Procedures for Adjudicating Violations of Social Misconduct

The information on this page represents a section of Williams’ Code of Conduct.

You can view a flow chart of the following process. 

  • The Code of Conduct and the disciplinary measures used to enforce it are intended to be educational in nature.  For incidents that are considered lower level violations (refer to the Sanctions Rubric), a student meets with a staff member from the Office of Campus Life or the Dean's Office to discuss the incident.  This is an educational meeting and is not considered disciplinary. When a student meets with a Staff Member/Dean for an informal meeting, this does not become a part of the student’s formal disciplinary record. Students who participate in an informal process can answer negatively if they are asked if they have been subject to College discipline. An informal process may, however, result in a warning with applicable educational requirements. Although the meeting and subsequent actions are not part of the student’s formal disciplinary record, the information is reported to the student following the meeting and is kept on file until graduation, when it is removed.  If a student is named in a report for a subsequent lower level violation, the prior violation may be considered in determining whether to deal with the subsequent violation through the formal disciplinary process.

  • Both the charged student (the respondent) and the complainant (if there is a complainant) are notified of the incident and a meeting is scheduled with the Senior Associate Dean of Students (or designee), to explain the process.

    During this informational meeting, the respondent (and complainant when relevant) is provided a letter detailing the incident, reports, process, and assigned a support dean.

    Respondent  (and complainant when relevant)  is scheduled for a formal disciplinary hearing.  When the case is ready to move forward, the Senior Associate Dean of Students decides on a time for the hearing based on availability. The members sitting for that case will be asked beforehand if any member of the committee has a significant reason to doubt their ability to consider the case fairly; they may ask to be recused. Acquaintance or friendship with a participant alone are not grounds for recusal; the committee chairs will need to hear strong and convincing reasons. 

    The hearing panel is composed of a dean, one staff member from the Office of Campus Life, two students from the Honor and Discipline Committee, and two faculty members from the Honor and Discipline Committee. The Senior Associate Dean of Students will choose the 2 staff representatives.  The faculty chair of the Discipline Committee will choose the student and faculty representatives, and designate one of the faculty members to serve as chair of the hearing panel. 

    Respondents  and complainants have the right to be accompanied by an advisor. The advisor must be a member of the College community (i.e., student, faculty or staff). A respondent and complainant may not be accompanied by or represented by an attorney. During the hearing the advisor and the student (complainant/respondent)may speak to one another, but the advisor may not address the committee or question witnesses.

    The Senior Associate Dean (or designee) presents the reports and potential violations of the code. Members of the hearing body, as well as the charged student may ask questions for clarification at any time. After the presentation, hearing body members and the charged student may ask any additional questions. If there are additional witnesses to the alleged violation/s of the code, they are brought in one at a time and questioned first by the hearing body and then by the respondent.

    The hearing panel will use the preponderance of evidence standard to make a decision about whether the student in question violated the code of conduct.  If so, the hearing panel will make a decision about sanction.  Both decisions will be based on majority vote.

     

    Appeal Process:

    Both the respondent and the complainant may request an appeal on the basis of substantive  new evidence or improper procedures. A request for appeal must be made in writing to the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee within 1 week of the hearing decision, or the decision is considered final. 

    The faculty chair of the Discipline Committee will consult with the committee as a whole and then make a decision. The chair will reject the request for appeal if there are not sufficient grounds (substantial new evidence or improper procedures).  In this case, the original decision made by the hearing panel is final. If the request for appeal is granted, its disposition is determined by the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee, who may ask the original panel to re-hear the case, or summon a new panel (using the same composition strategy described above); the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee may task the panel with reviewing the decision either in whole or in part.  After a rehearing (in whole or in part), the panel’s decision is final.  

  • Although there are no mandatory or predetermined requirements or sanctions for specific social misconduct violations, the Sanctions Rubric provides a list of typical responses to violations.

    Students who have an informal dean meeting are issued requirements in hopes of attaining learning from the incident.  These requirements provide tools, activities, and resources to students in an effort for students to make better decisions in the future. Requirements issued through an informal dean meeting do not become part of the student's permanent record. Students who participate in such a meeting or receive a required action from such meeting can answer negatively if they are asked if they have been subject to College discipline. Documentation of the meeting and accompanying requirements remains in a student's file until graduation, when it is removed. Such actions are taken into account in determining future disciplinary outcomes and may serve to make the sanctions from further violations of College regulations more serious.

    Actions initiated through the informal dean meeting process  include but are not limited to:

    • Warning
    • Educational Requirements (including, but not limited to the list below)
      • Written Paper
      • Alcohol Education Program
      • Marijuana or other Drug Education Program
      • Behavioral Contract
      • Party Host Training
      • Educational Workshop

    Actions initiated by the formal student conduct disciplinary process include but are not limited to:

    • Disciplinary warning (a letter from the dean, a personal interview, or both). A warning is intended to educate the student about community standards, College policies and/or state laws, and the need to adhere to them. Warnings are designed to communicate strongly the College's concern regarding the student's actions and its firm expectations for immediate improved behavior.  A warning does not become part of the student's permanent record.  Students who receive a warning can answer negatively if they are asked if they have been subject to College discipline.  A warning remains in a student's file until graduation, when it is removed.  Warnings are taken into account in determining future disciplinary outcomes and may serve to make the sanctions from further violations of College regulations more serious.

     

    • Payment of a fine or restitution. Fines or restitution are commensurate with the nature of the offense. The monetary cost of the harm done may be taken into account in assessment of a fine or an order of restitution. Fines are not part of the student’s permanent record. Students who are required to pay a fine or restitution can answer negatively if they are asked if they have been subject to College discipline.

     

    • Disciplinary probation for a specified period (sometimes with specified conditions, e.g., loss of eligibility to represent the College, restrictions of extra-curricular activities). Students may be placed on probationary status when the number or nature of their College policy violation(s) is sufficiently concerning that an additional policy violation will most likely result in separation from the college (either temporary or permanent). Probationary status provides students with an opportunity to avoid this outcome. They may do so by demonstrating improved conduct, generally reflected in their sustained ability to respect community standards and adhere to College policies.If students commit new policy violations while on probation, an appropriate course of action will be determined. Considerations may include the gravity and impact of the new infraction; the student’s response during and following the new infraction; and the student’s progress during the probationary period.Probationary status is considered part of the student’s permanent record. Students who are placed on probationary status must answer affirmatively if they are asked if they have been subject to College discipline. It is important to note that discipline is cumulative at Williams, and further infractions following the successful conclusion of the probationary period may still result in more severe sanctions.  As a general matter, parents/guardians are notified about disciplinary probation.
    • Suspension is issued when a student commits a policy violation, or repeatedly violates College policy, thereby demonstrating an inability or unwillingness to behave in a manner consistent with Williams’ community standards.  The behavior is sufficiently egregious that the student is required to leave the Williams community for a period of time. It is intended to encourage acceptance of responsibility and growth by establishing this incident on the student's permanent record; to provide the student with an opportunity to consider and address the problematic behavior; and to develop strategies to ensure that the student’s eventual return to Williams will be successful for the student and for the community.Suspension may be imposed for any length of time, but is normally imposed for a period no less than one semester and no longer than two and a half academic years.  In determining the length of suspension, the adjudicating body will consider the student’s prior conduct history; the gravity of the violation and its impact on the community; and the need for sufficient time for the student to demonstrate that the concerning behavior has been satisfactorily addressed.

    Suspension is official College discipline and is a permanent part of the student's file. Students who are suspended must answer affirmatively if they are asked whether they have been subject to College discipline. Students who are suspended must leave campus; are restricted from Williams owned or rented properties; and are prohibited from participating in all Williams College activities or programs, from College employment, and from using College facilities during the stated period of the suspension. When suspension prohibits students from completing a semester they have already begun, the comprehensive fee for that semester is not refunded. For international students, suspension may affect immigration status; related questions may be directed to International Student Services in the Dean’s office. As a general matter, parents/guardians are notified about suspension.

    • Permanent expulsion (subject to approval by the President). For particularly serious offenses, students may be permanently dismissed from the College. In cases of expulsion from the College, no refund of the comprehensive fee is made. Expulsion is official College discipline and is a permanent part of the student's file. Students who are expelled must answer affirmatively if they are asked whether they have been subject to College discipline. As a general matter, parents/guardians are notified about expulsion.

    In cases involving violation of the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, in addition to other sanctions the College may also require satisfactory completion of an appropriate drug or alcohol rehabilitation program before reinstatement (or continued employment in the case of student employees). Student employees participating in any federal grant or contract are subject to the Drug–Free Workplace Act of 1989 and must notify the Provost within 5 days of any criminal drug conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace. The Provost is required to notify the funding agency within 10 days of receiving notification of the conviction.

  • If the Dean of the College determines that the student is a potential threat to the personal safety or security of individuals, then the Dean may impose appropriate restrictions, up to and including suspension, without prejudice to the student’s record, until the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings or until the Dean determines that the student no longer presents such a potential threat.  Interim suspensions are subject to an appeal to the President. If in the judgment of the President the best interests of the College so require, a student may be immediately removed from the College. As a general matter, parents/guardians are notified about interim suspension.

  • Appeal Process:

    Both the respondent and the complainant may request an appeal on the basis of substantive  new evidence or improper procedures. A request for appeal must be made in writing to the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee within 1 week of the hearing decision, or the decision is considered final. 

    The faculty chair of the Discipline Committee will consult with the committee as a whole and then make a decision. The chair will reject the request for appeal if there are not sufficient grounds (substantial new evidence or improper procedures).  In this case, the original decision made by the hearing panel is final. If the request for appeal is granted, its disposition is determined by the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee, who may ask the original panel to re-hear the case, or summon a new panel (using the same composition strategy described above); the faculty chair of the Discipline Committee may task the panel with reviewing the decision either in whole or in part.  After a rehearing (in whole or in part), the panel’s decision is final.