The University Hearing and Appeals System is not a court, legal, or trial system, and the resolution options, including formal resolution, available through UHAS are not constrained by the rules of procedure or evidence typically used in a court of law. UHAS operates under a standard of fairness, which includes an opportunity for the student or student group to be notified of the alleged misconduct and the policy violations under consideration and an opportunity to be heard. As such, if a case is referred for formal resolution, the respondent will be notified of the alleged misconduct and will be given an opportunity to respond.
Depending on the circumstance and in its discretion, the Office of Community Standards may consolidate for investigation and resolution multiple incidents involving the same respondent, and/or cases in which parties have made allegations against each other.
Please note, allegations of policy violation related to the Policy on Institutional Equity and the Interim Policy on Title IX Sexual Harassment are resolved through the respective policies Complaint Resolution Process.
Standard of Evidence
The Office of Community Standards uses the preponderance of the evidence standard in investigations and hearings. This means that the investigator(s) and hearing officers must determine more likely than not what occurred. A preponderance of the evidence means that over 50% of the information supports a finding that the misconduct occurred.
The respondent will receive notification of the allegation of misconduct typically three or more days prior to the administrative hearing. In circumstances that require further investigation, respondents will be notified typically three or more days prior to the investigative meeting. The notification will typically include a brief description of the alleged misconduct, including the time, date, and place the incident allegedly occurred, a list of any University policies allegedly violated, and a description of the steps toward resolution. The University may modify the list of policies allegedly violated based on additional information revealed during investigation.
Acceptance of Responsibility
Acceptance of Responsibility for an Individual Student
In cases typically used for separation level matters, prior to the conclusion of an investigation, the Respondent may elect to take responsibility for the prohibited conduct by contacting the Director of Community Standards in writing. The Director of Community Standards or designee will issue a brief outcome determination summarizing the allegations and stating the respondent has accepted responsibility, and refer the matter to a sanctioning panel. Following the determination of sanctions, a Respondent may appeal the sanctions but not the finding(s) of responsibility. In the event a Respondent decides to accept responsibility for some but not all of the allegations, the Office of Community Standards will determine whether to sever the matter and send the allegations for which the Respondent has accepted responsibility along to a sanctioning panel for sanctioning.
Acceptance of Responsibility for Student Organizations/Groups
If a finding and sanction(s) are issued by a Non-Northwestern governing body (e.g., Inter/National Headquarters) prior to the resolution of the UHAS formal student organization conduct process, the University may give the student organization/group, (inclusive of the non-Northwestern governing body) the option to accept responsibility for the alleged violation(s) and any proposed sanction(s) from the University. Acceptance of Responsibility and the proposed University sanctions prevents the need for formal resolution through the UHAS process. The Office of Community Standards reserves the right to investigate and, as appropriate, hold any individuals accountable for their behavior that may be related to the matter.
Types of Formal Resolution
Types of Formal Resolution
For more information on the types of formal resolution visit the following pages as outlined in the Student Handbook (PDF):
- Non-Separation Level Cases (pages 115-117)
- Separation-Level Cases (pages 117-123)