits responsibility during the Pre-Hearing Conference. Further discussion and investigation will be conducted if necessary. The hearing officer will use their own judgement to make a decision of the student's responsibility. Decisions are to be made using the standard of "more likely than not." The hearing officer can move the case to a College Judicial Board Hearing at any time if deemed necessary.
College Judicial Board Hearing
The full College Judicial Board consists of 8 total members: 4 faculty members, 4 students. The presence of only 5 of the 8 members is necessary to conduct a case. For each hearing, the board led by a chair. The chair will only vote in the event of a tie.
The chair will open the hearing by informing all participants of the processes. At hearings, students can present witnesses to support their case. They can also question any other witness testimony, and dispute any other written or physical evidence. Once all information has been heard, the board will excuse all participants. The board's decision will be made by majority vote. The standard of "more likely than not" will be used in deliberations. If the board finds that a student is responsible for a violation, they will recommend sanctions to the Vice President. The Vice President decides what sanctions are appropriate.
Students are entitled to the presence of an adviser of their choosing, however, there are some limitations. Attorneys are unable to attend hearings unless the hearing is related to criminal charges. Even without attending, an attorney providing support from behind the scenes can be incredibly beneficial to a student at a hearing. Attorneys can offer valuable insight into courtroom techniques for evidence presentation, cross-examination, and argument construction that can be incredibly helpful when applied to the student's hearing.
Westminster College Appeals
If the hearing results in an unfavorable outcome, students may make an appeal. Appeals must be made within 7 days of the decision. The grounds for appeal are a violation of proper procedures, a claim that student did not violate the code, or unjust sanctions. If the appeal is approved, an Appeal Hearing will take place in front of the College Appeals Board. If the Appeal Hearing does not result in a favorable outcome, a secondary appeal can be made to the President of the College on the same grounds.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Westminster College, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.