Hearing Panel Procedures
Hearing Panel Ethics
Ethical standards have been established to protect the privacy of the student(s) involved in a hearing and to maintain the standards of the Honor & Integrity System. It is the responsibility of each Honor Hearing Panel member to observe the following ethical standards.
- Information regarding any student's disciplinary status is not to be discussed with anyone (roommate, friend, etc.) outside of the hearing panel.
- Any information given in confidence at an Honor Hearing should not be discussed outside the meeting.
- A Honor Hearing Panel member should not participate in a hearing where he/she feels unable to be fair and impartial.
- All members of the Honor Hearing Panel must uphold all decisions of the Hearing Panel, even though there may be dissenting opinions.
- The nature or status of any disciplinary situation is not to be discussed with anyone outside of the hearing.
- Members of the Honor Hearing Panel throughout the entire proceedings must maintain an objective attitude. Members have the obligation to disqualify themselves from the hearing when they feel they cannot be impartial in reaching a decision. When talking with a student, Honor Hearing Panel members must refrain from making accusations or statements that cannot be supported.
- Any decision reached by the Honor Hearing Panel must be based on information presented, not on extraneous information.
- The Honor Hearing Panel must respect the dignity of the student charged and the person bringing the charges at all times.
- No decision should be based on outside influence. An Honor Hearing Panel member approached by any person whose intent is to influence the deliberation should report the incident to the proper authority (Honor & Integrity System Director).
Attitudes and Behaviors of Successful Honor Hearing Panel Members
- To regard each student as a person deserving individual attention, consideration and respect. Listen to what he or she has to say.
- To find the main issue first and then address any secondary concern. Consider the facts carefully and fully before resolving any case.
- To speak candidly and honestly with each student. Be consistent with each hearing and fair to each student.
- To hold each student to a high standard of behavior, both to protect the campus community and to promote student moral development, but always have an open mind.
- To know the student's rights and be aware of the resources available. Always be ready to take responsibility for your actions.
- To recognize the reality of human fallibility, as well as the stresses associated with collegiate life, and to demonstrate compassion, understanding and a sense of humor.
- To never prejudge an alleged violator, but show him or her the proper respect by maintaining strict confidentiality. Be careful with becoming too emotionally involved in a hearing and always maintain control of the situation. There is a time to be emotional and a time to use thinking skills.
- To be professional in your dress, your conduct, and your communication.
- To defer to the Honor Hearing Panel Chair when in doubt.
- To speak your mind fully in all Honor Hearing Panel deliberations.
- To resolve any conflict with other panel members in a direct and respectful manner. The best decisions are arrived at after healthy debate.
Questioning and Fact Finding
A basic objective of the Honor Hearing Panel process is to obtain accurate information about a particular event or incident. Although much of the information needed for decision-making will be presented directly by the Reporter, Alleged Violator, and Case Investigators, effective questioning, or interviewing will generally elicit a more complete picture. How effective Honor Hearing Panel members are as interviewers will frequently affect the amount and clarity of information that will be available for consideration. Only by obtaining as much accurate information as possible can an Honor Hearing Panel render a decision that is sound.
Questioning is the most important aspect of the hearing panel process. As panel members become more skillful at phrasing their questions, more useful information will be obtained from all participants. In-depth questioning helps the board to ascertain the facts of the case and clarify vague issues.
During pre-hearing discussions, anticipate with other panel members what significant issues will require resolution. Formulate questions that will address the issues. As a hearing progresses, other questions will inevitably arise. These should be written down and brought up at an appropriate time during the hearing. Questions may be aimed at gaining factual information or asked to clarify confusing points. Motives may be relevant issues, 'why' questions can be especially helpful in focusing on such points.
Open Ended Questions
Carefully phrase your questions as open-ended (who, what, how) rather than close-ended (did you, were you). Close-ended questions often result in a yes/no response, which do not offer much additional information. In-depth questioning helps the panel to ascertain the true facts of the case and clarifies vague issues. Attention should be given to asking only one question at a time and not stringing three or four together.
Question: Were you intending to cheat when you borrowed the notes?
Question: What were your intentions when you borrowed the notes?
Response: I guess I was hoping to gain an edge in the class....
- Please tell us more about the incident?
- What effect did your actions have on the individuals present?
- How do you feel about the University's Honor & Integrity System?
- What other opinions were available to you in this situation?
- What is your understanding of the policy?
- How do you account for the discrepancies between your statement and the Case Investigator's?
- What responsibilities do you have regarding other members of the University community?
- Who was involved in the incident?
- When was the test administered?
- Why did you copy the work directly?
- How do you feel about the incident now, looking back at it?
- Do you feel you did anything wrong? Why?
Think of questioning as a primary tool for gathering information. Ask questions that are direct, simple and open-minded. The information derived will make deliberations much easier. Put the burden on the witnesses to tell the story.
The manner and tone in which questions are asked is important. Strive at all times to project a calm, concerned demeanor. Emotions do occasionally run high so always treat those at the hearing with courtesy and respect. Avoid asking needless questions and be careful not to ask any questions twice. In general, questions should be brief and avoid leading the person toward a specific answer. If a hearing participant breaks down, the chair can recess the hearing to allow him/her to regain composure. The chair has the power to dismiss a participant if they are out of control.
Remember that Silence is Golden
Do not be alarmed when a question is asked and the person does not respond immediately. It is natural to think about a response before responding. Allow the person ample time to think without undue pressure to respond quickly. If the person needs clarification, let him or her ask for it; don't assume that she or he does not understand the question.