REPORT OF THE STUDENT RIGHTS
AND RESPONSIBILITIES COMMITTEE
April 2005

Background

Over the last two years, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Committee (SR&R) met frequently and with great commitment to revise Procedures for Cases of Violations of Community Standards of Behavior and University Policies as they appear in both the University Manual and the Student Handbook. Committee members included faculty members Leo Carroll, Chet Hickox, Barbara Luebke, and John Merrill; student members Michael Katz, Cristin Langworthy, Jesse Whitsitt Lynch, Kevin McCarthy, and Ryan Rabideau; staff members Joan Harrington, Maureen McDermott, with Dean of Students Fran Cohen serving as Chair.

Recommendations for changes came from students, Student Senate Committees, and staff.  Consultants to the Committee were Lou Saccoccio, J.D., University Counsel, and Ed Stoner, J.D., higher education consultant and author of a “Model Student Conduct Code” published in the Journal of College and University Law (V31, No.1, 2004).  

These changes have also been reviewed by Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Dougan.

Recommendations

The Student Rights and Responsibilities Committee recommends that the Faculty Senate approve the following changes to the UNIVERSITY MANUAL.  The recommendations are divided into four parts:

I.    Recommendations that are primarily editorial.
II.   Recommendations on academic integrity supported unanimously by the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee
III.  Substantive recommendations on student conduct system.
IV. Substantive Changes to Policy #86-1” Administrative Room Entry and Search Procedure

I.     The following 7 recommendations are primarily editorial: (Deleted language is indicated by strikethrough.  New wording is underlined.)

9.21.15 Administrative Hearings shall be conducted …… (3) if a student requests an administrative hearing; and (4) if in the judgment of the Office of Student Life, scheduling difficulties, time pressures, the seriousness of the case, and/or similar circumstances make an administrative hearing necessary and/or appropriate. it is necessary to ensure that a hearing occurs in a timely fashion, to insure the health and safety of any of the participants or to insure an unbiased hearing.
Rationale: Refines description of circumstances for administrative hearings.

5.74.20 Hearing Panels….. Panel members shall be appointed from the Conduct Board members by the Office of Student Life. Faculty or staff who have been Conduct Board members in the past and who are conversant with the current system may be asked to serve on individual hearing panels when a sufficient number of current Board members is not available.
Rationale: insures that hearing participants’ knowledge is up to date.
 

9.21.21 Presence of Accused, Oaths, Burden of Proof, and Standards of Evidence Proof. …… The charging official and the chair of the panel will work to eliminate prejudicial and irrelevant information.  If the charged student feels that this has not been done, he/she can add a written complaint or correction to the materials that are given to the hearing panel or officer.   The panel shall rule on the admissibility of evidence.  Unduly repetitious or irrelevant evidence may be excluded.  
Rationale:  Less legalistic; clearer responsibility for hearing content.

9.21.27 Continuance of Disciplinary Proceedings. ……If a student completing degree requirements is accused of an offense for which suspension or dismissal are appropriate penalties, his/her diploma may be withheld pending resolution of the conduct proceedings or during a period of suspension.
Rationale:  Clarifies that diplomas may be withheld not only during conduct proceedings, but also during suspension.

9.21.31 Deferral of Proceedings.  The staff of the Office of Student Life may defer conduct action at any stage of the process for a period not to exceed ninety calendar days when school is in session. ….
Rationale:  Clarifies timing of deferral.
9.21.34 Conduct Records. All conduct records, such as complaint letters, correspondence, charge letters, decision letters, and hearing summaries, shall be considered confidential, and be maintained by the Office of Student Life for five six years after the date of the conduct action.  Records of unresolved incidents shall be reviewed annually starting with the 5-year 6-year anniversary.  ……
Rationale:  Federal guidelines have changed from 5 to 6 years.
9.22.11 No Further Action. When the student is found responsible for the violation(s), and the discussion with the haring officer or the hearing before the appropriate panel has been sufficient in and of itself, further action may not be deemed necessary.  However, the verdict is still noted in the student’s record in the Office of Student Life. In cases where the discussion with the administrative officer or the hearing before the appropriate student conduct board has been sufficient, the student will be notified that there is no further action necessary.
Rationale:  Reflects current practice. Responsibility for a violation always carries a sanction, even if it is only a warning.
II.    The second set of 2 recommendations has to do with academic integrity. Please note that the Academic Standards and Calendar Committee supported these proposed changes unanimously at its 3/31/05 meeting.
(New) 8.27.20 Students accused of academic dishonesty within the drop period may be denied the opportunity to drop the course.  This requires permission from the instructor’s dean.  If the accusation is not upheld in an appeal, the student will be given the same options available before the end of the drop period without penalty.
Rationale:  Prevents students from dropping course to evade grade sanction for academic dishonesty.

8.27.20  8.27.21….The Dean of Students shall notify the student's dean of subsequent infractions and may initiate conduct action against the student.
Rationale:  Encourages uniform handling of repeat offenses across colleges.
III.    The following 5 recommendations are substantive and concern the student conduct system.
9.23.10 Emergency Suspension. …. for reasons of imminent danger to the safety or well-being of the University community. The decision to separate a student from the campus under these conditions shall be made only with the approval of the Vice President for Student Affairs or the President. ….
Rationale:  Streamlines approval process as the Vice President for Student Affairs typically handles emergencies. Also protects President from possible political pressure applied in student’s behalf.
9.21.29 Appeals Procedure. …. When a hearing panel or hearing officer recommends a judicial sanction, the accused student shall have the right to appeal the decision to the University Appeals Board (5.20.10-12). Such appeal requests, which must be presented in writing, shall be based only on evidence of fraud, denial of rights, procedural error, or on the claim of new evidence which was not available at the hearing, and which would have materially affected the decision of the hearing panel or officer. Following a hearing, a complainant has the right to submit an appeal request to the University Appeals Board based on new evidence (as described above).  Appeal requests must be filed with the Dean of Students within one week of receipt of the letter informing the accused student that a judicial sanction has been recommended. ….
Rationale:  This provision better balances the rights of the accusing individual and the accused individual if new evidence were found by either party within a week.

9.24.10 Jurisdiction of the Student Discipline System over Off-Campus Conduct. Off-campus conduct shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Student Discipline System if one of the following conditions is met:  1) an infraction of a community standard of behavior as listed in the STUDENT HANDBOOK occurs at:  a) an official University event, such as a field trip; b) a University sanctioned event as defined in Section 8.51.12 of the UNIVERSITY MANUAL; or c) an event sponsored by a recognized student organization, fraternity or sorority; or 2) an off-campus action performed by a person while he or she is a student is of a nature such that it would be subject to the Student Discipline System if it had occurred on campus, and the nature and circumstances of the infraction provide reasonable grounds for believing that the alleged offender posed or poses a threat to life, health, or safety of the University community, or to University property the safety of self or others or if the alleged offender is repeatedly arrested or cited for violating local, state or federal laws.  The decision to apply jurisdiction to off-campus conduct shall be made by the Dean of Students.
Rationale: Broadens University’s ability to act to protect safety of students and others. 17 out of 17 state colleges and universities regarded as peer institutions have jurisdiction policies that are broader than that recommended above. The proposed policy gives the University discretion to decide whether or not to apply jurisdiction in the following types of circumstances:  actions causing injury to self or others, harassment, felony arrests, hosting events with underage or excessive alcohol consumption, riotous behavior and/or inciting violence toward people or property.  Further, the Manual provides a process with which to appeal the application of jurisdiction.

9.21.17…..When the charged student denies responsibility; the burden of proof shall rest upon the person(s) bringing the charges. The standard for this proof shall be clear and convincing evidence more likely than not.
Rationale: This describes the degree of confidence the hearing panel or judicial officer must have regarding the occurrence of the violation. Stoner’s model code states that the standard of “substantial evidence” (33% sure) or “more likely than not”(51% sure) is the standard used at most colleges and universities. University Counsel Saccoccio recommends and the Committee voted to replace “clear and convincing”(66% sure) with “more likely than not”) for the following reason.  We must balance the rights of the accused with the rights of community members who expect a safe and peaceful environment in which to pursue their education. If the information presented at a hearing results in a reasonable conclusion that, at minimum, it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred, sanctioning for the violation is in the interest of community wholeness.
Language.  Change all references in sections 9.20.10 through 9.25.10 from “judicial” to “conduct.”
Rationale:  Reduces legalistic terminology.
IV.    Substantive Changes to the University Policy #86-1 “Administrative Room Entry and Search Procedure” are presented on the following pages.  The current policy follows the proposed revision

ADMINISTRATIVE ROOM ENTRY AND SEARCH PROCEDURE

ORIGINATOR: Student Affairs

DATE: May 2005 (Revised)

POLICY #86-1

PURPOSE:

To inform resident students and University staff of the limitations upon authority of University employees to enter, or to grant to other persons permission to enter, residence hall rooms, suites and apartments under the control of URI during the period of occupancy by students. University officials and employees are not permitted to enter or to search student residences during the period of occupancy except in accord with these procedures.

APPLICABLE TO:

Resident students and University staff.

DEFINITIONS:

Student Residence: The residence hall room, suite, or apartment occupied by a student or students, and owned by the University.

Period of Occupancy: The period of time during which a student has been permitted to reside in a student residence by written agreement with URI, specifically excluding designated University holidays or between semester breaks during which the residence hall, apartment, or suite is officially closed and not available for residency by students.

Proposed changes are indicated (Deleted language is indicated by strikethrough.  New wording is underlined.)

1. Entry and Search by Consent of the Student
a. ………. In situations where the student refuses consent search procedures described below may be implemented.
c. Any student who is a resident of the room, suite, or apartment may consent to entry of the authorized University employee and to the search of that student's personal belongings. However, no student may consent to the search of another student's bedroom, closets, locker, suitcases, or other areas under the primary control of another student. Whenever a student's area or belongings are searched by consent, a consent to search form is to be completed by the staff member, making the search and signed by the student(s) whose belongings are to be searched.
c. A resident student can give consent to an authorized University employee to enter his/her room, apartment or shared bathroom. The resident student can give consent only to the search of his/her belongings, and of shared areas that are not under the primary control of another student. For example a student may give consent to a search of a shared refrigerator but not to any closed containers therein that are the property of another student. No student may consent to the search of another student’s bedroom, closets, locker, suitcases, backpacks, or other areas under the primary control of another student.

2. Entry Without Consent in a Health or Safety Emergency
The Director of Security, Director of Safety and Risk Management or his/her designee, the Director or Assistant Director of Residential Life, the Associate Director of Residential Life, a Hall Director or an Evening Manager Supervisor Assistant Hall Director or Security Officer may enter …………

3. Entry For Routine Inspections
…….. inspections for health, safety, and building maintenance purposes. In the case of fraternity or sorority rooms, the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee may enter for such inspections and maintenance.

4. Entry Without Consent on Suspicion of Violation of University Regulations or Federal or State Law
a. Where federal, state, or local law enforcement officers, including URI campus police, are involved in an investigation of possible violation of state or federal law, any search of a student residence shall be conducted only by such law enforcement officers and only in accord with legal standards applicable to police searches of private residences, and no University employee or agent other than a URI police officer is authorized to conduct a search of a student residence in connection with such investigation. URI officials may, however, cooperate with the law enforcement officers executing a search authorized by an appropriate federal or state judicial officer.
b. If no federal, state, or local law enforcement officer (including URI campus police) is involved in an investigation of a possible violation of University policy, and if a URI employee (other than a URI campus police officer) or student has reason to believe that search of a particular room will yield evidence of violation of a University regulation by a particular student, that employee or student should contact the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or the Associate Director of Residential Life. If the Director of Security, Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life, after hearing the employee's or student's statements to that effect, believes that a search of a particular student residence will produce evidence of a violation of University regulations, or evidence of the identity of a person participating in such a violation, the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life may apply to the Dean of Students (or if the Dean of Students is unavailable, to the Vice President for Student Affairs) for an administrative search warrant. The Dean of Students or Vice President for Student Affairs to whom application is made shall review the application and may ask any additional questions of the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life, or of the additional applicants. The Dean of Students or Vice President for Student Affairs shall sign the student residence search warrant only if s/he concludes there is reasonable cause to believe that the property described in the application and related to the commission of a violation is located as described in the application and that it is in the best interest of the University and its students to conduct an administrative search. Once the administrative warrant has been granted the search will be conducted only by the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or the Associate Director of Residential Life. Evidence found in the administrative search that indicates a violation of University policy may be used for internal University action.

In the following section, “concrete information” is something known from direct observation or information from a reliable source.  For example, a resident assistant reports hearing a drinking game; a resident assistant sees alcohol being brought into the room of an underage student; there is the smell of marijuana, a towel under the door, the window is open and a fan is on; a credible message is received about a suicide threat.

A Hall Director or Assistant Hall Director or someone of higher authority may use master keys for entry only under the following circumstances.
-health and safety crisis
-search warrant from court
-verbal permission has been given for a limited administrative search
-written permission has been given for a full administrative search


a.  Limited Administrative Search.  A Hall Director or Assistant Hall Director who has concrete information of a violation of community standards must get verbal permission from a Director or Assistant Director of Housing and Residential Life to open the door of a non-responsive student.  The resulting search will be hands-off and limited to what is in plain sight, closet and refrigerator contents and a quick look under and around surfaces.  Any evidence found in a limited administrative search may be used for campus disciplinary procedures.

b.  Full Administrative Search. If federal, state, or local law enforcement officers (including URI campus police) are not involved in an investigation of possible criminal activity, and if a staff or student provides concrete information that the search of a particular room will yield evidence of a serious violation of community standards by a particular student, the Director of Housing and Residential Life, the Dean of Students, or the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee may issue a written administrative search warrant.  Once the administrative warrant has been granted, the Director of Housing and Residential Life, Vice President for Student Affairs or their designee will conduct the search.  Any evidence found in the administrative search may be used for campus disciplinary procedures.  

a.  c. ….. an investigation of possible violation of state or federal law, any search of a student residence shall be conducted only by such law enforcement officers and only in accord with legal standards applicable to police searches of private residences. , and no University employee or agent other than a URI police officer is Only law enforcement officers are  authorized to conduct a search of a student residence in connection with such investigation. URI officials may, however, cooperate with the law enforcement officers executing a search authorized by an appropriate federal or state judicial officer. While executing a search warrant.  University staff may accompany officers.  Evidence found may be used in criminal proceedings and/or in campus disciplinary proceedings.
Rationale:  Updates language and position titles.  Under specific circumstances and with approval, permits two levels of administrative search.

EXISTING POLICY

 ADMINISTRATIVE ROOM ENTRY AND SEARCH PROCEDURE

ORIGINATOR: Student Affairs

DATE: November, 1986

POLICY #86-1

PURPOSE:

To inform resident students and University staff of the limitations upon authority of University employees to enter, or to grant to other persons permission to enter, residence hall rooms, suites and apartments under the control of URI during the period of occupancy by students. University officials and employees are not permitted to enter or to search student residences during the period of occupancy except in accord with these procedures.

APPLICABLE TO:

Resident students and University staff.

DEFINITIONS:

Student Residence:
The residence hall room, suite, or apartment occupied by a student or students, and owned by the University.

Period of Occupancy: The period of time during which a student has been permitted to reside in a student residence by written agreement with URI, specifically excluding designated University holidays or between semester breaks during which the residence hall, apartment, or suite is officially closed and not available for residency by students.

POLICY:

1. Entry and Search by Consent of the Student

a. Any authorized University employee may enter a student, residence if a student who is a resident gives voluntary consent. The student's consent must be freely given and must not be based on coercion or threats by the University, and must not be occasioned by a student's fear of reprisal for failure to give consent.

b. The intrusion by the employee must be limited to scope of the consent given by the student; for example, if the student consents to entry by the employee, the employee is not entitled to search the student's belongings without obtaining further consent to do so.

c. Any student who is a resident of the room, suite, or apartment may consent to entry of the authorized University employee and to the search of that student's personal belongings. However, no student may consent to the search of another student's bedroom, closets, locker, suitcases, or other areas under the primary control of another student. Whenever a student's area or belongings are searched by consent, a consent to search form is to be completed by the staff member, making the search and signed by the student(s) whose belongings are to be searched.

2. Entry Without Consent in a Health or Safety Emergency

The Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life, the Associate Director of Residential Life, a Hall Director or an Evening Manager Supervisor may enter a student room without consent when the employee has a reasonable cause to believe that such entry is necessary on an emergency basis to protect the health or safety of persons or to make emergency repairs to University facilities to avoid damage to University or student property.

3. Entry For Routine Inspections

The Director of Residential Life or his/her designee may enter student rooms without student consent to conduct general and routine inspections for health, safety, and building maintenance purposes. Such inspections may be conducted only after the University has posted a notice indicating the purpose of inspection and stating the inspection will take place no sooner than 24 and no later than 72 hours after the notice is posted. During the indicated time period, the employee authorized to conduct the inspection may not enter the room without first knocking on the door and announcing the purpose for entry.

4. Entry Without Consent on Suspicion of Violation of University Regulations or Federal or State Law

a. Where federal, state, or local law enforcement officers, including URI campus police, are involved in an investigation of possible violation of state or federal law, any search of a student residence shall be conducted only by such law enforcement officers and only in accord with legal standards applicable to police searches of private residences, and no University employee or agent other than a URI police officer is authorized to conduct a search of a student residence in connection with such investigation. URI officials may, however, cooperate with the law enforcement officers executing a search authorized by an appropriate federal or state judicial officer.

b. If no federal, state, or local law enforcement officer (including URI campus police) is involved in an investigation of a possible violation of University policy, and if a URI employee (other than a URI campus police officer) or student has reason to believe that search of a particular room will yield evidence of violation of a University regulation by a particular student, that employee or student should contact the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or the Associate Director of Residential Life. If the Director of Security, Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life, after hearing the employee's or student's statements to that effect, believes that a search of a particular student residence will produce evidence of a violation of University regulations, or evidence of the identity of a person participating in such a violation, the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life may apply to the Dean of Students (or if the Dean of Students is unavailable, to the Vice President for Student Affairs) for an administrative search warrant. The Dean of Students or Vice President for Student Affairs to whom application is made shall review the application and may ask any additional questions of the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or Associate Director of Residential Life, or of the additional applicants. The Dean of Students or Vice President for Student Affairs shall sign the student residence search warrant only if s/he concludes there is reasonable cause to believe that the property described in the application and related to the commission of a violation is located as described in the application and that it is in the best interest of the University and its students to conduct an administrative search. Once the administrative warrant has been granted the search will be conducted only by the Director of Security, the Director of Residential Life or the Associate Director of Residential Life. Evidence found in the administrative search that indicates a violation of University policy may be used for internal University action.