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V. STUDENT LIFE

Southwest Texas Junior College has administrative responsibility to control and regulate student conduct and behavior that tends to impede, obstruct or threaten the fulfillment of the educational goals of the College, or that tends to impede, obstruct or threaten the legal rights of others on the campus. Therefore, SWTJC has the responsibility and authority to formulate and enforce rules of student conduct necessary for the maintenance of order and property where such rules are reasonable and necessary to further the educational goals of the College. In order to create a positive climate for learning, students are expected to abide by all rules and regulations. Failure to comply with these rules and regulations may be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the College.

Student Organizations

SWTJC is committed to providing vital, co-curricular activities for students that enhance individual development, promote collaboration, and provide social and recreational activities.

Any group of students wishing to meet on behalf of a common interest may seek organization status by consulting with the Director of Student Engagement & Success. Impetus for the formation of a student organization is expected to come from students.

As a prerequisite to operation on campus, all organizations must be recognized by the College and must agree to abide by regulations of the Board and by the club policies and procedures issued by the College administration. Every club must have a faculty or staff advisor responsible to the College. No organization which discriminates against faculty, staff, or students or is in violation of state or federal law will be established or allowed to operate.

See Local Policy FLAA for additional information regarding student expression and requirements and restrictions pertaining to student and faculty/staff organizations and programs.

Student Rights and Responsibilities:

STUDENT COMPLAINTS

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to secure at the first possible level prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints related to academic or curricular issues.

EXCEPTIONS

This policy shall not apply to:

  1. Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on race, color, gender, national origin, disability, or religion. [See FDE]
  2. Complaints concerning retaliation relating to discrimination and harassment. [See FDE]
  3. Complaints concerning disciplinary decisions. [See FMA]
  4. Complaints concerning a commissioned peace officer who is an employee of the College District. [See CHA]

The bracketed information in 1-4 above refer to policies in the SWTJC Policy Manual. Those policies have been developed for the specified circumstances.

REPRESENTATION

The student may be represented at any level of the complaint.

If the complaint involves a problem with an instructor, the student shall discuss the matter with the instructor before requesting a conference with the department chairman at Level One.

LEVEL ONE

A student who has a complaint shall request a conference with the department chairman or counselor as appropriate, who shall schedule and hold a conference with the student.

LEVEL TWO

If the outcome of the conference with the department chairman or counselor is not to the student’s satisfaction, the student has ten workdays to request a conference with the dean of instruction or dean of student services, as appropriate, or designee(s), who shall schedule and hold a conference.  Prior to or at the conference, the student shall submit a written complaint that includes a statement of the complaint and any evidence in its support, the solution sought, the student’s signature, and the date of the conference with the department chairman or counselor.

LEVEL THREE

If the outcome of the conference with the dean is not to the student’s satisfaction, the student has ten workdays to request a conference with the College President or designee, who shall schedule and hold a conference.  Prior to or at the conference, the student shall submit the written statements required at Level Two and the date of the conference with the dean.

LEVEL FOUR

If the outcome of the conference with the College President or designee is not to the student’s satisfaction, the student may submit to the College President a written request to place the matter on the agenda.

The College President or designee shall inform the student of the date, time, and place of the meeting.  The Board President shall establish a reasonable time limit for complaint presentations.  The Board shall listen to the student’s complaint and take whatever action it deems appropriate.

The Board’s consideration shall be based on the complaint records developed at the administrative reviews and no new evidence shall be received by the Board.  Each side shall be entitled to make oral arguments based on the complaint record within the time restrictions established by the Board.

CLOSED MEETING

If the complaint involves complaints or charges about an employee, it shall be heard by the Board in closed meeting unless the employee complained about requests it to be public.


DEFINITIONS

Definitions of terms used in this section shall be as follows.

“STUDENT”

A “student” shall mean one who is currently enrolled in the College District.  These policies and regulations shall also apply to any prospective or former student who has been accepted for admission or readmission to any component institution while he or she is on the premises of any component institution.

“PREMISES”

The “premises” of the College District is defined as all real property over which the College District has possession and control.

Intellectual Property

The college retains ownership of any work or work product created by a College District employee, agent, or student employee, on College District time or created in the course and scope of his or her employment.  Intellectual property rights are applicable to students.  CT (LOCAL) states "A student shall retain all rights to work created as part of instruction or using College District technology resources". This policy also describes methods in which the College District and an employee would agree to share the revenue and ownership of intellectual property. 

“SCHOLASTIC DISHONESTY”

“Scholastic dishonesty” shall include, but not be limited to, cheating, plagiarism, and collusion.

“Cheating” shall include, but shall not be limited to:

  1. Copying from another student’s test or class work;
  2. Using test materials not authorized by the person administering the test; this includes unauthorized use of cell phones, computers, or any other electronic device to access materials, web sites, or any other type of assistance;
  3. Collaborating with or seeking aid from another student during a test without permission from the test administrator;
  4. Knowingly using, buying, selling, stealing, or soliciting, in whole or in part, the contents of an unadministered test, paper, or another assignment;
  5. The unauthorized transporting or removal, in whole or in part, of the contents of the unadministered test;
  6. Substituting for another student, or permitting another student to substitute for one’s self, to take a test;
  7. Bribing another person to obtain an unadministered test or information about an unadministered test; or
  8. Manipulating a test, assignment, or final course grades. 

“Plagiarism” shall be defined as the appropriating, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means another’s work, language or original idea(s) and the unacknowledged submission or incorporation of it/them in one’s own written work.

“Collusion” shall be defined as the unauthorized collaboration with another person in preparing written work for fulfillment of course requirements. 

“DISORDERLY CONDUCT’’

“Disorderly conduct” shall include any of the following activities occurring on premises owned or controlled by the College District:

  1. Behavior of a boisterous and tumultuous character such that there is a clear and present danger of alarming persons where no legitimate reason for alarm exists.
  2. Interference with the peaceful and lawful conduct of persons under circumstances in which there is reason to believe that such interference will cause or provoke a disturbance.
  3. Violent and forceful behavior at any time such that there is a clear and present danger that free movement of other persons will be impaired.
  4. Behavior involving personal abuse or assault when such behavior creates a clear and present danger of causing assaults or fights.
  5. Violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud, or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which there is reason to believe that such conduct will cause or provoke a disturbance.
  6. Willful and malicious behavior that interrupts the speaker of any lawful assembly or impairs the lawful right of others to participate effectively in such assembly or meeting when there is reason to believe that such conduct will cause or provoke a disturbance.
  7. Willful and malicious behavior that obstructs or causes the obstruction of any doorway, hall, or any other passageway in a College District building to such an extent that the employees, officers, and other persons, including visitors, having business with the College District are denied entrance into, exit from, or free passage in such building.

Sexual Assault Information

If you have been sexually assaulted and are considering College action, you are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Vice President of Student Services, the SWTJC Campus Police, or the SWTJC Vice President at the Del Rio or Eagle Pass Campuses. This will allow you a chance to review the procedures should you decide to file a formal grievance through the College’s disciplinary system, which by College policy is administered by the Director of Human Resources. This discussion does not obligate you to pursue official action; however, the Director of Human Resources, the Vice President, or the SWTJC Campus Police may be obligated to pursue an investigation and implement remedial actions to provide for the safety of the campus community. Charges may either be filed directly by you or by SWTJC on the basis of your written statement. Such a charge would be handled in accordance with the procedures relating to violations of the SWTJC Code of Student Conduct regulations. Individuals could be subject to disciplinary action pending review by SWTJC. Those students found responsible for violating the Code in this way could be suspended or expelled.

The College’s disciplinary process could result in the case being turned-over to local municipal or county law enforcement for further investigation.

Pursuant to SWTJC disciplinary procedures, both the accuser and the accused are entitled to have an advisor or support person present during any meetings or hearings. Students who allege sexual assault by another student may request a change in their academic and living situations on campus after the alleged incident takes place if such changes are reasonably available. Finally, in accordance with federal regulations, both the accuser and the accused will be informed of the outcome of any campus disciplinary proceeding alleging sexual assault.

Sexual Misconduct/Harassment Policy Statement

Members of the Southwest Texas Junior College community, guests, and visitors have the right to be free from sexual violence. All members of the campus community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others. The college holds a zero tolerance policy for gender-based misconduct. When an allegation of misconduct is brought to an appropriate administrator’s attention, and a respondent is found to have violated this policy, serious sanctions will be used to reasonably ensure that such actions are not repeated. This policy has been developed to reaffirm these principles and to provide recourse for those individuals whose rights have been violated. This policy is intended to define expectations and to establish a mechanism for determining when those expectations have been violated. Specific applicable College policies are FFD (Local) and DIA (Local). Both can be found in the SWTJC Policy Manual, which is available via the SWTJC Website at www.swtjc.edu.

The college reserves the right to take whatever measures it deems necessary in response to an allegation of sexual misconduct in order to protect students’ rights and personal safety. Such measures include, but are not limited to, modification of living arrangements, interim suspension from campus pending a hearing, and reporting the matter to the local police. Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be deemed to be equally serious offenses, and the college reserves the right to impose different sanctions, ranging from verbal warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the offense. The college will consider the concerns and rights of both the complainant and the person accused of sexual misconduct.

Sexual Misconduct Offenses

Sexual misconduct offenses include, but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual Harassment
  2. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (or attempts to commit same)
  3. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse (or attempts to commit same)
  4. Sexual Exploitation
  1. Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with, denying or limiting, someone’s ability to participate in or benefit from the college’s educational program and/or activities, and is based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation. Examples include but are not limited to: an attempt to coerce an unwilling person into a sexual relationship; to repeatedly subject a person to egregious, unwelcome sexual attention; to punish a refusal to comply with a sexually-based request; to condition a benefit on submitting to sexual advances; sexual violence; intimate partner violence, stalking; gender-based bullying.

  1. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact is any intentional sexual touching, however slight, with any object, by a man or a woman upon a man or a woman, which is without consent and/or by force. Sexual Contact includes: intentional contact with the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts, or making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts; any intentional bodily contact in a sexual manner, though not involving contact with/of/by breasts, buttocks, groin, genitals, mouth or other orifice.

  1. Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse

Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse is any sexual intercourse however slight, with any object, by a man or woman upon a man or a woman, which is without consent and/or by force. Intercourse includes: vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact), no matter how slight the penetration or contact.

  1. Sexual Exploitation

Occurs when a student takes non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for his/her own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited, and that behavior does not otherwise constitute one of other sexual misconduct offenses. Examples of sexual exploitation include, but are not limited to: invasion of sexual privacy; prostituting another student; non-consensual video or audio-taping of sexual activity; going beyond the boundaries of consent (such as letting your friends hide in the closet to watch you having consensual sex); engaging in voyeurism; knowingly transmitting an STD or HIV to another student; exposing one’s genitals in non-consensual circumstances; inducing another to expose their genitals; sexually-based stalking and/or bullying may also be forms of sexual exploitation.

Additional Definitions

  1. Consent

Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.

  • Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity.
  • Previous relationships or prior consent cannot imply consent to future sexual acts.
  • In order to give effective consent, one must be of legal age.
  1. Force

Force is the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force also includes threats, intimidation (implied threats) and coercion that overcome resistance or produce consent (“Have sex with me or I’ll hit you. Okay, don’t hit me, I’ll do what you want.”).

  1. Coercion

Coercion is unreasonable pressure for sexual activity. Coercive behavior differs from seductive behavior based on the type of pressure someone uses to get consent from another. When someone makes clear to you that they do not want sex, that they want to stop, or that they do not want to go past a certain point of sexual interaction, continued pressure beyond that point is coercive.

  1. Incapacitation

Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why or how” of their sexual interaction).

  • Sexual activity with someone a reasonable person would know to be mentally or physically incapacitated (by alcohol or other drug use, unconsciousness or blackout), constitutes a violation of this policy.
  • This policy also covers a person whose incapacity results from physical or mental disability, sleep, involuntary physical restraint, or from the taking of drugs. Possession, use and/or distribution of any of these substances, including Rohypnol, Ketomine, GHB, Burundanga, etc. is prohibited, and administering one of these drugs to another student is a violation of this   More information about drug-facilitated sexual assault can be found via the RAINN organization.
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs will never be accepted as a defense for a violation of this policy.

NOTE: There is no requirement that a party resist the sexual advance or request, but resistance is a clear demonstration of non- consent. The presence of force is not demonstrated by the absence of resistance. Sexual activity that is forced is by definition non-consensual, but non-consensual sexual activity is not by definition forced.

Sanction Statement

  1. Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual or Forced Sexual Contact (where no intercourse has occurred) will likely receive a sanction ranging from probation to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.
  2. Any student found responsible for violating the policy on Non-Consensual or Forced Sexual Intercourse will likely face a recommended sanction of suspension or expulsion.
  3. Any student found responsible for violating the policy on sexual exploitation or sexual harassment will likely receive a recommended sanction ranging from warning to expulsion, depending on the severity of the incident, and taking into account any previous campus conduct code violations.

Reporting Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

For more information or to file a grievance or report of sexual misconduct, please see the “Student Complaint, Grievance and Appeal Procedure” in the SWTJC Student Handbook or visit or call the Director of Human Resources/Title IX Administrator in the Rodolfo & Dolores Flores Student Services Building at the Uvalde SWTJC Campus. Phone: (830) 591-7330.

RESPONSIBILITY

Each student shall be charged with notice and knowledge of, and shall be required to comply with, the contents and provisions of the College District’s rules and regulations concerning student conduct.

All students shall obey the law, show respect for properly constituted authority, and observe correct standards of conduct.  Each student shall be expected to:

  1. Demonstrate courtesy, even when others do not;
  2. Behave in a responsible manner, always exercising self-discipline;
  3. Attend all classes, regularly and on time;
  4. Prepare for each class and take appropriate materials and assignments to class;
  5. Obey all classroom rules;
  6. Respect the rights and privileges of students, faculty, and other College District staff and volunteers;
  7. Respect the property of others, including College District property and facilities; and
  8. Cooperate with and assist the College District staff in maintaining safety, order, and discipline.

PROHIBITED CONDUCT

The following behavior shall be prohibited:

FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL LAW

  1. Violations of federal, state, or local law or College District policies, procedures, or rules, including the student handbook.

PROHIBITED WEAPONS

  1. Possession, distribution, sale, or use of firearms or other prohibited weapons without prior approval. [See FLBF]

DRUGS AND ALCOHOL

  1. The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale, or being under the influence, of a drug or narcotic, as those terms are defined by the Texas Controlled Substances Act, or other prohibited substances described in FLBD, unless under the direction of a physician.
  2. The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale of paraphernalia related to any prohibited substance.
  3. The use, possession, control, manufacture, transmission, or sale, or being under the influence, of alcohol or other intoxicating beverage without the permission of the College District.

DEBTS

  1. Owing a monetary debt to the College District that is considered delinquent or writing an “insufficient funds” check to the College District.

DISRUPTIONS

  1. “Disorderly conduct”, as defined above or disruptive behavior.

BEHAVIOR TARGETING OTHERS

  1. Threatening another person, including a student or employee.
  2. Intentionally, knowingly, or negligently causing physical harm to any person.
  3. Engaging in conduct that constitutes harassment, bullying, or dating violence directed toward another person, including a student or employee. [See DOA, FFD, and FFE as appropriate]
  4. Hazing with or without the consent of a student. [See FLBC]
  5. Initiations by organizations that include features that are dangerous, harmful, or degrading to the student, a violation of which also renders the organization subject to appropriate discipline.
  6. Endangering the health or safety of members of the College District community or visitors to the premises.

PROPERTY

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or negligently defacing, damaging, misusing, or destroying College District property or property owned by others.
  2. Stealing from the College District or others.

DIRECTIVES

  1. Failure to comply with directives given by College District personnel.
  2. Failure to provide identification when requested to do so by College District personnel.

TOBACCO

  1. Possession or use of tobacco products on College District premises without authorization.

MISUSE OF TECHNOLOGY

  1. Violating policies, rules, or agreements signed by the student regarding the use of technology resources.
  2. Attempting to access or circumvent passwords or other security-related information of the College District, students, or employees or uploading or creating computer viruses.
  3. Attempting to alter, destroy, or disable College District technology resources including but not limited to computers and related equipment, College District data, the data of others, or other networks connected to the College District’s system.
  4. Using the Internet or other electronic communications to threaten College District students, employees, or volunteers.
  5. Sending, posting, or possessing electronic messages that are abusive, obscene, sexually oriented, threatening, harassing, damaging to another’s reputation, or illegal.
  6. Using e-mail or Web sites to engage in or encourage illegal behavior or threaten the safety of the College District, students, employees, or visitors.
  7. Possessing published or electronic material that is designed to promote or encourage illegal behavior or that could threaten the safety of the College District, students, employees, or visitors.

DISHONESTY

  1. Scholastic dishonesty, as defined above.
  2. Making false accusations or perpetrating hoaxes regarding the safety of the College District, students, employees, or visitors.
  3. Intentionally or knowingly providing false information to the College District.
  4. Intentionally or knowingly falsifying records, passes, or other College District-related documents.

GAMBLING

  1. Gambling.

OTHER CONDUCT

  1. Engaging in any conduct that College District officials might reasonably believe will substantially disrupt the College District program or incite violence.

DISCIPLINE

A student shall be subject to discipline, including suspension, in accordance with FM and FMA if the student violates this policy:

  1. While on College District premises;
  2. While attending a College District activity; or
  3. While elsewhere if the behavior adversely impacts the educational environment or otherwise interferes with the College District’s operations or objectives.

PENALTIES FOR STUDENT MISCONDUCT

A student shall be subject to discipline for violations of College District policies and procedures, including the rules outlining expectations for student conduct.  If a student commits an infraction or engages in misconduct, the College District may impose one or more of the following penalties:

  1. Reprimand - A verbal or written warning to the student following a rule violation. Repetition of such misconduct may result in more severe disciplinary action.
  2. Restitution - Reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of property. Reimbursement may take the form of appropriate service to repair or otherwise compensate for damage.
  3. Scholastic penalties - The assignment of a failing grade on an assignment or examination or in a course by an instructor based on scholastic dishonesty; including cheating, collusion, and plagiarism; committed by a student. The instructor shall submit a written report of the incident and of the planned action to the instructor’s dean.
  4. Conditional Probation - The placing of a student on notice that continued infraction of regulations may result in suspension or expulsion from the College District. Conditional probation may include restrictions on a student’s rights and privileges or specified community service.  The probation may be for a specified length of time or for an indefinite period according to the relative severity of the infraction or misconduct.  Failure to fulfill the terms of the probation may lead to suspension or expulsion.
  5. Suspension - Forced withdrawal from the College District for either a definite period of time or until stated conditions have been met. Normally, suspension shall extend through a minimum of one regular long semester (with summer sessions not counting in the one semester minimum time lapse).  However, suspension may exceed the one semester minimum.
  6. Expulsion - Permanent forced withdrawal from the College District. A student receiving disciplinary expulsion shall have the action noted in the student’s permanent record.

SUSPENDED OR EXPELLED STUDENTS

No former student who has been suspended or expelled from the College District for disciplinary reasons shall be permitted on the campus or other facilities of the College District, initiated into an honorary or service organization, or permitted to receive credit for academic work done in residence or by correspondence or extension during the period of suspension or expulsion without the prior written approval of the College President or a designated representative.

DISCIPLINARY RECORD

The College District shall maintain for every student alleged or determined to have committed misconduct at the College District, a disciplinary record that shall reflect the charge, the disposition of the charge, the sanction assessed, if any, and any other pertinent information.  The disciplinary record shall be separate from the student’s academic record and shall be treated as confidential; the contents shall not be revealed except on request of the student or in accordance with applicable state or federal laws.

The disciplinary record shall be maintained permanently in the event that a student is expelled or subject to an extended suspension.  In all other cases, the disciplinary record shall be maintained in accordance with the College District’s record retention schedule.

REPORTS OF ALLEGED MISCONDUCT

College District faculty and staff shall submit an alleged violation or violations of College District policies and procedures, including the rules for student conduct, committed by a student to the Vice President of Student Services within a reasonable time following an alleged incident, not to exceed ten College District business days.  The allegations must be submitted in writing, through traditional or electronic means, and must describe the violation and any surrounding facts.

The Vice President of Student Services or designee shall investigate the matter as necessary.  If an allegation is deemed to be unfounded, the Vice President of Student Services or designee shall dismiss the allegation and shall provide the student written notice that the allegation of misconduct was made against the student and that the allegation was dismissed.

CONFERENCE

If, however, the Vice president of Student Services or designee determines that the allegation warrants further consideration, the Vice President of Student Services or designee shall summon the student for a conference to be held within a reasonable time, not to exceed ten College District business days, following the receipt of the allegation of misconduct. 

At the conference, the Vice President of Student Services or designee shall notify the student of the allegation or allegations and provide the student an opportunity to respond.

UNFOUNDED ALLEGATIONS

After conferring with the student, if the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that the student did not commit a violation, the allegation or allegations shall be dismissed as unfounded.  The student shall be provided written notice of the dismissal.

MISCONDUCT WARRANTING A PENALTY

If the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that the student committed misconduct that warrants a penalty other than suspension or expulsion, the Vice President of Student Services or designee shall provide the student written notice of the penalty and the student’s right to appeal to the disciplinary appeals committee.

SUSPENSION

If the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that the student committed misconduct that warrants a suspension, the Vice President of Student Services or designee shall inform the student in writing of the determination, and a hearing shall be scheduled for consideration by the disciplinary appeals committee as described below.

EXPULSION

If the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that the student committed misconduct that warrants expulsion, the official shall inform the student in writing of the determination.  The Vice President of Student Services or designee shall forward the determination and all evidence collected during the investigation and conference to the College President in order to schedule an expulsion hearing before the Board [see EXPULSION HEARING, below].

INTERIM DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The Vice President of Student Services or designee may take immediate disciplinary action, including suspension pending a hearing, against a student for policy violations if the continuing presence of the student poses a danger to persons or property or an ongoing threat of disrupting the educational environment. 

DISCIPLINARY APPEALS COMMITTEE

The disciplinary appeals committee shall be convened:

  1. On request of a student appealing a penalty other than suspension or expulsion. The request must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the College District, within ten College District business days of the date of the administration’s written notice.
  2. Automatically, if the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that a student committed misconduct warranting suspension.

COMPOSITION

The disciplinary appeals committee shall be comprised of at least three College District employees and a minimum of one current College District student.  The members of the disciplinary appeals committee and the committee chairperson shall be designated according to procedures developed by the College President.  All members of the disciplinary appeals committee shall be eligible to vote during the hearing.

HEARING NOTICE

The Vice President of Student Services or designee shall notify the student by letter of the date, time, and place for the hearing.  Unless the student and the Vice President of Student Services or designee otherwise agree, the hearing shall take place within a reasonable time period, not to exceed ten College District business days after the date of the student’s request for the hearing or the Vice President of Student Services or designee’s determination that the student should be suspended.

CONTENTS OF NOTICE

The notice shall:

  1. Direct the student to appear on the date and at the time and place specified.
  2. Advise the student of his or her rights:
    1. To have a private hearing.
    2. To be assisted by an advisor or legal counsel at the hearing.
    3. To call witnesses, request copies of evidence in the College District’s possession, and offer evidence and agreement on his or her own behalf.
    4. To make an audio recording of the proceedings, after first notifying the Vice President of Student Services or designee in advance of the hearing, or, at the student’s own expense, to have a stenographer present at the hearing to make a stenographic transcript of the hearing.
    5. To ask questions of each witness who testifies against the student.
  3. Contain the names of witnesses who will testify against the student and a description of documentary and other evidence that will be offered against the student.
  4. Contain a description of the allegations of misconduct in sufficient detail to enable the student to prepare his or her defense against the charges.
  5. State the proposed punishment or range of punishments that may be imposed.

FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR HEARING

The disciplinary appeals committee may impose appropriate punishment upon a student who fails without good cause to appear for the hearing; for purposes of assessing punishment, the committee may proceed with the hearing in the student’s absence.

HEARING PROCEDURE

The hearing shall proceed as follows:

  1. The chairperson shall read the description of the misconduct.
  2. The chairperson shall inform the student of his or her rights.
  3. The designated official or representative shall present the College District’s case.
  4. The student or representative shall present the student’s defense.
  5. The designated College District official or representative shall present rebuttal evidence.
  6. The committee members may ask questions of witnesses testifying on behalf of the student or the College District.
  7. The designated official or representative shall summarize and argue the College District’s case.
  8. The student or representative shall summarize and argue his or her case.
  9. The designated official or representative shall have an opportunity for rebuttal argument.
  10. The committee members shall deliberate in closed session. The committee members shall vote on the issue of whether or not the student violated College District policies and procedures, including the rules for student conduct.
  11. If the committee finds the student did commit misconduct, the committee shall determine whether the penalty assessed, or proposed in the case of suspension, by the Vice President of Student Services or designee is appropriate and, if necessary, shall assess a different or additional penalty.
  12. The committee chairperson shall communicate the decision and any findings of facts in support of the committee’s decision to the student in writing within ten College District business days of the hearing. The notice shall include procedures for appealing the committee’s decision to the College President.

A recording shall be made if needed for an appeal, and, on request, the student shall be given a copy of the recording. 

EVIDENCE

Evidence shall be handled in accordance with the following:

  1. Legal rules of evidence do not apply; the committee chairperson may admit evidence or exclude evidence considered to be irrelevant, immaterial, and unduly repetitious.
  2. At the hearing, the College District shall be required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the charges are true.
  3. A student may not be compelled to testify.
  4. The committee shall determine if a violation has occurred and assess an appropriate penalty based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing.

APPEAL TO COLLEGE DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION

A student may, within ten College District business days of receiving notice of the disciplinary appeal committee’s decision, petition in writing the College President to review the decision.  The student’s petition shall state with particularity why the decision is believed to be incorrect.  After receiving notice of the appeal, the disciplinary appeals committee chairperson shall forward all evidence considered during the hearing, the audio recording of the hearing, and the digest of the hearing, if applicable, to the College President.

The College President shall hold a conference within ten College District business days after the appeal notice is filed.  At the conference, the student may provide information concerning any documents or information relied on by the committee.  The College President may set reasonable time limits for the conference.  The conference shall be audio recorded.

The College President shall provide the student a written response, stating the basis of the decision, within ten College District business days following the conference.  In reaching a decision, the College President may consider the evidence included in the student’s petition, provided during the conference, and forwarded by the committee chairperson.  The College President may act to affirm, modify, remand, or reverse the decision of the disciplinary appeals committee.

APPEAL TO BOARD

If the College President affirmed or modified the decision of the disciplinary appeals committee or if the time for a response has expired, the student may appeal the decision to the Board.  The appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the College District, within ten College District business days after receipt of the written response from the College President, or, if no response was received, within ten College District business days of the response deadline.

The College President or designee shall inform the student of the date, time, and place of the Board meeting at which the appeal will be on the agenda for presentation to the Board.

The College President or designee shall provide the Board the evidence presented to the College President, as well as the audio re-cording of the College President’s conference with the student and the written response provided by the College President to the student.

The College District shall determine whether the appeal will be presented in open or closed meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and other applicable law.

The presiding officer may set reasonable time limits and guidelines for the presentation, including an opportunity for the student and the administration to each make a presentation and provide rebuttal and an opportunity for questioning by the Board.  The Board shall hear the appeal and may request that the administration provide an explanation for the decisions at the preceding levels.

In addition to any other record of the Board meeting required by law, the Board shall prepare a separate record of the hearing.  The hearing, including the presentation by the student or the student’s representative, any presentation from the administration, and questions from the Board with responses, shall be recorded by audio recording, video/audio recording, or court reporter.

The Board shall then consider the evidence.  It may give notice of its decision orally or in writing at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board meeting.  If for any reason the Board fails to reach a decision regarding the evidence by the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting, the lack of a response by the Board upholds the Vice President of Student Services’ decision.

EXPULSION HEARING

If the Vice President of Student Services or designee determines that the student’s misconduct warrants expulsion [see CONFERENCE, above], the Board shall convene to conduct an expulsion hearing. The College President or designee shall inform the student of the date, time, and place of the Board meeting at which the appeal will be on the agenda for presentation to the Board.  The notice shall contain the contents described at DISCIPLINARY APPEALS COMMITTEE—CONTENTS OF NOTICE, above.

The College President or designee shall provide the Board the documentation presented by the Vice President of Student Services.

The Board shall proceed according to the procedures set out at DISCIPLINARY APPEALS COMMITTEE—FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR HEARING, HEARING PROCEDURE, and EVIDENCE, above, with the Board substituted for references to the committee and the presiding officer of the Board substituted for the committee chairperson.