Honor Code Procedures for Sexual Misconduct Cases

Any Wellesley College student-to-student sexual misconduct will be considered an Honor Code violation. 


Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy
Resources for Student Survivors of Sexual Misconduct

A student may file a charge against another student for sexual misconduct through these Honor Code procedures. These procedures may also be implemented in cases of student-to-student assault and of student-to-student sexual harassment, or in any case where student safety may be at risk.  In certain circumstances, the College through its Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee), retains the discretion to determine if particularities of these types of cases will be addressed administratively and outside of the Honor Code Procedures.

Case Coordinating Team

The Case Coordinating Team, composed of the Chief Justice and the Administrative Coordinator, will facilitate all processes for Honor Code Council, and, as warranted in cases of appeal, for the Hearing Review Panel and the President. Either member of the Case Coordinating Team will be the first point of contact for both the individual considering bringing a charge and the charged student.  The team will review all charges and determine their disposition.1

Filing an Honor Code Violation Charge

Charges for a violation of the Honor Code are submitted to the Case Coordinating Team in writing via a secure email form.  A charge should be submitted as soon as possible after the alleged violation has occurred.  It is recommended that it be filed no later than six months after the occurrence; however, the Case Coordinating Team will accept for review and consideration charges of violations of the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy filed during the time period of the enrollment of the student being charged. If the College has addressed the alleged violation through a process other than the Honor Code, the case will not typically be heard through the Honor Code procedures.
To file a charge of student-to -student sexual misconduct, please click here.
Normally, the Case Coordinating Team will act on the alleged violation if provided with sufficient information to indicate that an Honor Code violation may have occurred.

Jurisdiction

The Honor Code applies to all Wellesley College degree seeking or enrolled students, visiting students who are taking a class(es) or conducting research at Wellesley College, or Wellesley College non-degree seeking students, who are enrolled in a class or conducting research on campus (and who are not employees of the College). The Wellesley College honor code system does not preclude a state or federal process.

Violations of the Law and College Sanctions

Students remain beholden to all local, state and federal laws.  College disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both the criminal law and the Honor Code without regard to the pendency of civil or criminal litigation in court or criminal arrest and prosecution.

Notification of Charge

Normally, the Administrative Coordinator will notify the student by e-mail of an Honor Code violation charge within five business days of receipt.  Failure to adhere to this notification guideline does not constitute grounds for dismissal of charges.

Confidentiality

Once an Honor Code charge has been filed, all elected or appointed members of the honor code system will hold the case in strict confidentiality.  All parties will be expected to be respectful of the private nature of any knowledge or information they may have about an Honor Code Council matter.  In the event that a charge results in a hearing, upon its conclusion, no party may disclose the identities of those involved with the case, unless required to do so by subpoena or legal process.  If a person who is or has been the subject of a charge should disclose the content of a hearing, Honor Code Council reserves the right to respond.

Resources for Charged Student and Individual Bringing the Charge

(See Wellesley College Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and Wellesley College Resources for Student Survivors of Sexual Violence for definitions of sexual misconduct and for resources available to students.)
Both the charged student and the student bringing the charge are to meet separately with one of Honor Code Council’s designated ombudspersons. These ombudspersons are faculty or administrative staff members who have been trained for sexual misconduct case preparation.

Interim Restrictions

From the time a charge is filed until its resolution, the Dean of Students may place interim restrictions on the charged student to address the health, safety, and/or interests of the students or members of the college community.  These restrictions may include, but will not be limited to, removal of privileges, removal from or relocation within college housing, a no contact order, or suspension of an activity.  An interim suspension from the college or other interim restrictions may be imposed by the Dean of Students and can become effective immediately if the continued presence of a student poses a substantial and immediate threat to themselves or to others, or causes significant disruption to the community. 
The charged student may not voluntarily go on leave or withdraw from the college before the resolution of an Honor Code violation charge, unless she has been granted permission by the Dean of Students.  In such circumstances, the student’s readmission will be contingent upon the resolution of the charge through the college’s judicial system, unless determined otherwise by the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee).

The Charged Student

As part of the process, the charged student:

  • will be informed of the charge
  • will have access to the Honor Code Council procedures
  • will have the opportunity to consult the Administrative Coordinator, Chief Justice and/or a Honor Code Council ombudsperson for advice and guidance at any stage in Honor Code Council process
  • will have the opportunity to consult with the College’s Title IX Coordinator
  • will be notified of the disposition of the charge
  • will be allowed to respond to the charge
  • will be allowed to review in advance the materials to be presented at the hearing
  • is given the opportunity to be present at the hearing
  • can challenge a hearing panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest
  • can present witnesses or information at the hearing
  • can appeal based on stated grounds
  • can request the ombudsperson to consider asking additional questions of witnesses during the hearing 
  • can have a support person present at the hearing as long as the individual is not involved in the case (and is not an attorney) and commits to confidentiality  

The Student Bringing the Charge

As part of the process, the student bringing the charge:

  • will have access to the Honor Code Council procedures
  • will have the opportunity to consult the Administrative Coordinator, Chief Justice and/or a Honor Code Council ombudsperson for advice and guidance at any stage in Honor Code Council process
  • will have the opportunity to consult with the College’s Title IX Coordinator
  • will be notified of the disposition of the charge
  • can request to withdraw the charge at any time
  • will be allowed to review in advance the materials to be presented at the hearing
  • is given the opportunity to be present at the hearing
  • can challenge a hearing panel member if there is a significant conflict of interest
  • can present witnesses or information at the hearing
  • can appeal based on stated grounds
  • can request the ombudsperson to consider asking additional questions of witnesses during the hearing 
  • can have a support person present at the hearing as long as the individual is not involved in the case (and is not an attorney) and commits to confidentiality

Disposition of Charges

The Case Coordinating Team will refer cases for resolution through an Honor Code Council hearing when there is sufficient information that an Honor Code violation may have occurred. If there is insufficient information or the alleged act clearly does not amount to an Honor Code violation, the team will dismiss the charge and close the case.  At its discretion, the Case Coordinating Team may refer the case to the Dean of Students.  In exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Students, or her designee, may exercise her discretion to respond to the case administratively and not through the Honor Code Council.

Notification of Hearing/Submission of Case-Related Materials

In cases of student-to-student sexual misconduct, all documentary material must be submitted to the Clerk of Honor Code Council at least five business days prior to the hearing.  Late materials will typically not be accepted.
The student bringing the charge of a violation of the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy may also provide a statement as part of her materials, describing the effects of the alleged incident upon them.  This statement will be read by a hearing panel only in cases which require the setting of a sanction.
The student against whom a charge of a violation of the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy is made may provide a statement as part of her materials, describing the effects of the alleged incident upon her.  This statement will be read by a hearing panel only in cases which require the setting of a sanction.

Cooperation of All Parties

Both the student bringing the charge and the charged student will be expected to cooperate fully with the Case Coordinating Team.  Similarly, all parties with knowledge pertaining to a case will be expected to cooperate fully in the examination and, if requested, appear at the hearing. Honesty is expected from all members who participate.  Dishonesty in a hearing may be grounds for a separate Honor Code violation charge.

The Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board

A subgroup of Honor Code Council will be designated the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board and will be trained to hear cases of sexual misconduct.

Hearing Panels

A hearing panel will be composed of the Chief Justice and three voting Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board members: one student, one faculty member, and the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee).  The Chief Justice will preside.
Either the charged student or the student bringing the charge may request that a member of a Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board hearing panel be disqualified when they can demonstrate a significant conflict of interest.  The Case Coordinating Team has the final authority to determine the composition of hearing panels.
Any member of the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board may recuse herself or himself due to conflict of interest.  When the Chief Justice recuses herself, her designee – who may be either a senior class Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board member or the President of College Government – will preside over the hearing.  When the Dean of Students recuses herself, the Dean’s designee will participate in the hearing.  If needed, former members of Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board may serve on hearing panels if all current members are disqualified.
On appeal, if either party alleges a conflict of interest with a Hearing Review Panel member, s/he may request that the individual be disqualified.  Any member of the Hearing Review Panel who has a conflict of interest in a particular case may recuse himself or herself.  The Dean of the College’s designee normally will be either the Dean of Faculty Affairs or the Dean of Academic Affairs.  Substitutes for the student and faculty Hearing Review Panel members will be selected from Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board Council members who have had no prior affiliation with the case.  The Case Coordinating Team has the final authority to determine the composition of the Hearing Review Panel.

Hearing Procedures

The student charged with a violation of the Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and the student making allegations against the charged student shall be entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during the hearing process.
Formal rules of evidence and procedure shall not apply to hearings.  Hearing panels shall make decisions regarding procedural or evidentiary questions arising during hearings.  Normally, hearings will be conducted in person at the college, but they may be conducted by phone under certain circumstances as determined by the Case Coordinating Team.  The Case Coordinating Team will determine the method by which a hearing will be conducted.  All hearings will be conducted in private.  Neither the charged student nor the student bringing the charge may have attorneys present at hearings.
In cases of student-to-student sexual misconduct, the charged student and the student making the allegations against the charged student will be present in separate rooms.  Each party will listen to the other’s testimony on speaker phone. 
When providing testimony, each student shall be in the presence of the hearing board.
The faculty or staff ombudsperson will sit with the student who is listening to the student providing testimony.
While listening to testimony, each student may write questions to be taken by the ombudsperson to the hearing panel.  The ombudsperson will bring these questions to the hearing.  The hearing panel will recess, as necessary, to consider which, if any, of these questions will be asked of the testifying student at the designated time during the hearing. 
This process will be duplicated for each student’s testimony.
Attendance
The charged student, the student bringing the charge, and all witnesses will be expected to be present, in person or by phone, at the scheduled hearing.  Failure of the charged student to appear at a hearing may subject the student to further charges.  Should a charged student fail to appear, the hearing will proceed and penalties may be imposed as if the charged student were present. Honor Code Council proceedings will take precedence over all nonacademic activities.  The Case Coordinating Team has final authority over who can attend all hearings.
Timing
Charges against a student must be resolved before she will be eligible to participate in international study/exchange programs.2  If a student is charged while participating in a Wellesley College international study program, the Case Coordinating Team, in consultation with the Dean of Students, will determine whether to conduct a hearing by phone or defer it until the student’s return.  Failure to adhere to any of the scheduling guidelines set out here does not constitute grounds for dismissal of charges.
Record
All Honor Code Council hearings will be audio-recorded.  Either the student found in violation of the Honor Code or the student bringing the charge may listen to the recording in the presence of the clerk when considering an appeal.  The recording will also be available for consideration by the Hearing Review Panel and the President. Recordings of the hearing will be the property of Wellesley College and will be kept until the conclusion of the process by final decision on appeal or the expiration of any appeal period.

Witnesses

The charged student and the student bringing the charge may bring witnesses to present information relevant to the case.  Witnesses will receive a copy of Honor Code Council procedures which prohibit retaliation, intimidation, or harassment. Witnesses must submit a brief statement to the Case Coordinating Team before the hearing summarizing their knowledge of the alleged Honor Code violation.  The charged student and the student bringing the charge may each ask one character witness to submit a written statement to be distributed to the hearing panel. Oral character statements may not be presented at the hearing.
The charged student, the student bringing the charge, and the members of the hearing panel will address relevant questions to the witnesses. Parties have the right to question witnesses at the hearing.  However, parties are prohibited from questioning each other; the Chief Justice will ensure that parties have the opportunity to raise to their ombudsperson questions and issues pertinent to the charge.  The Chief Justice will have the authority to rule questions irrelevant or out of order.  Witnesses will remain in the hearing room only while presenting information and answering questions.

Independent Expertise

If a case involves a technical matter that falls outside the expertise of the hearing panel, the members may consult with the appropriate source of information.  These consultants will not attend hearings unless this is determined to be necessary by the Case Coordinating Team.

Basis of Decision

Following the conclusion of the Honor Code Council hearing, the panel will meet in a closed session to determine, by majority vote, whether a violation has occurred.  In reaching its determination, the hearing panel will evaluate only information introduced during the hearing.  The panel will not consider any prior Honor Code Council history of either party when determining whether the violation occurred.  The determination that a violation has occurred will be based on information sufficient to convince a majority of the panel that more likely than not the violation occurred.
In cases of sexual misconduct, the hearing panel may make the finding responsible, not responsible, or no decision.  “Responsible” indicates the finding that there was an incident of sexual misconduct.  “Not responsible” indicates the finding that there was not an incident of sexual misconduct.  “No decision” indicates the finding that the panel was unable to decide whether there was an incident of sexual misconduct. 
In findings of an Honor Code violation, the panel will review the impact statements (if there are any) before setting a sanction.

Sanctions for Student-to-Student Sexual Misconduct

Sanctions will be imposed in accordance with the severity of the violation. All sanctions will be decided by majority vote.
Any student found in violation of the Honor Code will be placed on Honor Code probation for the remainder of her education at Wellesley College.  While on Honor Code probation, any additional violation of the Honor Code, or failure to adhere to the sanction(s) from the original hearing, will result in more severe disciplinary action, including the possibility of suspension, dismissal, or expulsion.
Sanctions that may be imposed by a hearing panel for Honor Code violations will include, but will not be limited to, the following:

  • Warning – The student will receive a formal, written admonition stating the certainty of a more severe disciplinary sanction for subsequent violations. Warnings may be imposed for a designated period of time.  In a case in which a student’s warning is related to their residence status, parents or guardians will be notified.
  • Exclusion – The student may be excluded from access to or use of specified college activities and premises.
  • No contact order – The student may be prohibited from communicating with a named individual(s).
  • Community service – The student may be required to provide on or off campus community service for a prescribed number of hours.
  • Residence hall suspension – The student will be separated from the residence halls for a defined period of time, after which the student will be eligible to return.  Conditions for return may be specified.  Parents or guardians will be notified.3
  • Residence hall expulsion – The student will be permanently separated from the residence halls. Parents or guardians will be notified.4
  • Loss of privilege – The student will be denied specified privileges for a designated period of time.  These may include, but will not be limited to, computer account privileges, participation in international study or an exchange program, self-scheduled exams, credit/non course status, or attendance in college programs or activities (e.g., sporting events, intramurals, performances, graduation exercises).
  • Educational projects/initiatives – The student may be required to rewrite an assignment, take another examination, complete a project or a written assignment, attend an educational program, or seek assistance from the Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center (PLTC) or other college resources.
  • Mental health/medical assessment and/or treatment – A hearing panel may recommend that a student seek a mental health/medical assessment from the Student Health Center, the Stone Center Counseling Service, or another appropriate professional or engage or continue in treatment with an appropriate health professional.
  • Suspension – The student may be involuntarily suspended from the college for a specified period of time, which may include the current semester and such additional semesters as deemed appropriate by the hearing panel.5 Parents or guardians will be notified.6 Readmission as a student in good standing will be coordinated through the Office of the Dean of Students and will be contingent upon satisfaction of any conditions stated in the original suspension sanction.  A student may not be given credit for courses completed at another institution during the course of her suspension.  The suspension will appear on the student’s official transcript.  The comprehensive fee will not be returned by the college.
  • Dismissal – The student may be involuntarily dismissed from the college.7 Parents or guardians will be notified.8 Readmission will be coordinated through the Office of the Dean of Students, and will not be guaranteed. At a minimum, readmission will be contingent upon satisfaction of all conditions stated in the original dismissal sanction. The dismissal will be noted on the student’s official transcript. The comprehensive fee will not be returned by the college.
  • Expulsion – The student may be expelled and permanently removed from the college without possibility of readmission or reinstatement.9 Parents or guardians will be notified.10 The expulsion will be noted on the student’s official transcript. The comprehensive fee will not be returned by the college.

Notification of Decision

The hearing panel will provide a written statement of its decision to the Case Coordinating Team. Normally, email or other form of written notification will be used for communicating decisions to the charged student and to the student bringing the charge.11 Both parties will be informed of their rights to appeal based upon grounds stated in Honor Code Council procedures    The date on which an email is sent will be the date by which Honor Code Council deadlines will be determined. Failure to meet these time guidelines will not invalidate a decision or constitute grounds for an appeal.

Appeals

Grounds
The student found responsible for violating the Honor Code or the student bringing the charge will have the right to appeal on one or more of the following grounds:

  • discovery of significant factual material not available at the time of the hearing
  • discovery of significant mitigating or aggravating circumstances, not fully considered by the original hearing panel
  • error in the procedural process outlined in this policy

Timing
The deadline to file an appeal will be two weeks after each party has been notified of the outcome of Honor Code Council hearing.  Either party considering an appeal will be required to meet with the Administrative Coordinator.  Either party may listen to the hearing recording, in the presence of the clerk, in order to prepare her/his appeal.
Process
To formally file an appeal, the individual will submit to the Case Coordinating Team a written statement enumerating the grounds, including any additional information.  The Case Coordinating Team will forward the appellant’s materials along with all written materials and the recording from the initial hearing to the Hearing Review Panel within ten business days from the date the appeal is filed.  The Case Coordinating Team may also submit materials related to the procedures followed before and during the initial hearing, if it deems such information relevant.  The appellant will have the right to review and respond to such material.  The Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee), in their discretion, may require sanctions to be effective immediately and continue while an appeal is pending.
Normally, appeals will be considered within two weeks from the date the appeal is filed.  When the college is not in regular session, the Case Coordinating Team will schedule dates for addressing appeals.
The Hearing Review Panel will consider the recording and papers used at the hearing, in addition to the new information submitted. No testimony will be heard.
Upon consideration, the Hearing Review Panel may deny the appeal, reduce the sanction, dismiss the case, or remand the case for a full rehearing by a new panel.12  If the appeal is denied, the original decision stands. The decision by the Hearing Review Panel will be final, except when the sanction is suspension, dismissal, or expulsion.  The student found in violation of the Honor Code and the student bringing the charge will be given written notification of the Hearing Review Panel’s decision.
After an appeal to the Hearing Review Panel, an Honor Code violation that resulted in a sanction of suspension, dismissal, or expulsion may be appealed to the President of the College by either the student found to be in violation or the student bringing the charge. Both parties will be given written notification of the President’s decision.  The President of the College will have final authority over all matters related to college policies on student life by virtue of her overall responsibility for Wellesley College as delegated by the Board of Trustees.

Abuses of Honor Code Council System

Abuses of Honor Code Council system may constitute a separate Honor Code violation.  They include, but will not be limited to, the following:

  • breaches of privacy of hearing proceedings
  • failure to obey the summons of the Case Coordinating Team
  • falsification, distortion, or misrepresentation of information before a Honor Code Council hearing
  • disruption or interference with the orderly conduct of a judicial proceeding
  • deliberate initiation of a judicial hearing without cause
  • attempting to influence an individual’s proper participation in, or use of, the judicial system
  • attempting to influence the impartiality of any member affiliated with the honor code system prior to, and/or during the course of, a judicial proceeding
  • harassment (verbal or physical) and/or intimidation of any member affiliated with the judicial system, or any party associated with a case before, during, or after a judicial proceeding
  • failure to comply with a sanction(s) imposed by a hearing panel

Administrative Notification

Honor Code Council findings will be confidential except for the following:
The Title IX Coordinator will be informed by the Administrative Coordinator of the nature of all charges and findings.
The student’s class dean will be informed by the Administrative Coordinator of the nature of all charges and findings so that s/he can be available to advise the student on academics and help the student remain connected to the community.
The Advisor to International Students and Scholars will be notified by the Administrative Coordinator if an international student receives an Honor Code violation charge or sanction that may affect their immigration status.
When a sanction warrants, a college department, individual, or committee, including but not limited to a student life department director (if the sanction pertains to that particular student life area), and the registrar (when a grade change or transcript notation is sanctioned) will be notified by the Administrative Coordinator of a sanction that they must assist in implementing.
The chairs of the fellowship, internship, and the Health Professions Advisory Committee as well as the pre-law advisor may submit to the Administrative Coordinator the names of students or graduates who have applied for a Wellesley program, for Wellesley funding, or for support from Wellesley in an application process.  The Administrative Coordinator will identify applicants who were found responsible for a violation of the Honor Code.  The Administrative Coordinator will not disclose the specific sanction, but will disclose whether the violation was academic or non-academic.
A designated officer of Phi Beta Kappa may submit to the Administrative Coordinator the names of candidates for election.  The Administrative Coordinator will identify candidates who were charged with a violation of the Honor Code and who received a sanction that would make them ineligible to meet the Chapter’s national standards.  The Administrative Coordinator will disclose the specific sanction, in order to ensure that the candidate has met the “good character” requirement of the organization’s constitution.
The home institution of a student from another college participating in a Wellesley program will be notified by the Administrative Coordinator if the student is found in violation of the Honor Code.
Notifications to appropriate offices will be made when disclosure of information is required by administrative, business and/or legal obligations. 

Transcript Notification

Findings of suspension, dismissal, and expulsion will be noted on the student's transcript.  

Documentation and Retention

Paper case materials for a given case will be kept until the end of the semester in which the appeal period expires. After that, all paper records excepting the initial charge letter and the decision letter will be shredded. The charge letter and decision letter will be kept on file in the Dean of Students' Office until the student graduates and then be transferred to the Class Dean's Office.
Electronic case materials will be kept until the end of the semester in which the appeal period expires.  After that, all correspondence will be destroyed excepting the charge letter and the decision letter.  The charge letter and the decision letter will be retained in an electronic file until seven years after the student has graduated.
These provisions are subject to the discretion of the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee) and applicable law.

Reports to the Community

The outcomes of all Honor Code Council hearings will be reported to the Student Senate, Academic Council, and Administrative Council annually.  The confidentiality of the proceedings will be ensured and the identities of any parties associated with the hearings will not be revealed.

Endnotes:

  1. In the event the case coordinating team is unable to come to consensus about the means of resolution, they will consult the Dean of Students.  The Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee) has the authority to make a final decision.
  2. Hearings may be scheduled in June, after finals. Students may live in campus housing as they await their hearings, unless determined otherwise by the Dean of Students (or the Dean’s designee).  To the extent possible, any remaining cases after June will be heard during the week before the start of the fall semester. Students may travel to attend a hearing in person or participate by phone.  Funds will be available for students with demonstrated financial need who wish to attend a hearing in person and cannot afford travel expenses.
  3. Exceptions to this include Davis Scholars and emancipated minors.
  4. Exceptions to this include Davis Scholars and emancipated minors.
  5. This sanction may affect an international scholar's immigration status.  The student will be advised to consult the Director of Slater International Center, Advisor to International Students and Scholars.
  6. Exceptions to this include Davis Scholars and emancipated minors.
  7. This sanction may affect an international scholar's immigration status.  The student will be advised to consult the Director of Slater International Center, Advisor to International Students and Scholars.
  8. Exceptions to this include Davis Scholars and emancipated minors.
  9. This sanction may affect an international scholar's immigration status.  The student will be advised to consult the Director of Slater International Center, Advisor to International Students and Scholars.
  10. Exceptions to this include Davis Scholars and emancipated minors.
  11. In cases wherein Campus Police bring charges on behalf of an aggrieved party, that party will receive written notification of the decision.
  12. Hearing panel members for a remanded case will not consider any information regarding the prior hearing.  The outcome of the hearing will be based only on information put forward in the new hearing.  If a student is found in violation of the Honor Code, the sanction will be determined anew as well, and may be either lesser or more severe than the original sanction.

 

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Contact Us

Office of the Dean of Students
Green Hall 344
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Linda Hilts
Executive Assistant
lhilts@wellesley.edu
Tel: 781.283.2322