Student Group Disciplinary Process

Bowdoin College encourages student participation in athletics, clubs, organizations, and activities. These programs can enrich a student’s college experience and contribute to a student’s development. The College expects student leaders and members will uphold all aspects of the Code of Community Standards and other College policies when they are acting in their capacity as a member or leader of a student group.

Whether the relationship to the College is formal or informal, group membership and the benefits it confers on participants is a privilege, not a right. All students are expected to respect this privilege and abide by College principles and community values. 

Nothing in this policy shall prevent the College from referring individual members of a student group to the Student Disciplinary Process for parallel individual disciplinary action.

Scope

Bowdoin holds its students accountable for their actions on and off-campus. The College may, at its sole discretion, exercise jurisdiction engage this process for behavior that occurs off-campus when the alleged misconduct:

  1. Poses a threat to the safety or security of any individual or individuals;
  2. Causes a significant disruption to the surrounding community and neighbors;
  3. Results in damage to or destruction of private or public property; or
  4. Otherwise violates the Code of Community Standards, local ordinances, or state or federal law.

Process

All students are individually responsible for adhering to the CCS and other College policies during their time at Bowdoin. Student groups may be held collectively accountable for violating any College policies as a result of the conduct or actions of individual members who act in concert with or as representing the group, even if not all members participated. Potential violations include, but are not limited to: disregarding a directive from a College official or group advisor; hosting, assisting, facilitating, or participating in the planning or concealing of acts that violate Bowdoin policies; and failure to be forthcoming and truthful to any College official on matters related to the activities of the organization or its members.

Individual members can be held accountable for their specific behavior as part of a group if it is in violation of College Policy.

Students participating in groups that have been banned or previously removed from campus (e.g., fraternities, organizations that have lost a charter, etc.) will be referred to the Student Disciplinary Process.

Report and Investigation

Reports of misconduct by a student group shall be made in writing to the Dean of Students. A report may be a written email, anonymous report of hazing (see the Policy Against Hazing), anonymous report of bias (see the Bias Incident Policy), or a report from the Office of Safety and Security.

Reports should include a basic statement of facts of the alleged violation(s) and the name of the student group, and the name of individuals involved, if known, as well as the names of those with direct knowledge of the behavior in question. Except for reports of hazing or bias, report(s) must be submitted within two (2) years following the discovery of the alleged misconduct, unless an exception is granted by the Dean of Students or designee.

After review, the Dean of Students or designee will direct the Office of Safety & Security to begin an investigation.

Student Group Disciplinary Process

The student group alleged to have violated College policy will receive written notice to the Group Advisor and to the student leaders of record, regarding the nature of the conduct in question and the basis for the allegation. The notice will include a brief statement of the basis of the charges, the date or period of time and the location(s) of the alleged incident; the College policy(s) and/or campus regulation(s) allegedly violated; and a request to participate in the investigation.

Depending on the number of individuals involved, the sensitivity of the issues address, and time constraints, information may be delivered electronically or virtually.

Based on the findings of the investigation, including any interviews and evidence submitted as part of the report, the Dean of Students or designee will determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the student group is responsible for violating College policy and whether disciplinary action is warranted.

The following criteria will be considered in determining whether to hold the student group responsible for the conduct of one or more of its members:

  1. How many members engaged in or were aware of the conduct;
  2. Whether the conduct occurred at an event planned, implemented, sponsored, or otherwise sanctioned by the student group;
  3. The seriousness of the conduct in question;
  4. Whether members of the student group have previously engaged in such conduct.

To determine if responsibility for a violation exists, the Dean of Students will use the preponderance of evidence standard.

Participation

Group members are expected to attend participate in any investigation as conducted by the Office of the Dean of Students and to be forthcoming and truthful. Failure to be forthcoming and truthful will be a consideration in any sanction and may be judged by the dean to compound the gravity of the original charge(s).

If group members fail or refuse to cooperate, the dean may allow the investigation to proceed and the dean may reach a decision based on the information gathered during the investigation.

Sanctions and Outcomes

If the Dean of Students, or designee, finds the student group responsible for violation(s) of College policy, or if the student group takes responsibility, the Dean will consult with the group advisor and the department administrator to determine an appropriate sanction.

In determining sanctions, consideration will be given to the context and seriousness of the violations, the willing to be forthright and truthful, and acceptance of responsibility. Sanctions specific to group or organizational misconduct may include one or more of the following:

  • Official Reprimand: Written notice that continuation or repetition of the behavior found to be in violation of College policy will lead to more severe consequences.
  • Loss of Privileges: This may include one or more of the following:
    • Loss of College funding;
    • Loss of season(s) or contest(s);
    • Membership restrictions for a specified period of time;
    • Loss of leadership positions and/or from participation in specified organizational programs and activities for a designated period of time to represent the College in any capacity;
    • Exclusion from specific areas of campus or from official College functions;
    • Loss of privileges and exclusion from activities; or
    • Inability to host events for a specified period of time.
  • Restorative and Rehabilitative Outcomes:
    • Referral to the Program for Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution (PNVCR);
    • Community Service;
    • Restitution;
    • Participation in designated educational programs, services, or activities;
    • Letter of Apology;
    • Defined plan to allow the student group to take steps to rehabilitate its standing.
  • Temporary Loss of College Recognition: This may include suspension of a group’s charter or recognition. The sanction letter will specify the amount of time, which can range from one semester to 10 (ten) years.
  • Permanent Revocation of College Recognition: This will result in a permanent ban of the student group from the College.

Failure to comply with any conditions imposed may subject the student group to additional disciplinary action.

Because action is taken against a student group, and not an individual student, Bowdoin does not consider disciplinary action against a student group to be reportable.

Interim Measures

Before a determination of responsibility is made, the Dean of Students, in consultation with the group advisor and department administrator, may impose interim measures depending on the nature of the alleged conduct.

This may include but is not limited to, restriction from operating as a student group, hosting programs, access to College resources, forfeiture of contests or competitions.

Appeals

Please see the Student Appeals Policy [LINK].

Definitions 

Department administrator: The College official who oversees the department with oversight for the student group, including but not limited to, Athletics, Student Activities, or the McKeen Center.

Group advisor:  Most Bowdoin organizations, groups and teams have a sponsor, advisor, coach or other professional staff members who work, train, guide, and otherwise engage with the group in a range of capacities regarding the group’s activities and programs. For purposes of this policy, that person(s) shall be referred to as the “group advisor(s).”

Group member: Student group members include all student leadership, such as officers, chairs, captains, leaders, signatories, designated representatives, executive members, or committee members. It also includes individual students who identify as a member of the group.

Student group: For purposes of this policy, “student groups” include, but are not limited to:

  • Chartered student group
  • Athletic varsity teams
  • Intramural teams
  • Club teams
  • College Houses
  • Student groups with a relationship to or sponsorship by an academic department or program, such as the McKeen Center or Outdoor Leadership Center, alumni group, and/or administrative department
  • Student-run media or publishing organizations

“Student groups” do not include administrative committees or boards, or student employees of the College, who may be held individually accountable for violating College policy through the Student Disciplinary Process or Student Employment.