Components of the Judicial System
Student Judicial Process
DEAN OF STUDENTS OFFICE
The Dean of Students Office shall have initial jurisdiction in alleged violations of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action and of the The Statement of Relationship between Rensselaer and Social Fraternities and Sororities. The Dean of Students Office will issue verdicts and assign penalties, either of which may be appealed to the appropriate board. All decisions of boards are recommended to the Dean of Students Office for implementation or, in civil cases, to communicate the outcome to the parties involved.
A judicial inquiry is initiated when the Dean of Students Office is made aware that a student or group may be involved in, or have been witness to, a violation of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action.
A student is required to be present at said inquiry when requested by the Dean of Students Office or designee. Failure to comply with this request may result in a hold being placed on a student’s records, grades, transcripts, registration and degree, and the inquiry being conducted in the student’s absence.
If a student is requested to be present at a judicial inquiry, he or she will be informed of the nature of the concern, of the option to consult a Student Judicial Adviser before speaking to the hearing officer, and will be reminded to review the judicial process. The student is responsible to answer fully and truthfully all questions. Failure to do so may be considered a violation of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action (knowingly providing false testimony or evidence). The student has the right to refuse to answer specific questions only if the student’s responses would tend to incriminate him or her in a violation of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action. The student must, however, state his or her reasons for refusing to answer. The student may have a Student Judicial Adviser present at a judicial inquiry, only with expressed permission of the hearing officer.
The judicial inquiry may not necessarily result in disciplinary action but is part of the fact finding phase of the judicial process. The student will be asked questions about the incident. Other persons may be present only rarely and at the hearing officer’s sole discretion. The hearing officer may choose to adjourn the inquiry at any time in order to obtain further information from other sources.
Following this fact finding phase, the hearing officer decides whether disciplinary action is necessary and may then either adjourn the inquiry or make a judgment and assign a penalty at the conclusion of the Judicial Inquiry. If the student accepts the judgment and penalty, the case is considered resolved. A letter confirming the matter will be sent to the student and placed in the student’s general file in the Dean of Students Office for a period of time which will be indicated in the letter. In addition, at the sole discretion of the Dean of Students Office, a copy of the letter may be sent to the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). The decision of a hearing officer may be appealed to the appropriate hearing board by either party. The written appeal must be sent to the Board Chairperson via the Senior Judicial Administrator in the Dean of Students Office within three (3) Institute business days of receiving the hearing officer’s decision.
The verdicts issued and penalties assigned within the Student Judicial System may be appealed to a board and ultimately to the President. A student may request an appeal to the appropriate judicial body through the hearing officer or Senior Judicial Administrator. This process will be discussed with the student. Appeal requests must be submitted in writing from the appellant specifically, within the time limit designated; must include the specific reasons/rationale and supporting information for requesting an appeal; and can be only for the reasons/grounds stated subsequently. Upon receipt of the appeal request, the appropriate judicial body will proceed accordingly.
Once a student accepts a judicial decision, or if an appeal request is not submitted according to the above requirements and by the date and time designated, the decision stands as final and cannot be further appealed.
GROUNDS FOR APPEAL
Grounds for appeal include only: demonstrated procedural error; new evidence that could not have been discovered by the accused student prior to the time of the original decision which would be likely to change the results of the previous outcome; and/or sanctions that are not appropriate for the violations. Note: A mandatory minimum sanction is not negotiable and cannot be reduced.
THE HEARING BOARDS
There are several hearing boards that will hear appeals of the decision of the Dean of Students Office or other Institute action. In certain instances these boards may hear a case without a judicial inquiry, these are:
Civil cases between students or student groups including all student government disputes.
Cases referred directly to a hearing board by the Dean of Students Office. However, such a referral would only be due to rare and/or extenuating circumstances.
Cases not initiated in the Dean of Students Office, such as Faculty Academic Board cases and the academic grading portion of academic dishonesty cases.
The hearing boards will hear cases depending upon their nature and may issue verdicts and assign penalties. Both parties involved have the option to accept the decision of the hearing board or appeal to the Review Board. If both parties accept the board’s decision, it stands as final. Hearing boards are governed by their own bylaws. To request a hearing of one of these boards you must provide a written appeal, per the previous specifications, within three (3) Institute business days of notification of the original judicial decision.
The Judicial Board has jurisdiction in alleged violations of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action by students or groups, and in civil cases between students/groups. The Judicial Board is comprised of seven students.
Greek Judicial Board
The Greek Judicial Board can hear cases involving alleged violations of the Grounds for Disciplinary Action, The Statement of Relationship between Rensselaer and Social Fraternities and Sororities, and of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) or Panhellenic Council (PC) Constitution of by-laws by a recognized fraternity or sorority. If a case is referred to a hearing board, the person/group bringing the original charges has the option to have the case heard by either the Greek Judicial Board or jointly by the Judicial Board and the Greek Judicial Board. If the case is heard jointly by these Boards, the Judicial Board will determine the verdict and the Greek Board will determine the penalty. The Greek Judicial Board is comprised of nine students.
Faculty Academic Board
The Faculty Academic Board shall hear the appeals of final course grades, but only after a student has been unsuccessful in resolving this dispute with his or her professor, the Department Chair, and the Dean of the School, and when the student alleges the wrongful assigning of a grade. This allegation must be based upon a violation of the course syllabus, a violation of Institute policy by the professor/ instructor, or a violation of the student’s rights under the Student Bill of Rights. The Faculty Academic Board is comprised of five faculty members.
The Joint Board
The Joint Board has civil jurisdiction over alleged violations of Institute rules, rights, or regulations by an academic unit, an administrative unit, or by Rensselaer itself when the complainant is a student or a student group. The Joint Board will not hear a matter unless genuine, demonstrable attempts to resolve it with the unit and its supervisor have been unsuccessful. The Joint Board’s decision may then be appealed directly to the President by either party within five (5) Institute business days of receiving the Joint Board decision. The Joint Board consists of three Judicial Board members, three faculty members, and one administrator. The Judicial Board Chairperson also chairs the Joint Board.
The decision of a lower board may be appealed to the Review Board, by either party. The written appeal must be sent to the Review Board Chairperson via the Senior Judicial Administrator in the Dean of Students Office, within five (5) Institute business days of receiving the lower board’s decision. The Review Board will then meet to discuss the merits of the appeal. Based solely upon the written evidence before it (including the letter of appeal) the Review Board will decide one of the following: to uphold the decision of the lower body; to modify the verdict or sanction(s) of the lower body; to refer the case back to the lower body with instructions for further action; or to conduct a hearing. If the Review Board decides to conduct a hearing, it will determine what information will be examined or further clarified. The Review Board is an appeals board and only reviews lower board decisions. The Review Board consists of two students, two faculty members, and one administrator.
The decisions of the Review Board and the Joint Board may be subject to final determination by the President of the Institute, at the written request of either party involved, within five (5) Institute business days of notification of the board’s decision. Appeals of Review Board decisions are made by either party via the Senior Judicial Administrator in the Dean of Students Office. Appeals of Joint Board decisions are made by either party directly to the President. The President is unconstrained in the procedure he or she chooses to employ in the context of such a review including making a determination based solely on the written evidence (including the letter of appeal).
DEVIATION FROM PROCEDURES
Deviation from the above listed procedures will not invalidate a decision or proceeding unless it causes significant prejudice to the accused student, which the student must bring to the attention of the applicable panel, committee, or board immediately upon belief that such prejudice occurred. In determining whether a deviation caused significant prejudice, the applicable panel, committee, or board shall consider whether the course of the proceedings would have been substantially different had the deviation not occurred. The applicable panel, committee, or board also shall determine whether the accused student gave adequate notice of the alleged procedural event.