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The Academic Integrity Hearing

If a hearing before the University Review Committee is necessary, either because the charge or penalty is disputed or because this is a second offense, it will be convened by an Academic Dean as quickly as possible, but usually no later than three weeks after the Dean has received the signed or unsigned settlement form. Committee members will be provided with a detailed outline of the hearing process.

The URC consists of a teaching faculty member who is a current or former member of  the Student Academic Life Committee, who will chair the hearing, two additional teaching faculty members, and two students. Faculty and student members are chosen by the convenor from a pool of volunteers identified by the Student Academic Life Committee. The Student Academic Life Committee will identify this pool in February of each year with the pool to begin service on March 1st.  The Student Academic Life Committee may add members to the pool as needed. In the event an insufficient number of members of the pool are available when a URC needs to be convened, the convenor may ask other faculty members or students to serve on the URC. In such cases the convenor will share the names of the URC with the Chair of the Student Academic Life Committee. Each URC board member will receive training prior to serving on his or her first URC. The convenor observes and records the hearing, but does not participate in committee deliberations.

The membership of this committee is made known to parties involved prior to a hearing. Student, faculty members and administrative alternates are also designated for the committee. Either party can ask the committee’s chair that a committee member not serve on the hearing panel because of bias or conflict of interest. The chair shall decide if there are sufficient grounds to honor this request. If a committee member is unable to attend the hearing, or if a member is excluded because of potential bias or conflict of interest, an alternate will be asked to serve. Committee members are required to attend the hearing in person.

Nature of the hearing. There are two types of academic hearings: one to decide a disputed charge or penalty, the other to consider disciplinary matters following a second offense. A hearing of the University Review Committee is intended to be an orderly, fair inquiry into the facts bearing on the case and only material related to the written charges may be considered during the hearing. The hearing is not intended to be a trial concerned with technical formalities. 

The party bringing the charge and the accused student will usually attend the hearing in person. If there is no reasonable alternative that permits a timely hearing, either or both parties may participate remotely or may provide only a written statement with the permission of the convenor. If one or both parties fails to participate in a previously scheduled hearing, the hearing will go forward and the committee will reach its conclusion on responsibility and the appropriate penalty on the basis of evidence presented at the hearing.

Related Cases. At the discretion of the convenor, related cases may be heard sequentially by the same hearing board. When structured in this way, the parties involved in the first case will be heard, followed by the parties involved in the second case and so on. The hearing board will then deliberate before deciding if it wishes to call the parties for one or more cases back in sequence for additional questions. This process may be repeated as necessary before the hearing board starts its final deliberations. At the discretion of the convenor, a hearing for related cases may span multiple days.

Confidentiality. Hearing proceedings are confidential. Committee members, students, faculty members, recorders, advisors, and witnesses are enjoined from mentioning names of those involved or details that might reveal the identity of the student or faculty member, and from discussing presentations or committee deliberations.

Presentation; burden of proof; rights.When a hearing is convened to hear a disputed charge or penalty, the faculty member referring the case presents the evidence of the offense to the panel. The student may present counter-evidence if he or she wishes. Either party may have a faculty member, staff member, or student advisor and each has the right to call and question witnesses. The burden of proof is on the faculty member, who must establish the responsibility of the student by a preponderance of the evidence. (In matters of academic integrity, the evidence does not have to constitute overwhelming, irrefutable proof of responsibility, but only has to convince the panel that the violation took place.) Faculty members may refer cases based on the testimony of other students; in doing so, however, the faculty member should make sure either that the students who provided the testimony are willing to appear as witnesses at the hearing or that there is corroborating evidence that substantiates the charge. Other procedures for due process shall be followed, and records (including a tape recording of the hearing) shall be kept. Tapes will be erased after the appeal period has elapsed. Written records will be destroyed after five years.

URC penalties.The URC imposes penalties for dishonesty according to the nature of the violation. URC penalties may include a letter of warning, grade penalties, failure in the class, suspension, or dismissal. If the URC finds that there has been no violation, or if the URC does not find a preponderance of evidence that a violation has taken place, the student will be exonerated.

Second Offense. When a hearing is convened to consider disciplinary penalties related to a second offense, the chair reviews the offenses, as put forth in the settlement forms or in previous hearing reports, and asks the student if there are any comments he or she would like to make in regard to these offenses. Since these cases have already been decided, either through settlement or previous hearing, there is no need to reconsider them. In most cases, it is unnecessary to call witnesses, unless the committee or the student feels the reports are unclear in some respect that a witness can clarify. The sole consideration of the committee at a second offense hearing is whether further disciplinary sanctions (usually suspension or dismissal) should be applied.