Student Disciplinary Process

A. DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
  1. Process Overview

    The student disciplinary process typically begins with either a written report from the Office of Safety and Security, or by letter of 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. For matters involving Title IX, please see the Bowdoin College Title IX Policy.  As set forth in that policy, cases of sexual misconduct that are excluded from jurisdiction under Bowdoin’s Title IX Policy due to where the alleged incident occurs, raise potential violations of the Social Code.  Such cases will be evaluated for such violations and resolved using procedures identical to those set forth in the Title IX Policy.

    All reports or complaints shall be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students, which is responsible for the administration of the student disciplinary process. The Office of the Dean of Students shall review all reports and complaints and this review may take place in partnership with Residential Life and other College departments as deemed necessary or appropriate by the Dean of Students.

    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 an administrative outcome, following a conversation with the student.
    2. Serious Violations: Students who commit serious violations, as determined in the College’s sole discretion, or who have accumulated several minor policy violations, and that may result in a change of status, may elect to either: (1) receive an administrative sanction by a dean acting as a Hearing Officer; or (2) request the matter be referred to the Judicial Board for a hearing to adjudicate responsibility and a sanction determined by the Dean of Students. “Serious violations” include repeated minor violations by a student.

    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 Judicial Board for a hearing. Under exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students may conduct an Administrative Conduct Hearing in lieu of a Judicial Board hearing. (See Sections X & Y below.

    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 mediation.

    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 the underlying violation itself would ordinarily merit. Please see Sanctions for more information. For how Bowdoin College reports on matters of student discipline, please see Reporting Student Disciplinary Record and Matters.

    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.

  2.  Initiating a Hearing
  1. Academic Code: When a student is suspected of violating the Academic Honor Code, the person(s) bringing the charge should confer with the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Community Standards, or other member of the Office of the Dean of Students staff, for advice. 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.

    At the faculty member’s 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 an Administrative Conduct Hearing before a dean.  

  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.

  3. Conduct Investigations: Investigations by the Office of Safety and Security, the Dean of Students’ Office, 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.

    Initial reports should provide all of the available pertinent details of the alleged violation committed by the student(s) and must be filed with the Office of the Dean of Students while the Respondent is a Bowdoin student.
  1. Timing

    If the Dean of Students determines, in their sole discretion, that, due to the timing of a matter, the Judicial Board cannot be convened in a fair or timely manner, the Dean of Students may refer the matter to an Administrative Conduct 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.
  1. 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 appealed.
  1. Graduation and Revocation of Degree

    In no circumstances will the College allow an impending graduation to compromise its adjudicative process. Conferral of a degree may therefore be postponed or deferred if necessary, until proper resolution of charges, provided a hearing opportunity shall be diligently scheduled for the earliest practicable date that shall accommodate the Complaining Witness, the Respondent, witnesses, and the Board. 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.    
  1. Publication of Precedent

    The Office of the Dean of Students will compile and print aggregate data regarding the charges and outcomes from Judicial Board hearings and administrative decisions in publications 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.
  1. 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 Judicial 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 Judicial Board may recommend policy changes by meeting with the Dean for Student Affairs. 
  1. 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

In most instances, minor violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a Conduct Officer for a meeting and conduct outcome.

Serious violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a Hearing Officer for a conduct conversation with the student. Prior to receiving a sanction, the student may elect to either: (1) receive an administrative resolution from the Hearing Officer; or (2) request the matter be referred to the Judicial Board for a hearing to adjudicate responsibility and a sanction determined by the Dean of Students.

Students who commit major violations of policy (as defined above) will typically be referred to a hearing before the Judicial Board. In rare and exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students may address the matter through a formal Administrative Conduct Hearing in lieu of a Judicial Board hearing.

  1. Formal Hearings

    The following section applies to Judicial Board hearings and Administrative Conduct Hearings before a Hearing Officer:

    1. In-Person Hearings: Unless circumstances require otherwise, the College will conduct all disciplinary hearings in-person before either a Judicial Board Panel or a Hearing Officer. For Panel composition, please see the Judicial Board Policy.
    2. Virtual Hearings: When it is not possible for a disciplinary 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 Judicial Board Policy.
  1. Hearing Guidelines

    For the purposes of assuring fairness and consistency, the College adopts the following protections for students participating in Judicial Board or Administrative Conduct Hearings: adequate notice of the hearing; advance notice of matters requiring student responses; an impartial Panel or Hearing Officer 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.

    The following guidelines apply to all student disciplinary hearings:


    1. 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 (Judicial Board or Administrative Conduct Hearing).

    2. The Presiding Chair or Hearing Officer has discretionary authority to make procedural rulings as necessary to conduct the 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.

    3. The College’s decisional standard in all disciplinary matters is a “preponderance of evidence.”

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

    5. If a Judicial Board Panel or Hearing Officer 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.

    6. 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.

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

    8. 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.

    9. If the Respondent is found responsible for the charge(s), either the Hearing Officer or the Dean of Students 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.
     
  1. General Hearing Guidelines for Student Parties

    1. The Respondent(s) shall receive from the Office of the Dean of Students a written notice outlining the substance of 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 (Judicial Board or Administrative). The Complaining Witness shall also receive written notice of the charges and the date, time, and place of the hearing.

    2. Parties must have a reasonable period of time in which to prepare for the hearing. This is generally not less than eight 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 may use discretion in extending time limits.

    3. Student Parties must schedule pre-hearing conferences with the Judicial Board Advisor to review and discuss judicial procedures.

    4. If Student Parties wish, they may have a Supporter present at the hearing to provide emotional and personal support. 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. 

    5. Respondents may have 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. Prior to a student being charged, the Complaining Witness must submit their charge letter and primary evidentiary support to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Community Standards. This material must support the Complaining Witness’ allegations against the Respondent(s). Evidentiary support may include, but is not limited to, original source material, class syllabus, written instructions or statements, emails, reports, or video footage.

    7. Prior to the hearing, a Respondent may examine all evidence scheduled for review by the Judicial Board Panel or Hearing Officer, 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 Judicial Board Panel or Hearing Officer to consider, if any, up to four days prior to the hearing. In appropriate circumstances, the Presiding Chair or Hearing Officer 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. 

    8. Student Parties may request the removal of a single member from the Judicial Board Panel (names of members are available from the Office of the Dean of Students) believed incapable of rendering an impartial decision by submitting a written petition to the Presiding Chair 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 Judicial 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 Judicial Board Advisor, who will rule on such petitions.

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

    10. Respondents are expected to attend the hearing as scheduled 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 Panel to compound the gravity of the original charge(s). If Respondents fail or refuse to appear, the Presiding Chair may allow presentation of evidence to the Panel in their absence. The Panel will reach decisions based on the evidence presented.

    11. Complaining Witnesses must attend the hearing as scheduled by the Office of the Dean of Students unless Respondents consent to proceedings without a Complaining Witness present. Complaining Witnesses are expected to be forthcoming and truthful. Purposefully misleading and/or false statements, or a failure to be forthcoming and truthful, may result in serious disciplinary charges leading to a separate hearing.

    12. Attorneys shall not participate in the College’s disciplinary process, except when a Student Party has an independent and pending criminal proceedings. When attorneys are permitted to attend the Panel hearing, 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 Parties must notify the Judicial Board Advisor that an attorney will be present at least forty-eight hours prior to the scheduled hearing.
     
  1. General Expectations of Individuals Involved in Judicial Board Hearings

    1. Witnesses are expected to attend and participate unless excused by the Judicial Board Advisor.

    2.  Observers or other individuals present at the 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.  The Board expects all participants at the hearing to be forthcoming and truthful. Purposefully misleading and/or false statements, or a failure to be forthcoming and truthful, may result in serious disciplinary charges leading to a separate hearing.  

    4.  Given the confidential nature of the College’s judicial procedures, except as authorized by the Judicial Board 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 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. 
     
  2. Disposition without Hearing

    A Respondent who is charged with either a serious or a major violation of College policy and accepts responsibility for all their actions, may request the Dean of Students adjudicate a final disposition of the charges in lieu of a Judicial 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 Judicial Board or an Administrative Conduct Hearing. 

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.

Administrative Conduct Hearing: A conduct hearing that takes place before a single Hearing Officer, whether in-person or by videoconference. The Hearing Officer makes a determination of both responsibility and sanction, if any.

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, Judicial 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.  

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.

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

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.

Hearing Officer: Any dean who conducts an Administrative Conduct Hearing. The Hearing Officer determines both responsibility and any resulting sanction.

Judicial Board: An administrative body, composed of students and faculty, that hears cases involving allegations of student misconduct. The Judicial Board determines whether a student is responsible for violating the Code of Community Standards.

Judicial Board Advisor: The designate of the Office of the Dean of Students who advises the hearing process and is generally responsible for assuring the fairness and integrity of the hearing process. The Judicial Board Advisor shall attend the hearing and the Panel’s deliberations in order to advise the Panel on procedural matters, but the Advisor shall not vote. The Dean of Students shall attend the hearing, but not deliberations.

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

Panel: A representative tribunal from the Judicial Board, which is charge with hearing cases and determining whether the Academic Honor Code, Social Code, or other College policy has been violated.

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

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 a sanction.

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

Supporter: A person from the Bowdoin College community can serve as a Supporter to a Respondent. Supporter may be present with their respective party during the hearing and at related meetings outside the hearing, except for the Charge Meeting. Supporter may not directly participate in the disciplinary process nor speak on behalf of their party. Supporter may assist their party in preparing for the case and provide support throughout the process, from the initiation of a complaint through resolution. Supporter are present not to act as legal counsel, but to assist and support their party and to give advice to their party on procedural matters. A Supporter may not be a privately retained attorney. 

The Presiding Chair or Hearing Officer 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 Hearing Officer’s sole determination, would be obstructive to the process.

Parties are limited to a single Support unless otherwise determined by the Presiding Chair.

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 and the Judicial 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).