Information for Witnesses
Student Conduct Board
You have been asked to serve as a witness in a hearing before the University's Student Conduct Board (SCB), by the Dean of Students or a student who has been accused of violating University policy. A formal SCB hearing provides the student with a structured opportunity to discuss and clarify serious allegations of violations with a panel of faculty, staff and students. Student Conduct Board is most often used when the recommended sanctions might include suspension or expulsion.
In order to help you better understand what will happen at the formal hearing, the following questions have been addressed:
A Student Conduct hearing is not a court of law, but rather a part of the University’s internal system for handling alleged violations of the Student Conduct Code and/or General University Policy. The fact that allegations have been made and are taken seriously does not assume that those accusations are true. The question being considered by the hearing body is whether or not the student has violated the Student Code of Conduct or General University Policy and if so, determining what sanctions should be imposed.
A board is composed of one student (A student is included as long as the hearing is not held during the first two weeks or the last two weeks of a semester. This also includes the summer break) and two faculty, staff and/or administrators either paid by or affiliated with the University, appointed by the Dean of Students or designee. The board is chaired by a staff member from the Division of Student Affairs, who serves as a non-voting member. Decisions are determined by majority vote. The Dean of Students presents the case and is designated to be responsible for administering the University’s Student Conduct system.
A person who is asked by either party to provide factual information that is relevant to an incident being heard by the board is considered a “witness”. Your participation is valuable to the people involved. As a witness you are not an advocate or helper for one side; your obligation is simply to tell the truth. Your testimony will consist of: recalling factual information regarding the incident in question, answering questions from the board, the Dean of Students and from the accused student.
Keep in mind that a campus conduct hearing is not a court of law and there is no swearing on a Bible, judge or witness stand. The room designated for the hearing is organized with designated spots for various participants. You will wait outside the hearing room until it is your turn to provide information. The parties and the board panel sit around a conference table, with witness sitting next to the party who asked for your participation. You will only be allowed in the hearing to give your statement and answer questions. Once your testimony is complete, you will be asked to leave.
On average, hearings last two hours, but the time a witnesses appears in front of the board is much less. Expect to be in the hearing room for approximately 15 - 30 minutes. Consider bringing work or something to read; if possible you will be provided with workspace. You may wish to bring a snack or beverage as well.
A formal hearing is a serious event, so every effort should be made to attend if your professor will allow it. Your presence at this hearing is essential in order for you to provide the Conduct Board with all pertinent information. If you have a time conflict, please call the Dean of Students who can assist you in making arrangements to come to the hearing late or leave early, or in some cases, submit a statement. Please understand that formal hearings are difficult to schedule, and although your involvement is important, the hearing will most likely proceed whether or not you are present.
Most likely the person who has requested your presence will address this question with you prior to the hearing. You do not need to prepare any statements or memorize your testimony. You should, however, take some time to think carefully about the events you witnessed and about what you remember so that you can testify clearly at the hearing. The Dean of Students is available to meet with you prior to the hearing to answer any questions about the process or address any of the concerns you may have.
If you wrote an incident report, you will likely receive a copy during the hearing to look at, but you should not bring any notes with you. Please be aware that some of your statement may be “redacted,” which means that certain private information such as names that do not pertain to this case may be blacked out.
During your testimony, you will be in the same room and at the same conference table with the people involved in the hearing except in special circumstances. If you have any questions or special concerns regarding your presence in the hearing room, please address them with the Dean of Students.
The University wants all witnesses to feel safe. Talk to the Dean of Students before the case to discuss the options available to you. We may be able to work out a comfortable way for you to provide your testimony. If any harassment does result from your testimony, please inform the Dean of Students, at 607-871- 2132, or the Office of Public Safety, at 607-871-2108, immediately so action can be taken.
As a general rule, the University is concerned with the more serious charge in a case. Although it is possible, witnesses are not routinely charged by admitting to minor violations during hearings. If you are concerned, talk with the Dean of Students prior to the hearing.
If you know of other witnesses who have firsthand information about the incident, please notify the either the Dean of Students or the accused student.
Student conduct records are confidential and are protected by institution policy and law. You should not discuss the incident or the people involved with anyone who is not directly involved with the case. In accordance with federal law, Student Conduct procedures allow the primary reporting party/complaining witness/victim of an incident of alleged violence, harassment, or assault to be notified of the outcome of the procedures. Other witnesses will not be notified about the outcome of the hearing by any representative of the University, though the accused student may choose to share the outcome with you.
If you have special needs please let the secretary at the Office of Student Conduct, Gayle Gebhard at 607-871-2132, know as soon as possible so appropriate room arrangements can be made.
Witnesses, when they are not testifying, are permitted to leave the waiting area for short periods to use the bathroom or get something to eat/drink. Information on the location of bathrooms, phones, food and beverage machines, and computers will be provided to all witnesses at the hearing
You can contact the Dean of Students or accused student or the Office of Student Conduct, Gayle Gebhard at 607-871-2132.