Honor Court Constitution
The purpose of the Honor Court is to uphold Hamilton community standards of academic honesty and to ensure protection of students' rights in questions of alleged violations of the Hamilton College Honor Code.
The Honor Court will be composed of the non-voting student chair and ten voting members, consisting of seven students and three faculty members. The students, ordinarily at least one from each class year, shall serve for a one-year term with a two-term limit. The student members will be selected during the spring semester of the preceding academic year, except a member from the first-year class who will be selected early in the fall semester. The Court will publish notice of the selection process to all students. The current Court will select, by a majority vote, the student members from among the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice. Once new members have been chosen, the Student Assembly shall offer the student body the opportunity to offer their input regarding the appointments, before holding a vote to confirm the new appointments. The Court will not consider platforms from students on disciplinary probation or who have been found responsible for violating the Honor Code. A sitting member of the Court who is found responsible for violating the Honor Code will be dismissed from the Court.
Faculty members will be elected by the faculty at its May meeting, one each year for staggered three-year terms. The written consent of the nominees must be presented to the Academic Council. In accordance with faulty rules, candidates may be nominated from the floor.
The chair will be elected in the spring by the outgoing Court from among candidates nominated by that Court. A student may serve as chair for a third term on the Court.
If the chair resigns or cannot serve for any reason, the Court will elect a chair from among its members. The Court may select a substitute chair for a given case where there is a conflict of interest with the chair, or if the chair is otherwise unable to serve.
If there is a vacancy on the Court during the academic year the Court will publish notice of the vacancy and will elect by a majority vote a substitute Court member from among the names of interested and qualified persons responding to the notice.
All members of the Court will be invited to every Court hearing. A quorum of the Court will consist of six voting members: five students and one faculty, plus the chair, who will not vote. If a quorum cannot be attained owing to disqualification of members for conflict of interest, the hearing must be scheduled at a time when it can be heard by the maximum number of Court members who are qualified to hear the complaint. In all other instances when a quorum is not attained, the hearing will be rescheduled, unless the parties assent in writing to going forward with the number of members currently present.
If a member of the Board believes that he or she has a conflict of interest in a particular case, that member may seek to disqualify himself or herself after consultation with the chair. The respondent may request that the chair seek disqualification of any member of the Court if the respondent believes that a conflict of interest exists with that member. The respondent must present to the chair written explanation as to the nature of the alleged conflict of interest. If the chair believes that a conflict exists, the member will be disqualified upon majority vote of the Court.
The dean of students may establish an ad hoc hearing board whenever the regular Honor Court is not constituted or is otherwise unable to hear a case. An ad hoc hearing board will be composed of five members, including at least three students.
Throughout these procedures, the ‘dean of students’ is understood to mean the dean or his or her designee; the ‘witness of the suspected violation’ is the member of the community who brought the possible violation to the attention of the Court, ordinarily the instructor of a course in which a suspected violation occurs, but may be a student or other member of the Hamilton community; the ‘respondent’ is the student suspected of violating the Honor Code.
Violations of the Honor Code are considered to be infractions against Hamilton College. Suspected violations of the Honor Code will be presented by the witness of the suspected violation to the dean of students or to the chair in writing. Once a suspected violation has been filed, a request by a respondent to withdraw temporarily or permanently from the College will not be approved until the hearing processes have concluded.
The dean of students and/or the chair will investigate the suspected violation and gather any form of evidence that may aid the members of the Court in reaching a decision. The dean of students and the chair will determine if the complaint warrants a hearing.
If it is determined not to warrant a hearing, the suspected violation will be dismissed. The witness to the suspected violation and the respondent will be informed in writing. A decision not to proceed with a hearing may be appealed by the witness to the suspected violation or the respondent to the Appeals Board, which may direct the Court to hear the case.
If it is determined that the suspected violation warrants a hearing, the dean of students will prepare a formal statement of the complaint and of the evidence against the respondent. The dean of students will inform the respondent in writing of the complaint, the identity of the witness of the violation, the evidence available, a witness list, the range of sanctions available to the Court, and the following rights:
to make a closing statement in the proceedings.The dean of students and the Honor Court chair will decide whether to approve a request for an administrative hearing. A decision by the dean of students and Honor Court chair to deny an administrative hearing may not be appealed. Only the respondent, the witness of the suspected violation, the dean of students, and the Honor Court chair may take part in an administrative hearing. A faculty witness may suggest a sanction. After the hearing, the dean of students and the Honor Court chair will determine a sanction and the dean will inform the student in writing of the decision. The possible sanctions are the same as those outlined in Section D, except for separation from the College. Any complaint that may result in separation from the College will be referred to the Honor Court. The respondent may appeal the decision of the dean of students and the Honor Court chair to the Appeals Board within one week of receiving written notification of the decision.
The chair will convene the Court for a hearing to be held as soon as possible, but no sooner than three workdays following delivery of the written charge to the respondent. The respondent will present to the dean of students a written, point-by-point response to the complaint at least 24 hours before the hearing. Failure to submit the written response to the complaint may result, at the discretion of the Honor Court, in a delay of the hearing of up to one week. Any witness to be brought to testify should be identified in this statement. All points of the complaints that are not specifically denied will be deemed admitted, and evidence, testimony, and witnesses regarding these points will be deemed unnecessary in the hearing. If the respondent chooses not to attend the hearing, the Court has the authority to hear the complaint without the testimony of the respondent.
All hearings of the Honor Court will be conducted without regard to any matter previously developed in informal proceedings, and no decision about responsibility will be made on evidence other than that presented at the hearing. During a hearing, the Court may request additional evidence for the purposes of aiding in its deliberations, at which point the Court will reconvene along with all parties involved to present the newly requested evidence and provide all eligible parties the opportunity to ask and answer questions pertaining to that evidence.[CO1]
The dean of students may select a faculty member not connected with the complaint to present the complaint on behalf of the college and serve as advisor to the witness of the suspected violation. The faculty member or student who initiated the complaint will give testimony in the hearing and may be asked questions by members of the Court or the respondent about that testimony. The dean of students will be present at all hearings to oversee the process.
Hearings are closed to observers. Neither party may have an attorney present at the hearing. Deliberations of the Court are strictly private. Members of the Court may not at any time discuss the facts of the complaint or particulars of the deliberations with anyone other than the chair, the dean of students, or members of the Court. Any member violating this provision will be dismissed from the Court by the chair.
The hearing will proceed as described below.
The written record of the complaint will consist of the written statement of the charges, the written response to the charges by the respondent, any documentary evidence, the summary by the chair of the Court's actions, and the letter from the dean of students informing the respondent of the Court's findings. This record will be filed in the Dean of Students' Office and will be open to the student's inspection. The taped record is not part of the student's file and will be kept in the office of the dean of students, to be destroyed after adjudication or decision in any appeal.
After the week has elapsed during which an appeal could be made, if one is not made, a brief account of the complaint will be made public by the chair. The name of the student or students will not appear. If an appeal is made, publication will be postponed to await the outcome of the appeal.
F. Instruction of the Community
The College will make provisions for interpreting this system to new students upon their entrance into the College. These programs will be organized by the dean of students in consultation with the Honor Court.
This constitution may be amended by the procedures set forth in Article XI of the Constitution of the Student Body of Hamilton College. The adopted amendments are contingent upon ratification by the faculty.
All members of the Hamilton community are expected to be truthful in presenting testimony during any disciplinary inquiry and to cooperate fully in the investigation of infractions. Participants in disciplinary hearings will be reminded of this expectation by the chair, but failure to admonish does not remove the requirement. Lying or obstruction of any inquiry will itself be grounds for disciplinary action.
In serious disciplinary complaints where the penalty may be separation from the College, the dean of students may, at his or her discretion and after informing the student of his or her intention to do so, notify the student's parents or guardian in advance of the hearing. In all cases where the penalty assigned is removal from a course, suspension, or expulsion, the dean of students will notify the parents or guardian within one week of the decision and will send a copy of the notification to the student.
These provisions do not apply if the student is financially independent of his or her parents and has a separate domicile.