Demystifying the system

    Following several high-profile stories in campus media over the past few months, the University Hearing and Appeals System (UHAS) has received a lot of recent attention on campus, even though it’s been operating quietly for much longer. The UHAS is charged with resolving issues among students, their organizations and the university, as well as promoting the university’s values.

    But students may not fully understand what the system does or how it works. Luckily, Lance Watson, Assistant Director of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolu­tion wants to help make the system easier to understand.

    There are two ways to resolve a problem through UHAS: a conciliation meet­ing or a hearing.


    Who is involved?

    According to Watson, hearings are attended by six to nine members of the University community, includ­ing students, faculty and administrators, the chair of the hearing board (often a student), factual witnesses and character witnesses. Factual witnesses are people who have “firsthand knowledge” of the incident, while character witnesses can testify to the respondent’s qualities and reputation.

    What happens during the process?

    1. The complaining party files a report with the of­fice, which then informs the respondent of the complaint and the policies you allegedly violated.
    2. The respondent can choose a representative to help them during the process. Parents, alumni and lawyers cannot be representatives.
    3. The respondent meets with the Executive Secre­tary to hear about UHAS procedures.
    4. Twenty-four hours before the hearing, the re­spondent must submit the name of their repre­sentative, as well as factual and character wit­nesses. At this time, they can also submit exhibits, documents or other materials that they think will demonstrate their argument more clearly.
    5. The hearing is called to order. The charges are read and both sides can give opening statements. The complaining party presents its side and then the respondent present theirs.
    6. The hearing board deliberates on possible sanc­tions. The respondent can request a separate “sanctioning phase” of the hearing where they can bring up their past disciplinary issues.
    7. The respondent can request a re-hearing if there is new evidence to present. If they think there was an error in procedure or interpretation of the uni­versity’s policies, they can appeal the board’s deci­sion, but they cannot present any new evidence or witness testimonies.


    Who is involved?

    A complaining party (often the University), a re­spondent (usually a student, who represents his or her organization) and the Executive Secretary from the Office of Student Conduct & Conflict Resolution, who oversees the entire process. The complaining party and respondent may also invite character witnesses to testify on their behalves.

    What happens during the process?

    1. The complaining party files a report with the of­fice, who then sends the respondent a copy of the complaint and a list of the policies they allegedly violated.
    2. The respondent can participate in a conciliation meeting, where they’ll meet with a faculty mem­ber, a Student Affairs staff member and another student. Each party will tell their side of the story.
    3. Both sides agree to a compromise, the Executive Secretary writes an agreement and both sides sign it.

    This process is both long and exhaustive, so next time you’re thinking about breaking the rules, take a look at this list—is it really worth it?


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