Depending on where you attend college, you could end up in front of the honor code board for any number of missteps, from cheating on a test to sexual misconduct. If you or your child has been called for a hearing before the honor code board, you are probably worried about what it means for the future. Although your attorney will help you prepare for the process at your particular school, here are a few things you can generally expect at your hearing:
- The board sets a hearing time. The board’s first step is to set a hearing date and time, and send you that information along with details of the charges against you.
- Other people may attend. If others were involved in the action you are accused of, the board may hold a hearing for all of you at one time. If the allegation involves sexual misconduct, the board often allows the accuser to participate in the hearing. Some schools allow you to bring witnesses to speak on your behalf.
- Advisors. Depending on the school and the accusations faced, the board may allow you to bring a faculty advisor or a legal advisor. If the accusations could lead to criminal charges, you can usually have an outside advisor.
- The board members. The board usually consists of several people who will ask questions and decide together about your responsibility and imposing any sanctions against you.
- The standard for review. When the board reviews the evidence, it must decide how persuasive the evidence is that you have done something wrong. Some schools use a standard that the evidence must be “clear and convincing” that you are responsible. Other schools only require a “preponderance” of the evidence, meaning more likely than not, you are responsible.
- Sanctions. If the board votes to impose sanctions, they may include anything from a written reflection to a fine to probation or even expulsion if the accusation is very serious.
- Outcome is confidential. Most of the time, the outcome is confidential. If the alleged action had a victim, like in sexual assault or harassment, the board may notify the victim of the outcome.
- Appeals. Most schools will have an appeals process if you disagree with the outcome. Grounds for appeals are generally quite limited.
An honor code hearing can be stressful. The outcome of an honor code hearing can have a lasting effect on your academic career and your future. Hopefully, knowing a little more about what to expect at your hearing will help you feel better prepared.