Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC)

Effective Date

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Office of Primary Responsibility

Office of Judicial Affairs

Affected Parties

All Students

Policy Statement

Purpose

The Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) and the system described in this section were established to carry out the Board of Trustees' April 15, 2000 announcement that "...all students and student organizations should be treated under the same set of guiding principles and rules, and that violations be adjudicated by a single judicial system embracing all student organizations...." College recognition of student organizations is a privilege, and student organizations are recognized and supported in order to further the broad educational objectives of the College. In appropriate circumstances consistent with the College's Group Accountability Policy, College-recognized undergraduate student organizations may be held accountable for the behaviors of their current and/or former members and officers that violate the existing Standards of Conduct. The organizational adjudication process will review and adjudicate all such cases. Organizational behavior in violation of departmental rules or policies not covered by the Standards of Conduct normally will continue to be managed by individual departments, in consultation with the Judicial Affairs Office. Information about all kinds of organizational violations will be shared with the JAO to enable consultation with departments about the disposition of cases. In the event of a disagreement, the Director of the JAO (as the representative of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs) would have the authority to make a determination that a case would be heard through the organization adjudication process.

Composition

The OAC shall be comprised as follows: six members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences who shall be appointed by a process determined by the Committee on Organization and Policy (COP) for a term of three years; twelve members who shall be members of the sophomore, junior or senior classes, and who meet the same requirements for service established by the Committee on Standards, six elected annually by the student body and six selected by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs; eight members from the administration who shall be selected by the President. The COP, Student Assembly, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, and President shall ensure that a full complement of their respective members are available each term and shall appoint members as required to provide a full complement. A quorum for a hearing is three students, two faculty members, and two administrative members. The Committee will be chaired by a designated member of the Dean's staff. The Director or Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs will normally be present.

The JAO or the Chair may also request that a representative of the College department through which the student organization is recognized attend the hearing to provide information about the structure and operation of the organization appearing before the Committee.

Group Disciplinary Process

In cases where a student organization may have violated a departmental standard or regulation, the department head responsible for oversight of the organization will consult with the JAO but will normally be responsible for addressing the matter according to normal departmental practice. Such violations of departmental standards, however, may be referred to the organizational adjudication process. Where the behavior in question may also have violated a College Standard of Conduct, the matter will be referred to the JAO and the organizational adjudication process for investigation and adjudication.

Initiation and Investigation of Reports

The JAO shall be responsible for receiving all complaints and issuing whatever allegations may be issued. Any student, faculty member, or employee may file a complaint regarding a student organization with the JAO. In addition, the JAO may initiate an allegation on the basis of information coming to its attention from any source. The JAO shall determine whether complaints or other information concerning a student organization shall result in formal disciplinary allegations. Administrative officers and department heads responsible for student organizations shall also inform the JAO of information coming to their attention regarding possible violations of College Standards by student organizations. The JAO shall coordinate the investigation and disposition of complaints and shall call upon other members of the College community for assistance as necessary.

Immediate Action and Temporary Suspension

The Vice Provost for Student Affairs and/or the senior College officer responsible for an organization has the authority to suspend an organization, and any of its activities, pending the outcome of a hearing, when in their judgment circumstances warrant. The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or a designee has sole discretion to take immediate action to preserve and protect the safety and/or welfare of specific individuals on campus and/or the College community as a whole during an investigation and pending a hearing in a disciplinary case. This action includes (but is not limited to) restricting organizational access to specific areas of campus or facilities, imposing no-contact orders or other expectations for interactions with specific individuals or organizations, removing an organization from Dartmouth housing, restricting living arrangements or activities, or any other action deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

The Vice Provost for Student Affairs or a designee may place an organization on immediate temporary suspension pending a hearing when the organization has been cited or charged with serious criminal behavior, or when the organization allegedly has violated a standard of conduct and the Vice Provost concludes that the organization poses a significant risk to the safety or educational environment of the community.

Referral of Allegations and Action

Where information concerning a student organization would result in a warning, reprimand or no more than a short period of College or alcohol probation, the organization will be provided with notice and an opportunity to meet with a hearing officer to discuss the report. Outcomes at this level may include an appropriate sanction up to several weeks of probation and/or required educational sanctions. In such cases, the decision of the hearing officer shall be final (except for the organization's right to request review).

Where an organization is reported to have engaged in serious misconduct, has engaged in repeated misconduct, or where a sanction, if found responsible, is likely to exceed several weeks of probation, the Director of Judicial Affairs shall issue formal disciplinary allegations invoking the full OAC process described below.

Admission of Allegations

An organization that admits responsibility for serious allegations may request to forgo a committee hearing and have its case heard by an OAC Chair. If the Chair agrees to a one-on-one hearing, the Chair may impose any sanction appropriate to the circumstances. Student Organizations admitting to disciplinary allegations and requesting to meet with an OAC Chair individually may not have an advisor or observer present. If the Chair denies the request for an individual hearing or if the organization prefers to be heard by the Organizational Adjudication Committee, the OAC shall hear the case according to standard procedures and impose any sanction appropriate to the circumstances.

Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) Hearings

OAC hearings will follow the Committee on Standards process and hearing procedures (also described below). The JAO will be responsible for providing to the OAC all relevant materials relating to cases which come before it. Where, after a hearing, the OAC finds an organization responsible for one or more violations, it will then recommend a penalty to the Chair, who will then determine the penalty after consideration of the recommendation.

Timing of Hearings

In circumstances where cases involve allegations of organizational misconduct as well as individual misconduct, the Director of Judicial Affairs and the Chair will determine the order in which the various hearings occur. In some situations, conduct that may violate one of the Standards of Conduct may also be a violation of law. The possibility that an organization may face criminal charges does not limit Judicial Affairs or the OAC's ability to proceed with the College disciplinary process. The College will take independent action based on misconduct that violates the College's standards of Conduct, regardless of the status or outcome of any criminal proceedings.

Sharing of Information

Information from organizational hearings that pertain to allegations regarding individual misconduct may be shared with the hearing officer or the COS conducting the individual hearings. Information from individual hearings may be shared with the OAC conducting organizational hearings. The Director of Judicial Affairs may attend any hearing as an observer for the purpose of collecting relevant information for a different hearing or designate an appropriate College official(s) to do so. In appropriate cases, the OAC may hold a joint hearing, or partial hearing, with the COS.

Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities: Guidelines for OAC Hearings 

Organizational Adjudication Committee (OAC) proceedings are administrative in nature and are not governed by the rights and rules that apply in a court of law. However, if a student organization is alleged to have violated the Standards of Conduct and must appear before the OAC for a hearing, the disciplinary system does provide that organization with certain rights and obligations. These, as well as the rules and responsibilities that govern OAC hearing procedures, are described in this section.

All students who appear before the OAC are expected to be familiar with the rules and procedures of the OAC. New rules may take effect upon appropriate notice to the Dartmouth community by the Vice Provost for Student Affairs. In addition, the OAC may enact by simple majority vote operating rules and procedures necessary to conduct its business so long as such rules and procedures are not inconsistent with the rules and procedures of the OAC as set forth herein. 

Preparation

1. Student Organizations alleged to have violated one or more Standards of Conduct are expected to become familiar with the rules and regulations governing OAC hearings and to keep themselves informed of developments in their case through frequent contact with the Judicial Affairs Office (JAO) and a trained advisor. Student Organizations are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the support and guidance the JAO, their sponsoring department, and their OAC advisor can provide.

Advising

1.  Student Organizations responding to disciplinary allegations heard by the OAC are entitled to have a single advisor present at their hearing. Students who report sexual misconduct or physical violence have the same right to an advisor. All parties must identify their advisors to the JAO in writing. Student Organizations admitting to disciplinary allegations and requesting to meet with an OAC Chair individually may not have an advisor or observer present. Only currently enrolled Dartmouth students, members of the Dartmouth faculty, and members of the Dartmouth administration may serve as advisors.*

2. Advisors are not permitted to address the OAC. The Chair may remove any advisor who distracts or disrupts the process. While student leaders are free to confer with organization members, friends, and others, they should understand that they themselves are responsible for responding to allegations and questions at the hearing.

The advisor's most important role is to assist the student organization leaders in reviewing and understanding the procedures related to a hearing and to assist the organization in obtaining answers to questions about the hearing. For this reason, many organizations request that a staff member familiar with their organization and the disciplinary system serve as their advisor (i.e. a Greek Life staff member). The unavailability or unwillingness of any specific individual to serve as an advisor is not normally grounds for postponing a hearing. Student organizations that identify as an advisor someone unfamiliar with the process would be wise to schedule time to meet with staff from the Judicial Affairs Office to discuss procedural issues.

Because student organizations, through their members and leaders, are responsible for their conduct, for responding truthfully to allegations, and for participating truthfully at a hearing, students should not expect advisors to write statements and/or otherwise prepare a case for them. While an advisor might appropriately help an organization anticipate questions and issues likely to arise at a hearing, and while an advisor might provide feedback about the effectiveness of a the organization's written or oral presentation of the facts, the advisor does not function in the way an attorney would in a criminal or civil proceeding.

*Students and organization reporting or responding to allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, relationship violence, and/or stalking should reference those policies for information advisor and observer eligibility.

Notice

1.  Student organizations are entitled to reasonable written notice of the substance of the allegation(s) against them. Student organizations are also entitled to a reasonable period in which to prepare for a hearing; a reasonable period is generally defined as five calendar days from the date of delivery of the allegation letter. Hearings will be scheduled as soon as possible after an incident. An organization that needs additional time to prepare for a hearing may request, in writing, an extension of time from the Chair. A student's D-plan or the availability of an advisor are not normally grounds for postponing a hearing.

2.  Delivery of any notice with respect to a disciplinary matter is considered effective as of the date of delivery to the Hinman Post Office or the organization president's room for students living on campus, or posting to the organization president's Dartmouth e-mail account or upon delivery to the organization president or organization facility in person.

Scheduling

1.  The Chair is responsible for scheduling (e.g., location, time, etc.) all hearings before an OAC panel and making all decisions with respect to any request for a delay or rescheduling of an OAC hearing. Cases are usually heard twice a week during the ten weeks of an academic term, and the OAC does not meet during exam or break periods. Cases will be scheduled for a hearing as soon as possible after the information gathering process is complete, unless the Chair grants a reasonable request for a delay. In cases where the organization and one or more individual students have been charged for the same or related incidents, the Chair shall have the authority to direct that the hearings occur individually, as a group, or in sub-groups. All decisions of the Chair regarding scheduling shall be final.

2. In some situations, conduct that may violate one of the Standards of Conduct may also be a violation of law. The possibility that a student or organization may face criminal charges does not limit the OAC's ability to proceed with the disciplinary procedures set forth herein. The College will take independent action based on misconduct that violates College Standards of Conduct, regardless of the status or outcome of any criminal proceedings.

Information

1.  Student organization leaders may review the relevant information and list of witnesses gathered by the JAO for their hearing. The JAO will inform the organization as additional information or witnesses become available. During a hearing, the OAC may request additional information or additional witnesses as needed.

2.  Subject to the powers of the Chair as set forth in the following paragraph, the student organization is entitled to request witnesses, to present information and argument, and to hear and question the information presented during a hearing. The College expects students representing an organization to cooperate fully in the course of the investigation or disposition of possible violations of the Standards of Conduct, and may take disciplinary action against students who refuse to respond and participate when called to do so. The failure of a witness or an accused student organization to attend or the unavailability of information shall not prevent a hearing from going forward or a decision from being rendered. The student representing an organization is permitted to make opening and closing statements; the Chair has discretion over their length and relevance. Students representing an organization are permitted to suggest questions for witnesses, subject to the rulings of the Chair as described below. All questions are posed by the Chair and members of the committee.

3. The Chair is empowered to make all procedural rulings, including rulings on relevance and admissibility of material.

Disqualification of Members

1.  Members of the OAC (including the Chair) who believe they may be unable to render an impartial decision in any case shall excuse themselves from such case; alternatively, OAC Chairs may remove any OAC member from a case if they believe that member may be unable to render an impartial decision in the case. Because Dartmouth is a small community, knowledge of or acquaintance with the student(s), organization, and/or witnesses in a hearing, awareness of a case, participation in campus issues related to the subject matter of a case, participation as a consequence of one's official role in events surrounding a case and/or participation in the disciplinary process prior to the hearing of the case shall not automatically be grounds for disqualification.

2.  Responding student organizations may request a list of OAC members scheduled to serve on their OAC panel. Any concern organizations may have about the ability of any OAC member to render an impartial decision in their case must be submitted in writing to the Chair, at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing, and must include any supporting materials.

Open/Closed Hearing

 1.  OAC hearings will normally be open to current Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff (with exceptions only at the Chair's discretion) unless the student requests a closed hearing, in which case the hearing shall be closed. In a hearing of two or more parties, any one student or organization's request for a closed hearing shall take precedence over the request of one or more other parties for an open hearing. In cases where the need to protect privacy is, in the judgment of the Chair, important, the Chair may close the hearing over the objection of the charged organization. Any party may request that the Chair exercise such judgment and close a hearing. Such a request must be made to the Chair in writing and must be submitted at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing. At an open hearing the Chair has the discretion to limit the number of persons in attendance in order to ensure an orderly proceeding. In such instances, where a limit is placed on the number of people allowed to observe, the Chair's decision with respect to who may attend such hearing is final. In a closed hearing, only the Committee, the witnesses, the charged student organization, the advisor, and such other persons as are specifically authorized to attend by the Chair, may be present.

Hearing Observers

1.  If a hearing will be closed, the Chair may, on request, permit one current student, faculty member or administrator to observe the hearing as a non-participating source of support for the responding student organization.*

2.  Students who report physical violence (including domestic or relationship violence), sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and/or stalking have the same right to an observer.

3. Observers may not confer with the student organization representative or the organization advisor while the hearing is in session, and will be subject to the same confidentiality expectations applicable to others in attendance. The Chair may remove any observer who distracts or disrupts the process.

*Eligibility to serve as an observer is expanded for proceedings to investigate sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, domestic or relationship violence, and/or stalking. See those specific policies for details.

False Statements

1.  All students, witnesses and advisors are obligated to be completely honest in an OAC hearing. Any student who knowingly makes a false statement to the Committee may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including separation from the College.

Recording

1.  The OAC may record by electronic, stenographic, or other means, any OAC proceeding. The College will not prepare or provide transcripts of OAC proceedings for student organizations. When a recording of an OAC proceeding has been made, the responding student organization may request permission to listen to the recording. Students who report sexual misconduct or physical violence may also request permission to listen to the recording. The Director of Judicial Affairs will determine the conditions under which students and organization representatives will have access to the recording in order to preserve confidentiality. Students who fail to abide by the Director's restrictions may be subject to further disciplinary action. Except as provided above, no photographs, tape recordings, videotapes, stenographic records, or other recordings of an OAC proceeding may be made.

Hearing

1. The President (or member filling a comparable role and currently residing on campus) of the responding student organization is expected to attend the OAC hearing in person and represent the organization; failure to attend will not prevent a hearing from going forward or a decision from being made, but failure to attend may subject the student organization to additional disciplinary action. Student organizations facing formal allegations before the OAC are expected to respond. 

2.  At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair shall determine that student organizations have received a copy of the allegation(s) against them and notification of their rights in the OAC proceeding.

3.  The OAC hearing procedure is informal. The purpose is to provide the student organization an opportunity to be heard and to provide the OAC relevant information on which to base a decision.

4.  Formal rules of evidence and courtroom procedures are inapplicable. The OAC may hear and consider any information it considers to be trustworthy and to have probative value. As set forth above, the Chair is empowered to make all procedural rulings, including rulings on relevance and admissibility of information.

5. OAC Chairs may, at their discretion, order that witnesses be sequestered.

6. At the request of the Chair, an attorney for the College may be available during any OAC hearing for purposes of advising the Committee. This advice will be restricted solely to procedural or legal matters necessary to ensure a fair proceeding.

Student organizations who may be subject to pending or possible criminal allegations may request that the Chair permit their attorney to attend the hearing as a non-participating observer. Students who report physical violence may also request that the Chair permit their attorney to attend the hearing as a non-participating observer. If approved to observe, attorneys may advise their student or organization privately, but may not confer with students or advisors while the hearing is in session, and will be subject to the same confidentiality expectations applicable to others in attendance. The Chair may remove any observer who distracts or disrupts the process.

Students or organizations who are responding to allegations of Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct or Harassment, Stalking, Domestic Violence, or Relationship Violence may, upon written notice to Judicial Affairs, have an attorney accompany them to any conduct proceeding as an observer or as an advisor. The limits of those roles are described under points 2, 16, 24, and in the applicable policies.*

*Students responding to allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating violence, relationship violence, and/or stalking should reference those policies for information about admissibility of advisors and observers.

7.  In order for the OAC to conclude that a student organization has violated a College policy, the OAC must be persuaded that a preponderance of the evidence supports such a finding. To find a violation under this standard, the OAC must conclude that it is more likely than not that the student organization committed the alleged violation.

8. Unless otherwise specified, all OAC decisions shall be made by majority vote.

Requests for Review

Student organizations that receive a sanction following an administrative hearing may request that an OAC Chair review the outcome. Reporting students in sexual misconduct and physical violence cases and student organizations sanctioned by the OAC or by the OAC Chair following an individual hearing may request that the Vice Provost for Student Affairs (or a designee) review the outcome.

Requests for review may be made only on the basis of one or more of the following grounds:

  1. procedural error which has materially prejudiced the organization's case;
  2. newly discovered information which, had it been available at the time of the hearing, would likely have affected the outcome either with regard to a finding of responsibility or with regard to the sanction imposed (if the information was not reasonably available to the student at the time of the proceeding).

The reviewing officer has the sole discretion to determine whether either of these standards for review has been met. A request for review must be in writing and must set forth in reasonable detail the grounds for review, and must have attached to it any materials the student organization wishes to have considered. The request, with all accompanying materials, must be submitted by the student organization to the Office of Judicial Affairs within seven (7) days of the date of the written decision. In cases of sexual misconduct and physical violence, the request for review will also be shared with the reporting party.

Following review, the original decision may be upheld, the sanction may be adjusted as the reviewing officer deems appropriate, or the case may be referred back to the hearing officer or OAC panel that originally heard the case for further consideration.

Disclosure of Decisions

The Office of Judicial Affairs will notify student organizations of outcomes of hearings. Decisions of the OAC and the hearing officers will be revealed to authorized College faculty and staff, to the responding student, and, in appropriate circumstances authorized by law, to the reporting student. The College may choose to comment publicly, in writing or otherwise, regarding the decision reached if in the best interest of the community would be served by such a disclosure.

OAC Conduct Sanctions

The Committee on Standards and Organizational Adjudication Committee have affirmed that serious acts of violence cause significant harm to members of the Dartmouth Community and also compromise the integrity of the educational experience. The Committees further affirmed that sexual misconduct, hazing, physical violence, and serious drug policy violations are sufficient grounds for the imposition of sanctions up to and including permanent loss of recognition.

Consideration of Prior Record

In all Standards of Conduct cases, if a student organization is found responsible, the organization's conduct record may be considered for purposes of imposing an appropriate sanction. Additionally, the OAC or the hearing officer, in imposing a sanction, may consider sanctions imposed in other cases at the College. Where the OAC recommends a sanction, the Chair shall have discretion to determine the appropriate form and manner of presentation of information to the OAC concerning both the organization's conduct record and the disposition of other cases that may be helpful in formulating a sanction recommendation.

Organization Misconduct Records & Reporting

College conduct sanctions are noted in the organization's judicial file. Student organizations are not protected by FERPA in the way that individual students are. The college may, when appropriate, disclose information about organization cases.

Fines & Restitution

Fines of up to $100 may be levied by the hearing officer or OAC. Such penalties will be in addition to the costs of restitution deemed appropriate. Fines are noted in the judicial file. Failure to pay fines or restitution is a violation of Standard IX and would likely lead to additional charges or restrictions.

Educational & Developmental Outcomes

The hearing officer or the OAC may impose educational or other requirements. These requirements are meant to provide individual and organizational development, improvement, or education. Failure to fulfill these obligations is a violation of Standard IX and would likely lead to additional charges or restrictions.

College Warning

Hearing officers can issue warnings for student organizations to exercise better judgment. A warning is recorded in the judicial file. Warnings in an organization file may be considered in any future disciplinary proceedings.

College Reprimand

A reprimand is noted in the organization's judicial file. Reprimands in an organization's file may be considered in any future disciplinary proceedings.

College Probation

Probation is imposed for repeated misconduct, incidents that involve multiple violations, or other violations that do not warrant suspension. College probation may be imposed either with or without restrictions. Probation may be considered in any future disciplinary proceedings. Student organizations on probation at the time of another incident will likely face suspension-level charges.

Restrictions associated with College probation may include, but are not limited to, making restitution for damage caused, prevention of participation in intramural athletics or other privileges of College-associated organizations, ineligibility for participation in designated College-sponsored programs, and/or other appropriate actions.

Alcohol Probation

Alcohol probation is typically imposed for misconduct that involves improper service of alcohol by a student organization. Alcohol probation may be imposed either with or without other restrictions and most typically prevents the organization from hosting, co-hosting, sponsoring, or co-sponsoring any events where alcohol is to be served. Other normal operations of the organization may continue, such as business meetings and engagement with governing councils. Alcohol probation may be considered in any future disciplinary proceedings. Student organizations on Alcohol probation at the time of another incident will likely face suspension-level charges and/or a longer period of time without alcohol service. Alcohol probation is typically paired with educational & developmental outcomes to help the organization prepare to responsibility serve alcohol in the future.

Suspension

A student organization may be suspended for repeated misconduct or for misconduct found to be sufficiently serious to warrant stopping all activity for a specified number of terms. The hearing officer or the OAC may impose requirements in connection with suspension, such as participation in educational and developmental programs, paying restitution for damages caused, or restrictions on use of the physical plant.

Suspension is recorded in the organization's judicial file. Suspensions will be considered in any proceedings resulting from further violations of the Standards of Conduct.

Loss of Recognition

Loss of Recognition is permanent revocation of recognition as a student organization by the College community and loss of all privileges of such status. Students are not permitted to live in facilities operated by a de-recognized organization. An organization may be separated for extremely serious misconduct or for serious misconduct subsequent to suspension.

Special Action

The hearing officer or OAC may take other action appropriate to particular circumstances not covered in the preceding list. Some examples of these actions may include, but are not limited to, making restitution for damage caused, prevention of participation in intramural athletics or performances of College-associated organizations, ineligibility for participation in designated College-sponsored programs, and/or other appropriate actions. Any College sanction can include educational requirements that the hearing officer or the OAC feels are appropriate to the situation. Restrictions may also include temporary or permanent removal from College affiliated housing or reassignment within available housing.

Reports to the Community

The JAO shall report annually to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Dean of the College, the President and the Dartmouth community the disposition of all cases heard through the organizational adjudication system.