The responsible administrator for this section is the Office of Community Standards. Student Affairs has approval authority.
These terms in Section 12 apply only to Section 12 of this code. Some terms also exist in Section 13, but may be defined differently as required by policy and law. Additionally, terms defined in Section 30 apply to this section.
Administrative Hearing: An adjudicative hearing between a respondent and an administrator from Student Affairs, often a member of the Office of Community Standards. Administrative Hearings are one of two types of hearings, the other being the Panel Hearing, that are offered in the Community Standards Adjudication Process.
- For matters covered by the Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Addendum, any person (including, but not limited to, a privately-retained attorney) may serve as an Advisor;
- For all other matters, any person from the Amherst College community (current faculty, staff, administrators, or students) may serve as an Advisor.
Advisors may be present with their advisee during an administrative or panel hearing and at related meetings outside a hearing. Advisors do not address the Administrator or the panel during a hearing, nor do they speak on behalf of their advisee. Advisors may assist in preparing for the case and provide support throughout the process. Advisors are present to assist, advise, and support.
Aggrieved Party: A person directly impacted by the alleged behavior of a reported student or respondent.
Community Standards Review Board (CSRB): The CSRB is the College’s adjudication board that hears allegations of academic integrity violations, discriminatory misconduct, interpersonal violence and harassment, and other community standards violations that do not relate to the Amherst College Title IX Policy. Composed of a pool of students, staff, and faculty, a panel of the CSRB will be convened when the nature, circumstances, and potential outcomes for a case require the augmented process that the panel hearing can offer.
Complaint: This is a written document that initiates the Community Standards Adjudication Process and contains sufficient information regarding the allegations of instances of violative behavior to permit the respondent to reasonably understand the allegations being brought against them and to permit them to adequately respond.
Complainant: Amherst College serves as the initiating party, or Complainant, of the Community Standards Adjudication Process.
Designees: Persons who might serve in place of another. All references to the Dean of Students and the Director of Community Standards in these processes include the dean, director, or their designee.
Honor Code: The Honor Code, represented in the Student Code of Conduct in Section 1, and authored by the College Council, represents Amherst College’s core values language that authorizes the creation and stewardship of specific community standards and procedures that adjudicate or resolve alleged violations of those standards.
Institutional Action: A sanction issued to a student by the Community Standards Adjudication Process or the Title IX Adjudication Process that places the student on the status of disciplinary probation, suspension, or expulsion, or a decision issued by the Committee on Academic Standing that separates a student from the College by dismissal (see Section 14, College Sanctions).
Supportive, Temporary, or Emergency Measures: These measures are actions taken by the College that are intended to restore or preserve equal access to the College’s educational program or activities, including the work environment. These measures may be available regardless of where the alleged conduct took place and regardless of whether or not aggrieved individuals choose to pursue a resolution through a College process. These measures may include, but are not limited to:
No Communication and Restricted Proximity Order (NCRPO);
Academic, employment, or residence modification;
Emotional support; and
Interim separation / investigative leave.
Even when a College community member does not specifically request these measures, the College may choose to implement them, at its discretion, in the interest of the safety and/or wellbeing of any individual and/or the broader College community. In considering and implementing these measures, the College will value the wishes of involved individuals, overall fairness, and every community member’s equitable access to educational and/or employment opportunities. The Dean of Students or designee assigns these measures.
No-Communication and Restricted Proximity Order (NCRPO): The purpose of this College-issued order is to eliminate direct contact and reduce chance encounters between involved persons in a conflict. Simultaneously, this document is intended to provide sufficient structure and strategies for all involved persons to navigate the campus as regularly as possible. The NCRPO may or may not be the result of a College adjudication process and, therefore, may or may not be considered a sanction.
Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Addendum: The Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Addendum, for non-Title IX sexual misconduct matters, is a supplement to the Community Standards Adjudication Process, the Staff Grievance Policy, and the Faculty Grievance Process. Where language between the addendum and these processes differ, the addendum governs.
Official or Agent of the College: Any person from the Amherst College community (current faculty, staff, contracted employees, administrators, or students) serving in a role or function in support of a College program. For example, Community Advisors and Orientation leaders are agents of the College when engaging in activities directly related to those roles’ responsibilities.
Panel Hearing: One of the two hearing types (the other being the administrative hearing) in the Community Standards Adjudication Process. Panel hearings are initiated when the nature, circumstances, and potential outcomes for a case require the augmented process that the panel hearing can offer. The panel is composed of the Chairperson and members of the Community Standards Review Board.
Respondent: An Amherst College student or a Five Colleges student with an academic relationship with Amherst about whose alleged behavior a complaint has been filed for adjudication in the Community Standards Adjudication Process. The respondent is found responsible or not responsible for each allegation made against them in the adjudication.
Sanction or Outcome: A status change, restriction, or requirement assessed by the Community Standards Review Board or a Student Affairs Administrator as the result of a College process.
Student: Any person who matriculated at the College and is pursuing a degree from the College or any person who is not officially enrolled for a particular semester, but who has a continuing academic relationship with the College. Student status terminates when a person who has not yet received a conferred degree by Amherst College matriculates at another institution of higher education, on the date of a person’s commencement, or upon the date of the expulsion of a person as the result of a College adjudication process. Additionally, the College may determine that an affiliated individual is a student, for the purposes of this Code, based on a review of that person’s relationship with the College, as in the case of a Five College’s student who is alleged to have engaged in academic dishonesty in an Amherst College course.
Witnesses: A witness is a person who has information that is directly related, as determined by the Office of Community Standards, to the facts of the conflict being adjudicated.
Review of Reported Behavior and Pathways Analysis
When Student Affairs receives information related to student behavior that may violate the Code or other College policies, appropriate administrators review that information. Based on this review, Student Affairs may:
- gather additional information,
- initiate supportive, temporary, or emergency measures,
- assign an investigator,
- assign an Adaptable Conflict Resolution administrator,
- assign a Community Standards Adjudication Process administrator,
- refer the report to the Civil Rights and Title IX Office,
- take no further action.
At any time the College may change pathways or end a process.
In determining a pathway, multiple factors will be considered by the College. These factors may include, but are not limited to: the wishes of those who have alleged experiencing harm, the nature of the alleged behavior, the seriousness of the alleged behavior, the presence of similar substantiated behaviors in the alleged student’s College conduct records, the safety of the community, and other factors unique to a case that serve the College’s educational purpose. At the discretion of the College, a student may be required to notify their parents, guardians, or emergency contact of the violations or alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct. The Office of Community Standards may also discuss the matter with the parents, guardians, or emergency contact in its sole discretion and in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The Community Standards Adjudication Process (CSAP) is implemented by the Office of Community Standards and addresses allegations of the Student Code of Conduct violations. When the College believes that adaptable resolutions or restorations are inappropriate or infeasible, the CSAP is available so the involved persons can benefit from the structure that the process provides.
The Office of Community Standards (OCS), at its discretion, will initiate an investigation to gather additional data about reported behaviors.
Purpose of Investigations:
The purpose of an investigation is to gather information from available sources including, but not limited to, persons who were directly involved with the alleged misconduct, who have information directly related to the reported behavior, and to compile this information into a report.
The investigation will be conducted by a trained person who is either an Amherst College administrator or a contracted non-Amherst College person, as case volume and case nature requires. The College may assign one or more investigators. An investigator may not decide on an appropriate resolution pathway, serve as the administrator of an administrative hearing, serve as an ACR coordinator, nor chair or be a voting-member on a panel hearing of a case for which they served as the investigator.
Role of the Investigator:
The investigator will coordinate the gathering of information from the persons or entities who may have relevant knowledge of the allegations using any of the methods listed below. The investigator will take particular care to seek to understand the alleged experienced harm. The investigator will share information and descriptions of experienced harm, relevant to the allegations in the report, with the involved persons, when possible, for comment or rebuttal.
Relevant information is information that may assist an administrative hearing or panel hearing in determining whether it is more likely than not that a reported student is responsible for the alleged Code violations in the report.
College personnel will take reasonable steps to protect the privacy of persons and information. Involved persons should understand that the disclosure of information learned during an investigation or a hearing may compromise the integrity of the investigation and could also be construed as retaliation. For these reasons, the College expects that persons will not disclose nor re-disclose information learned during the course of the investigation or during a hearing. All persons are, of course, free to discuss their own personal experiences. The College will disclose limited information about outcomes to reporting parties about outcomes when appropriate.
In addition to reviewing any documents submitted by involved persons, the investigator will determine whether to seek other records which may be relevant to the investigation, including, but not limited to: obtainable police records; electronic or other records of communications between involved persons or witnesses; or records of other potentially relevant information. In seeking to obtain such evidence, the investigator will comply with applicable laws and Amherst College policies.
The investigator may visit sites or locations of potential relevance to the allegations in the report and record observations through writing or technological means.
Interviews of Involved Persons:
Involved persons are expected to be interviewed separately by the investigator. The investigator may offer the involved persons the opportunity to participate in more than one interview. Interviews may be conducted in person or by technological assistance. Involved persons who are Amherst College students will be expected to serve as witnesses if a complaint is generated after the investigation. Amherst College alumni and non-Amherst College Community reporters may serve as witnesses. If an involved person fails to meet and cooperate during an investigation, the investigation will proceed nonetheless.
Interviews of Witnesses:
The investigator will make a good faith effort to contact and interview any identified witnesses, including those persons no longer enrolled in or employed at the College and persons who may not have any affiliation with the College. Involved persons will have the opportunity to provide witness names to the investigator. The investigator may also interview any other person believed to have relevant information.
The investigator will inform each witness or other persons interviewed that they are prohibited from retaliating against the reporting person, any involved persons, or other witnesses. The investigator has discretion to decline to interview witnesses who are identified for the sole purpose of providing character evidence, to provide expert opinions, or those whom the investigator believes, after discussion with the requesting involved person, have no relevant information. Interviews may be conducted in person or by technological assistance.
The investigator may contact any expert they determine is necessary to ascertain the facts related to the report or other information the investigator determines is necessary to assist an administrative hearing or a panel hearing in determining whether it is more likely than not that the reported person is responsible for the allegations in the report.
Mental Health Records:
The College will not require that students disclose medical and counseling records, which are privileged and confidential documents; such records cannot be shared with anyone other than the treating professional unless the patient agrees to disclosure. Therefore, students should be aware that there are legal implications to agreeing to share and produce privileged records in whole or in part. The production of partial records may lead to the waiver of privilege and the production of additional records. Students are encouraged to seek advice from a knowledgeable source about the possible consequences of releasing this type of information. A person who, after due consideration, believes that their own medical or counseling records would be helpful in determining whether misconduct occurred may voluntarily decide to present their own medical or counseling records to the investigator. The investigator will review the records and will use discretion to determine what information, if any, is relevant to the potential assessment of reported behaviors. Only the records deemed to be relevant to the assessment of reported behaviors will be included in the investigation report. If a person decides to produce such records, the records must be produced in their entirety. The production of excerpts or selected documents is unacceptable and will not be considered. A person who does not wish to provide substantive medical records may decide to voluntarily provide a verification of therapeutic or medical services to the investigator, confirming simply that such treatment occurred, but not providing any details regarding the treatment.
The investigator may prepare a report summarizing and analyzing the relevant information determined through the investigation and referencing any supporting documentation or statements. The report may include: summaries of interviews with the involved persons, third-party witnesses, experts, and any other persons with relevant information; photographs, audio content, or video content of relevant sites or physical evidence; and electronic records and forensic evidence. The investigator may provide a summary of their impressions including context for the information. The investigator will not make a determination as to whether or not an alleged violation occurred; that decision is reserved for a panel hearing or an administrative hearing if a complaint is filed.
Upon submission of the report to the Office of Community Standards, the Office will determine which of the following courses of action are appropriate:
- No further action
- Adjudication via an administrative hearing
- Adjudication via a panel hearing
- Referral to an Adaptable Conflict Resolution process
- Referral to Civil Rights and Title IX Office
Matters involving the Non-discrimination and Harassment Policy, significant community impacts, interpersonal violence, or cases where suspension or expulsion may be a potential sanction are more likely to be adjudicated via a panel hearing.
Adaptable Conflict Resolution
Adaptable resolution is a voluntary, remedies-based, structured interaction between or among affected parties that balances support and accountability without traditional disciplinary action. Adaptable conflict resolution is generally designed to allow a student to acknowledge harm and accept responsibility for repairing harm, to the extent possible, experienced by another member of the community. Adaptable conflict resolution is designed to eliminate the prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects in a manner that meets the needs of the involved parties while maintaining the safety of the campus community.
ACR processes such as conflict coaching, mediation, facilitated dialogue, restorative circles, and accountability circles allow individuals involved in a conflict to have significant influence and control over the resolution process and outcomes.
Participation in an ACR process is voluntary and may or may not result in an agreement or resolution. When a mutually satisfactory resolution is reached and approved by the Office of Community Standards or the office that performed the ACR, the case is resolved. Resolutions reached through ACR may not be appealed.
If resolution is not achieved through an attempt at ACR and the matter involves a pending violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the Office of Community Standards may refer the matter to the Community Standards Adjudication Process.
Acknowledgement of Harm
If the responding student is in general agreement with the reported allegations; is in general agreement about how to resolve the conflict and restore the community, as represented by the Office of Community Standards; and the Office of Community Standards agrees that the allegations are appropriate for an adaptable conflict resolution, the responding student has the option of entering into an agreement. In resolution by agreement the responding student acknowledges the harm caused by their behavior and agrees to fulfill outcomes that are developed with the input of the responding student, the aggrieved parties, and the Office of Community Standards. All agreements will include information related to the allegations, the type of adaptable conflict resolution used, the parties involved in the resolution, the outcomes agreed upon, and the timeline for completing them.
Considerations for Adaptable Resolutions
The Office of Community Standards generally will agree to adaptable resolutions where the Office believes the conduct is appropriate for an adaptable resolution and when the following is recognized:
- The goal of the adaptable conflict resolution is to address prohibited conduct, identify harm caused to individuals and the community, and develop a resolution agreement that addresses that harm and prevents its recurrence.
- Participation is voluntary and participation may be documented in writing. Participation can end at any time. If a party withdraws from an adaptable conflict resolution, the process may revert to a hearing.
- The information gathered during an adaptable resolution cannot be used in any other College process, including a hearing, if the adaptable resolution ends.
- Adaptable conflict resolutions are most effective when the involved parties are able to have structured interactions and discuss their perspectives directly.
- The College will not pressure or compel any party to engage in mediation, to directly meet or confront another party, or to participate in any particular form of adaptable conflict resolution.
- Adaptable conflict resolutions should have tailored outcomes to meet the unique needs and interests of the involved parties.
- Adaptable conflict resolution agreements have outcomes designed to repair harm and prevent the recurrence of harmful behavior.
Adaptable Conflict Resolution Options
Adaptable resolutions may include one or more of the following approaches:
- Conflict Coaching: A one-to-one skill building session designed to support one’s ability to engage in, manage, and resolve conflict. The focus is on supporting a student experiencing conflict in developing their own strategies of navigating that conflict prior to any intervention by the College into the conflict.
- Facilitated Dialogue: A structured and facilitated conversation between two or more individuals. The focus is often on providing a space for voices to be heard and perspectives to be shared. Depending on stated interests, the participants may sometimes work towards the development of a shared agreement, although working towards an agreement is not always the intended outcome.
- Restorative Circle or Conference Process: A facilitated interaction where the individuals who have experienced harm can come together with an individual(s) who assumes responsibility for repairing the harm to the extent possible. A circle or conference may include multiple members of the community to explore individual and community impact, harm, obligations, and opportunity for repairing them. Parties must agree on all those who will be present.
- Shuttle Negotiation: An indirect, facilitated conversation individually with the parties, and/or other participants to discuss experience and perspective and explore interests while working towards meeting expressed needs. This negotiated process does not require direct interaction between the parties or the parties and other participants, but rather, independently, with a coordinator.
- Accountability Circles: A facilitated interaction between a respondent and College staff designed to provide accountability, structured support, and the development of a learning plan. The focus of an accountability circle is to balance support and accountability for an individual who has acknowledged their obligation to repair harm and willingness to engage in an educational process.
Some outcomes that could results from ACR agreements include
- Alcohol or drug education classes
- Regular meetings with an appropriate College office or resource
- Permanent extension of a no communication and restricted proximity order
- Restriction from participation in specific clubs and/or organizations
- Restriction from participation in particular events
- Restrictions related to on-campus housing
- Completion of an educational plan
- Other collaboratively developed, educational opportunities
Adaptable Resolution Agreement Finalization
Any agreements reached in an adaptable resolution must be documented. For matters involving alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct, the Office of Community Standards must approve the resolution before any agreement will be considered valid.
Failure to comply with agreements may result in a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. If no agreement is reached, the matter may be referred to the Office of Community Standards for further action. Once an agreement is approved, the parties are bound by its terms and cannot request a hearing or additional adaptable resolutions.
To fairly assess pattern or systemic behavior, the Office of Community Standards will maintain records of all reports and conduct referred for adaptable resolution.
Community Standards Adjudication Process (CSAP)
Initiation of an Adjudication
If an adjudication is warranted, the Office of Community Standards will initiate a CSAP administrative hearing or panel hearing on behalf of the College against students or student groups. The College retains full discretion to initiate or to not initiate an adjudication and, in all matters, the College is always the Complainant.
Potential concerns should be reported as soon as possible. Only admitted students who have an ongoing academic relationship with the College can be named as respondents for adjudication.
Students who are named as respondents and who are not active in a semester because of a leave will have an opportunity to engage the CSAP before returning to an active semester or to delay their engagement with the CSAP until they are again active in a semester.
If the College adjudicates a respondent who is a second semester senior, the College will, in most instances, withhold that student’s Amherst College diploma or the release of official transcripts pending the conclusion and outcome of the CSAP.
Contents of a Complaint
A complaint is a written document that initiates the Community Standards Adjudication Process and contains sufficient information regarding the allegations of instances of violative behavior to permit the respondent to reasonably understand the allegations being brought against them and to permit them to adequately respond. The complaint will indicate the name of the accused student(s); the date(s) or approximate date(s) on which the alleged behavior occurred; a description of the alleged behavior; and the location at which the alleged behavior occurred, if known. Further, the complaint will indicate which section(s) of the Student Code of Conduct the College alleges the respondent(s) violated. It is not required that the complaint reflect every detail included in an investigation report, if one was produced.
Amherst students have a responsibility to adhere to local, state, and federal laws while on campus or off campus. The College cannot protect Amherst students, nor other persons, from the consequences of violations of local, state, or federal law.
Amherst students are responsible for their actions and behavior, whether the behavior in question occurs on campus or in another location. In addition to the expectations set by the Student Code of Conduct, Amherst students are also subject to the regulations and procedures set forth in domestic or international study away programs.
Amherst College students, when studying or visiting on the campus of one of the Five Colleges or attending a College-related event for one of the Five Colleges, will be subject to Amherst College policies as well as the policies of the visited institution. In cases of academic integrity allegations, the institution that hosts the course will implement their own adjudication, and Amherst may separately adjudicate its students separate from the host institution’s process.
The College reserves the right to initiate its own adjudication or restorative process, at its own pace, and regardless of the prospect or the pendency of civil or criminal proceedings, against a student accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct. A respondent who is also facing a criminal charge or the possibility of a criminal charge is advised to seek legal counsel at the student’s expense before participating in any College adjudication.
Students who withdraw from the College after an adjudication has been initiated for an alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct, but before the adjudication has been resolved in accordance with the CSAP, will be allowed to re-enroll only at the discretion of the Dean of Students or their designee.
Student Group Adjudication
A student group and its officers and membership may be held collectively and individually responsible when alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct by the organization or its member(s):
- Take place at organization-sponsored or co-sponsored events, whether sponsorship is formal or tacit; or
- Have received the consent or encouragement of the organization or of the organization’s leaders or officers; or
- Were known or reasonably should have been known by the membership or its officers.
- Hearings for student groups follow the same CSAP procedures. In any such action, individual determinations as to responsibility will be made, sanctions may be assigned collectively or individually, and those sanctions will be proportionate to the involvement of each individual and the organization.
Withdrawal of a Complaint
Prior to the date of an administrative or panel hearing, the College may withdraw the complaint. Withdrawal of the complaint will end the CSAP. The College will inform the respondent, aggrieved parties, and witnesses (as appropriate) in a timely manner of its decisions.
Responding to a Complaint
Notification to a Respondent
The person or persons against whom the complaint is filed are called respondents. Respondents will be notified that a complaint alleging violations of the Student Code of Conduct has been filed against them.
Information for Respondent
In addition to giving notice of a complaint to the respondent, the College will also request a meeting with the respondent to:
- provide the respondent with a copy of the complaint
- discuss the respondent’s opportunity to submit a written response to the complaint within 72 hours
- discuss the nature of the complaint
- explain the CSAP
- explain the respondent’s right to select an advisor as defined above, and at their own expense, if applicable
- explain the rights and responsibilities of the College and the respondent
- explain the prohibition against retaliation
- instruct the respondent not to destroy any potentially relevant documentation in any format
- refer the respondent to the location of relevant policies
- provide the investigation report if one exists
If a respondent refuses to meet or otherwise cannot meet with the Administrator within a reasonable period of time from the filing of the complaint, as determined by the Administrator, then the Administrator will provide the respondent, via electronic mail to the respondent’s official Amherst College electronic mail address, a copy of the complaint in in addition to the information in the list above in Information for Respondent. The respondent has the opportunity, though is not required, to submit a written response, which must be submitted no later than 72 hours from the date and time the respondent was provided the complaint. If a respondent fails to meet and cooperate with the Administrator or investigator, the adjudication of the complaint will proceed nonetheless.
Acceptance of Responsibility
At any point during the CSAP, the respondent may choose to accept responsibility for the behaviors alleged in the complaint. If the respondent accepts responsibility for the behaviors alleged in the complaint, the College will convene an administrative hearing, a hearing panel of the Community Standards Review Board to determine any sanctions, or, if the Office of Community Standards approves, an Adaptable Conflict Resolution pathway.
The chart below provides information regarding options for the respondent in the 72-hours following delivery of the Complaint.
Effect of Choice on CSAP
Deny responsibility for all alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The CSAP proceeds to an administrative hearing or panel hearing to evaluate the respondent’s responsibility. Any determination of responsibility for one or more violations of the Student Code of Conduct will result in the assignment of sanctions.
Deny responsibility for some, but not all, of the alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The CSAP will proceed to an administrative hearing or a panel hearing to evaluate the respondent’s responsibility for the denials. The administrative hearing or the panel hearing will assign sanctions for the admitted responsibility as well as to any new responsibility determinations.
Accept responsibility for all alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The CSAP will proceed to an administrative hearing or a panel hearing for the assignment of sanctions for the admitted responsibility. Or, if the Office of Community Standards approves, an Adaptable Conflict Resolution pathway.
Submit a written response, without explicitly accepting or explicitly denying responsibility for one or more alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
The CSAP proceeds to an administrative hearing or a panel hearing to evaluate the respondent’s responsibility. Any determination of responsibility for one or more violations of the Student Code of Conduct will result in the assignment of sanctions.
Reject opportunity to submit a written response.
The CSAP proceeds to an administrative hearing or a panel hearing to evaluate the respondent’s responsibility. Any determination of responsibility for one or more violations of the Student Code of Conduct will result in the assignment of sanctions.
The Community Standards Review Board
The Community Standards Review Board (CSRB) is the College’s adjudication board that hears allegations of academic integrity violations, discriminatory misconduct, interpersonal violence and harassment, and other community standards violations that do not relate to the Amherst College Interim Title IX Policy. The CSRB is composed of faculty appointed by the Provost, students appointed by the Association of Amherst Students, and students and staff selected by Student Affairs. Staff members will not be considered for empanelment for cases involving academic integrity. Student Affairs may remove any CSRB member at any time for any reason.
Composition of the CSRB for a Hearing
When a panel is convened, the Dean of Students or designee serves as its nonvoting Chairperson. The Chairperson is joined by 5 voting panel members, three of whom are students, and two of whom are faculty or staff, depending on whether the case relates to academic integrity.
The faculty members of the CSRB will be appointed by the Provost’s office. They will typically serve three-year terms, and their terms, when possible, will be staggered so as to maintain continuity from year to year.
Student members of the CSRB will be chosen by one of two mechanisms, election or appointment by the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) or selection by Student Affairs. Students typically serve two or three-year terms.
Staff members will be self-nominated or nominated to the Office of Community Standards on an ongoing basis. The Director of Community Standards will appoint staff members to the CSRB on a rolling basis. Staff generally serve a two-year term.
Ad Hoc Panels
The CSRB is typically active only when classes are in session. Hearings are not regularly scheduled during final examinations or recesses. Occasionally, an Administrator or a respondent may desire an expedited resolution during a period when the CSRB is typically inactive. In these circumstances and at their discretion, the Chairperson may provide voluntary, alternative mechanisms for conflict resolution, including the assemblage of ad-hoc panels, provided the respondent agrees to the proposed alternative.
Ad hoc panels may be composed of Amherst College students, staff, or faculty, whether they are derived from the CSRB or not. Panel compositions and hearing timings as described above may be adjusted at the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee. Ad hoc panel members will be familiarized with relevant policies and procedures prior to their service.
Preparation for a Panel Hearing or an Administrative Hearing
The preparation for a hearing is an important period of time during which a respondent should consider the following opportunities and expectations of the College and of the respondent alike.
Potential Conflicts of Interest
Respondents and aggrieved parties will be offered the opportunity to challenge the empanelment of a member of the CSRB on the basis that they are unable to be impartial because of an actual or perceived interest in the outcome of the case. Prior acquaintance does not, in and of itself, constitute such actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Once it is determined that a panel hearing will be initiated, the Administrator will provide potential CSRB panelists’ names and titles/roles to the respondent. Any challenge must be submitted in writing within 48 hours of receiving the list of potential CSRB panel members. The Chairperson will rule on the challenge, and if the challenge is accepted, take appropriate steps to secure a replacement. If the individual serving as Chairperson is challenged, the Chief Student Affairs Officer or designee may appoint a substitute Chairperson for the panel hearing. The respondent will have the opportunity to raise a new challenge for any replacement for 48 hours after learning the name of a replacement.
Notice of Hearing
All panel hearings will be scheduled as soon as is practicable. At least seven days prior to the scheduled hearing date, the College will provide the respondent with a written Notice of Hearing, which will include the date, time, and location of the hearing. The Notice of Hearing will also include the names of the CSRB panel members and Chairperson, along with their College roles/titles.
Administrative hearings will be scheduled between the respondent and the administrator directly.
As described in the Responding to Complaints section, adjudications will proceed, at the discretion of the Office of Community Standards, even if the respondent or other parties do not participate.
Panel Hearings are Audio-Recorded
The College will audio-record hearings before the Community Standards Review Board. The Community Standards Review Board’s deliberations are not audio-recorded. Hearing participants may not separately record the hearing.
Participation In-Person or Via Technological Assistance
Persons may participate in hearings via in-person participation or via technology-assisted participation.
Rescheduling a Hearing
If the respondent or the Administrator finds cause to request the rescheduling of a hearing, the request must be made in writing to the Office of Community Standards. The Office of Community Standards retains full discretion to reschedule or to not reschedule the hearing. This decision is final.
The Standard Used to Determine Responsibility
All CSAP hearing outcome determinations will be made on the basis of the preponderance of evidence standard, that is, whether the alleged violation was more likely than not to have occurred.
The Decision to Refrain from Answering Questions or Offering Statements at a Hearing
Participants may decline to answer any question or to make any statement during the hearing. The outcome of the hearing will be based upon the information available during the hearing.
The Presentation of Information
The College or the respondent may learn new relevant information about a matter before a hearing begins. Should the Administrator or the respondent wish to submit new relevant information at the panel hearing, they must first request approval from the Chairperson. The CSRB panel will not consider information unless the respondent has been advised of its content and source, and has been given the opportunity to respond during the panel hearing.
Witness Participation at a Hearing
Witnesses may participate at a hearing in person or by technological assistance. A respondent who requests the participation of a witness must provide the name and contact information of the witness to the Administrator before the conclusion of the respondent’s written response period (72 hours). The respondent’s decision to forfeit the opportunity to submit a written response will have no influence on the deadline by which to identify witnesses.
The College may identify witnesses for participation in the hearing.
All persons called to give testimony during a hearing are expected to provide complete and truthful testimony. A student called as a witness who fails to testify or who testifies untruthfully may be found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct (see Section 2.7).
Evidence and Witnesses
Involved parties must submit all evidence and any information about witnesses within 48 hours of the notice from the Office of Community Standards that a matter is going to be resolved by the Community Standards Review Board. Unsubstantiated and unadjudicated reports of other behavior may not be submitted as evidence and will not be considered in any hearing.
Bias and Scope of Evaluated Information
The respondent will be adjudicated with fairness and based upon the information available during the hearing. The respondent will have the opportunity to respond at the hearing to all information conveyed during the hearing procedure.
CSRB Hearing panelists and administrative hearing officers will be trained on issues including: the CSAP procedures, the standard of evaluation, fairness, bias and implicit bias, and the importance of making decisions based only upon the information made available to them during the hearing.
Receiving Advice and Support from an Advisor and Others
Respondents and, in some cases, aggrieved parties may select an advisor as set forth above. Advisors may be present during the hearing and at related meetings outside the hearing. Advisors may not address the Community Standards Review Board and may not speak on behalf of their advisee. Advisors may assist their advisee in preparing for the case and may provide support throughout the entirety of the process. Advisors, regardless of their training or professional skills, may not serve as advocates but the role of the advisor is to assist and support their advisee. In the Community Standards Adjudication Process, an Advisor may not be a privately-retained attorney except in cases where the Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Addendum applies.
Participants may consult with persons who are not their Advisor. Those consulted may be members of the Amherst College community or not. Though only one Advisor may support an advisee at a hearing, parties are encouraged to build a support network around them, composed of various persons.
If participating by means of technological assistance, their Advisor may participate (in person in the hearing room or also by technology). Requests to the Chairperson may be made to consult with others during a hearing. If the request is granted, such consultation must occur outside the hearing.
A member of the College’s Office of General Counsel may be present at the panel hearing to provide legal counsel to the Chairperson and/or CSRB, at the discretion of the Chairperson.
CSRB Hearing Procedure
Parties will receive timely and equal access to relevant information that will be used to determine the outcome of the complaint.
The Chairperson of the CSRB panel will preside in all hearings. The Chairperson will maintain decorum during hearings and will be the final arbiter of all questions of policy, standards, and procedure. The Chairperson makes decisions about the admission or exclusion of information and witness testimony. The CSRB, under the guidance of the Chairperson, may consider any testimony or evidence it has reason to believe is trustworthy and relevant.
In general, Community Standards Review Board hearings will proceed in the order outlined below. However, the Chairperson retains discretion to alter the order of the hearing process, as needed.
1. Chairperson’s welcome to all participants
a. Introductions of all participants
b. Presentation of the CSRB Purpose Statement
c. Direction to all participants to read and agree to the Confidentiality Statement
d. Opportunity for questioning about procedures
Note: Witnesses will leave the hearing room at this juncture.
2. College’s Presentation, offered by the Office of Community Standards
3. Respondent’s Presentation
a. Opening statement by respondent (optional)
b. CSRB panel members question respondent
4. Witnesses appear individually
a. Witness offers summary of their involvement (optional)
b. CSRB panel members question witness
c. Respondent questions witness
5. Chairperson offers a final opportunity for any additional questions to the respondent or any witnesses (as provided for in the steps above) and reminds participants that no questions will be permitted during or after the closing statements. No new facts nor evidence may be brought forward by the parties in their closing statements.
6. Closing statement of Aggrieved Parties
7. Closing statement of respondent
8. Closing remarks by Chairperson
a. The CSRB panel will deliberate privately to determine responsibility.
b. If the respondent is found not responsible for all alleged violations, the CSRB panel will end the CSAP, and the hearing is adjourned. The respondent will receive written notification of this outcome.
c. If the respondent is found responsible for one or more alleged violations the CSRB panel will initiate deliberations about sanctions, either immediately or at a later date. The respondent will receive written notification of this outcome, including the rationale for the finding and sanctions.
The respondent may appeal the outcome of an administrative hearing or a panel hearing. For hearings involving Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct, the aggrieved party or parties have the same appeal opportunities as the respondent. All academic integrity appeals and any appeal of a hearing panel are directed to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty. Appeals of non-academic integrity-related decisions made by an administrative hearing are directed to the Chief Student Affairs Officer or designee.
Grounds for Appeal
An appeal may come forward based on the following grounds:
- Material procedural error (i.e., a procedural error of such significance that, but for the error’s occurrence, the hearing could have resulted in a different outcome);
- Bias, or conflict of interest, by an Administrator or the Chairperson of the CSRB, or a member of the hearing panel (i.e., the administrative adjudicator, the chair or a member of the Hearing Board demonstrated through specific words or actions that they were predisposed for or against one of the parties);
- New information (i.e., information has been discovered that: 1) is relevant; 2) is substantive; 3) was not previously known by the appellant; and 4) was not previously available to the appellant);
- Inappropriateness of the sanction (i.e., the sanction is disproportionate to the gravity of the violation(s) for which the respondent has been found responsible).
Appeals must be submitted as a written statement to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty or Chief Student Affairs Officer as appropriate and must state the grounds and reason for the appeal, within seven calendar days from the date of the written finding.
Response to Appeal
Upon receipt of the statement of appeal, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty or Chief Student Affairs Officer will review the official records of the Administrator or the CSRB panel’s proceedings and other materials bearing on the case as necessary. The Provost and Dean of the Faculty or Chief Student Affairs Officer may interview the involved parties, witnesses, or anyone else involved in the hearing process, including the CSRB panel members.
For an appeal of an academic integrity decision by an Administrator, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty may refer the case to a panel of the CSRB, consisting of two faculty members, one of whom will act as voting Chairperson, and one student. For an appeal of a Panel Hearing decision, the Provost and Dean of the Faculty may refer the case back to the original panel with instructions or may direct that the case be reviewed or reheard by a different panel of the CSRB. In the case of any such referral, the panel of the CSRB will report its findings and recommendations to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, who will resolve the appeal.
The Provost and Dean of the Faculty or Chief Student Affairs Officer will render a decision with such terms as they determine to be appropriate. The Provost and Dean of the Faculty’s or Chief Student Affairs Officer’s decision is final, and no further appeal will be permitted.
A copy of all findings and outcomes will be kept in a confidential file in Student Affairs. Generally, only suspension and expulsion are recorded on a student’s transcript. Otherwise, except as permitted or required by Title IX, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, subpoena, or any other applicable law, a student’s conduct record is confidential and no information from this record will be released without the consent of the person about whom the record was created.
Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Addendum
This Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Addendum, for non-Title IX sexual misconduct matters, is a supplement to the Community Standards Adjudication Process, the Staff Grievance Policy, and the Faculty Grievance Process. Where language between this addendum and these processes differ, this addendum governs. The College retains the discretion to resolve ambiguities regarding whether this addendum applies in any particular matter.
- Parties shall be provided equal opportunity to inspect and review information obtained as part of an investigation that is directly related to the allegations brought forward in the adjudication.
- Decision-makers and investigators will receive not less than annual training on issues related to sexual misconduct, investigatory procedures, and hearing procedures, where applicable.
- Presumption of Non Responsibility:
There is a presumption that the persons accused of violating the College’s Nondiscrimination and Harassment Policy are not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination on the matter is made at the conclusion of the relevant process.
Parties to a sexual misconduct adjudication may be supported by an advisor of their choice. The College retains the discretion to set rules regarding an advisor’s participation in the process.
- Standard of Evidence: The following standards of evidence will be used in resolving charges of non-Title IX sexual misconduct:
- Charges against students: Resolved by the Community Standards Adjudication Process using the preponderance of the evidence standard.
- Formal complaints against staff: Resolved by the Staff Grievance Policy using the preponderance of the evidence standard.
- Formal complaints against faculty members: Resolved by the Faculty Grievance Process using the clear and convincing standard.
- Information Presented For Resolution of Complaint:
- Parties to a grievance shall have an equal opportunity to present information and/or witnesses. In cases where the College is the moving party, the person(s) aggrieved by the alleged behavior may serve as a witness and shall have equal opportunity to present information and/or other witnesses.
- Parties will receive timely and equal access to relevant information that will be used to determine the outcome of the formal complaint.
- The College retains the discretion to limit the use of certain information including, but not limited to, the use of information related to a party’s prior sexual history and character evidence.
- Parties shall not verbally question each other during any phase of the adjudication process.
- Notification of Outcome:
Parties to a non-Title IX sexual misconduct adjudication shall be informed, in writing, of the results of the adjudication not later than seven business days after a final determination of the complaint, not including any time for an appeal, unless there is good cause for the delay. Any delays shall be communicated to the parties. The notification of outcome will include information regarding the process for appealing the decision, if applicable.
The College will not disclose the identity of the parties, except as necessary to carry out disciplinary proceedings or as permitted under state or federal law.