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Western Kentucky University

Appeal Procedure for Formal Complaint

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procedures governing the judicial conference of Sexual Misconduct appeals include the following:

• All parties should be timely informed of the status of requests for appeal, the status of the appeal consideration, and the results of the appeal decision;

• Every opportunity to return the appeal to the original judicial conference body for reconsideration (remand) should be pursued;

• Appeals are not intended to be full re-judicial conferences of the complaint (de novo). In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original judicial conference, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal;

• This is not an opportunity for appeals officers to substitute their judgment for that of the original judicial conference body merely because they disagree with its finding and/or sanctions. Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original judicial conference body, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so;

• Sanctions imposed are implemented immediately unless the Director of Judicial Affairs stays their implementation in extraordinary circumstances, pending the outcome of the appeal. The Vice-President for Student Affairs will render a written decision on the appeal to all parties within seven (7) business days* from judicial conference of the appeal. The committee's decision to deny appeal requests is final.

The University understands the need to have a corrective process in place to address circumstances should the judicial officer err. One or all of the following conditions must be met in order for an appeal to be considered.

Sanctions imposed by the Office of Judicial Affairs' post-investigation can be appealed by any party according to the grounds, below. Post-judicial outcome, any party may appeal the findings and/or sanctions only under the grounds described, below.

All sanctions imposed by the original judicial conference body will be in effect during the appeal. A request may be made to the Director of Judicial Affairs for special consideration in exigent circumstances, but the presumptive stance of the institution is that the sanctions will stand. Graduations, Study Abroad, internships/externships, etc. do NOT in and of themselves constitute exigent circumstances, and students may not be able to participate in those activities during their appeal. In cases where the appeal results in reinstatement to the institution or of privileges, all reasonable attempts will be made to restore the student to their prior status, recognizing that some opportunities lost may be irretrievable in the short term.

The decision of the Office of Judicial Affairs may be appealed to the appropriate reviewer. Respondent students or complainants must submit an appeal within 5 business days of receiving the written decision for a review of the decision or the sanctions imposed. Any party who files an appeal must do so in writing to the Office of Judicial Affairs. The Office of Judicial Affairs will share the appeal with the other party (e.g., if the respondent student appeals, the appeal is shared with the complainant, who may also wish to file a response), and then The Office of Judicial Affairs will draft a response memorandum (also shared with all parties). All appeals and responses are then forwarded to the Vice-President for Student Affairs for initial review to determine if the appeal meets the limited grounds and is timely. The original finding and sanction will stand if the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, and the decision is final. If the appeal has standing, the documentation is forwarded for consideration. The party requesting appeal must show error as the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The ONLY grounds for appeal are as follows:

 

1. To determine whether the original conference was conducted fairly and in accordance with the Office of Judicial Affairs sanction determination and procedures.

2. To determine whether the decision reached regarding the respondent student was based on substantial information to determine the preponderance of evidence and/or the level of responsibility. This is not information you chose not to share or obtain prior to the conference.

3. To determine whether any sanctions imposed (suspension, expulsion or denial of housing/network access) were appropriate and not unduly harsh for the violation(s) set forth in the Student Code of Conduct.

4. If you are the complaining student in a sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct case. For sexual misconduct and/or sexual harassment cases both the complainant and the charged student can file an appeal regardless of the outcome. Both students have the same grounds to appeal and the same time frame in which to submit an appeal.


If the appeals officer or committee determines that new evidence should be considered, it will return the complaint to the University Disciplinary Committee to reconsider in light of the new evidence, only. The reconsideration of the judicial conference body is not appealable.


If the Vice-President for Student Affairs determines that a material procedural [or substantive] error occurred, it may return the complaint to the University Disciplinary Committee with instructions to reconvene to cure the error. In rare cases, where the procedural [or substantive] error cannot be cured by the original judicial conference officers (as in cases of bias), the Vice-President for Student Affairs may order a new judicial conference on the complaint with a new body of judicial conference officers. The results of a reconvened judicial conference cannot be appealed.

The results of a new judicial conference can be appealed, once, on the four applicable grounds for appeals. If the Vice-President for Student Affairs determines that the sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of the violation, the Vice-President for Student Affairs will return the complaint to the Judicial Affairs office, which may then increase, decrease or otherwise modify the sanctions. This decision is final.

Dissemination of Policy

The policy will be made available to all employees and students. Periodic notices sent to students, employees and supervisors about the university's Policy Against Misconduct/Assault will include information about the complaint procedure and refer individuals to designated offices and officials for additional information. 

 

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 Last Modified 9/25/14