As a member of the Delaware Valley College Community, every student is expected to follow the laws of the state and community as well as the rules established by the college. As an institution of higher education, the College seeks to guide and develop students into productive members of their community, and has established campus guidelines and a judicial system as a tool to guide and direct the behavior of the students.
While most members of the community easily abide by all of the established rules and laws, some student behavior violations these rules and leads to community disturbances. The campus judicial system provides these students with a fair process to defend themselves in the event of a violation as well as a means to distribute sanctions where appropriate to correct and educate the students. Any student that is involved in any kind of violation incident is afforded these rights, which are detailed in the Student Handbook along with the campus code of conduct.
The first step in a campus judicial proceeding is the violation itself, including discovery of that violation. Any member of the college community may file charges against another by filing a statement with the Public Safety and Security Office. More commonly, a member of the Residence Life Staff or Security Personnel will discover the violation and will file a report. These reports are compiled each day and distributed to the appropriate offices.
The Director of Residence Life serves as the Chief Judicial Officer for the campus community and reviews all report that are submitted. The director then makes the determination as to whether or not there was a violation of campus policy or state law that requires further follow-up or possible sanctions. The director is responsible for distributing each case to an appropriate hearing officer. While cases are usually heard by an Area Coordinator, more serious offenses are handled by the Director of Residence Life or, possibly, the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students.
If a student is involved in an incident that requires a judicial hearing, they will be notified by hand-delivered letter. Each student is required to sign for this letter, but signing does not admit any fault or guilt. The signature requirement is to ensure that students receive their letter and that the case is handled in a timely manner. This letter will detail the violations that the student has been charged with. The charges will be listed as one of three levels of behavior and given a specific item number corresponding to the Student Handbook Code of Conduct. This letter will also provide instructions for the student to contact the appropriate hearing officer to arrange a hearing. Students must contact their hearing officer within two business days of receiving their letter.
All hearings are held in the Student Affairs Office on the second floor of the Student Center. It is important for students to report for their hearing on time. Each student will receive an individual hearing; for example, if three students are all found in the same room in the same incident, they each must have a separate hearing. This hearing is a private discussion between the hearing officer and the student. At the start of the hearing, the hearing officer will explain the charge letter that was delivered to the student and will explain the violation, reading the incident reports filed.
The student will be asked to present their perspective of the incident, and will often be asked to clarify details. It is during this time that a student may ask questions, defend themselves and/or admit violation. It is important for students to be honest and cooperative in a hearing, as dishonesty will lead to further judicial action and sanctions. The hearing officer may then take one of two courses of action: the hearing officer will make a determination on the outcome of the charges and will dispense appropriate sanctions, if any, within this meeting; or the hearing officer will postpone a decision until after speaking with other students involved, witnesses, the reporting personnel or for further deliberation.
If the case decision is postponed, the student will be contacted once a decision is reached, and must report for a meeting to discuss the outcome and any sanctions assigned.
Once a student case is decided, the student will again receive a hand-delivered letter, which they will be required to sign for. This letter will detail in writing the decision rendered by the hearing officer and the specific sanctions assigned. It is important for students to read this letter carefully, and to address their hearing officer with questions or concerns. Sanctions often include deadlines, and any sanction not completed by its deadline may result in further judicial action.
If a student disagrees with the hearing officer's decision, they may appeal the decision by submitting a written letter of appeal to the hearing officer's superior within three business days of receipt of their letter. For cases heard by Area Coordinators, appeals are directed to the Director of Residence Life. For cases heard by the Director, appeals are directed to the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students. Any appeals beyond this are heard by the Student Conduct Board, who makes a final decision on the case.
This process was developed to ensure that each student receive a fair hearing with a chance to voice concerns and clarify incidents. More detailed information can be found in the Student Handbook in the front section, after the Code of Conduct.
What should I do if I get a letter?
If you receive a knock on your door and are greeted by a member of the Residence Life Staff holding a letter, remember the following things:
- Be kind and courteous. The staff member delivering your letter doesn't even know what the letter says or why you are receiving it. They are simply delivering a message from your hearing officer and are fellow students.
- Sign the receipt and take your letter. Signing the receipt only acknowledges that you have received the letter and does not imply responsibility or guilt in any way. Plese do not refuse to sign the letter, as you will have a chance to argue the charges in your hearing. The staff member delivering your letter cannot make a decision about your case, and arguing with that person will have no effect on the outcome of your case.
- When you receive the letter, read it carefully. There are specific instructions on how to contact your hearing officer and what items you are being charged with. If you have any questions, bring them with you to your hearing so they may be addressed.
- Schedule your appointment. If you do not contact your hearing officer with two business days after receiving your letter, your case can be decided in absentia (without you present), and you will not have a chance to defend yourself or clarify the incident. Cases heard in absentia are not usually turned over in appeal, as the violating student did not feel the need to clarify the situation the first time.
- Show up for your appointment, and be on time. If a student schedules an appointment but does not show up, the case can still be decided in absentia. If, for any reason, you are going to be late or cannot make your scheduled appointment, contact your hearing officer immediately to discuss rescheduling.
- Be cooperative and honest. If you avoid the truth or mislead a hearing officer, you will face further judicial action, and will need to repeat this process for falsifying information to college officials. Being cooperative and honest may encourage leniency from your hearing officer when deciding sanctions.
The first step to any judicial procedure is always a violation of the student Code of Conduct. If you participate in the activities of the college community within the established guidelines and laws, you will never need to attend a judicial hearing. Being an active and contributory member of the community is an asset not only to yourself, but to the college and your fellow students as well.