Student Disciplinary Process

A. DISCIPLINARY PROCESS

Bowdoin’s student disciplinary process is cumulative, not progressive. This means that a student may receive a serious sanction as a result of their conduct, even if it is a first offense. Multiple or accumulated minor violations will likely result in a more serious sanction than a single underlying violation itself would ordinarily merit. Please see Sanctions for more information.

For information regarding Bowdoin’s policy on reporting matters of student discipline, please see Reporting Student Disciplinary Record and Matters.

For matters involving Title IX, please see the Bowdoin College Title IX Policy.[1] 

Accommodation Statement: Students with disabilities who believe they require a disability-related accommodation in connection with a disciplinary proceeding, must contact Lesley Levy, Director of Student Accessibility, to request an accommodation.

Any question of interpretation or application of the student disciplinary process shall be referred to the Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs for final determination.

  1. Process Overview

    The student disciplinary process typically begins with either a written report from the Office of Safety and Security, or by written statement or other communication (“complaint”) from a faculty or staff member to the Office of the Dean of Students, Office of the Dean for Student Affairs, or the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs.

    The Office of the Dean of Students is responsible for the administration of the student disciplinary process and shall review all reports and complaints.  This review may take place in partnership with Residential Life and other College departments as deemed necessary or appropriate by the Dean of Students. In some instances, the Dean of Students may direct the Office of Safety and Security to conduct an investigation in order to gather more information before additional action is taken.

    After review, a matter will be assessed and referred to one of the following for resolution:

    1. Minor Violations: Minor violations of the Code of Community Standards, as determined in the College’s sole discretion, will typically be referred to a Conduct Officer for resolution. Where a violation includes harm to the community or individual members of the community, in addition to the above processes, a student may also be referred to the Program for Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution.

      Repeated or multiple minor violations, as defined above, may be treated as “serious” or “major” violations, as described below.

    2. Serious Violations: Serious violations of the Code of Community Standards, as determined in the College’s sole discretion, will typically be referred to a Conduct Officer for an Informal Hearing. Where a violation includes harm to the community or individual members of the community, in addition to the above processes, a student may also be referred to the Program for Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution.

      If a sanction from an Informal Hearing may result in a change of status, prior to issuing the sanction, the student may elect to either: (1) receive the Conduct Officer’s sanction; or (2) request the matter be referred to a Formal Hearing, which will typically take place before the Conduct Review Board.

    3. Major Violations: Students who commit major violations, as determined in the College’s sole discretion, or who have violated College policy four or more times on separate occasions will typically be referred to the Conduct Review Board for a Formal Hearing. Under exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students may refer the matter to a Formal Administrative Hearing before a single Presiding Dean, who will conduct a hearing as both the factfinder and adjudicator of sanction.

  2. Investigations

    Investigations by the Office of Safety and Security, the Office of the Dean of Students, or other College department, should be regarded as sensitive and confidential. During an ongoing inquiry, a student may be instructed not to speak with anyone on campus about the investigation in order to preserve the integrity of the process.

  3. Timing

    If the Dean of Students determines, in their sole discretion, that, due to the timing of a matter, the Conduct Review Board cannot be convened in a fair or timely manner, the Dean of Students may refer the matter to a Formal Administrative Hearing or defer the case until immediately prior to the start of the next semester. Reasonable exceptions by the College to observe the time limits or other procedural requirements expressed in these procedures shall not constitute an abridgement of the rights of the parties.

  4. Local, State, or Federal Law

    College disciplinary proceedings may be initiated against a student charged with a violation of a law, or otherwise involved in legal proceedings, that is also a violation of the Code of Community Standards without regard to the status of civil or criminal proceedings. The College may conduct disciplinary proceedings prior to, simultaneously with, or after civil or criminal proceedings, including disciplinary proceedings initiated by another institution during a student's study away. The College’s decision to pursue disciplinary proceedings under these circumstances may not be challenged.

  5. Graduation and Revocation of Degree

    In no circumstances will the College allow an impending graduation to compromise its disciplinary process. Conferral of a degree may therefore be postponed or deferred, if necessary, until proper resolution of charges, the applicable process, as determined by the College in its sole discretion, will be carried out within a reasonable timeframe. The College reserves the right to revoke a Bowdoin degree if, after a review, the College determines that the degree was awarded as a result of fraud, deceit, or academic dishonesty.   

  6. Publication of Precedent

    The Office of the Dean of Students will publish ten years of aggregate data regarding the charges and outcomes from prior Formal Hearings in a publication of its choice. The reported information should not identify specific individuals and/or participants, except when circumstances warrant release and only as allowed by federal or state law.

  7. Revisions

    The student disciplinary process may be amended, in writing, by the President or the President’s designee at any time.

    The Office of the Dean of Students, in consultation with the Conduct Review Board and other representatives from the student body, should conduct a review of the conduct codes and their administration on a regular basis. Representatives from the Bowdoin Student Government and the Conduct Review Board may recommend policy changes by meeting with the Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs.

  8. Statement of Non-Discrimination

    Bowdoin College complies with applicable provisions of federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, admission, or access to its educational or extracurricular programs, activities, or facilities based on race, color, ethnicity, ancestry and national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, age, marital status, place of birth, genetic predisposition, veteran status, or against qualified individuals with physical or mental disabilities on the basis of disability, or any other legally protected statuses.
B. CONDUCT PROCESSES 
  • Minor Violations: In most instances, minor violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a Conduct Officer for a conduct outcome.

  • Serious Violations: Serious violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a Conduct Officer for an Informal Hearing with the student. If a sanction will result in a change of status, prior to receiving a sanction, the student may elect to either: (1) receive an outcome from the Conduct Officer; or (2) request the matter be referred to a Formal Hearing, which will typically take place before the Conduct Review Board.

  • Major Violations: Students who commit major violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a hearing before the Conduct Review Board. In rare and exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students may address the matter through a Formal Administrative Hearing in lieu of a Conduct Review Board hearing.
  1. Informal Hearings

    For the purposes of assuring fairness and consistency, the College adopts the following protections for students participating in Informal Hearings, including written notice of the charges and the opportunity to provide a statement in writing or orally; an Conduct Officer.

    The Conduct Officer shall use the decisional standard of “preponderance of evidence” to determine whether a student’s conduct violated College policy.

    Unless circumstances require otherwise, the College will conduct all Informal Hearings in-person. When circumstances require otherwise, the College will hold an Informal Hearing via videoconferencing.

  2. Formal Hearings

    The following section applies to any Formal Hearing, whether occurring before the Conduct Review Board or a single Presiding Dean conducting a formal administrative hearing:

    In-Person Hearings: Unless circumstances require otherwise, the College will conduct all Formal Hearings in-person. For Panel composition, please see the Conduct Review Board Policy.

    Virtual Hearings: When it is not possible for a Formal Hearing to take place in person or when circumstances require otherwise, for example, in the case involving parties to a No Contact Order, the College will hold a hearing via videoconferencing. For Panel composition, please see the Conduct Review Board Policy.

  3. Initiating a Formal Hearing

    In order to initial a Formal Hearing, the Complaining Witness must submit a written statement or report to the Office of the Dean of Students.

    The Complaining Witness must also submit evidentiary support that the Respondent(s) violated the CCS. Evidentiary support may include, but is not limited to, original source material, class syllabus, written instructions or statements, emails, reports, photographs, or video footage.

    1. Academic Code: When a student is suspected of violating the Academic Honor Code, the person(s) bringing the allegation must first confer with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Community Standards, or other member of the Office of the Dean of Students staff, before a Formal Hearing can be initiated.

      At the faculty member’s written request, the Office of the Dean of Students will refer the matter for a Formal Hearing. In rare and exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students may refer the matter for a Formal Administrative Hearing before a dean.

      In cases where a student suspects another student(s) of violating the Academic Honor Code, the student is encouraged to bring the information to the attention of the instructor or the Office of the Dean of Students.

    2. Social Code: A disciplinary review may be initiated through numerous channels, the most common being through a complaint filed directly with the Office of Safety and Security. After an investigation, Safety and Security will refer the matter to the Office of the Dean of Students for review.

  4. Formal Hearing Guidelines

    For the purposes of assuring fairness and consistency, the College adopts the following protections for students participating in Formal Hearings: adequate notice of the hearing; advance notice of matters requiring student responses; an impartial Panel or Presiding Dean and proceedings; the opportunity to provide evidence and witnesses; the availability of an appeal; and the right to have a member of the College community, uninvolved with the case, available for personal support at the hearing.

    Prior to the hearing, the Office of the Dean of Students will provide the Respondent with a written notice outlining the substance of the alleged misconduct charges, the time, place, and method (live or virtual) and type of hearing (Conduct Review Board or Formal Administrative Hearing).

    The Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean has discretionary authority to make procedural rulings as necessary to conduct the Formal Hearing within the guidelines of the Code of Community Standards and in the spirit of fairness. This includes but is not limited to decisions on the relevance and/or admissibility of evidence or the participation of witnesses.

    The evidentiary and decisional standard in all College disciplinary matters is a “preponderance of evidence.”

    Formal evidentiary rules do not apply in College hearings or disciplinary processes; the Conduct Review Board Panel or the Presiding Dean may consider any evidence, such as pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements, it determines relevant and credible.

    If a Conduct Review Board Panel or Presiding Dean concludes that a violation has occurred, the Respondent’s previous violations and sanctions in College disciplinary proceedings or related civil or criminal matters may be considered solely for the purpose of recommending appropriate sanctions.

    In cases involving more than one Respondent, the College may hold separate hearings for each Respondent or a combined hearing for all Respondents. In cases involving unrelated charges against a single Respondent, the College may conduct separate hearings or a single hearing for the Respondent.

    Hearings are confidential and will be conducted in a manner consistent with affording the parties a reasonable degree of privacy.

    Hearings may only be recorded by the College. This record becomes the property of Bowdoin College with access determined by the Dean of Students. Deliberations will not be recorded.

    If the Respondent is found responsible for the charge(s), the Presiding Dean will meet with the Respondent, typically within forty-eight hours of the hearing’s conclusion, and provide the Respondent with a letter outlining the sanction(s), if any.

  5. General Formal Hearing Guidelines for Student Parties

    1. Written Notice: The Respondent(s) shall receive from the Office of the Dean of Students a written notice outlining the misconduct charges against the Respondent(s), and including the date, time, and place of the hearing, method of hearing (live or virtual), and type of hearing (Conduct Review Board or single Presiding Dean). The Complaining Witness shall also receive written notice of the charges and the date, time, and place of the hearing.

    2. Reasonable Preparation: Parties must have a reasonable period of time in which to prepare for the hearing. This is generally not less than seven and not more than fifteen calendar days after the hearing notification. Respondents may waive minimum time limits. In matters involving a Complaining Witness who is a student, the parties may waive minimum time limits where both parties consent. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Community Standards has the discretion to make reasonable extensions of time limits.

    3. Pre-Hearing Conference: Student Parties must schedule a pre-hearing conference with the Conduct Review Board Advisor and their dean to review and discuss rights and responsibilities and hearing procedures.

    4. Supporter: If Student Parties wish, they may request a Supporter to provide emotional and personal support throughout the Formal Hearing process. However, the Supporter may not actively participate during the hearing. The name of this person must be provided to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Community Standards at least four calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing. The Supporter must be a current staff or faculty member at Bowdoin.
    5. Character Reference: Student Parties are entitled to a single Character Reference provide a written statement, not to exceed two pages double spaced, on their behalf. The Character Reference Statement must be provided to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Community Standards by the Character Reference at least two calendar days prior to the scheduled hearing. The Character Reference Statement should speak only to the Respondent’s character and provide the context in which the reference knows the Respondent.

    6. Examination and Submission of Evidence: Prior to the hearing, a Respondent may examine all evidence scheduled for review by the Conduct Review Board Panel or Presiding Dean, including the Complaining Witness’s primary evidentiary support, a list of witnesses and other individuals expected to attend the hearing. After a review of the file, the Respondent may submit a written statement responding to the evidence.

      The Respondent may also submit any relevant evidence they wish the Conduct Review Board Panel or Presiding Dean to consider, if any, up to four days prior to the hearing. In appropriate    circumstances, the Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean may delay or continue the hearing to afford a Respondent sufficient time to respond to the Complaining Witness’s evidentiary support. Evidentiary support may include, but is not limited to, written statements, reports, class notes, or video footage. The Complaining Witness may provide responsive information two days prior to the hearing.

    7. Removal of Single Member from Panel: Student Parties may request the removal of a single member from the Conduct Review Board Panel (names of members are available from the Office of the Dean of Students) that the Respondent believes is incapable of rendering an impartial decision. The request must be made in writing to the Presiding Chair and Conduct Review Board Advisor at least four calendar days prior to the hearing demonstrating a conflict of interest and justifying their request for such removal. The Presiding Chair and the Conduct Review Board Advisor will rule on such petitions.

      If Respondents wish to remove the Presiding Chair, they must submit a written petition at least four calendar days before the hearing to the Conduct Review Board Advisor, who will rule on such petitions.

    8. Presentation of Case: At the hearing, Respondents may, in an orderly fashion, make opening and closing statements, present evidence, respond to questions from the Panel or Presiding Dean, offer witnesses, and a single character reference, question the Complaining Witness and witnesses through the Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean, and hear and question evidence brought against them.

    9. Attendance: Student Parties are expected to attend the hearing as scheduled by the Office of the Dean of Students. If a Respondent fails or refuses to appear, the Presiding Chair Presiding Dean may allow presentation of evidence their absence. The Panel or Presiding Dean will reach decisions based on the evidence presented.

    10. Truthfulness: Student Parties 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 Panel or Presiding Dean to compound the gravity of the original charge(s). Making purposefully misleading and/or false statements, or a failure to be forthcoming and truthful, may result in disciplinary charges leading to a separate hearing.

    11. Prior Disciplinary History: If the Panel or Presiding Dean concludes that a violation has occurred, it may consider Respondent’s previous violations and sanctions in College disciplinary proceedings or related civil or criminal records when recommending appropriate penalties.

    12. Attorneys: Attorneys shall not participate in the College’s disciplinary process. If a Student Party has independent and pending state or federal criminal proceedings, their attorney is permitted to attend the Formal Hearing; however, they are limited to advisory status with no opportunities to make statements to the Board, raise objections, ask questions, or cross-examine any party, witness and/or other individual participating in the hearing. The Student Party must notify the Conduct Review Board Advisor that an attorney will be present at least forty-eight hours prior to the scheduled hearing.

  6. General Expectations of Individuals Involved in Conduct Review Board Hearings

    1. Witnesses: Witnesses are expected to attend and participate unless excused by the Conduct Review Board Advisor. Witnesses are expected to be forthcoming and truthful in their testimony. Making purposefully misleading and/or false statements, or a failure to be forthcoming and truthful, may result in disciplinary charges leading to a separate hearing.

      It is the obligation of the Student Parties to notify witnesses of the date, time, and place of the Formal Hearing. With permission from the Student Parties, the Advisor can speak with a Witness to inform them of their role and the expectations of their participation.

    2. Observers: Supporters, observers, and other individuals present at the Formal Hearing are not allowed to participate actively in the hearing process unless permitted by the Presiding Chair. All questions and comments must be addressed to the Presiding Chair.

    3. Confidentiality: Given the confidential nature of the College’s judicial procedures, except as authorized by the Advisor, witnesses and other individuals shall not discuss the case with persons not present at the hearing.

      Furthermore, Complaining Witnesses, Respondents, witnesses, and other individuals shall not retain, preserve, print, share, or distribute materials from the hearing without the consent of the Dean of Students. Doing so may result in disciplinary charges leading to a separate hearing or administrative action.

  7. Disposition without Hearing

    A Respondent who is charged with either a serious or a major violation of College policy and accepts responsibility for the charges, may request the Dean of Students adjudicate a final disposition of the charges in lieu of a Conduct Review Board hearing. The request must be made in writing to the Dean of Students. If the request for disposition without hearing is accepted, the Dean of Students will assess a sanction appropriate to the acknowledged violation(s). An administrative disposition without hearing is final and may not be appealed. If the Dean of Students determines that disposition without hearing is not in the best interest of the College, the request will be denied, and the case will go forward to a hearing before the Conduct Review Board or an Administrative Conduct Hearing.

  8. Conduct Involving Multiple Students

    For conduct violations involving a large number of students (defined as fifteen (15) or more), the Office of the Dean of Students will review each individual student’s participation and role, and review the individual student to the appropriate conduct response as described above. At the discretion of the Dean of Students, the charge meeting may be held via videoconference or teleconference, which shall be conducted in a way that preserves a student’s right to privacy.
C. DEFINITIONS OF PROCEDURAL TERMS

The following procedural definitions apply to all policies contained within Section I of the Code of Community Standards except the Bowdoin College Title IX policy. For procedural definitions related to the Title IX policy, please visit the Bowdoin College Title IX Policy.
  • Bowdoin College Community: Any current faculty, staff, administrator, or student.

  • Calendar Days: All days on the calendar, including weekends, holidays, recesses, class days, and business days.

  • Character Reference Statement: A written statement made by a current member of the Bowdoin College community provided during the hearing on behalf of the Respondent. A Character Reference may not be provided by members of the Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling Services, Health Services, Conduct Review Board, or a witness or party to the matter. In matters involving Academic Dishonesty, the Character Reference may not be faculty member (including lab instructors, visiting faculty, and adjunct faculty) from the academic department that originates the complaint.

    A Respondent is limited to a single character reference unless otherwise determined by the Presiding Chair. 

  • Charge Meeting: The meeting at which a Respondent receives notice of the alleged violations of College policy. Only the Respondent and the Conduct Officer may attend a charge meeting. In the case of a matter that is referred to a Formal Hearing, only the Respondent, Conduct Review Board Advisor, and the Respondent's dean (or dean designee appointed by the Office of the Dean of Students) may attend. Family members and guardians are not permitted to attend.

  • Complaining Witness: The individual alleging the violation(s) of the Academic Honor Code or Social Code by the Respondent. Complaining Witnesses must be a member of the Bowdoin Community. The Complaining Witness must submit a written complaint and any accompanying evidentiary support. In the event that a Complaining Witness is also a student, the student shall be afforded the rights as outlined in Section 3 General Hearing Guidelines for Student Parties above.

  • Complaint: A written statement or report from a faculty or staff member of the Bowdoin community. A complaint may also be a written report from the Office of Safety and Security.

  • Conduct Officer: A professional staff member from either the Office of the Dean of Students or the Office of Residential Life with the authority to address violations of the Code of Community Standards.

  • Dean of Students: The Dean of Students or their designee.

  • Expert Witness: Any individual(s) who has expert knowledge that is relevant to the specific details of the case. The Respondent is entitled to call witnesses, but the Respondent is not entitled to call an Expert Witness.

  • Formal Hearing: A conduct hearing that typically takes place before the Conduct Review Board and Presiding Dean. In rare or exceptional circumstances, a Formal Hearing may be conducted administratively before a single Presiding Dean who will act as both a finder of fact and the adjudicator of a sanction, if any.

  • Informal Hearing: An informal process to address a disciplinary matter that takes place before a Conduct Officer.

  • Conduct Review Board: A fact-finding administrative body, composed of students and faculty, that conducts Formal Hearings involving allegations of student misconduct. The Conduct Review Board determines whether a student is responsible for violating the Code of Community Standards.

  • Conduct Review Board Advisor: The designate of the Office of the Dean of Students who advises the Formal Hearing process, either before the Board or before a single Presiding Dean, and is generally responsible for assuring the fairness and integrity of the hearing process.

  • Notice: Written notice outlining the charges against the Respondent, including the date, time, and place of a hearing, and the method of hearing (live or virtual).

  • Panel: A representative tribunal from the Conduct Review Board.

  • Party or Parties: The Complaining Witness, the Respondent, or Respondents.

  • Presiding Dean: The Dean of Students or designee in their capacity as adjudicator of a Formal Hearing.

  • Respondent: Student(s) responding to the complaint of the alleged violation(s) of the Academic Honor Code or Social Code.

  • Responsibility: A finding of “responsible” means that a student has been determined, by a preponderance of the evidence, to have violated the Academic Honor Code, the Social Code, or other College policy. A finding of responsibility will typically result in the outcome of one or more  sanctions.

  • Sanction: The outcome from an Informal or Formal Hearing if a student is found responsible for violating College policy. One or more sanctions may be imposed. Please see Sanctions for more information.

  • Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs: The Senior Vice President and Dean for Student Affairs or their designee.

  • Student Parties: A student Respondent or multiple Respondents. This may also refer to a student serving in the role of Complaining Witness.

  • Supporter: A staff or faculty member from the Bowdoin College community who serves as a Supporter during a Formal Hearing.

    The Supporter may be present with their respective party during the hearing and at related meetings outside the hearing, except for the Charge Meeting. In matters involving Academic Dishonesty, the Supporter may not be a faculty member (including lab instructors, visiting faculty, and adjunct faculty) from the academic department that originates the Complaint. A Supporter may not be a privately retained attorney. 

    A Supporter may assist their party in preparing for the case and provide support throughout the process, from the initiation of a complaint through resolution.  A Supporter may not directly participate in the Formal Hearing nor speak on behalf of their party. They are present to support their party and not to act as legal counsel.

    The Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean may disallow a particular Supporter in cases where the Supporter might be a witness or where the Supporter’s presence, in the Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean’s sole determination, would be obstructive to the process.

    Parties are limited to a single Supporter unless otherwise determined by the Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean.

  • Witness: Any individual(s) who can attest first-hand to the specific details of the case. The Complaining Witness and the Respondent are permitted to call up to three witnesses each. If a party wishes to call more than three witnesses, they must request permission in writing to the Presiding Chair or Presiding Dean and the Conduct Review Board Advisor. Witnesses are not permitted to ask questions of, or cross-examine any Complaining Witness, Respondent, Witness, and/or other individual participating in the hearing. The Presiding Chair reserves the right to call a witness(es) not called by a party if the witness would assist the Board in its work, including an Expert Witness (see Expert Witness above).
     

[1] Cases of sexual misconduct that may not meet the regulatory definitions set forth in Title IX, may nevertheless violate the Social Code. Such cases will be evaluated and where appropriate, be handled as a Social Code violation. Matters involving Bowdoin students engaged in misconduct that  otherwise meets the definition of “Sexual Harassment” under Bowdoin’s Title IX Policy, but that is excepted  from Title IX jurisdiction because of where the conduct occurred, shall be addressed using procedures identical to those set forth in the Title IX Policy.