Article IV: Conduct Resolution Process and Procedures

Reporting Allegations of Prohibited Conduct

Subject to the special provisions for Title IX matters, any member of the University, department, organization, or entity may report an incident or file a complaint alleging a violation of the Student Code of Conduct against a student or recognized organization to Community Standards. The person filing a complaint shall be referred to as the reporting party (or reporter). The student who is subject to the alleged behavior shall be referred to as the complainant. The person alleged to have violated the Code of Conduct shall be referred to as the respondent.

No report will be referred for disciplinary action unless there is reasonable cause to believe there has been a violation of policy. Reasonable cause is defined as reliable information to support each element of the violation, even if that information is merely a credible statement. The Director will assess the credibility of available information and determine if a report is wholly supported or unsupported by any such information.

  1. Preliminary Review. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director shall conduct a preliminary review into the nature of the reported incident, complaint or notice to determine if there is jurisdiction to adjudicate the complaint and to what extent. Within the University’s discretion, a preliminary review may lead to:
    1. A determination that there is insufficient information to initiate an investigation or the alleged misconduct, even if proven true, would not violate the Code of Conduct.
    2. Referral to another office or external entity for the appropriate response or bypass the conduct process and recommend an alternative resolution such as mediation or educational conversation.
    3. Deferral of the conduct process, with or without conditions; however, when cases involve a threat to personal or environmental safety, an interim or exclusionary action to adequately mitigate risk may be taken immediately through the pendency of an investigation and/or adjudication process.
    4. Referral to the designated official within the appropriate jurisdiction for resolution through the conduct process, when the alleged misconduct has met the threshold of a potential policy violation
  2. Anonymous Reporting. To the extent possible, Community Standards will maintain anonymity when reasonable or when there is fear of retribution or a true safety concern. Reporters should know that anonymity may impact Community Standards ability to investigate alleged misconduct and ensure appropriate outcomes. In some situations, anonymity may not be possible, and Community Standards may be required to investigate alleged misconduct, even against the wishes of the reporter. Community Standards staff members are not considered confidential resources and have a responsibility under applicable law(s) and University policy to report gender-based misconduct, discrimination and harassment to the AAEO and Title IX office.
  3. Timelines. To promote timely and effective review, students who have been harmed by, witness to, or have knowledge of a potential violation of the Code of Conduct are encouraged to report as soon as possible. A delay or prolonged passage of time impacts the University’s ability to gather relevant and reliable information, contact witnesses, investigate thoroughly and respond meaningfully. Incidents reported later than twelve (12) months after the alleged occurrence are subject to dismissal for good cause shown. If the student accused of violating the Code of Conduct is no longer a student at the time the complaint was received, either because the student graduated or left the University permanently, the University is unable to pursue resolution. The Director will assess whether any remedial steps can be taken to address any prohibited conduct or its effects on the University community.
  4. Effect of a Pending Report of Violation or Charges. A respondent who is ineligible to register for or attend classes at any one USNH institution because of a pending student disciplinary charge shall be ineligible to register for or attend classes at any other USNH institution for as long as the charge remains pending.
    1. If a respondent has withdrawn or withdraws after the initiation of charges, the University will either (i.) place a hold on the student’s academic record and notify the student that disciplinary action may be initiated upon application for readmission, or (ii.) the University may proceed to resolve the disciplinary action.

Forums of Resolution and Procedures

  1. When the potential sanctions, as set forth in section IV.E., are not likely to rise above disciplinary or housing probation, the case is referred to a Conduct Conference. The following procedures apply to resolve the alleged non-academic misconduct:
    1. Notice. Respondents are notified through their UNH issued email. The notice will include a summary of the allegations made against them, charges under consideration, proposed sanctions, and the resolution options available. The notice will also specify instructions on procedures for responding and deadlines, and the date, time and location of the meeting. Requests to reschedule conduct meetings are typically only granted when there is an academic conflict.
      1. Resolution Agreement. The respondent may elect an expedited method by resolution agreement upon timely response to the notice of allegations. The respondent accepts responsibility for all pending charges, agrees to specific sanctions and waives their right to an appeal. The respondent shall meet with the Conduct Officer to review expectations, conditions, and deadlines before mutually signing the agreement.
      2. Conduct Conference. The respondent is denying responsibility for one or more of the charges under consideration and agrees to participate in a one-on-one fact-finding meeting with a Conduct Officer. This will allow for further exploration of other facts and circumstances of the alleged misconduct. The burden is on the respondent to prove that their position has merit. The respondent will have an opportunity to share their version of events regarding the incident in question, clarify or correct any information submitted for review and answer questions specific to their alleged involvement.
    2. Decision. Typically, five days (5) after the meeting's conclusion or after the last student meeting when there are multiple parties involved, the Conduct Officer will send the respondent the meeting outcome in writing outlining as to whether the charges have been substantiated or not, based upon preponderance as the standard of proof, the rationale for the determinations and assigned sanctions imposed, if any.
  2. When the potential sanctions, as set forth in section IV.E., could reasonably result in University Housing Removal (for a period of time or indefinitely), University Suspension or University Dismissal, either for serious prohibited conduct of a single incident or a persistent pattern of less severe prohibited conduct, the case is referred to a University Hearing. The following procedures apply to resolve the alleged academic or non-academic misconduct:
    1. Notice. Respondents, and Complainants when applicable, are notified through their UNH issued email. The notice will include a summary of the allegations made against the respondent, charges under consideration, and the resolution options available. The notice will also specify instructions on procedures for responding and deadlines, and the date, time and location of the pre-hearing meeting. Requests to reschedule pre-hearing meetings are typically only granted when there is an academic conflict.
    2. Pre-Hearing Meeting. The pre-hearing meeting is likely to be the first time for the respondent to review all relevant information that will be used to support the charges leveled against them and to have the procedures to be followed at a regular hearing described to them. If the date, time and location of the hearing has been confirmed and the names of the Panel or Hearing Officer are known, this information will also be shared at that time. Additionally, the respondent should be prepared to identify the advisor (if any) that will support them for the duration of the conduct process, discuss alternative resolutions of the matter without a hearing, and resolve special considerations (i.e., answer other questions or share information prior to the hearing). The pre-hearing meeting is not mandatory; however, if parties engaged in the conduct process fail to attend or reschedule their meeting, they may forfeit an opportunity to review information prior to the proceedings. 
    3. Pre-Hearing Submissions. Community Standards reserves the right to verify the accuracy and authenticity of information shared prior to and during the hearing process, including witnesses, authors of letters or documentation submitted, and inspect documents in an effort to corroborate the account provided by the student; reasonable deadlines for submission will be scheduled. 
      1. Resolution Agreement. Respondents may elect to participate in an expedited method by resolution agreement upon timely response to the notice of allegations. The Respondent accepts responsibility for all pending charges, agrees to specific sanctions and waives their right to an appeal. Resolution Agreements resulting in University Housing Removal, University Suspension or University Dismissal are final upon signatures of the Respondent and the Director of Community Standards. 
      2. Administrative Hearing. Respondents who accept responsibility for all charges but disagree with the proposed sanctions will have their case resolved by a single Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will not revisit the question of alleged policy violations, rather consider the respondent’s petition for a lesser consequence before imposing the appropriate sanction. The sanctions proposed at the time of notice will not be shared with the Hearing Office; however the full range of sanctions, including University Dismissal, remain available to the Hearing Officer. 
      3. Panel Hearing. Respondents who deny responsibility for one or more of the charges under consideration and are contesting the allegations, will have their case adjudicated by a decision-making body of trained community members; faculty, staff and students. The Respondent is presumed to be not responsible concerning the charges which have been leveled against them and has responsibility to prepare an adequate defense proving that their position has merit. The University bears burden to provide convincing evidence to support any findings of responsibility.
    4. Decision. Following the conclusion of the hearing, the Respondent will be notified in writing of the hearing results outlining the findings of fact, rationale for any determination whether the student is responsible for violating the Code of Conduct and the sanctions imposed, if any. If sanctions are imposed, they will be issued in consideration of the specific circumstances of the case, institutional precedent, disciplinary history, aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and community impact.
  3. Standard of Proof. The University’s prescribed standard of proof used to determine responsibility for policy violations is the preponderance of the evidence standard, when the information suggests that it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.
  4. Conferences and Hearings in Absentia. Students have a duty to cooperate with the University's conduct system and an obligation to provide truthful information. Students who fail to respond, attend, or reschedule a Conduct Conference or University Hearing, forfeit their right to address the allegations made against them. The University reserves the right to proceed with the conduct process in the student’s absence and determine responsibility based on the information available. Any findings of responsibility or non-responsibility will be documented in an outcome letter. Any sanctions imposed and deadlines scheduled, including for an appeal, are the student’s responsibility to adhere to.