Apr 21, 2019  
Student Handbook 
    
Student Handbook

Student Code of Conduct


 

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is committed to the advancement of learning and to the development of responsible individuals. Each student is considered to be a responsible person and is expected to uphold appropriate standards of behavior. The College expects proper student conduct on-campus and at off-campus functions sponsored by the College. Students who demonstrate an inability to conform to acceptable conduct may lose the right to enjoy the educational, social and recreational opportunities of the College.

Criminal violations which occur on campus or at College-sponsored events may be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency. A student may be subject to the sanctions of the Student Code of Conduct in addition to being subject to action in criminal and/or civil court.

A student engaging in misconduct may be subject to disciplinary sanctions. The types of behavior subject to disciplinary action includes, but is not limited to:

  1.  Violation of published College policies, rules, or regulations.
  2. Violation of federal, state, or local law on College premises or at College-sponsored or supervised activities.
  3. Disruption or obstruction of teaching, administration, disciplinary proceedings, or other College activities, including its public service functions on or off campus.
  4. Abuse or other conduct which threatens or endangers the safety of any person: (1) physical abuse, (2) verbal abuse, (3) threats, intimidation, and  coercion
  5. Harassment, sexual harassment, and/or stalking which threatens or endangers the safety of any person.
  6. Attempted or actual theft of and/or damage to property of the College or property of a member of the College community.
  7. Hazing defined as an act that injures, frightens, endangers or degrades an individual.
  8. Conduct which is disorderly, lewd, or indecent; excessive amorous behavior, breach of peace; or aiding or abetting, or procuring another person to breach the peace on College premises or at functions sponsored by or participated in by the College.
  9. Failure to comply with the directions of College officials or law enforcement officers acting in the performance of their duties and/or failure to identify oneself to those persons when requested to do so.
  10. Unauthorized entry to or use of College premises or property and/or unauthorized possession, duplication, or use of keys to any College premises or property.
  11. Use, possession, or distribution of narcotic or other controlled substances except an expressly permitted by law.
  12. Use, possession, or distribution of alcoholic beverages.
  13. Use, possession or concealment of any firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals.
  14. Gambling in any form. Subject to local statutes, activities such as raffles or drawings that benefit recognized campus organizations may be permitted with proper approval.
  15. Intentionally supplying false information to the College and/or alteration of unauthorized use of College documents or instruments of identification.

Students are protected against discrimination by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and against sexual discrimination, including sexual harassment by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.   

Students who are sexually harassed are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Title IX Coordinator, the Safety and Security Office, or the Deputy Coordinators at the other education centers and should refer to the College’s Title IX Policy located on the College’s website.


Disciplinary Process

REPORTING AN INCIDENT

The College, itself, and members of the College Community should report violations of College rules, regulations, or policies to the Office of Security and Safety at the time they are observed.  Details of the incident or complaint should be reported as outlined below on an Incident Report. The form requires the following information:

  • Date, time and location of incident
  • Nature of incident
  • Individual(s) involved
  • Witnesses
  • Description of incident
  • Immediate action taken
  • Signature of person filing the report and the date

The College community encourages the reporting of sex discrimination and Student Code of Conduct violations. Sometimes, victims are hesitant to report to College officials because they fear that they themselves may be charged with policy violations, such as underage drinking at the time of the incident. It is in the best interest of this community that as many victims as possible choose to report to College officials. To encourage reporting, the College pursues a policy of offering victims of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct limited immunity from being charged with policy violations related to the particular incident. While violations to policy cannot be completely overlooked, the College will provide educational options rather than punishment, in such cases.

GOOD SAMARITAN

The welfare of students in our community is of paramount importance. At times, students on and off‐campus may need assistance. The College encourages students to offer help and assistance to others in need. Sometimes, students are hesitant to offer assistance to others, for fear that they may get themselves in trouble (for example, a student who has been drinking underage might hesitate to help take a victim of sexual misconduct to the Office of Safety and Security). The College pursues a policy of limited immunity for students who offer help to others in need. While policy violations cannot be overlooked, the College will provide educational options, rather than punishment, to those who offer their assistance to others in need.

ADMINISTRATIVE CONFERENCE

The Vice President of Student Services will designate one or more College officers to conduct an investigation of the alleged incident and to hold an administrative conference with each student involved. The administrative conference procedures are as follows:

  • The student will be notified that his/her name is mentioned in an incident report.
  • A summary of the specific violations will be presented to the student and the student will be given the opportunity to admit to or deny any alleged violations of College rules, regulations, or policies.
    • The conference may result in the charges being disposed of administratively by mutual consent of the parties involved. In these situations, the disposition shall be final and there will be no subsequent proceedings.  It is expected that most issues will be resolved informally.
    • If the student admits to the violation, a sanction will be issued at this time.
    • If the student is believed to be responsible but does not accept responsibility, a Judicial Board Hearing will be scheduled.
  • An administrative conference will be held and sanctions issued even if the student fails to attend after two notifications.

In situations where the allegations are significant in nature, at the discretion of the Vice President of Student Services, the case may be immediately moved to the pre-board review level to commence judicial board action.

INTERIM SUSPENSIONS

The Vice President of Student Services or designee may impose an interim suspension prior to a hearing before the Judicial Board. Interim suspension may be imposed only to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the College community or preservation of College property, to ensure the student’s own physical or emotional safety and well-being, or if the student poses a definite threat of disruption of or interference with the normal operations of the College.

During the interim suspension, students will be denied access to the College, including classes and all other activities or privileges for which the student might otherwise be eligible. In such cases, the necessary notice and hearing shall follow as soon as is practical.

PRE-BOARD REVIEW

The Vice President of Student Services will designate a hearing Officer to meet with both the accused and complainant students to explain the judicial process and the students’ rights and responsibilities. The role of the pre-board review is not to determine accountability, but to assist the student in understanding the hearing process. A student is responsible for participating in the Judicial Board Hearing regardless of whether he or she elects to participate in the pre-board review.  As part of the pre-board review, the following processes will occur:

  • All charges shall be presented to the accused student in written form.
  • A time shall be set for a hearing, not less than five or more than fifteen business days after notification of the parties involved.  Both the complainant and the accused student will be notified of the date, time, and location of the judicial board hearing.   Maximum time limits for scheduling of the hearing may be extended at the discretion of the Vice President of Student Services.
  • The complainant and the accused student will have a maximum of two school days post the pre-board review to submit in writing the names of any witnesses.  It is the participants’ responsibility to notify approved witnesses of the date, time and location of the hearing.

JUDICIAL BOARD HEARING

A Judicial Board Hearing is an internal review of the alleged violation(s) of College rules and/or regulations. Its purpose is to determine if violations have occurred. Judicial Board Hearings are held and sanctions issued whether or not the accused and/or the complainant attend.

The Judicial Board will be appointed by the Vice President of Student Services and will consist of ten members: four faculty members, two administrative employees, and four students.  One alternate member of each group shall also be appointed.  To conduct a hearing, three faculty members, one administrative employee, and two students must be present.

A designee of the Vice President of Student Services will serve as the Hearing Officer and will preside over the hearing. The Hearing Officer will also serve as a resource to the Judicial Board during the deliberation process.  The Hearing Officer will review the case with the Judicial Board; will introduce witnesses; will direct the proceeding; will make certain that all relevant materials are reviewed and that non-relevant material is not introduced; and ensure that both the accused and the accuser will have ample opportunity to present the facts of the incident in their own words to the Judicial Board members

The Judicial Board will assume responsibility for its procedural operation and will conduct hearings according to the following guidelines:

  1. Hearings shall be conducted in private.
  2. Both the Accused and Complainant will have freedom of harassment from each other and/or their supporters. 
  3. In cases of sexual assault or other violations of a highly sensitive nature, every effort will be taken to allow both the accused and the accuser the right to question without direct visual contact during the hearing.  Freedom from having irrelevant sexual history discussed during the hearing will be granted to both the complainant and accused.
  4. Admission of any person to the hearing shall be at the discretion of the chairperson of the Judicial Board.
  5. The complainant and the accused have the right to be assisted by any advisor they choose, at their own expense. The advisor may be an attorney. The complainant and/or the accused student are responsible for presenting his or her own case, and therefore, advisors are not permitted to speak or to participate directly in the hearing.
  6. The complainant, the accused, and the Judicial Board shall have the privilege of presenting witnesses, and shall have the opportunity to suggest questions for the cross examination.
  7. Pertinent records, exhibits and written statements may be accepted as evidence for consideration by the Judicial Board at the discretion of the Hearing Officer.
  8. There shall be a single verbatim record of the hearing, such as a tape recording. Only College judicial affairs staff may record judicial meetings or proceedings.  No other recordings are permitted.  The record shall be the property of the College.
  9. Except in the case of a student charged with failing to obey the summons of the judicial body or College official, no student may be found to have violated the Student Code solely because the student failed to appear for the hearing. In all cases, the information in support of the charges shall be presented and considered at the hearing.
  10. All procedural questions are subject to the discretion of the Hearing Officer.
  11. After the hearing, the judicial board shall meet in closed session to determine by majority vote, whether the student has violated each section of the Student Code of Conduct that the student is charged with violating and will issue the appropriate sanction(s). 
  12. The Judicial Board’s determination shall be made on the basis of whether it is more likely than not that the accused student violated the Student Code.
  13. Judicial Board decisions shall be communicated in writing to the students within five (5) business days with a copy submitted to the Office of the Vice President of Student Services for his or her information.

Sanctions

The following sanctions may be imposed upon a student who is found to have violated the Student Code of Conduct. The Vice President of Student Services will designate one or more College officers to be responsible for determining and issuing appropriate sanctions resulting from both Administrative Conferences and Judicial Board hearings.   

  • Warning - A notice in writing to the student that the student is violating or has violated College regulations.
  • Probation - A written reprimand for violation of specified regulations. Probation is for a designated period of time and includes the probability of more severe sanctions if the student is found to be violating any College regulation during the probationary period.
  • Loss of privileges - Denial of specified privileges for a designated period of time.
  • Restitution - Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.
  • Discretionary Sanctions - Examples include but are not limited to:  Letter of Apology, Behavorial Contracts, Service to the College or Community, and Referrals for Alcohol and/or Drug Assessment and Education.
  • Suspension - Separation of the student from the College for a specified period of time, after which the student may apply to return. Conditions of readmission may be specified.
  • Dismissal - Permanent separation of the student from the College.

More than one of the sanctions listed above may be imposed for any single violation. Notices of disciplinary action shall be filed in the student’s confidential disciplinary file in the Office of Vice President of Student Services. Upon graduation, such notices other than dismissal may be removed by application to the Vice President of Student Services.

The following sanctions may be imposed upon student groups or organizations:

  • Those sanctions listed above in the Student Code.
  • Deactivation-Loss of all privileges, including College recognition, for a specified period of time.

Appeals

Any decision reached by the Judicial Board or through Administrative Conference may be appealed in writing by the students in violation or complainants under the Grounds for Appeals outlined below.  The appeal is to the Office of the Vice President of Student Services. Following a review of the appeal, the Vice President of Student Services may do the following:  can accept the decision as rendered; issue a modified decision, or refer the appeal to the Judicial Board. The decision of the Vice President of Student Services is final. 

Under Appeals:  A student dismissed from the College may in addition appeal to an Appellate Board appointed by the Vice President of Student Services.

GROUNDS FOR APPEAL

Except as required to explain the basis of new evidence, an appeal will be limited to the review of the verbatim record of the initial hearing and supporting documents for one or more of the following purposes:

  1. To determine whether the original hearing was conducted in conformity with prescribed procedures of the Student Code.
  2. To determine whether the decision reached regarding the student was based on sufficient information to establish that a violation of the Student Code occurred.
  3. To determine whether the sanction(s) imposed were appropriate for the violation of the Student Code which occurred.
  4. To consider new information, sufficient to alter a decision, which was not brought out at the original hearing because the information was not known to the person appealing at the time of the original hearing.

Interpretation and Revision

Any question or interpretation regarding the Student Code of Conduct shall be referred to the Vice President of Student Services or his or her designee. The Student Code of Conduct shall be reviewed periodically as is practicable under the direction of the Vice President of Student Services.