Preparing for Hearings Guide for Faculty

This information is provided to help you prepare for a Student Honor Code Council hearing. This guide is supplemental to the Student Honor Code which details the Student Honor Code Council hearing process. This guide does not replace information located in the Student Honor Code nor does this document represent policy. This document is rather tips for preparing for a Student Honor Code hearing. Thus, you are encouraged to read the Student Honor Code thoroughly. If you have questions or concerns not addressed in this guide, you are encouraged to schedule a meeting with a member of the Student Honor Code Office’s staff.

When you refer a student for an alleged violation of the Student Honor Code, the referred student has the right to contest the charges and request to appear before the Student Honor Code Council. Remember that the hearing is an educational preceding, not a court of law. The process is designed to be non-adversarial and to elicit as much information as possible. The Student Honor Code Council’s objectives are to determine the facts of the case; to make a determination using the standard of “more likely than not“ that a violation of the Student Honor Code did or did not occur; and, if a violation did occur, to determine an appropriate sanction that will facilitate learning and hopefully prevent subsequent violations.

Hearing Tips

  1. If the suspected violation occurs when grades are due at the end of the semester, you should assign a “GDP” (grade determination pending) until the hearing has been completed.
  2. Neither you nor anyone acting on your behalf should have any contact with a hearing board member before a hearing regarding the alleged Student Honor Code violation.
  3. Cases only appear before the Student Honor Code Council after all other options have been taken or considered. These cases are commonly difficult and contain complex information. Hence, faculty should keep an open mind throughout the process.
  4. Student Honor Code Council faculty and student members must remain unbiased and make their determination based solely on the facts and evidence presented by the student and reporting faculty member.
  5. The role of the Chair of the hearing board is to ensure that the hearing proceedings follow the University’s policies and procedures. The chair of the hearing does not have a vote.
  6. The chairperson and/or a member of the Student Honor Code staff will be present to ensure that the hearing proceedings follow the appropriate guidelines, to answer procedural questions, to provide background information when needed, to ensure that the hearing deliberations are free of bias, and to assist participants of the hearing. These individuals do not have a vote nor do they make a determination of whether or not the student is responsible for academic misconduct and/or the appropriate sanction.
  7. Student Honor Code hearings are confidential and all materials from the hearing will be collected to preserve confidentiality.

Preparation

  1. You are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the Director of the Student Honor Code office to address any concerns or questions you may have.
  2. You should receive information from the Student Honor Code Office as to the time, date, and location of the hearing.
  3. Documents that may be useful during a hearing include the following;
    • Course syllabi, instructions for assignment/exam in question and copies of materials in question.
    • If a student is accused of plagiarism, it might be helpful if you have highlighted copies of the student’s work and the work that has been allegedly plagiarized.
    • If the student is accused of cheating on an examination, it might be helpful to have copies of the material or other evidence that supports the allegations of cheating if you have that information. If you observed the student allegedly cheating, it may be useful to simply write the actions that you observed and submit them to the Student Honor Code Council prior to the hearing.
    • Sometimes, seeing how other students responded to questions on an assignment/examination might be useful in determining the “preponderance” of evidence that cheating has occurred. You may consider being prepared to discuss how other students in your class responded to a particular question.
    • You may also consider writing a brief narrative of the incident and what led you to report the student so that the Student Honor Code Council can review this information prior to the hearing.
  4. Please submit the documents that you would like for the Student Honor Code Council to review at least 3 days prior to the hearing so that the accused student and the hearing board will have time to review the information.
  5. You should know that students who are reported to the Student Honor Code Council have the right to know the name of the person who reported the alleged act of academic misconduct and may also view any information contained in their file. Some cases can be adjudicated without the accused student knowing the name of the person who has reported them. If a case cannot be adjudicated without the name of person who has reported the student being known, we will notify you and the student who discovered the alleged academic misconduct prior to speaking with the accused student.
  6. You have the right to be accompanied by a person of your choice for support at the hearing. That person may provide advice to you in a quiet, non-disruptive manner but may not participate in the hearing or deliberations.
  7. In cases in which the violation was witnessed by another person or reported to you, it is best if the witness can attend the hearing to provide testimony. If a witness cannot be present, they may submit a written statement to be reviewed by the Student Honor Code Council and the accused student as part of the case file.
  8. You should have an idea of how the student was performing in the class. Hearing board members may deem the student’s performance in the course relevant to determining an appropriate outcome.
  9. The standard of evidence used in Student Honor Code Council hearings is the preponderance of evidence. This standard means is it more likely than that the student committed an act of academic misconduct.
  10. Student Honor Code Council hearings are heard by a hearing board, consisting of 6 council members, (3 faculty members, 2 student members, 1 non-voting Chair). A hearing may proceed with fewer than six members as long as the faculty who are serving on the board have a voting majority.
  11. Hearings typically last about an hour and a half, but can last longer if the case has several witnesses or contains complex evidence.
  12. Many cases require information and verbal clarification from you. In these cases your verbal testimony may be the most important piece of evidence at the hearing. The hearing panel members may have questions that can only be answered by hearing from you. You should use your verbal testimony to support the written summary that you have provided. Your testimony may reiterate much of what you have stated on your narrative or on the Violation Report Form, but it will also give you an opportunity to clarify information.

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Phone: 662.325.9151
Fax: 662.325.3699

Mailing Address
Student Honor Code Office
Mississippi State University
608 Allen Hall
P.O. Box DS
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Mail Stop 9515

Office Hours:
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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