Rules of Decorum for Administrative Conferences

The student conduct process is designed to fit within the University’s larger education system and does not function as a court of law. The purpose of the Rules of Decorum is to provide clear expectations for the behavior of all participants and to provide clear notice of the consequences for failure to adhere to these expectations. This will help the pre-conference meeting and administrative conference to proceed in a more efficient and educational manner for all involved.  While the text below only refers to the administrative conference, unless otherwise noted these rules also apply in any meeting or conference with the decision-maker outside of the administrative conference.

Rules for Participation

  1. All participants are expected to treat each other and the decision-maker with respect.
  2. Abusive behavior will not be tolerated and may be grounds for the participant to be removed from the administrative conference.
  3.  Parties and advisors may take no action at the administrative conference that a reasonable person in the position of the affected party would see as intended to intimidate that person (whether party, witness, or other participant) into not participating in the process or meaningfully modifying their participation in the process.
  4. Participants will not yell, use profanity, or aggressive/bullying language unless such language is part of the information they are providing in response to a question. 
  5. It is expected that all participants will be honest and forthright throughout the administrative conference.
  6. Only the parties and their advisors, individuals called as called witnesses, and other individuals deemed necessary by the decision-maker are allowed in the administrative conference.
  7. If the administrative conference occurs virtually, it is expected that:
    1. Only the party will be in the physical room from which they are joining virtually (unless with their advisor).
    2. Only the advisor will be in the physical room from which they are joining virtually (unless with the party).
    3. Only the witness will be in the physical room from which the witness joins virtually.
  8. During the administrative conference, participants will not communicate with anyone outside the administrative conference regarding anything related to the administrative conference; this includes text messages, social media messaging or posting; etc.
  9. The only recording made of the administrative conference will be made by the decision-maker/University.
  10. Participants must indicate a desire to speak and then wait until the decision-maker invites them to speak.
  11. Parties or their advisors may request reasonable breaks.  The decision-maker may set limits on the number, timing, and duration of breaks.  A party must answer any pending question before taking a break.
  12. The decision-maker may address questions and requests to the parties, or to the parties’ advisors.  If the decision-maker specifically asks a party to respond, the advisor should not respond in place of the party.
  13. Parties and advisors are not permitted to have contact with the decision-maker without the other party also being present or copied on the communication.  This applies throughout the time that a case is pending, from the appointment of the decision-maker through the expiration of the appeal period or end of appeal process.

Rules for Questioning

  1. Questions must be neutral in tone. 
  2. An advisor may not yell, scream, badger or physically “lean in” to a party or witness’s personal space.  Advisors may not approach or speak to the other party or to a witness without permission from the decision-maker.
  3. Advisors may not use profanity or make irrelevant ad hominem attacks upon a party or witness. Questions are meant to be interrogative statements used to test knowledge or understand a fact; they may not include accusations within the text of a question.
  4. Advisors may not introduce information into evidence through questioning.  This means that advisors may not ask questions in such a way that the question itself provides information not already in evidence.
  5. Advisors may not ask repetitive questions.  When the decision-maker determines a question has been “asked and answered” or is otherwise not relevant, the advisor must move on.
  6. Questions that solicit information already in the record, either through Investigation Report or administrative conference, from the same party or witness may be deemed irrelevant.
  7. Questions should not solicit information that has been determined, before the administrative conference, to be irrelevant.  This includes questions about complainant’s past sexual history (unless one of the exceptions apply) or questions about privileged information.
  8. Questions asked of the opposing party and witnesses may be asked in a leading, cross-examination style.  Questions asked of a party by the party’s own must be asked in a non-leading, direct-examination style.
  9. With the exception of questions for expert witnesses, questions should be designed to obtain direct observations or facts, not personal opinions.
  10. The decision-maker must decide the relevance of each question before it is answered.  Parties should wait for an indication from the decision-maker before answering each question. The decision-maker has the sole authority to determine the relevancy of questions.
  11. The decision-maker may determine that a question is not relevant as asked, and may require the advisor to rephrase the question or restate the question in a manner that complies with the rules (respectful, neutral, and non-abusive).
  12. Advisors may object to questions on the grounds of complainant’s prior sexual behavior or sexual predisposition or privilege only.  Advisors may state that they have an objection and the decision-maker will invite the advisor to briefly state the objection.  For all other instances, the decision-maker may invite the advisors to respond if the decision-maker wishes to obtain the advisors’ input regarding the relevancy of a particular question.

Consequences for Violations of The Rules of Decorum

If the decision-maker determines that a participant has violated these Rules of Decorum, the decision-maker will provide the participant with one opportunity to correct their behavior. If the decision-maker determines that the participant continues to violate these Rules, the decision-maker may either limit that individual’s participation moving forward or remove the individual from the administrative conference. For repeated violations and/or egregious behavior, an advisor may be prohibited from serving as an advisor in University processes.

If an advisor is removed from the administrative conference, the impacted party may either select a new advisor or the University will provide an advisor to the party for the remainder of the administrative conference. In this case, the administrative conference, or the rest of the administrative conference may be postponed if necessary to allow for the selection or provision of a new advisor. Any actions taken by the decision-maker regarding violation of these Rules or removal of participants will be documented in the record.