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 Dean to discuss the incident. When a student meets with a 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 from the Dean’s Office 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 in the Dean’s office 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.

  • In cases of more serious alleged social misconduct violations, a Dean will inform the accused student/s of the alleged violation/s and will initiate the formal Dean’s Office disciplinary process.   The case may be heard by one or more Deans or, in unusual cases, referred directly to the Discipline Committee.  Accused student/s will meet with the Dean (or Deans) assigned to the case and will have the opportunity to review report material and to respond to the allegations.  The Dean/s assigned to the case may also meet with witnesses and follow up with the accused student/s to seek clarification or additional information.  The Dean/s will determine whether the accused student/s is responsible for a social misconduct violation and will impose sanctions and/or requirements appropriate to the violation.

    The Dean’s decision on responsibility and requirement/sanction is reported in writing, usually via email, to the accused student.  In cases that involve violations of individual rights or injury to Williams students, staff, or faculty or to their property, the decision may be shared with the aggrieved individual(s).  The accused student, and any aggrieved individual  must respond in writing to the Dean, within one week, either accepting the Dean’s decision and sanctions  appealing the case to the Discipline Committee. A failure to respond will constitute an acceptance of the Dean’s decision. In the absence of an appeal in writing within one week, any sanctions imposed by the Dean shall take or continue in effect.

  • 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.
    • 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.

    • 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

    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.

  • Overview
    A student who wishes to contest the factual basis of a Dean’s disciplinary decision or the appropriateness of a sanction may appeal the decision within a week after receiving the Dean’s letter formally informing the student of the decision. Aggrieved parties also have the right to an appeal and must do so within the same time limit.

    Appeals are resolved by the Discipline Committee, which consists of eight student members elected by their peers, eight faculty members appointed by the Dean of the Faculty, and the Dean of the College ex officio.  An appeal is initiated when the appellant informs both the Dean and the Chair of the Discipline Committee that he or she wishes to appeal.  The Chair, in consultation with the Dean, convenes a hearing by a panel consisting of four student and four faculty members drawn from among the members of the committee.  Hearings are confidential.  The panel hears the case in its entirety and reaches an independent decision as to whether the student is responsible for a social misconduct violation, and if so, the appropriate sanction/requirement for that violation. The panel makes its decisions without reference to civil or criminal court proceedings.  Decisions of the panel are final; an appellant cannot afterwards choose to revert to the Dean’s initial decision.

    Procedures for Appeal by Accused Students
    A hearing should be held as soon as practicable.  The appellant is apprised in writing by the Dean of the case of the witnesses who will appear and is allowed a reasonable amount of time to prepare a defense and solicit witnesses on his or her behalf.   The appellant is informed by the Chair of the members of the committee chosen to serve on the hearing panel.

    If the appellant feels that a member of the panel cannot hear the case objectively, he or she may challenge that member’s participation in the hearing.  Members of the committee may ask to be recused if they feel unable to judge the case objectively. Acquaintance, ties of friendship, or previous knowledge of the case alone are not in themselves sufficient grounds for challenge or recusal. The Chair decides if there are sufficient grounds for challenge or recusal.  If the Chair is challenged, the next most senior faculty member of the committee decides the challenge and assumes the chair if the challenge is agreed to.  If challenges or recusals are accepted, the Chair draws alternates from among the members of the Discipline Committee; it is not necessary to have equal numbers of student and faculty to constitute a panel.

    The appellant may be accompanied by an advisor drawn from among current faculty, staff, and students of the College; attorneys are not permitted to attend hearings.  The appellant may consult with his or her advisor at any time during the hearing, but the advisor may not address the committee or witnesses.  If an aggrieved party appears as a witness, he or she may also be accompanied by an advisor, subject to the same conditions.

    The conduct of the hearing and decisions regarding procedure are at the discretion of the Chair, who is free to act flexibly within the confines of good order and fairness.  The case against the appellant is presented by the Dean of the College (or by a designee), who may call witnesses and present evidence as deemed appropriate by the Chair.  Both the appellant and the members of the panel may address questions to the Dean or to witnesses.  The appellant may challenge any evidence adduced by the Dean or presented by witnesses.  No witness may give testimony or present evidence in the absence of the appellant. However, the Chair may choose to accommodate any witness’s concern for personal safety or fear of confrontation by allowing testimony to be given live from a remote location or in writing, or by facilitating indirect questioning, so long as the appellant’s right to pose questions to the witness is preserved.  The appellant may call witnesses and present evidence pertinent to the case.  A limited number of character witnesses on behalf of the appellant are permitted, but it should be noted that the panel is interested primarily in the facts of the case, rather than in the appellant’s general moral character.  The Dean and members of the panel may address questions to the appellant’s witnesses.  Witnesses usually appear one at a time but may be recalled by the Dean, by the appellant, or by the panel to answer additional questions and may be informed of the testimony given by other witnesses.

    After all evidence and testimony have been presented, the appellant is given a final opportunity to address the panel.  The panel, excluding the Dean, retires to deliberate.   The panel resolves three issues: whether the conduct of which the appellant is accused is a violation of College standards or policy; whether there is a preponderance of evidence that the appellant committed the conduct in question; and, if necessary, what sanction is to be imposed as a consequence.  The panel has available to it the full range of disciplinary sanctions, including, but not limited to, a letter of warning, a term of disciplinary probation, suspension from the College, and expulsion from the College.  A majority of one-half plus one of panel members voting is required for a decision.  A majority of three-quarters of members voting is required for a recommendation of expulsion from the College.  The Chair of the panel informs the appellant, the Dean, and any aggrieved party of its decision.  The Dean is responsible for enforcing any sanction imposed by the panel. A decision to expel a student from the college is subject to the approval of the President of the college.

    The appellant or the Dean may petition the Discipline Committee for reconsideration only on the basis of grossly improper procedure or dispositive new evidence not available at the time of the hearing.  The committee will decide whether to reconsider by majority vote.  A decision to reconsider reinitiates the appeals process in its entirety.

    Procedures for Appeal by Aggrieved Parties
    A hearing should be held as soon as practicable.  The aggrieved appellant informs the Dean, the Chair, and the accused student in writing of the case to be made against the accused student, of the witnesses whom the aggrieved appellant will call, and of the nature of the testimony they will give. The accused student is allowed a reasonable amount of time to prepare a defense and solicit witnesses on his or her behalf.  The Chair has broad discretion to rule out witnesses or evidence as irrelevant.  The appellant is informed by the Chair of the members of the committee chosen to serve on the hearing panel.

    If the either the aggrieved appellant or the accused student feel that a member of the panel cannot hear the case objectively, he or she may challenge that member’s participation in the hearing.  Members of the panel may ask to be recused if they feel unable to judge the case objectively. Acquaintance, ties of friendship, or knowledge of the case alone are not in themselves sufficient grounds for challenge or recusal. The Chair decides if there are sufficient grounds for challenge or recusal.  If the Chair is challenged, the next most senior faculty member of the panel decides the challenge and assumes the chair if the challenge is agreed to.  If challenges or recusals are accepted, the Chair draws alternates from among the members of the Discipline Committee; it is not necessary to have equal numbers of student and faculty to constitute a panel.

    Both the aggrieved appellant and the accused student are entitled to be accompanied by an advisor drawn from among current faculty, staff, and students of the College; attorneys are not permitted to attend hearings.  The aggrieved appellant or the accused student may consult with his or her advisor at any time during the hearing, but advisors may not address the panel or witnesses.

    The conduct of the hearing and decisions regarding procedure are at the discretion of the Chair, who is free to act flexibly within the confines of good order and fairness.  The case against the accused student is presented by the aggrieved appellant, who may call witnesses and present evidence as deemed appropriate by the Chair.  The Dean, the accused student, and the members of the panel may address questions to the aggrieved appellant or to witnesses.  The accused student may challenge any evidence adduced by the aggrieved appellant or presented by witnesses.  The aggrieved appellant, accused student, and the panel may address questions to the Dean.  No witness may give testimony or present evidence in the absence of the accused student. However, the Chair may choose to accommodate any witness’s concern for personal safety or fear of confrontation by allowing testimony to be given live from a remote location or in writing, or by facilitating indirect questioning, so long as the accused student’s right to pose questions to the witness is preserved.  The accused student may call witnesses and present evidence pertinent to the case.  A limited number of character witnesses on behalf of the accused student are permitted, but it should be noted that the panel is interested primarily in the facts of the case, rather than in the accused student’s general moral character.  The Dean, the aggrieved appellant, and the members of the panel may address questions to the accused student and to the accused student’s witnesses.  Witnesses usually appear one at a time but may be recalled by the aggrieved appellant, by the accused student, or by the panel, to answer additional questions and may be informed of the testimony given by other witnesses.

    After all evidence and testimony have been presented, the aggrieved appellant is given a final opportunity to address the panel.  The accused student is then given a final opportunity to address the panel in the absence of the aggrieved appellant.  The panel, excluding the Dean, retires to deliberate.  The panel resolves three issues: whether the conduct of which the accused student is accused is a violation of College standards or policy; whether there is a preponderance evidence that the accused student committed the conduct in question; and, if necessary, what sanction is to be imposed as a consequence.  The panel has available to it the full range of disciplinary sanctions, including, but not limited to, a letter of warning, a term of disciplinary probation, suspension from the College, and expulsion from the College.  A majority of one-half plus one of panel members voting is required for a decision.  A majority of three-quarters of members voting is required for a recommendation of expulsion from the College.  The Chair of the panel informs the aggrieved appellant, the accused student, and the Dean of its decision.  The Dean is responsible for enforcing any sanction imposed by the panel.  A decision to expel a student from the college is subject to the approval of the President of the college.

    The accused student, aggrieved appellant, or the Dean may petition the Discipline Committee for reconsideration only on the basis of grossly improper procedure or dispositive new evidence not available at the time of the hearing.  The committee will decide whether to reconsider by majority vote.  A decision to reconsider reinitiates the appeals process in its entirety.