Student Conduct Process

Reviewed and Updated:  August 2017

Statement of Purpose

Saint John's University recognizes that our community is unique. It embraces students, faculty, staff, and monks living together in a learning community that is grounded in Benedictine values which uphold the rights and responsibilities of everyone in respecting each member of the community and the common good of all. The purpose of the student conduct process is to assure that the rights and responsibilities of individual students and the community as a whole are clearly respected. Saint John's University is charged with the responsibility of creating and maintaining campus learning environment that is safe and orderly, that builds an awareness of the rationale for rules and regulations, that promotes an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of students, and that instills a sense of accountability for individual behavior. The student conduct process is the means by which students are found responsible or not responsible for allegations of behavioral policy violations, and by which appropriate sanctions are administered.

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Educational Role of Student Conduct Process

Saint John's University has deliberately created a student conduct process that is educational in focus, a process in which the hearing officer or board uses discussion to determine the responsibility of students who have been alleged to have violated Saint John's University policies or standards of behavior, and to determine an appropriate response. This process is not a legal process, nor does it set the institution against the student in an adversarial position for the process of discovery, nor does it sanction punitively. Rather, the student conduct process itself, and the outcomes prescribed by the hearing officer, panel, or board, are educational in nature, challenging the student to learn from the incident. (Regrettably, this educational process can result in painful lessons, such as students losing their privilege of participation in extracurricular activities, athletics, or their continued residence or enrollment at Saint John's.)

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Administration of Student Conduct Process

Policies, rules, and standards affecting student life outside of the academic realm are the responsibility of the Vice President for Student Development, as is the subsequent development, publication, interpretation, and enforcement of these student life policies. The Vice President for Student Development delegates the administration of the student conduct process to the Dean of Students (or designee). The Dean of Students (or designee) trains appropriate University personnel to serve as hearing officers or on hearing boards. Hearing boards may be comprised of faculty, staff, and/or students.

The J-Book serves as the University's student handbook, and students are responsible for knowing and observing the policies, rules, and standards found therein. Enrollment at Saint John's University signifies the intention of the student to live in accordance with J-Book policies, rules, and standards of the community. When an incident occurs that is not covered in the J-Book, the judgment of the Vice President for Student Development or his/her designee will determine the appropriate institutional response. It is important to note that actions taken by a University officer are not limited to the parameters of the University's student conduct process. Primary among those actions not dealt with in the J-Book are: actions taken against students whose behavior is patently criminal but not specifically addressed in the J-Book; actions taken in those situations that require professional intervention; and student employment matters.

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Student Conduct Process and Policy Review

Proposed changes to the student conduct process or to University policies shall be submitted to the Vice President for Student Development. The Vice President for Student Development is charged with presenting student life/policy revisions to the appropriate advisory bodies (including Student Senate, the Student Development Advisory Committee, and the Residential Life Staff) for review and recommendation. The final decision for student life/policy revisions rests with the Vice President for Student Development. In the event that a policy or rule must be enacted immediately, the Vice President for Student Development will notify the President's Cabinet, the Student Development Advisory Committee, and the Saint John's Senate of the policy change, its effective date, and the reasons for the immediate implementation. Changes may be made in the student handbook or policies contained in the handbook and applied to students without prior notice as noted in the disclaimer in the J-Book. The date of a policy change will be noted in the J-Book.

The Student Development Advisory Committee serves ad hoc and may be chosen from a pool of individuals including Residential Life staff, the Dean of Students (or designee), the Director of Residential Life, Student Senators, Resident Assistants and others deemed appropriate by the Vice President for Student Development.

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Hearings may be conducted by a hearing officer or board depending on the incident as determined by the Dean of Students (or designee). Hearings are not open to the public. The only people allowed to attend the hearings are the Dean of Students (or designee), hearing officer, or board, the student, an optional personal advisor selected by the student(s) from within the educational community, and those witnesses who may be called by the student(s) or the hearing officer or board during the time of their hearing. Also see Rights of Students.

Levels of Adjudication

  1. Faculty Residents will typically adjudicate minor infractions, a first or second offense or a violation of the housing contract. In the event that a student does not live on campus, cases will be adjudicated by the Campus Life Personnel designated, by the Dean of Students.
  2. The Dean of Students (or designee) or the Community Conduct and Standards Board will adjudicate administrative cases. These cases typically involve: (a) a repetitive behavior, (b) a student who has accrued a number of violations, (c) a drug related incident, (d) a substance related incident that resulted in the transportation of a student to either detox or the hospital. (e) an arrest (f) the safety of the student or the community. Additionally, an Appeal of a Faculty Resident hearing will be adjudicated at this level. Also see Appeals.
  3. Vice President for Student Development or a designated hearing committee will typically adjudicate appeals from the Administrative Hearings.  The purpose of the hearing is for the hearing officer or board to come to a deeper understanding of a documented incident by hearing from the participants and to then make decisions about responsibility for policy violations and appropriate sanctions. The student will explain his account of the incident and may call witnesses as outlined in the "Rights of Students" section if necessary. The hearing officer, panel, or board will ask questions of the student and of any witnesses to clarify points and gain a better understanding of the incident and the students' needs. At the end of the questioning, the student will be invited to make a closing statement. Also see Appeals and Rights of Students.

If there is more than one student, each student will have an opportunity to make opening and closing statements and respond to questions.

The hearing officer or board will be charged with determining if the student is responsible or not responsible for violations of University policies, rules, or standards in his involvement in the incident. If the student is found responsible, appropriate sanctions will be prescribed. The final decision is communicated to the student in writing within five (5) business days of a decision being reached.

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Rights of Students

A student going through the Saint John's student conduct system is afforded certain due process or procedural rights.

A student has the right to:

  1. Receive written/email notification of the incident being addressed.
  2. Receive a timely hearing.
  3. Bring a personal advisor to the hearing who must be another student, faculty or staff member who is not a party to the case. The advisor may not serve as a witness, verbally represent the student, or question witnesses.
  4. Question the documentation of the incident or witnesses who offer their account.
  5. Present information and witnesses on his own behalf. The number of witnesses called may be determined by the hearing officer in order to limit unnecessary repetition during the hearing.
  6. Respond or not respond on his own behalf. A student may present his testimony. Exercising one's right not to respond will not be inferred as an admission of responsibility.
  7. Attend or not attend the hearing. In choosing not to attend, the student forfeits his right to question the documentation or witnesses who may be called.
  8. Assurance that any board determination of responsibility is based only on the discussion and evidence presented at the hearing.
  9. Unaltered status at the University until final determination is reached, although the Vice President for Student Development or the Dean of Students has the right to apply interim protective sanctions. These will be applied if it is determined that the student's presence on campus poses a serious threat to the safety or well being of the student, the University, or the community.
  10. Receive written notification of a decision within five (5) business Days
  11. Appeal to the appropriate next level as outlined in the "Appeals" section within five (5) business days of receipt of written notification of the decision of the hearing officer or board. Also see Appeals.

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Sanctions are applied upon finding a student responsible for a violation of University policies or standards. Sanctions are intended to educate the student and encourage appropriate behavior in the community. Sanctions will be outlined in writing by the hearing officer or board, and may include, but are not limited to a written or verbal warning; disciplinary probation for a specified period of time during which any further violations would result in review of the student's status at the University; suspension, whereby the student is prohibited for a specified period of time from attending classes, visiting the University or attending University events without prior written approval from the Dean of Students (or designee); removal of the student from campus housing or an on-campus living requirement; or expulsion, dismissal of the student and permanent removal from the University without possible readmission. Sanctions may also include referral for chemical assessment or counseling, fines, restitution, educational projects or other actions deemed appropriate by the hearing officer or board.

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Students sanctioned for violation of University policies, rules, or standards have the right to file a written appeal of the decision to the Office of Campus Life within five (5) business days of receipt of written notification of the outcome. The Dean of Students (or designee) will review and respond without a hearing, hear the appeal, or forward the appeal to the Vice President for Student Affairs if that level of appeal is required.

A student may appeal the outcome of a disciplinary hearing on any of the following conditions:

  1. Alleged procedural errors which substantially affected the rights of the student.
  2. Introduction of new information of a character that would likely affect the decision.
  3. Incompatibility of the decision with the information presented.
  4. Excessive penalty.

Appeals will be heard at the next level above the original hearing (i.e., appeals of decisions made by Faculty Residents go to the Administrative Level; Appeals of decisions made at the Administrative Level will be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Development). Students will be allowed to appeal the decision of a particular case only once.

Upon receiving an appeal of a decision made at the Administrative level the Vice President for Student Development may:

  1. Review and respond without a hearing;
  2. Hear the appeal personally;
  3. Remand the case back to the original hearing officer or board for reconsideration;
  4. Form an ad hoc advisory committee to review the decision and make recommendations that will be used to inform his decision.

When a student appeals the outcome of their hearing, the appellate may uphold the decision or the sanctions of the hearing officer or board; overturn the decision and/or sanction; apply stricter sanctions.

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Special Provisions

The University student conduct process addresses issues involving student life but does not guide all matters involving a student's behavior. Special provisions have been made for the following:

  1. Student behaviors in campus residence areas that disregard University rules, policies, standards, and/or affect living in community may be handled by residence life staff including the Director of Residence Life, the Faculty Resident, or Resident Assistant.
  2. Students participating in international studies programs are subject to actions by the appropriate Program Director, Office for Education Abroad staff member, or Academic Dean or the Provost.
  3. Student employment matters are handled directly by the appropriate supervisor or financial aid personnel.
  4. Parking violations are handled by Life Safety Services personnel and can be appealed to the Parking Appeals Board.
  5. Student behavior that may affect the safety of individuals and property may be subject to immediate action by a University official exercising reasonable authority including, but not limited to, confiscation of property, exclusion of a person from campus, and placing a person in the custody of the proper civil authority.
  6. Student behaviors involving possible violations of the Human Rights Policy or the Sexual Misconduct Policy are addressed through separate hearing procedures as provided for in the Human Rights Policy and Sexual Misconduct Policy, respectively.
  7. Nothing within this judicial system shall limit the authority of the President to discipline to the extent of expulsion anyone who has acted contrary to the rules, regulations, and norms of the University or against its best interests. If the President, or the President's designee, exercises this power, a written explanation must be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Development.

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Community Conduct and Standards Board

The Community Conduct and Standards Board has been designed as an option through which Saint John's University may address the actions of any student who violates University policies in such a serious or repetitive pattern of behavior that a greater community-based response is necessary. The Community Conduct and Standards Board is composed of students, faculty residents, faculty and staff who work with the Dean of Students (or designee) to uphold the educational goals of our community. The purpose of the Board is to hear cases involving students who have allegedly violated University policies or expectations to determine the responsibility of the student for the alleged violation, and to determine the appropriate educational sanctions.

Membership of the Board

The membership of the Community Conduct and Standards Board shall consist of two students, one Faculty Resident (who will chair the board), and two additional SJU faculty or staff members. The Dean of Students (or designee) will serve as an advisory member. Student members are selected through an annual interview process involving current board members, Faculty Residents, and the Dean of Students (or designee). Two Faculty Residents will be selected through a vote of the faculty residents. Student and faculty resident members shall serve on the board for one academic year and may continue after an annual review.

Conduct of Board Members

Members of the Community Conduct and Standards Board must serve as positive role models to their peers if they are to serve as a member of the judicial system. Therefore, it is essential that members uphold all regulations and policies of Saint John's University. Violations of any of the expectations listed below may result in a board member being removed from his position after a meeting with the Dean of Students (or designee). Members shall:

  • Show respect, concern, and acceptance for all hearing participants.
  • Maintain in confidence all information learned in relation to a judicial hearing.
  • Refrain from disclosing the discipline record of any student outside of the hearing.
  • Attend all training sessions.
  • Demonstrate thorough knowledge of student rights and responsibilities, hearing procedures, and sanctions.
  • Maintain a current understanding of Saint John's University policies.
  • Actively participate in decision-making when deliberating.
  • Excuse themselves from a hearing where knowledge about a student or an incident would affect their ability to arrive at a fair and reasonable decision.
  • Uphold the regulations, policies, and expectations of Saint John's University

Ad Hoc Advisory Committee

When the Vice President for Student Development chooses to form an appeal committee, the membership of the Ad Hoc Committee for a hearing shall be chosen from a pool of individuals including: members of the Community Conduct and Standards Board; faculty representatives, Faculty Residents; and  Resident Assistants. In addition, the Dean of Students (or designee) shall present the case for the hearing but does not participate in the decision making process. The composition of the Ad Hoc Committee will be determined by the Vice President for Student Development. Members will abide by the same rules and guidelines as outlined for members of the Community Conduct and Standards Board. The Ad Hoc Committee hearing will follow the same procedural outline listed above.  Also see Appeals and Hearings

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