Appealing Conduct Decisions
An accused student may dispute a disciplinary outcome to the university Appeals Board (AB). Students, faculty and administrators who serve as members of the AB are appointed by the university president to serve on the board. An appeal will be reviewed by a panel of no fewer than three AB members. The purpose of the appeals process is to provide a check and balance on the original process and decision. The role of the AB is to consider the specific claims regarding that process and decision rather than to substitute its judgment for that of the original hearing body. However, where the AB determines error in a case, it has the authority to make decisions relative to the issues raised by the appealing student.
Appeals shall be submitted in writing to the Office of Student Conduct & Campus Values, and will normally include a letter from the student explaining the basis for her or his appeal. A student may also decide to include additional documentation he or she believes is relevant toward the AB's consideration. Appeals must be full and complete upon submission. Following appeal, disciplinary outcomes becomes final and are not subject to further review or appeal under the conduct process.
Basis for Appeal
A student may dispute a disciplinary outcome for one or more of the following issues:
- The conduct process was not conducted fairly, and/or was not in conformity with the procedures prescribed in the Student Code, such that significant prejudice resulted.
- The decision regarding the accused student was not based on substantial information; that is, that the facts presented were not sufficient to support the finding of the hearing body.
- The sanction imposed was disproportionate relative to the violation of the Student Code for which the accused student was found responsible.
- New information unknown to the appealing student at the time of the original hearing has been discovered, which is sufficient to alter the decision.
Authority of the Appeals Board
If the Appeals Board agrees with any claim in the accused student's appeal letter, it has the authority to review the case. Normally, examination is limited to the written case record and any supporting documents that were submitted. The AB has a range of authority regarding modification of findings and sanctions.
Students should refer to the Submitting an Appeal section in the Code of Student Conduct for a more detailed explanation of this authority and of the entire appeals process.
Because the Appeals Board is appointed by the President and serves as a review panel for conduct decisions on behalf of that office, and because an appeal proceeding is not designed as an additional hearing, it is important to submit an appeal letter that is clear, concise, and provides the best and appropriate information to be considered by the Appeals Board.
Below are some helpful suggestions that can assist you in preparing an effective appeal.
- Consider carefully your decision to appeal. Keep in mind that submission subject the outcome to further consideration. If the appeal is denied, sanction decisions can be increased by the Appeals Board. Conduct administrators and the CRSB work carefully to arrive at findings and sanctions that are reasoned and just, and have learning at their core. While errors can occur in these decisions, it is important as a charged student to understand the University's decision and concerns, and then consider that against your own awareness and belief about the incident and any conduct history you may have.
- Be clear about your basis for appeal. The grounds for the appeal is the first litmus test used by Appeals Board in its review. If the basis is not clearly articulated, your appeal is not likely to receive good consideration.
- Character references are generally not helpful. The University believes that all members of the community are of good character. Our appeals process is about behavior and whether or not the University's conduct process was applied correctly. While charged students may submit to the Appeals Board anything information they feel is relevant to their case, character letters and references generally have minimal impact on the deliberation of that panel. As in life, sometimes good people engage in poor choices.
- Seek assistance. The notion of writing an appeal can feel daunting. It does not need to be. First, the OCRS and conduct administrators recognize appeal as part of the overall conduct process, and are therefore prepared to assist you. Trusted faculty member or staff members are good resources to have review your written appeal and can help identify areas where your concerns may not be clear.
- Submit your appeal on time. Be certain to submit your appeal to the OCRS by the deadline. Appeals submitted late do not receive consideration and outcomes become final.
If you have questions about the appeal process or need additional guidance, please contact the Office of Community Rights and Standards at 740-587-6271. We are ready to assist you.