Honor Board

The Honor Board is the conduct board of Simmons College. It consists of faculty members elected from all professional ranks from the faculties of all of the schools for staggered three-year terms; students selected through processes appropriate to each unit; and the Assistant Dean for Student Life or designee, who is nonvoting, and serves as the secretary.

Secretary of the Honor Board

Dr. Nancy Nienhuis
Associate Dean of Student Affairs
Simmons College
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-521-2125
nancy.nienhuis@simmons.edu

The Secretary of the Honor Board is designated as the Chief Conduct Officer at Simmons College. The responsibilities of the secretary include determining which cases will go forward to a formal hearing and if appeals will be considered after the Honor Board finds the respondent responsible for violations.

In particularly egregious cases which may involve physical assault, harassment, and other violations, the secretary may put in place interim measures that include probation, suspension, restricted access to campus property, on-campus housing reassignment, and other measures as determined.

Responsibilities of the Honor Board

To educate the members of the Simmons College community about the Honor System and their individual responsibilities within this system. To this end, the secretary shall meet with all new students and faculty members each semester to discuss the Honor Code of Responsibility and the function of the Honor Board.

To annually review and evaluate the Honor System and its implications and procedures, and to report its conclusions and recommendations to the faculty councils, the Faculty Senate and to student government.

To investigate and hear cases of violations of the Honor Code of Responsibility, and to assess penalties for those violations.

The Honor Board shall make decisions in the name of the community regarding the disposition of cases of students who fail to meet academic and social standards as prescribed by the Honor System, or for those whose conduct otherwise disrupts the functioning of the College as an open community. Violations in this category may include threatening behavior, harassment, violence, theft, unauthorized use of College property or that which is housed on College premises, and failure to comply with an official of the college. The Honor Board has delegated to the Residence Campus Conduct Board and the Judicial Cabinet the authority to review cases within their jurisdiction. (Specific guidelines for the boards' operations may be obtained from the appropriate offices and student organizations.) If necessary, the Honor Board will determine the appropriate judicial body to review a particular case.

Student enrollment at the College carries with it the expectation that students will abide by the Honor Code of Responsibility and accept the standards of conduct and scholarship established by the faculty, students, and administration. The College reserves the right to require the withdrawal of any student who does not maintain acceptable academic standing or modes of behavior as outlined in the Student Handbook and other official College publications. The Honor Board, acting in its judicial function, may exclude a student from the College without a faculty vote in consultation with appropriate faculty and staff representatives, which may include directors, deans, provost staff, and the college president.

Honor Board Procedures

The Honor Board hears cases of academic and social violations of the Honor System referred by members of the Simmons community. Such violations are reported to the Secretary of the Honor Board.

The Secretary makes an investigation of the situation in order to determine the validity of the complaint. Having done this, the Secretary informs the respondent of the charges and of the evidence gathered, and then determines if the case should proceed to a formal hearing.

Given due process rights, any student may choose to proceed with a formal hearing regardless of the recommendation by the secretary.

In minor cases in which the respondent chooses to accept responsibility for an alleged violation, the respondent may have the option to accept recommended sanctions as outlined by the secretary in lieu of a formal hearing. The decision to manage cases in this matter is made in consultation with both the complainant and respondent. The secretary also will consult with the appropriate student affairs dean or director in cases involving graduate students.

If a hearing is being coordinated, the secretary will inform members of the Honor Board as well as the complainant and respondent. In most cases, respondents are notified at least five days before the hearing and granted access to all gathered information at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.

All notifications will be made via email and students are expected to check and respond to emails twice daily. Official sanction letters will be sent via secure file server.

Both the complainant and respondent may request witnesses to attend the hearing. Requests to present witnesses must be made to the secretary at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The secretary will determine if witnesses may participate in the hearing.

The complainant and respondent may submit documentation, including a personal written statement, to the Honor Board for consideration prior to the actual hearing. Submissions must be electronic and received by the secretary at least 48 hours before the hearing time.

A quorum of five Honor Board members (three faculty and two students) is generally required for the hearing of all major cases such as multiple violations, repeat or second violations, physical assault, harassment, threatening behavior, and other egregious violations.

Students have the right to object to a board member hearing the case if their reasons are valid (i.e., member is biased, close friend, hostile toward the alleged violator). The validity of the objection shall be determined by the Secretary of the Honor Board. The secretary shall include a list of board members in all hearing notification letters. Students must notify the secretary of the conflict no less than 48 hours prior to the hearing to ensure a quorum can be reached during the hearing. Final determination will be made by the Secretary of the Honor Board.

In the unlikely event that a board member is unable to attend a hearing due to extenuating circumstances and a quorum is not available, the respondent and complainant will be given the option to proceed with the hearing as scheduled or choose to postpone until a full quorum can be gathered. Every attempt will be made to reschedule hearings in a timely manner.

A respondent who fails to participate in a scheduled hearing is on notice that the hearing will proceed as planned, unless the board votes to postpone.

The case is presented by the Faculty Convener of the Honor Board, and the confidentiality of the proceedings is explained.

Information relevant to the case is presented, and witnesses to the events are heard by everyone concerned with the case. The accused student will be given the opportunity to respond and ask clarifying questions. A friend or advisor from within the Simmons community may be present with prior permission from the chair or secretary of the Honor Board. This person must be present in a supportive or advisory role only and may not make any statement or presentation on behalf of the party. No attorneys are permitted to attend the hearing.

Responsibility is determined by the preponderance of evidence or "more likely than not" standard.

After hearing the case, the Honor Board excuses the witnesses and considers the evidence presented. The secretary of the Honor Board makes arrangements for the communication of the outcome to the involved parties.

The Honor Board will determine specific sanctions for students found responsible and take into consideration that any sanction levied will be proportional to the violation and consistent with previous Honor Board decisions. Sanctions may also include referral to academic or professional review boards in a particular school, such as the Academic Review Board in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The Secretary of the Honor Board is responsible for sending notification of the decision and the sanctions, typically within five business days of the hearing, to the following persons:

  1. Complainant
  2. Respondent
  3. Faculty convener
  4. Registrar

The student may appeal the Honor Board's decision through a written request by notifying the secretary in writing within seven business days of the original hearing date. A request for an appeal does not guarantee that the appeal process will be initiated or that the appeal will be granted.

Appeals may be considered for the following reasons:

  1. Availability of new information not available at the time of the hearing that has a significant impact on the outcome of the case
  2. Lack of adherence to the conduct process that if rectified would have a significant impact on the outcome of the case

The Secretary of the Honor Board will determine if the appeal will be considered, and the Dean of Student Life or designee will serve as the final arbiter.