The College of New Jersey Student Handbook outlines unacceptable behaviors at The College. Although The College neither substitutes for nor interferes with local, state, or federal legal processes, there may be circumstances when The College should take action through its own applicable disciplinary processes that potentially overlap with external criminal or civil proceedings. When an act committed off-campus (1) poses a substantial and continuing danger to the safety and/or property of The College or members of its community (for example, sexual assault, the illegal distribution of controlled substances); and/or (2) otherwise constitutes a serious criminal offense, The College may take official internal action to protect its orderly functioning as an academic community. In such cases, the college administrative officials will advise affected parties of sources of appropriate assistance.
In order to maintain the safety and welfare of the campus community, The College of New Jersey specifically prevents behaviors which interfere with or threatens the welfare of others. It is impossible to list all the acts that might constitute unacceptable conduct, or violations of community standards or college policies. However, any conduct deemed unacceptable by The College, including but not limited to those behaviors explicit within this section, is prohibited. It is the responsibility of each student to become familiar with these behavioral expectations.
A Brief Overview of the Residential Conduct Process
The College Judicial System exists to resolve alleged violations of College policy. The rationale for such a system is two-fold: it sets and enforces a minimum standard of acceptable behavior within the campus community, and it provides an educational venue for helping students see how their behavior affects themselves and those around them.
While there are general rules which govern all campus disciplinary processes, different aspects of campus life call for specific applications of these processes. For example, there are specific routes and procedures for Academic Integrity Issues, Greek Organizations, Off-campus and Residential Students, as well as others. The Chief Disciplinary Officer in the Office of the Vice President for Student Life serves as the coordinator of these processes and also administers disciplinary processes for off-campus students as well as any alleged violation that may result in suspension or expulsion.
Situations in which students are alleged to have violated College policy are called “incidents”. Incidents are usually introduced to the residential disciplinary system through a student staff member (CA, Security worker, etc.) via an Incident Report. This report is forwarded to a professional staff member who will serve as the Hearing Officer for that case.
At that time, all students who are alleged to have violated College policy will be contacted by that Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will arrange a time to meet to discuss the case. This contact usually takes place about 2 or 3 days after the initial incident.
When this meeting takes place, the Hearing Officer will discuss the student’s rights and hearing options. Students may choose either a “formal” or “informal” resolution. It is essential that students take this opportunity to ask questions about each form of resolution and choose wisely. As a general rule, students should choose a formal hearing if they have witnesses that they want to testify on their behalf or if they strongly disagree with the allegations set forth in then incident report. Students who agree to take responsibility for the allegations set forth in then incident report can usually be served through an informal resolution. REMEMBER – these are generalizations and no two cases are alike. It is essential that students take an active part in discussing their options with the Hearing Officer and make the best decision for themselves.
Once the student chooses a hearing option and is well informed of her/his rights and responsibilities in the college disciplinary process, the hearing takes place. Informal hearings may happen immediately while formal hearings may take several days to coordinate. After the hearing, the Hearing Officer makes a final determination regarding the student’s level of responsibility.
If the student is not found to be responsible for any of the alleged violations, they will receive a letter to that effect and the process is completed. If, however, the student is found responsible for violating College policy, the Hearing Officer will determine appropriate sanctions. The student will then receive a letter including both the final decision and the sanction. It is then the responsibility of the student to either file an appeal or to abide by the sanctions as indicated.
Specific information on appeals may be found in A Guide to Residence Living and/or in the Student Handbook.
Here are some important things to remember throughout the disciplinary process:
- Failure to respond to communication from the Hearing Officer will result in a decision being made in your absence
- It is each student’s responsibility to know and assert his or her own rights in the judicial process
- If at any point a student feels unsure or uneasy about the process they should ask questions to clarify their concern
- Successful appeals must be based on specific grounds that can be proven to have negatively effected the outcome of the original hearing – it is not enough to merely disagree with outcome
The Appeals Process
An appeal is the process by which a student can request a re-hearing of their case.
The appellant must appeal on at least one of five separate grounds, but they may appeal on as many grounds as they feel are appropriate for their case. Additionally, the appellant may use the same ground more than once if he or she feels that different arguments support the same ground. It is essential that appellants give significant thought to their arguments with respect to the grounds for appeal.
The grounds for appeal are listed below. For detailed explanations of each, refer to the Student Handbook or A Guide to Residence Living.
- procedural irregularity
- mitigating circumstances
- undue severity of sanction
- bias on the part of the hearing officer
- evidence of an arbitrary or capricious decision
A resident student receiving a determination from a residence life hearing officer or board may appeal such decision by making an appointment with and submitting a letter of appeal to the Associate Dean of Students/Director of Student Conduct, Ms. Angela Lauer Chong in the Dean of Students Office Suite of the Brower Student Center within seventy-two (72) hours of receipt of the decision. The written request must 1) specify any applicable ground(s) for appeal and appropriate rationale for these grounds, 2) identify relevant case information including the date and location of the original incident, the date of the hearing, the name of the hearing officer, and the original sanctions. A student who fails to file his/her written appeal statement by the due date specified and/or who fails to make and keep an appointment with the Assistant Director for Student Conduct, waives his/her right to an appeal.
If grounds are approved, a new hearing is granted. The original decision is set aside and a new process is begun. The new hearing may occur immediately or may be scheduled for a later time and date.
The hearing body presiding over the case will make a final determination of responsibility, and if the student is found in violation, the hearing body will establish the appropriate sanction(s). The decision made in the new hearing is final. There is no further appeal beyond this stage.
This is merely an overview of the appeals process in rough terms. If you have more questions about the process, please refer to the Student Handbook. If you have gone through the judicial process, please help us to improve it by providing us with feedback.
Last Two Weeks of Academic Year
The last two weeks of the spring semester are particularly important for students who are writing papers and studying for final exams. The residence life staff understands the need for a quiet and comfortable environment conducive to such activities. Therefore, disruptive behavior during this period may result in immediate removal from residence, and temporary banning from the residence halls. Students are reminded that any disciplinary sanction may carry over into the following academic year.