FAQs for Students, Witnesses, and Parents

Students


Q: What does the complaint letter mean?
A: After an incident report is received in the appropriate office, a complaint letter is sent to the student(s) involved in the incident. This letter indicates what complaints are being brought against the student(s) and instructions to schedule a judicial review. There is also an overview of the rights that will be accorded to every participant in the judicial review.

Q: What are my rights as a student?
A: Before the judicial review, you have the right to obtain an advisor from within the University community. The advisor may not be legal counsel or a parent. You have the right to be notified of the complaint brought against you. Should you decide not to attend a judicial review, it may be rescheduled or it may be held in your absence. At the judicial review, you have the right to challenge, with cause, the participation of any review officer or any member of a judicial committee. You have the right to remain silent and will not be forced to answer questions. You may testify on your own behalf, present your own witnesses, and hear, question or rebut any and all information presented by or to the judicial officer. Finally, you have the right to appeal the decision reached by the judicial officer or judicial board.

A listing of your rights may be found in the UNE Student Handbook.

Q: What is the agenda for a judicial review?
A: At UNE, reviews are primarily a forum for the fair presentation of various points of view concerning a specific incident. Reviews follow a standard agenda designed to encourage orderly discussion.

  • First, the review agenda is presented and your rights will be discussed with you.
  • You will have the opportunity to either "accept responsibility" or "not accept responsibility" for each complaint that has been brought against you.
  • After accepting or not accepting responsibility, you are asked to comment on what you remember about the incident.
  • Witnesses may be asked to make statements individually. They are not present for the entire review. The judicial officer or members of the judicial board may ask questions of those who have made statements.
  • Finally, the judicial officer and the student may make summary comments if they wish to do so; they are not required.
  • You may be asked to leave the room while the judicial officer or members of the judicial committee determine responsibility. Decisions regarding responsibility are made in private. Sometimes a decision may not be determined immediately in order to further review evidence. If you are found responsible, an appropriate sanction will be determined.

You are notified in writing of the outcome of your case, and in some cases you may be asked to schedule a post-review conference to discuss the outcome and sanction(s) with the judicial officer.

Q: What's the difference between a Judicial Officer Review and a Judicial Committee Review?
A: Student disciplinary cases may be handled in the following manners:

  • Complaint(s) against undergraduate students that are not likely to result in suspension or dismissal will normally be referred to a Judicial Officer (Judicial Officer Review).
  • Undergraduate students who are in jeopardy of suspension or dismissal from the University may be referred to a Judicial Committee (Judicial Committee Review).

Once the determination has been made as to which judicial process will be used, you will be referred to that judicial officer or body.

Q: Can I bring an advisor?
A: Both the judicial officer and the accused may elect to have a single advisor accompany them to the hearing. Advisors must be from within the University community (faculty or staff member, or in rare cases a peer). Advisors cannot be legal counsel or a parent. If you have chosen to bring an advisor, you must remember that this individual is there to assist you. An advisor may not participate in the hearing directly. He or she may not question any witness or the judicial officer. The role of the advisor is limited to conferring with you. If you need to request a break in the review so that you can confer with your advisor privately, you may do so.

Q: Who is the Judicial Review Officer?
A: The Judicial Review Officer is a staff member of the Division of Student Affairs who has been appointed as a University judicial officer. These individuals are specially trained in judicial affairs and have a good working knowledge of UNE's policy and current judicial precedent. If you feel that the staff member is not in a position to render a "fair and impartial" judgment, then you may ask that the case be assigned to someone else. This must be done in writing prior to your hearing.

Q: Should I accept responsibility or not accept responsibility?
A: As a student who receives a complaint letter, you may either "accept responsibility" or "not accept responsibility." You should know better than anyone which is most appropriate. However, if there is a question in your mind as to whether you are "responsible" or "not responsible" you should probably plead "not responsible" and allow the judicial officer or board to decide on your involvement.

Q: May I bring a witness?
A: You are encouraged to bring witnesses who have relevant information to the judicial review. It is unnecessary for you to bring character witnesses. Remember, too, that numbers are not important. A group of witnesses saying about the same thing may only add confusion.

If a Judicial Review Committee is convened, witnesses appearing on your behalf will NOT be summoned for you. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure your witnesses are present and on time. The Committee will call each separately to answer questions.

If a judicial officer will hear your case, that person will instruct you to provide the names of witnesses. The witnesses will receive a letter from the judicial officer to request a meeting.

A witness will be allowed to make his/her statement at the appropriate time and then be dismissed. All questions, for any witness, will first be addressed to the judicial officer and then to the witness. You may not directly question any witness.

Q: What kind of sanction(s) am I going to receive if I am found responsible?
A: A list of sanctions appears in the Student Handbook. There is no way to make specific comments about sanctions except to say that each case is heard on its own merit. Sanctions will follow current case precedent but individual circumstances are taken into account. Sanctions are designed to alter behavior and to make statements about the University's expectations for student conduct. Even sanctions such as suspension are intended to help students learn from their actions and understand how unacceptable behaviors impact others. You should be aware that some violations of University policy might result in suspension or dismissal from UNE for a first offense. You should also know that every case is different. Sanctions may vary even for seemingly similar cases.

Q: What is an "educational sanction"?
A: An educational sanction is a constructive activity assigned to you as a judicial sanction. It is usually designed to enhance your ability to learn from a violation of the University Code of Conduct. In some instances, the educational sanction may relate directly to the nature of the offense. In other instances, it may not. Students who violate the Alcohol Policy, for example, may be sanctioned to complete an alcohol education class and/or write a reflection paper on what they have learned from the experience. The educational sanction is intended to promote thinking and learning that will lead to responsible decision making in the future.

Q: Can I appeal a decision?
A:If the judicial officer or judicial board determines that you are responsible, you may appeal your case. Appeals may only be filed in the event of:

  • Relevant new evidence.
  • Material procedural irregularities.

An appeal cannot be filed simply because you are unhappy with the decision. For more information on the appeals process, please review the Student Handbook.

Q: If I decide to appeal, what do I need to do?
A: First, review the Academic and Disciplinary Appeals policy in the Student Handbook. You must then file a written request, based on the criteria outlined in the Student Handbook. All letters of appeal should be addressed to the Dean of Students. Your letter must explain in detail the grounds on which an appeal should be reviewed. An appeal review will not be a "re-hearing" of your case.

Upon receipt of your letter, the appeals review officer will make a preliminary decision to accept or reject the case based on the evidence you present in support of one or more of the appeals criteria. You will receive a letter from the appeals review officer with his/her decision on your appeal request. If your request is granted, you will schedule an appointment for an Appeal Review.

Q: Why are similar violations handled differently?
A: Students who are responsible for violating University policy and/or procedure will be assigned an appropriate sanction based on the nature of the violation, the severity of the violation, the judicial history of the student, and/or other criteria as determined by the judicial officer. Sanctions are typically based on precedent set by other similar cases. However, since no two cases or students are exactly the same, sanctions may vary for seemingly similar incidents.

Judicial officers have been trained to determine appropriate sanctions and do not frivolously assign sanctions. They take their jobs very seriously and seek to find education-based solutions to deter future problem behavior and/or reconcile inappropriate behavior.

For a listing of possible sanctions, please view the Student Handbook. This is not an all-inclusive list as sanctions are at the discretion of the judicial officer.

Q: What happens to my judicial record?
A: All student conduct and related files are maintained for a period of no less than four years after your separation from the University. Records may be destroyed at that time. Disciplinary records may be retained for longer periods of time or permanently if specified in the terms of disciplinary sanctions. Your judicial record is not part of your academic transcript, unless you are suspended or permanently dismissed from the University.

Q: Who has access to my judicial record?
A: Your judicial file is kept for internal record-keeping purposes and to provide some insight into your behavior if additional problems arise. Past decisions that resulted in a finding of responsibility will be considered in subsequent hearings when sanctions are determined. These records are released to no one other than officials at UNE who have a legitimate need to know and others as permitted by law. In cases involving violent behavior, the accuser may elect to be notified of the outcome of the judicial review. This single exception is in keeping with the reauthorization of The Higher Education Act (1998) and The Students' Right to Privacy Act, as amended.

Students with judicial records must sign a consent form before this information can be released to other individuals. However, under the recent amendments to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974), parents of students under age 21 can be notified in writing if their son or daughter is found responsible for a violation of the Alcohol or Drug Policy. It is recommended that you inform your parents of all incidents that result in judicial sanctions. Keeping this type of information from your parents can make matters worse if additional violations occur.

Q: What should I do if I can't make it to my review?
A: If for a legitimate reason you cannot make it to your review, call the Judicial Officer in charge of your case immediately. That person will ascertain whether or not you will be excused and allowed to reschedule. If you do not show up for a hearing, the case will be decided based on the available facts.

Q: What should I wear to the review?
A: You should wear something nice but casual, as if you were going out to dinner with family or giving a presentation in class. While a decision in your case will be decided on facts, how serious you take the matter may influence the outcome.

Witnesses


Q: What does it mean to be a witness?
A: You are asked to be a witness to an incident that may have involved student misconduct. While it may feel as such, you are not considered a witness for or against the complainant or the accused student. Being a witness means that you may have information that is important to resolving a judicial matter.

Q: What will I have to do?
A: As a witness, you have been asked to provide information about an incident. You do not need to prepare a statement but should be prepared to recount an incident—who was there, what did you see, etc. During the review, you will be asked questions by a Judicial Officer and/or members of a Judicial Board, the complainant's witness and the accused student. The questions can be both general and specific, and they may cover the incident, other information relevant to the complaint(s), or your judgment. You should answer the questions truthfully and honestly.

Q: What if I don't feel comfortable being a witness?
A: Being a witness is not an easy thing to do. You have been asked to be a witness because you can provide information that may not be available from any other source or because you can supplement information from a written report. Your participation is valuable to the people involved. The University encourages you to take part in this process as fully as you can.

Q: Can I be charged if it is revealed during the review that I also violated a conduct code?
A: As a general rule, the University is concerned with the more serious charge in a case. Although it is possible, the University does not routinely charge witnesses who admit to minor violations. If you are concerned, talk with a Judicial Officer prior to the hearing.

Q: I can't make the review, but I still want to help. Is there anything I can do?
A: If you cannot attend the review for legitimate reasons, the Judicial Officer may try to reschedule the review or may ask you to write a statement providing relevant information.

Q: How much time for participation should I allow?
A: Witnesses may spend about 15 to 20 minutes answering questions, but it is difficult to anticipate how long it will be before you are asked to provide information once a review begins. The student involved in the case will be asked questions before any witnesses enter.

You will be scheduled for an approximate time to participate, but you might not be asked into the review at exactly that time. Consider bringing homework or something to read. If you have time constraints, please tell the Judicial Officer prior to the review.

Q: What should I do if someone asks me to lie or deceive?
A: Judicial matters can be very difficult for all students involved. Because the outcome of a case can have serious consequences for an accused student, pressure may be put on witnesses to help the student get out of the situation. If you are presented with a plea to be untruthful or withhold information during a review, you will need to consider the personal consequences. Providing inaccurate information, withholding information, or attempting to otherwise deceive the Judicial Officer will put you in violation of University policy. More importantly, it does not speak well of your character.

Q: Who can I talk to about the incident or the judicial process?
A: If you feel you need emotional support, remember that although the judicial process is confidential, you may discuss your emotions and your feelings with others. Specific details about the case and the individuals involved should not be shared.

As a witness you are requested to respect the privacy and confidentiality of those involved. You should not discuss the incident, the people involved, the resolution process and its results with anyone who isn't directly involved with the case. The accused student has the right to seek legal action if you disclose information about her or his involvement in the judicial process.

For procedural information and general advice, talk to a trusted Student Affairs staff or faculty member.

Q: Will I have to face the people involved in the review?
A: The accused student will have the opportunity to ask you questions through the Judicial Officer or Judicial Board. The student will not be allowed to directly ask questions. Remember that you are not a witness for or against someone, even though the information you provide may be more supportive of one side or the other.

Q: What can I do to help my friend who is the accused student?
A: Speak honestly and openly during the review. If your friend is upset or angry, help them focus on resolving the matter and getting through the process, not fighting it. Encourage your friend to understand her or his rights, to be truthful, and to attend every meeting. If your friend is found responsible for violating University policy, urge her or him to complete the assigned sanctions on time.

Q: What should I do if I think someone is lying?
A: If you think someone is lying, talk with the individual and tell her or him how you feel. Much of the judicial process is based on trust and respect, which does not allow for deceit. You may remind the person that they can always talk to the Judicial Officer in charge of the case.

Q: What should I wear to the review?
A: You should wear something nice but casual, as if you were going out to dinner with family or giving a presentation to a class.

Q: Who can find out about my involvement in this case?
A: The judicial process is a confidential process. Only people directly involved in the case will know that you have participated. 

Parents


Q: Will I be notified if my son/daughter violates a University policy?
A: Only in certain cases will you be notified if your student violates UNE policy. In those cases, namely violations of the University Alcohol and Drug Policy, a letter will be sent AFTER a judicial officer has heard the case and responsibility has been determined. This letter will serve as notification that the student has been found responsible for violating University policy. It is the responsibility of both parent(s) and student to communicate with one another. We try to walk a narrow path between treating students as adults and appropriately keeping parents involved. We are not obligated to notify parents, but may choose to do so as under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As a parent, you should know that we cannot discuss the details of any case involving your son or daughter unless he/she signs a waiver that allows us to do so.

Q: What is my role in the University judicial process?
A: You can help your student by being supporting while holding them accountable to your expectations and the University's. You can also help identify and provide necessary interventions such as alcohol or drug evaluations, anger management and others so that your student can be successful at UNE. Allow and expect the student to set appointments, attend meetings and complete sanctions. It is not educationally beneficial for the student, or resolution of the matter, for parents to "take over" the process for the student, nor do we allow that to happen.

Q: Can you explain sanctions in plain English?
A: A list of sanctions appears in the Student Handbook. There is no way to make specific comments about sanctions except to say that each case is heard on its own merit. Sanctions will follow current case precedent but individual circumstances are taken into account. Sanctions are designed to alter behavior and to make statements about the University's expectations for student conduct. Even sanctions such as suspension are intended to help students learn from their actions and understand how unacceptable behaviors impact others. You should be aware that some violations of University policy might result in suspension or dismissal from the University for a first offense. You should also know that every case is different. Sanctions may vary even for seemingly similar cases.

Q: What is an "educational sanction?"
A: An educational sanction is a constructive activity assigned to the student as a judicial sanction. It is usually designed to enhance his/her ability to learn from a violation of the University's Conduct Code. In some instances, the educational sanction may relate directly to the nature of the offense. In other instances, it may not. Students who violate the Alcohol Policy, for example, may be sanctioned to complete an alcohol education class and/or write a reflection paper on what they have learned from the total experience. The educational sanction is intended to promote thinking and learning that will lead to responsible decision making in the future.

Q: Can my student appeal a disciplinary decision?
A:An appeal may be initiated by a student who perceives that there is:

  • Relevant new evidence.
  • Material procedural irregularities.

Q: What does a sanction do to my student's record?
A: If a student is suspended from the University, a notation will be placed in the student's academic transcript for the period of the suspension. If the student is expelled, a notation will remain on the transcript permanently. For any student receiving a sanction less serious than suspension or expulsion, notations are not placed on the academic transcripts. In all cases, judicial records are maintained by Housing and Residence Life, and/or the Dean of Students Office for no less than fours years after a student's separation from the University.

Q: My student would never do anything like this so why is he/she being charged?
A: For some students, college is a time of exploration, experimentation, and testing. They may be in a period of transition from late adolescence to adulthood. They may also be away from home and the daily influence of their parents for the first time. As students are testing the beliefs and values they learned at home, some may make choices that are inconsistent with these values. Such testing is a normal part of the developmental process. However, students must also learn that the choices they make may not be healthy and may have consequences. The Judicial System is designed to assist students with these choices and help them make appropriate decisions.

Q: What is the role of an advisor in the judicial process?
A: Both the judicial officer and student may elect to have a single advisor accompany them to the review. Advisors must be from within the University community (faculty or staff member, or in rare cases a peer). Advisors cannot be legal counsel or a parent. If a student chooses to use an advisor, he/she must remember that this individual is there to assist them. An advisor may not directly participate in the review. He or she may not question any witness or the Judicial Officer. The role of the advisor is limited to conferring with their advisee. If needed, the advisor or student may request a break in the review so that they can confer with one another.

Q: Can I be present during my son's/daughter's review?
A: Parents may not attend judicial reviews. Only members of the University community are allowed to serve as advisors. Our intention is not to bar parents from the process, but to most appropriately serve the student's needs. University community members are more familiar with UNE policy and the judicial process. Further, our goal is to treat students as adults and help them make responsible decisions.

Q: Why is there a fine on my son's/daughter's bill?
A: A monetary fine is one possible sanction for violating a University policy. This fine may be for retribution, to pay for an educational sanction, or purely for punitive reasons. While fines are at the discretion of the Judicial Officer, they are not frivolous. Fines will be levied in a fair and equitable way. You should also know that we use monies collected through fines to enhance educational efforts. This money is not used to enhance the administration's operational budgets.

Q: What can I do to better communicate with my son/daughter?
A: One of the most difficult relationships to negotiate is that of parent and college student. College is often a time in which a student more thoroughly explores who they are, what they believe, and how they interact with others. We do not believe our students are innately bad, but instead choose to believe that some students will make inappropriate decisions. We see these times as opportunities to create "teachable moments," to help students learn from their mistakes.

We highly encourage parents to take the same outlook. Talk with your student and not at your student. Treat them like the adult they are trying to become. Here are some examples, taken from a brochure by GTE Long Distance:

The wrong thing to say:

"You promised you'd call and didn't."

"Dropping that course was a big mistake."

"If you don't stop drinking, we're going to take away your car."

The right thing to say:

"I get worried when I don't hear from you."

"I know chemistry is tough, but is there anyone you can go to for help?"

"We still love you, but we don't condone you violating the law. There will be consequences for your choices—have you thought about what they are?"