Conduct System

Suspected Violations of the Student Honor Code of Responsibility

Cases on or off campus involving both undergraduate and graduate students are heard by the Honor Board. Members of the community who violate the Honor Code of Responsibility are encouraged to report themselves immediately to the Secretary of the Honor Board. In the case of a Residence Campus violation, members should report themselves to the advisor to the Residence Campus Conduct Board or the appropriate Residence Life staff member. A student who observes another student violating the Honor Code of Responsibility is encouraged to inform her/him of the alleged violation and urge her/him to report herself/himself to the Secretary of the Honor Board, advisor to the Residence Campus Conduct Board, or an appropriate member of the College. The observing student is also encouraged to report the case to the appropriate board.

Non-Retaliation Policy

Simmons encourages all members of the community to report violations. As guardians of the Honor Code, all community members should be able to report violations without fear of retaliation by fellow students, faculty, staff, or any other members of the Simmons Community. Swift action will be taken in response to any reports of retaliation.

Faculty and administrators who observe or suspect a student of violating the Honor Code of Responsibility are encouraged to first discuss the matter with the student and then report the incident to the Secretary of the Honor Board. Mutual responsibility is a very important strength of the Honor System, and abiding by the system is each person's inherent responsibility to the community as a whole. This is a difficult obligation; however, without it, the integrity of the Honor System cannot be maintained.

Should a member of the faculty or the administration be suspected of violating the Honor Code of Responsibility, she/he should be so informed by the person or persons observing the violation and urged to report herself/himself to the Secretary of the Honor Board. The observing party is asked to report the case to the Secretary of the Honor Board, as well. The Office of Human Resources and/or the appropriate school Dean, Department Head, or College Provost staff may become involved in these matters.

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
Raymond Lu-Ming Ou, Assistant Dean for Student Life and Secretary of the Honor Board
Phone: 617-521-2125
E-mail: Raymond.Ou@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, sexual misconduct, 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 are as follows:

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.

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 the members of the Honor Board as well as the complainant and respondent. In most cases, respondents are notified five business 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 asked 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 72 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:

    a. Complainant 
    b. Respondent 
    c. Faculty convener 
    d. 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.

The Secretary shall report yearly to the faculty and to student government the number of cases brought before the Honor Board.

 

Residence Campus Conduct Process for Undergraduate Students

The Residence Campus Conduct Process is the Residence Campus operational branch of the Honor Board, which holds the Honor Code of Responsibility as its guiding philosophy. It is based upon the principles of integrity, responsibility, and trust. The Honor System, and thus the process, is educational in nature. Its purpose is not to punish students. Rather, its goal is to help students realize that certain behaviors are unacceptable in a college community. In addition, it is the goal of the process to further the personal development of each student by trying to instill a stronger sense of moral integrity. Questions about the Honor Code or the Honor Board may be directed to:
Raymond Ou, Assistant Dean for Student Life and Secretary of the Honor Board

MCB C-211  Phone: 617-521-2125  Raymond.Ou@Simmons.edu  

Furnishing false information to the College with the intent to deceive, or for the purposes of misrepresentation; representing improperly, not by error, the identity of another; or tampering, forging, or falsifying information on any College record or document are violations of the Simmons College Honor Code of Responsibility. Violations may be referred to the appropriate College Conduct board. Under the Honor Code of Responsibility, community members are responsible for reporting campus policy violations to the appropriate College official.

All incidents that occur on the residence campus that are documented by resident advisors or professional staff members will be managed by the residence campus conduct process.

Documented incidents will be formatted in the official incident report format provided by the Office of Residence Life and submitted via email to ireports@simmons.edu .

The Campus Conduct Coordinator oversees the Residence Campus Conduct Board and manages all disciplinary issues on the residence campus. Questions about the Residence Campus Conduct Board can be directed to:

Edward Byrnes, Resident Director and Campus Conduct Coordinator

2nd Floor, Health Center  Phone: 617-521-1096  edward.byrnes@simmons.edu 

 
In consultation with the Secretary of the Honor Board, the residence campus conduct coordinator or designee will review all incident reports that are received and will determine the type of follow-up that is needed. Each incident will be assigned one of the following:

  • Resident Director Meeting — Follow-up conversation 
  •  Resident Director Meeting — Agreement For Behavioral Change 
  •  Residence Campus Conduct Board Hearing 
  •  Administrative Hearing with the Residence Campus Conduct Coordinator or Secretary of the Honor Board

Resident Director Meetings

Violations of alcohol, safety, noise, escort policy, unauthorized entry to the Residence Campus, or other first violations to campus policy may be referred to the resident director for an Resident Director(RD) Meeting for a follow-up conversation or an agreement for behavioral change. During an RD Meeting the resident director will have a conversation with the student about the incident in question and the potential policy violation that occurred. When a follow-up conversation has been assigned, the RD will have the conversation with the student about the potential violation and how that behavior may negatively impact the residential community. An email summary will generally serve as a record of the follow-up conversation, with a copy to the Campus Conduct Advisor as well as the Secretary of the Honor Board. When an agreement for behavioral change has been assigned the RD will have a meeting with the student to discuss the incident and complete an agreement for behavioral change (ABC). An ABC documents the policy violation, signifies the resident's agreement that she/he is in full understanding of the policy, and signifies her/his agreement not to violate the policy in the future. Any subsequent violations of community standards may be referred to the Conduct Board immediately.

Residence Campus Conduct Board

Cases in which the resident has committed multiple violations, second and third violations, or particularly serious violations, the resident will be referred to the Residence Campus Conduct Board for an official hearing.

The Campus Conduct Advisor may put in place interim measures, such as no-contact orders or other measures, before a hearing takes place.

****Violations of policies such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical assault or other violations that endanger self or others will be referred to the college Honor Board upon the first offense.

The Residence Campus Conduct Board is composed of up to 8 student representatives and two non-voting advisors from the Office of Residence Life. The Office of Residence Life will work to ensure that a variety of undergraduate class years and residence halls are represented on the Conduct Board.

Quorum for the Conduct Board shall be determined as follows:

    a. Four students 
    b. Campus Conduct Coordinator or designee

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 Conduct Board chairperson and advisor(s). The Conduct Board advisor shall include a list of Conduct Board members in all hearing notification letters, generally sent to students at least five days prior to the hearing date. Students must notify the Conduct Board advisor of the conflict no less than 48 hours prior to the hearing to ensure a quorum can be reached during the hearing. Final determination should be made by the RCCB advisor.

Respondents typically receive notice of hearings at least 72 hours before the scheduled hearing time.

Students sometimes find it helpful to have a friend, staff member or other party serve as an advisor during the hearing process. Students have the right to have one person of their choice present at the hearing. This individual can serve as an advisor and must be affiliated with the Simmons community and may not participate in the proceedings.

Students have the right not to respond and not to speak during a hearing.

Students are allowed to hear all information presented against them. Witnesses will be excluded from the hearing during the testimony of other witnesses and will present information one at a time. However, any person may be excluded from the hearing in the event that she/he disrupts the proceedings.

Students have the right to present information on their own behalf. The information may be presented in the form of oral and/or written format. The number of witnesses called will be determined by the board, only when needed to limit an unnecessary prolonging of the hearing. This information may be presented orally or read from a written statement.

Students will receive written notification of the results of any hearing no later than seven business days after the hearing. The notification will indicate the findings, and explanation of the sanction(s), if any. In some situations the college may need additional time to process the results of a hearing. If that is the case the student will be notified that there will be an additional time period before they receive their letter.

During conduct board hearings the chair of the conduct board will read the student the conduct board philosophy and the conduct board will ask questions to determine additional information as needed about students and their involvement in incidents. After holding the hearing with the students the conduct board will discuss the incident, determine by consensus if the student is responsible for a violation and then determine sanctions for the student.

If a student fails to appear for their hearing without giving prior notice to the Campus Conduct Coordinator, the hearing may take place without input from the student.

If the conduct board is unavailable to meet, or cannot meet quorum, the conduct board coordinator may refer the case to the Honor Board or an ad hoc hearing board may be called consisting of no less than 2 students and 2 staff members.

The student may appeal the decision of the Campus Conduct Board by notifying the Campus Conduct Coordinator 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 Campus Conduct Coordinator will determine if the appeal will be considered. The Residence Life Director, in consultation with the Secretary of the Honor Board, will be the final arbiter in the appeal.

Graduate Student Conduct Process

Violations of Residence Campus policy by graduate students will be referred via the process above and if a board hearing is needed they will be heard by a board composed of two staff members from the Office of Residence Life and one graduate student representative. Hearings are scheduled as needed.

Simmons College reserves the right to modify its conduct procedures and appeals processes with written notice to the complainant and the respondent when classes are not in session, during the summer session, when safety and security issues so demand, when special expertise is needed to ensure fairness, or in other circumstances where, in the College's sole discretion, the procedure described herein are deemed insufficient to meet the objectives of educating and protecting members of the College community. Modified procedures, nonetheless, will provide students with required elements of fundamental fairness.

Potential Sanctions

Disciplinary sanctions are imposed based upon a review of the circumstances of each case. The following list of sanctions, in ascending order of severity, is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive. Since our Honor Code is educational in nature, the College reserves the right to create other sanctions or to join sanctions as it deems appropriate.

Agreement for Behavioral Change: This sanction indicates that the student's actions were inappropriate and in violation of campus policy and community standards. Failure on the part of the student to alter an inappropriate behavioral pattern is cause for referral to the resident director/Conduct Board. (Examples would be first-time escort violations, unauthorized entry to the Residence Campus, etc.) These documents will remain on file for the duration of a student's academic career.

Residence Campus Warning: This is a written warning informing the student that her/his actions are inappropriate and in violation of the College regulations and standards.

Residence Campus Probation: This is a more stringent written warning indicating that subsequent infractions may result in a referral to the Office of the Dean for Student Life. Probation is given for a specified period of time, and may include specific restrictions on the student.

Residence Hall Sanction: Residence hall sanctions include a temporary or permanent loss of privileges or housing assignment. Options under this sanction include, but are not limited to: restrictions within the residence halls, a move from one hall to another, a move from one floor to another, a move from one room to another, loss of single room privileges, or being suspended from residing in the residence halls on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Restitution: Restitution is reimbursement or other direct payment for injury, loss, or damage to College property, or property of any person resulting from violation of the code of conduct.

Suspension from the College: Suspension is a temporary separation from the College. All student privileges are denied including the opportunity to attend class, social events, other functions, or visit College grounds or buildings (unless by permission) for a specified or indefinite period of time. Suspension shall be effective on the date indicated on the notice of suspension. The student may request re-admission to the College at any time after the terms of the notice of suspension have expired. Upon re-admittance to the College, the suspended student will automatically be on disciplinary probation for the semester immediately following return. Other conditions of re-admittance may include but are not limited to, residence separation and restricted use of College facilities. This information is maintained in the student's disciplinary file for the duration of her/his enrollment at the College.

Exclusion from the College: Exclusion is a permanent separation from the College. All student privileges are denied including the opportunity to attend class, social events, other functions, or visit College grounds or buildings (unless by permission) for a specified or indefinite period of time. Exclusion shall be effective on the date indicated in the notice of exclusion. This information is a permanent part of a student's disciplinary and educational record (transcript).

Parental Notification: In a case where a student's status as a resident is in serious jeopardy (i.e., Residence Campus Conduct Board), parent(s) will be notified. Parent(s) will not be notified if a student can prove financial independence from her/his parents.

Other Notification: Sanction letters are copied to the resident director, and the student life office. Repeated violations of the alcohol policy or drug policy may result in referral to the Honor Board and probation or expulsion from the College with the sanction letter copied to the student's parents or guardians (if she/he is a dependent).