Administrative or Conduct Board Hearings

Get Assistance The Duke Community Standard Administrative or Conduct Board Hearings

Resolution through a hearing.

If a case is referred for disciplinary action, the student/student group will be notified of the incident in question and the policy violation(s) under consideration, and will be given an opportunity to respond. There are several means by which to resolve disciplinary situations. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards will determine which avenue is most appropriate to pursue. 

There are two types of hearings: Administrative Hearings and Conduct Board Hearings (see below for additional information on both types of hearings). Most cases are decided upon through an administrative hearing, which is a discussion between the student/student group and a hearing officer. Cases that are serious in nature, involve complicated facts, and/or involve students/student groups with previous disciplinary violations may be forwarded to the Conduct Board for resolution. 

Students or student groups who deny responsibility for serious offenses of university policy and who face possible suspension or expulsion/de-recognition from the university have the right to request a hearing before a three-person panel of the CB. Students or student groups who accept responsibility for alleged violations of university policy, but are unable to agree on a proposed sanction, which may include suspension or expulsion/de-recognition, have the right to request a hearing before a three-person panel of the CB. (The conduct officer may, due to the circumstances of the case, elect to utilize a five-person panel.) 

Disciplinary hearings are not trials and are not constrained by the same rules of procedure and evidence typically used in a court of law. 

Administrative Hearings

An administrative hearing is a discussion between a student/student group alleged to be in violation of university policy and a hearing officer. Students/student groups will be notified (typically via e-mail) of the specific violations under consideration in advance of an administrative hearing. The hearing officer will review the report with the student or student group and give the student/student group an opportunity to respond. The hearing officer will determine whether the student/student group is responsible for the alleged policy violation, and, if so, issue (an) appropriate sanction(s). Administrative hearings are conducted in private, except in matters involving allegations of sexual misconduct, in which a student may be accompanied by an advisor of the student’s choice. 

Upon proper notice, if a student/student group fails to attend an administrative hearing, the hearing officer may proceed to resolve the case without benefit of that student’s/student group’s input. 

All decisions of responsibility are based on the standard of preponderance of information. In determining appropriate sanctions, consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the student’s/ student group’s acceptance of responsibility, prior disciplinary violations, the impact of a sanction on the student/student group, precedent cases, university interests, and any other information deemed relevant by a hearing panel/officer. Should a hearing officer determine that a violation was motivated in part or whole by race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, or age, the hearing officer may consider this an aggravating factor that increases the stringency of the sanction(s). 

If a student/student group does not accept the administrative hearing resolution, the student/student group may request by the stated deadline a hearing before a panel of the Conduct Board.

Student Conduct Board Hearings

The Conduct Board (CB) is a group of students, faculty, and staff appointed to hear alleged infractions of university policy. The board is charged with determining whether a student’s/student group’s actions constitute a violation of university policy and, if so, an appropriate response. In determining an appropriate response, consideration is given to the student’s/student group’s interests as well as the university’s interest in maintaining high standards. 

All CB hearings are conducted in private. Any student whose presence is required at a hearing will be excused from any other university responsibility. 

Respondents, complainants, advisors, and/or witnesses may not bring devices that capture or facilitate communication (e.g., computer, cell phone, audio/video recorder, etc.) into a hearing room, unless authorized by the hearing panel. 

Respondents. Accused students/student groups are entitled to the following procedural rights in a hearing before the Conduct Board: 

  • to be informed that the student/student group is under investigation; 
  • to seek advice from anyone; 
  • to seek advice from a trained advisor made available by the university; 
  • to be given an opportunity to respond to allegations; 
  • to choose the extent to which the student/student group shares information; 
  • to be notified of a hearing at least 120 hours (five days) in advance (notification will include the time, date and location of the hearing as well as names of hearing panel members and witnesses); 
  • to challenge any panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest; 
  • to know of and review in advance written information and allegations presented to the hearing panel; 
  • to be accompanied by an advisor to the hearing (who must be a member of the university community [defined below], except in matters involving allegations of sexual misconduct, in which case a student may select any advisor of the student’s choice); 
  • to a equitable and impartial hearing; 
  • to rebut any witness testimony presented against the student/student group; 
  • to present additional witnesses or information at the hearing (the relevancy of which may be determined by the hearing panel); 
  • to be found responsible only if the information meets a preponderance of information threshold; and 
  • to appeal based upon clearly stated grounds. 

What is "preponderance of information?"

A preponderance of information means that it is more likely than not that an allegation of misconduct occurred.

Complainants. Students serving as complainants are entitled to the following procedural rights when participating in a hearing before the Student Conduct Board: 

  • to be informed that the respondent is under investigation; 
  • to seek advice from anyone; 
  • to seek advice from a trained advisor made available by the university; 
  • to be given an opportunity to articulate relevant concerns and issues and offer evidence pertaining to allegations; 
  • to be notified of a hearing at least 120 hours (five days) in advance (notification will include the time, date and location of the hearing as well as names of hearing panel members and witnesses); 
  • to challenge any panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest; 
  • to know of and review in advance written information and allegations presented to the hearing panel; 
  • to be accompanied by an advisor to the hearing (who must be a member of the university community [defined below], except in matters involving allegations of violation(s) of the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct, in which case a student may select any advisor of the student’s choice);
  • to a equitable and impartial hearing; 
  • to present additional witnesses or information at the hearing (the relevancy of which may be determined by the hearing panel); and 
  • to appeal a decision in cases of violations of Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct based upon clearly stated grounds. 

Advisors. Respondents and student complainants are encouraged to seek advice and support from whomever they choose throughout the conduct process. An advisor may accompany a respondent or a student complainant to a CB hearing. The advisor may be from the designated list of trained student and staff advisors available through the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, or may be any member of the university community. A member of the university community is defined as a current student, faculty, or staff member currently employed by the university. In matters involving allegations of protected class discrimination and/or harassment, a complainant and respondent may bring any advisor of their choice to a CB hearing or any meeting. For fraternities and sororities, the advisor may also be the chapter advisor. The advisor may not be a member of the CB and may not serve as a material or expert witness. The role of the advisor is to assist and support the student/student group through the disciplinary process. The advisor’s role in a hearing is limited to quietly conferring with the student through written correspondence or whisper, and the advisor may not address any other participant or the hearing panel. 

The trained student and staff disciplinary advisors are valuable resources, thoroughly familiar with the conduct process. In the event that a recommended advisor is unavailable, a respondent/complainant may ask for the names of additional advisors from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. 

Notice. A respondent and complainant, when applicable, will be notified of a CB hearing at least 120 hours (five days) in advance. The notice will include the date and time of the hearing, the specific charges at issue, and the names of the panel members and witness(es). At times of the year when 120 hours of notice is not practical due to a student’s pending graduation, study abroad, or participation in a university-sponsored activity (e.g., DukeEngage), a student must either waive this right or not participate in the pending activity until the matter is resolved. 

A respondent and complainant, when applicable, will also receive in advance of the hearing access to the written information given to the hearing panel. The conduct officer may include information clarifying or noting any additional information gathered through the investigation without expressing any personal opinion about the merits of the case. In cases not involving allegations of protected class discrimination and/or harassment, any additional material not included in a hearing packet that a complainant or respondent wishes to have reviewed by the hearing panel must be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards no later than 72 hours before the hearing. If deemed relevant by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, that material will be shared with the complainant/respondent and the hearing panel. 

Upon proper notice, if the student/student group fails to attend the hearing, the hearing panel may proceed in their absence. 

Hearing Panels. Hearing panels charged with determining an outcome and a sanction shall (or a sanction-only) consist of three individuals consisting of students, staff, and faculty selected from the CB. (In some circumstances, the conduct officer may choose to utilize a five-person panel to determine a sanction in a sanction-only hearing.) 

A respondent and complainant, when applicable, may challenge the participation of a panelist because of perceived conflict of interest, bias, or prejudice. Such challenges, including rationale, must be made within 48 hours of notification of the names of the hearing panelists. At its discretion, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards will determine whether such a conflict of interest exists and whether a panelist should be replaced. Postponement of a hearing may occur if a replacement panelist cannot be immediately identified. 

At times of the year when regular panels are not available (e.g., during the summer or semester breaks), the conduct officer may appoint a special hearing panel, which may include members of the university community who are not part of the Conduct Board or may have a different composition of students/faculty/staff than panels held during the normal academic year. 

Hearing Facilitator. A staff member from the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards or designee serves as a hearing facilitator and is a non-voting presence in the hearing. 

Witnesses. The conduct officer may request the presence of any witness with pertinent information about a case. Character witnesses are not permitted. If a witness is unidentified or unavailable to attend the hearing, the witness’s statement may not constitute a sole or substantial basis for determining responsibility. If the witness is necessary and unidentified or unavailable, the conduct officer or the chair of the hearing panel may suspend or dismiss the proceedings. 

The respondent and complainant may bring relevant material witnesses to speak on their behalf. Absent exceptional circumstances, the respondent and/or complainant should inform the conduct officer in writing at least 72 hours in advance of the hearing the names of the witnesses and to what they will attest. The panel may determine the extent to which witnesses will be permitted in the hearing, including relevancy of questioning and information presented. 

Electronic Devices. A respondent, complainant, advisor, and/or witness may not bring electronic devices that capture or facilitate communication (e.g., computer, cell phone, audio/video recorder, etc.) into a hearing room, unless authorized by the hearing panel. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards will make an audio recording of the hearing to be kept on file for three years. Reasonable care will be taken to create a quality audio recording and minimize technical problems; however, technical problems that result in no recording or an inaudible one will not be a valid argument for appeal. 

Hearing Procedure. The general course of procedure for a SCB hearing is as follows: introductions; opening comments from complainant(s) (if applicable); opening comments from respondent; questions; testimony/questions of other material witnesses (if applicable); closing comments from complainant (if applicable); closing comments from respondent. 

The panel may impose time limits on any stage of the procedure. The panel may also determine the relevance of any witness or information to be presented and/or considered by the hearing panel.  

Information to be Considered by the Panel. The panel may consider any information it deems relevant, including documentation and expressions of opinion. If the panel needs additional information during a hearing, such as verification of a fact at issue, an expert opinion, etc., the panel may request such information and may suspend its decision until such information is obtained. The respondent will have the right to respond to any additional information that is to be used in considering an outcome.  

Outcome. The panel will consider all relevant information provided before and/or during the hearing and reach its determination based on a preponderance of information. The panel may find a student/group responsible for an alleged violation by unanimous vote. 

Upon finding a student/student group responsible for a violation of university policy, the panel may determine and impose (an) appropriate sanction(s). Consideration may be given to the nature of and circumstances surrounding the violation, the student’s/student group’s acceptance of responsibility, prior disciplinary violations, the impact of a sanction on the student/student group, precedent cases, university interests, and any other information deemed relevant by the hearing panel. 

All sanctions must be decided by majority vote with the exception of suspension or expulsion of an individual or de-recognition of a student group. The sanctions of suspension or expulsion of an individual or de-recognition of a student group must be supported by unanimous vote by a panel. 

Notification and Record of the Hearing Outcome. Within five (5) business days of the conclusion of the hearing, the panel chair and/or the hearing officer, will provide the parties with verbal notification of the hearing outcome. Within ten (10) business days of the conclusion of the hearing, the parties will be provided with written notification of the hearing outcome. The written hearing outcome will contain a brief explanation of the panel’s reasoning.