Student Handbook

Student Conduct Code

I. Introduction

 

Being a student at Dawson Community College (DCC) presupposes a commitment to responsible citizenship and to the ideals of integrity and fairness. The Board recognizes the need for a code of student conduct which identifies appropriate conduct and sanctions for misconduct and which protects both the rights of students accused of misconduct, as well as the rights of survivors of such misconduct.

Pursuant to the above principles, Board of Trustees confirms its commitment to the establishment of a fair code of student conduct and fair and expeditious procedures for the implementation of disciplinary sanctions pursuant to that code of conduct. In furtherance of this commitment, the Board directs and authorizes the DCC administration to develop and maintain a student conduct code for the students of DCC with fair procedures for the implementation of sanctions under that code. The code should address the rights of the parties involved, the imposition of discipline and appeal procedures, and the confidentiality of disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. Such procedures may include sanctions against individual students and student groups and may include the disciplinary sanctions of suspension and expulsion. The AVP of Instruction & Student Services (or her/his designee) shall be responsible for the procedural administration of the code.

For purposes of this Code, a student means any person who is enrolled and pursuing undergraduate studies, whether full-time or part-time, at DCC, living in College housing, or engaged in college activities.

In addition to compliance with this Code, students remain responsible for compliance with the civil and criminal laws of Montana and the United States.

II . Jurisdiction of Dawson Community College

Generally, DCC chooses to limit its own jurisdiction to College premises or at College sponsored activities. College jurisdiction may also be asserted when off-campus conduct threatens the health and safety of any member of the campus or surrounding community. In many cases, educational sanctioning supplements (not supplants) criminal sanctioning. DCC reserves the right to investigate any student’s behavior and if the student is found responsible for behavior that is deemed unacceptable to DCC’s community standards, apply educational sanctioning. Educational sanctioning is not related to, nor is it dependent on pending or resolved criminal litigation.

Application of this Code to off-campus offenses is subject to procedures adopted by the DCC administration in accordance with this policy.

College authorities reserve the right to search students’ belongings in accordance with state and federal law. DCC may pursue enforcement of its rules whether or not criminal proceedings are in process and may use information from third party sources, such as law enforcement agencies and the courts, to determine whether DCC community standards have been compromised.

III . Student Rights

DCC recognizes that its students retain the rights provided by the United States and Montana Constitutions, federal and state statutes, and applicable College policies. The provisions of this Student Conduct Code are intended to be consistent with these rights. The following rights are specifically recognized and implemented in this Student Conduct Code:

Right to Confidentiality

1. All disciplinary proceedings are closed to the public. An open conference/hearing may be held at the discretion of the administrative officer/chair of the adjudicating board if requested by the student, unless closure of the proceedings is necessary to protect the overriding individual privacy rights of others.

2. The College, including individuals involved in a disciplinary proceeding, will not disclose information to anyone not connected with the proceeding. The fact that there is a disciplinary proceeding concerning the incident may be disclosed; however, the identity of individual students will not be disclosed.

3. The College, including individuals involved in a disciplinary proceeding, will disclose the results of the proceedings, including sanctions imposed, only to those who need to know the results for purposes of record-keeping, enforcement of the sanctions, further proceedings, or compliance with Federal and/or State law.

Rights of the Accused Student and Survivor
The student who claims s/he is the victim of campus violence and the student accused of violating campus rules will be treated with equal care, concern, honor, fairness and dignity.

1. A student accused of violating the Student Conduct Code has certain rights:

  • The right to be advised of the potential charges.
  • The right to review the evidence.
  • The right to respond to the charges including the right to submit a written account relating to the alleged charges.
  • The right to know of the identity of individuals who will be present at an administrative conference or a Community Standards Board (CSB) hearing.
  • The right to have a person of choice, including legal counsel, present throughout any and all proceedings provided for in this Code.
  • The right to a reasonable period of time to prepare for a hearing and the right to request a delay of the hearing for good reason.
  • The right to hear and question witnesses and the accuser except in exceptional circumstances.
  • The right to present relevant evidence and witnesses.
  • The right to timely adjudication of charges as provided in this Code.

2. A person who has been a victim of an offense and who files a complaint with the College is entitled to certain rights in the disciplinary process:

  • The right to meet with the designated administrative officer to discuss the various aspects of the disciplinary process.
  • The right to submit a written account of the incident and a statement discussing the effect of the alleged misconduct on himself or herself.
  • The right to have a person of choice, including legal counsel, present throughout any and all the proceedings provided for in this Code.
  • The right to be informed of the date, time, and location of the administrative conference or CSB hearing, and the right to be present at all stages of the proceedings except the private deliberations of the administrative officer or CSB.
  • The right to have past conduct that is irrelevant to the case not discussed during the proceedings. In the case of rape and sexual assault, this is specifically provided for in Montana Law.

IV. Rules of Student Conduct

A. Student Conduct

Students have the responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that does not impair the welfare nor the educational opportunities of others in the DCC community and that does not compromise the DCC community standards. Students should act as responsible members of the academic community; respect the personal and property rights, privileges, and dignity of others; and refrain from actions which interfere with normal College functions. The following conduct is prohibited by DCC and will be sanctioned in accordance with this code.

  • Forgery, falsification, or fraudulent misuse of DCC documents, records, or identification cards.
  • Furnishing false information to DCC or members of the College community who are performing their official duties.
  • Causing false information to be presented before any proceeding of the College or intentionally destroying evidence important to such a proceeding.
  • Tampering with the election of any recognized student organization.
  • Violations of copyright laws or policies.
  • Theft of property or auxiliary services including housing, or knowing possession of stolen property on College premises.
  • Unauthorized use, destruction, or damage of College property or the property of others on College premises or at College-sponsored activities.
  • Unauthorized or fraudulent use of the College’s facilities, telephone system, mail system, or computers, or use of any of the above for any illegal act.
  • Unauthorized entry, use, or occupancy of College facilities.
  • Failure to comply with the reasonable directives of College officials, including Resident and/or Community Assistants, acting in the performance of their duties within the scope of their authority.
  • Violation of published College regulations or policies. Among such regulations are those pertaining to student housing, entry and use of College facilities, scientific research, inventions made or developed with College support, use of amplifying equipment, campus demonstrations, etc. College regulations and policies may be obtained from various offices of the College, e.g., Housing or from the office of the AVP of Instruction & Student Services.
  • Intentional obstruction or disruption of normal College or College-sponsored activities, including but not limited to studying, teaching, research, administration and disciplinary procedures, or fire, police, or emergency services.
  • Use, possession, or distribution of alcoholic beverages on College premises or at College-sponsored activities except as permitted in College policies (DCC Facility Use Policy and DCC Alcohol/Dangerous Drug Policy). Note: Use of alcohol does not excuse abusive or destructive behavior. Sanctions for Student Conduct Code violations will not be reduced on the basis of alcohol use.
  • Disorderly or indecent conduct on College-owned or -controlled property or at College sponsored activities.
  • Interfering with the freedom of expression of others on College premises or at College sponsored activities.
  • Stalking, including, but not limited to, purposely or knowingly causing another personal substantial emotional distress or reasonable apprehension of bodily injury or death by repeatedly following another person or harassing, threatening, or intimidating another person, in person or by mail, by electronic communication or any other action, device or method.
  • Hazing, defined as an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization.
  • Malicious intimidation or harassment of another. When a student, with the intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy, or offend, (1) causes bodily injury to another, (2) causes reasonable apprehension of bodily injury in another, (3) damages, destroys, or defaces any property of another or any public property, or (4) makes repeated telephone communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language.
  • Use, possession, or distribution of any dangerous drug on College premises or at College-sponsored activities; or illegal distribution of any dangerous drug. [See The DCC Alcohol and Dangerous Drug Policy].
  • Retaliation against a person for filing a complaint or acts of intimidation directed towards the person to drop a complaint.
  • Illegal or unauthorized possession or use of firearms, explosives, other weapons, dangerous chemicals, or other noxious substances on College premises.
  • Violation of federal, state or local law on DCC premises or at DCC-sponsored activities; violation of published College policies, rules or regulations; acting to impair, interfere with or obstruct the orderly conduct, processes and functions of the College, including but not limited to:
    • a. Violence or threat of violence against self or any member or guest of the College community.
    • b. Interference with the freedom of movement of any member of guest of the College.
    • c. Interference with the rights of others to enter, use or leave any College facility, service or activity.
    • d. Use of public address systems on the campus outside of College buildings except with written permission of the AVP of Instruction & Student Services.
  • Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Harassment. [See BP2-7 Sexual Misconduct Policy].
  • Homicide, assault, aggravated or felony assault, or threat of the same, to any person on College-owned or -controlled property or at College-sponsored functions, or conduct which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any such person; or off-campus homicide, assault, aggravated or felony assault, or threat of the same.
  • Other conduct which harms to a person in the College community, damage to the property of another, or otherwise constitutes behavior inappropriate in the DCC setting.
  • Violation of the terms of any disciplinary sanction imposed in accordance with this Code.
  • Attempts to commit acts prohibited by the Standards of Student Conduct, or knowingly or willfully encouraging or assisting others to commit such acts, are prohibited by this Code and may be punished to the same extent as if one had committed the prohibited act.

B. Sanctions and Mitigating Factors

Committing any act prohibited by this Code may result in expulsion or suspension from the College. Mitigating factors may be considered. Such factors may include the present attitude and past disciplinary record of the offender, as well as the nature of the offense and the severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from it. Mental/Physical ability or reduced awareness caused by any drug, legal or illegal, will not be used to justify reduction of any sanctions.

C. Application of Student Conduct Code to Off-Campus Offenses

Student Conduct Code charges may be initiated against a student who engages in conduct off-campus that threatens the health and safety of any member of the campus community or in cases when behavior is alleged to compromise DCC and its surrounding communities’ standards. A student or College employee having knowledge of the off-campus offense may file a complaint with the AVP of Instruction & Student Services. The AVP of Instruction & Student Services (or her/his designee) has discretion whether or not to adjudicate off-campus allegations. Criminal proceedings notwithstanding, DCC may decide to investigate, and if the party or individual found responsible is a student (or was at the time of the incident) sanctions may be imposed. Disciplinary procedures set forth in this Code apply to charges initiated under this section. If the health and safety of the campus community can be protected through the criminal justice proceedings, the College may choose to defer Student Conduct Code charges until criminal proceedings are concluded. College officials will encourage complainants to report alleged criminal conduct to criminal justice authorities. Proceedings under this Code may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings off-campus.

D. Disciplinary Sanctions

1. The College will take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community. Sanctions for violating the Standards of Student Conduct will generally be educational in nature and will equate to working on an individual or group project with detailed learning outcomes. There are times when the nature of the behavior requires more immediate or sever sanctioning. In those instances, sanctions may include any combination of/or the following:

  • Conduct Probation/Suspension Warning. A status which is imposed for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or expulsion, if the student is found to have violated the Student Conduct Code during the probation/warning period.
  • Disciplinary Reprimand. The student is given a written reprimand for violation of the Student Conduct Code and a warning that further misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action.
  • Restitution. The student is required to make compensation for actual loss, damage or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary and/or material replacement.
  • Fines. Fines of up to $250 may be imposed. Grades and transcripts will be withheld until all fines are paid.
  • Suspension. The student is separated from the College for a specified period of time. The student shall not participate in any College sponsored activity and may be barred from College premises. The sanction of suspension requires administrative review and approval by the DCC AVP.
  • Expulsion. The student is permanently separated from the College and/or from any College-owned or -controlled property or events. Expulsion as a sanction must be the result of a full Community Standards Board hearing. Generally, when behavior reaches this level, the student will already be temporarily suspended (see #4 below) during such hearing and investigative procedures. If any student is expelled, the student has a right to appeal the sanction to the AVP of Instruction and Student Services. A procedural appeal to the VP of Instruction and Student Services may follow that initial sanction appeal.
  • Other Sanctions. In addition to the above, other appropriate sanctions may be imposed. Some such sanctions are behavior modification treatment or suspension from activities or from a particular activity.

2. Repeated or aggravated violation of this Code may result in more severe disciplinary sanctions than any individual violation might warrant.

3. Notification of any sanction imposed will be sent to appropriate College officials.

4. Temporary Suspension. A student may be temporarily suspended from the College or evicted from College Housing by the DCC AVP of Instruction & Student Services pending disciplinary (on campus) or criminal (off-campus) proceedings. Such suspension or eviction will become immediately effective without prior notice whenever there is a possibility that the student’s continued presence on the campus constitutes a threat to the student or others or to the continuance of normal College operations. In such cases, the student is given an opportunity to appear before the DCC AVP within five (5) working days from the effective date of the suspension or eviction in order to discuss the following issues: (a) the reliability of the evidence against the student, and (b) whether the alleged conduct and surrounding circumstances reasonably indicate that the student’s presence on campus constitutes a threat to the student or others or to the continuance of normal College operations.

E. Readmission

Following suspension for misconduct, readmission to the College is dependent upon the student’s compliance with the conditions designated at the time of suspension and the student’s fitness to return to the campus community. Appropriate documentation, depending upon the nature of the original violation and the conditions of suspension, is required. Upon readmission, the student maybe placed on disciplinary probation for a designated period of time with required conditions and expectations of behavior monitored by a designated campus professional(s).

F. Group Sanctions

Every campus group and organization has the responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their collective and individual conduct is not in violation of the college code of conduct, regulations and/or federal, state and local laws. The following sanctions may be imposed upon campus groups or organizations:

1. Group General Probation: This is given to a college club or other organized group for a specified period. If group violations are repeated during the term of the probation, the charter may be revoked or activities restricted.

2. Group Restrictive Probation: Removing college recognition during the semester in which the offense occurred or for a longer period. While under restriction, the group may not seek or add members, hold or sponsor events in the college community, or engage in other activities as specified.

3. Group Charter Revocation: Removal of college recognition for a group, club, society, or other organization. A group may petition for re-charter if the AVP or his/her designee approves a time frame.

V. Disciplinary Records

A. Sanctions of expulsion and suspension affect the student’s academic status and are entered as notations in the student’s permanent academic record maintained by the Registrar during such time as the imposed sanctions are in effect.

B. Whenever charges against a student are pending, the student, unless temporarily suspended, evicted, or except as directed by college officials, continues to have the same rights and privileges as other students.

C. The AVP of Instruction & Student Services Office shall maintain disciplinary records, which shall include, but not be limited to, the student’s name and related identifying information, applicable Student Conduct Code section(s), parties involved, description of the incident, sanction(s), expiration dates, agreements or restrictions, and any other data deemed relevant. Disciplinary records and related information shall be made available to the CSB to assist in recommendation of an appropriate sanction, and to other College personnel who require such information to fulfill their official duties. After one year, without additional disciplinary proceedings against the student, the disciplinary record against the student may be expunged.

  1. Students may arrange to review their own disciplinary records and related information by contacting the AVP of Instruction & Student Services.
  2. Except as provided elsewhere in this Code and/or as required by law, the College shall not communicate a student’s disciplinary record to any person or agency without the prior written consent of the student or, when the student is under the age of eighteen, the student’s parents or legal guardian.

VI. Disciplinary Procedures

A. Introduction

The focus of inquiry in disciplinary proceedings is to determine if a violation of the Standards of Student Conduct has occurred and, if so, to decide appropriate sanctions. Student Conduct Code proceedings are administrative proceedings and do not follow formal rules of evidence applicable in judicial proceedings. However, the accused student must receive due process, and the College has the burden of proof to establish a violation by a preponderance of evidence. Minor deviations from prescribed procedures will not invalidate a decision or proceeding, provided they do not significantly prejudice the student or the College.

The following procedures apply in adjudicating charges of student misconduct:

B. Investigation

Whenever it appears that a student may have committed an act of general misconduct, a College official designated by the AVP of Instruction & Student Services investigates the incident. The official conducting the investigation:

1. Determines the facts of the incident through interviews, reports, and other evidence.

2. Informs the student of the findings of the investigation and the alleged misconduct.

3. Informs the student of the Student Conduct Code rules of procedure.

4. Allows the student an opportunity to respond to the evidence and potential charge(s).

5. Makes an impartial judgment as to whether or not any general misconduct occurred, and, if so, proposes appropriate sanctions.

6. Allows the student an opportunity to respond to the proposed sanctions.

7. Informs the student of the right to an administrative conference with an official designated by the AVP of Instruction & Student Services or a hearing by the Community Standards Board, if the student denies the charge and/or does not accept the proposed sanctions.

8. If the student admits the charges, the designated official consults with the AVP of Instruction & Student Services regarding the student’s past disciplinary record, and propriety of proposed sanctions.

9. If the student admits the charges and accepts the sanctions, the designated officer summarizes the case in writing to the student, with a copy to the AVP of Instruction & Student Services. The written summary, including a concise statement of the evidence, findings, and sanctions, when signed by the student, concludes the case and the designated official implements the sanctions. The student has two (2) working days to sign the statement. The signed statement is sent to the AVP of Instruction & Student Services, with a copy provided to the student.

10. DCC is responsible for conducting investigations and, if warranted, initiating charges and adjudicating those charges. Although the complainant’s responses are sought during the disciplinary process, the adjudicating of the case is the responsibility of the College. If the complainant decides to withdraw the complaint, the College may still proceed with the case.

C. Conference

If the student denies the charges and/or does not accept the sanctions, the investigative officer reports in writing the allegations and proposed sanctions to the AVP of Instruction & Student Services within two (2) working days of meeting with the student. The AVP of Instruction & Student Services (or a designee) shall evaluate the merit of and grounds for an appeal within two (2) working days. If the AVP does not find grounds for a procedural or sanctions appeal, the student is required to complete the sanctions. The only exception to this procedure is in cases of suspension or expulsion—which automatically rise to the Community Standards Board level. If there are sufficient ground for an appeal, the AVP may hear the case, or refer the case to the Community Standards Board.
Except for temporary suspension or eviction, no disciplinary sanction is imposed until final resolution of the charges or until the deadline for an appeal has passed.

D. Student Conduct Board

1. Composition. The Community Standards Board (CSB) is a five-member standing committee. A quorum is considered to be all five members. Members are:

  • One professional staff member.
  • Two faculty member. One of the faculty appointees will serve as Chair.
  • Two student members appointed by the Associate Student Body Senate.
  • A non-voting recording secretary will be provided by the AVP of Instruction & Student Services to record minutes.

2. All members are assigned a one-year term. No members may serve more than two consecutive terms. In the case of unavailability or disqualification of a member(s) for any given case, each faction will appoint an alternate member(s) to serve on the CSB.

3. No member of the CSB may sit on a case if he or she is closely associated personally or professionally with the accused student or the administrator making the charges. A CSB member should disqualify himself or herself when any ground for disqualification is present. The accused student may assert grounds for disqualification of a CSB member to the Chair of the CSB no later than three (3) working days prior to the scheduled hearing. The Chair shall implement a disqualification when warranted by the facts asserted.

4. When a student requests a hearing by CSB, but the CSB cannot hear the case within a reasonable time (e.g., between semesters and during the summer and other academic breaks), the AVP, whenever it appears to be in the best interest of the College or the student, conduct the hearing. This hearing will be conducted following the procedures of this Code, with the decision of the hearing officer replacing the decision of the CSB. In those cases, the individual hearing may not be appealed other than as a CSB decision would be appealed.

E. Informal Resolution

Nothing contained in this Code limits the right of the appropriate College representative or the student at any time to agree to educational sanctions if the student agrees not to contest the charges. Any such agreement must be in writing and, when signed by the student and filed with the AVP of Instruction & Student Services, concludes the case. An agreement regarding charges that have progressed to the level of the administrative officer must be reviewed and approved by the AVP of Instruction & Student Services.

F. Hearings

1. When proceedings have been referred to the CSB the Chair of the CSB in consultation with the appropriate College administrator, schedules a hearing date. The Chair gives notice of the time, date, and place of the hearing to the student which, absent exigent circumstances, will be held not less than ten (10) working days after the date of such notice. A student or the administration may be granted a reasonable extension of time for good reason.

2. Students charged with misconduct may be accompanied by a representative who may be an attorney.

3. Hearings are closed to the public. An open hearing may be held at the discretion of the Chair if requested by the student, unless a closed hearing is necessary to protect the overriding individual privacy rights of others.

4. The Chair exercises control over the hearing to achieve an orderly process. The College, through its authorized representative, states the charges against the student and presents evidence and witnesses in support thereof. The Complainant, Accused Student and her/his advisor(s), if any, shall be allowed to attend the entire portion of the CSB Hearing at which information is received (excluding deliberations) The Complainant and the Accused Student have the right to be assisted by an advisor they choose, at their own expense. The Complainant and/or the Accused Student is responsible for presenting his/her own information, and therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in any CSB Hearing before a CSB. Questions may be suggested by the Complainant and/ or Accused Student to be answered by each other or by other witnesses. This will be conducted by the CSB with such questions directed to the chairperson, rather than to the witness directly. This method is used to preserve the educational tone of the hearing and to avoid creation of an adversarial environment.

5. Formal rules of evidence are not applicable, and the Chair determines the admissibility of any evidence presented. The Chair also rules on all procedural issues.

6. There shall be a single verbatim record, such as a tape recording, of all CSB (not including deliberations). Deliberations shall not be recorded. The record shall be the property of Dawson Community College.

7. The Chair of the CSB may prescribe additional procedural rules covering the conduct of hearings consistent with this Code.

8. The CSB renders a decision by majority vote within five (5) working days after the close of the hearing. The Chair has a vote in all cases. The decision contains a finding as to violation of the Code, a statement of the reasons for the decision, and the sanctions to be imposed.

9. The Conduct Board determines the appropriate disciplinary sanctions for student misconduct from among those authorized by this Code.

10. A copy of the Conduct Board’s decision constitutes the final decision of the College, subject to appeal to the VP of Instruction and Student Services. Copies of the Conduct Board’s decision shall be sent to the student and the AVP of Instruction & Student Services.

11. A student who fails or refuses to appear after proper notice at the time and place scheduled for hearing is considered to have waived his or her right to be heard by the CSB. The College will impose the disciplinary sanctions specified in the statement of charges.

G. Appeal to the Vice President of the College

1. The decision of the CSB may be appealed in writing to the Vice President of the College within five (5) working days of the student’s receipt of the written decision of the CSB.

2. The Vice President’s review must be completed within ten (10) working days from the date of receipt of the student’s appeal.

3. Except as required to explain the basis of new information, an appeal shall be limited to a review of the verbatim record of the CSB Hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes

  • (a) Whether the evidence provides a reasonable basis for the resulting findings and disciplinary sanction.
  • (b) Whether specified procedural errors were so substantial as to deny a fair hearing.

4. The Vice President will approve or overrule the decision of the Conduct Board. A copy of the decision will be furnished to the student, the AVP, and the CSB.

5. The Vice President’s decision is final and will include directions for implementation. A decision to overrule may include a directive for a new hearing to consider new or omitted evidence or to correct procedural defects.

H. Appeal to the College President

Only expulsions may be appealed at the College President level. All Presidential-appeal decisions are final.

I. MUS Complaint Processes