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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a Judicial Notification and why do I have to meet with Judicial Affairs?
A. A notice is simply an email (written statement) that alleges a student’s involvement is allegedly in violation of university policy. Having a notification from OJA does not mean a student is “in trouble.” The university has deemed off –campus violations of the alcohol and drug code of conduct to be actionable by the university judicial process. A conference is held to determine whether a policy violation occurred. Reports can be written by any member of the campus community, or anyone outside of the community as well.
Q. What if I just don't show up?
A. Failure to attend your conference could result in several different things happening. Initially, an administrative flag will be placed on your account. You will be unable to add, drop, or register for classes, and transcripts are not available to you with a hold on your account. Additionally, your case may be heard in your absence. Subsequently, a decision may be rendered with sanction, conditions, and/or restrictions being placed upon you. Failure to attend your conference does not exempt you from the outcomes determined by the judicial officer. You may also be "charged" with another violation of the Code of Conduct (Request or Orders), which would in turn result in another allegation against you.
If a student fails to respond to notice from the Director of Judicial Affairs, a second notice will be sent. The student will be given notice of this offense and requested to set up a meeting. Unless the student responds to this notice within two business days by answering the initial notice, the student hold will not be released until until the conference has been concluded. In some cases the student may be interim suspended until such time as s/he responds to the initial notification.
Q. What does the conference mean?
A. After a report is received in the Office of Judicial Affairs, an email is sent to the student(s) or student organization(s) involved in the incident. The email indicates which policies the student(s) or student organization may have violated, and the time and date of the judicial conference. There is also an overview of the rights and responsibilities which will be afforded to every participant in the conduct process. In the student file are copies of the report which indicates the names of the referral agent(s) and provides a narrative description of the alleged activities which substantiate the notification. It is important that the student thoroughly reviews the policies and incident description. Decisions made regarding any potential policy violations will solely be based on what takes place at the conference. Cases will be heard through informal discussion, conferences, and meetings with the accused student. All decisions are subject to final review by the Director of Judicial Affairs. A request for final review by the Vice President for Student Affairs must be made within three business days after initial sanctioning possibility of the Office of Judicial affairs to coordinate the adjudication. Direct supervisory jurisdiction is assumed by the Office of Judicial Affairs. It is the responsibility of the Office of Judicial Affairs to coordinate the adjudication process among various adjudicating partners.
Q. What is preponderance of evidence?
A. This is the standard of proof used in the Student Judicial Process. For a student to be found responsible for a violation, the evidence must indicate that it is more likely than not that the violation occurred. This is very different from the criminal court system.
Preponderance of the evidence standard is necessary to ensure a fair and equitable judicial process.
Q. Who will be present at the student conference?
A. Conferences will take place with either The Director of Judicial Affairs or The University Disciplinary Committee. Students are entitled to have an advisor present at the conference. The advisor is there to support the need of the student, and does not take an active role other than to “quietly” assisting the student. At no time can the advisor or support speak directly to the Judicial Officer. Parents or Guardians are allowed into Judicial Conferences only after the Director of Judicial Affairs has met with the student and only at the student's request.
Q. What can a student expect?
A. A student can expect to “be heard”. A conference is not an opportunity to “prove guilt or innocence”, no student is “presumed guilty” prior to the hearing. The incident report represents only a portion of what took place in the incident, students are being asked to attend to describe their involvement (if you choose). The Director or the committee will ask questions regarding the incident and discuss with the student how the conduct affects their continued suitability as a student, and the community. Once all information has been shared, a decision regarding the policies, and if appropriate judicial action is taken.
Q. Do students need legal representation with OJA?
A. The Office of Judicial Affairs renders decisions regarding the violation of university policy, and not local, state, or federal laws. In some incidents there may be an overlap of policy and laws, but the priority for the Office of Judicial Affairs is to determine if a student’s conduct is in violation of The Student Code of Conduct. The University may proceed with judicial action before a trial or postpone action until after a trial; depending on the circumstances of the case. The policies or procedures of the Office of Judicial Affairs are designed to provide students with fair and equitable solutions of their involvement in the alleged misconduct. It is a student’s personal decision to seek legal assistance to manage their criminal/civil proceedings, and I recommend that attorney’s speak with our University Attorney. Should a student ultimately choose to have an attorney present, they would attend as your advisor in a committee setting but not in a judicial conferences (the same stipulations apply for an attorney as an advisor).
Q. What we do after an incident report is brought to the attention of Judicial Affairs?
A. The Director of Judicial Affairs will review all reports (IR, Police, written notice or indictment) upon it being sent to the Office of Judicial Affairs. If there is the potential that a policy was violated during the incident, the student is looked up in Banner and Topnet to verify student status and a file is completed. A judicial notification will be sent to all students included in the report. Students will receive an email detailing when and where their judicial conference will take place, and which Student Code of Conduct should be reviewed in preparation for the meeting. At the conference, the student will be able to describe their version of the alleged events and learn the outcome of the conference. All students have the opportunity to invite witnesses to comment on their involvement. If a student chooses to appeal, they have (5) business days to file their appeal to The Office of Judicial Affairs.
Q. How long are discipline records maintained?
A. Records on all conduct proceedings involving students are maintained in the Office of Judicial Affairs pertaining to off-campus violations for five years from the date of incident. After this date, the record is destroyed. A judicial record is not part of your academic transcript, unless a student is suspended or permanently dismissed from the university. Notations involving suspension can be removed after the suspension period has passed at the written request of the student. Records on student organizations are maintained for an indefinite length of time.
Q. Who has access to my conduct record?
A. A student’s conduct file is kept for internal record-keeping purposes and to provide some insight into a student’s past behavior if additional problems arise. Past decisions that resulted in a finding of responsibility will be considered in subsequent hearings when sanctions are determined. These records are released to no one other than university officials at WKU who have a legitimate need to know and others as permitted by law. In cases involving violent behavior, the accuser may elect to be notified of the outcome of the hearing. This single exception is in keeping with the re-authorization of Higher Education Act (1998) and the Students’ Right to Privacy Act, as amended. Discipline records are maintained for five years from the date of an incident. Students and alumni may authorize record releases. Record release forms can be completed in the Office of Judicial Affairs.
Q. Will my parents find out?
A. Yes. Western Kentucky University is committed to the education and development of students. The University is concerned about the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs in the collegiate setting. As an institution of higher learning, we are concerned about the negative affect the misuse of alcohol and other drugs has on the educational process.
The Director of Judicial Affairs has the liberty to inform the parent or legal guardian of a student under the age of 21 who has been found in violation of the University’s drug and alcohol policy. The University recognizes that the majority of our students are adults and wishes to respect the rights and privileges of that status. We also recognize that the input and involvement of parents can have a dramatic affect on the success and decision making of college students.
Parents will receive notification of the following behaviors associated with The Code of Conduct.
1. Any violation of the University Alcohol Policy, or
2. Any violation of the University Drug Policy, or
3. The student (under 21) was arrested by University Police in connection with a violation of the Alcohol or Drug Policy or for DUI, Public intoxication, Minor in Possession or any other drug or alcohol-related incident resulting in citation or arrest.
4. The student received medical assistance due to incapacitation, suspected incapacitation, and self injury or
In addition to the educational interventions, any student found in violation of the Alcohol Policy three times in any one-year period may be suspended from the University. Similarly, any student with two violations of the Drug Policy while enrolled at the institution may be suspended from the University. Also, any student who is found to be manufacturing or distributing drugs or attempting to manufacture or distribute drugs on or off campus may be suspended or expelled from the University.