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Student Disciplinary Procedures

Student Disciplinary Procedures


Accountability and discipline serve an important purpose in the growth of the individual and the well-being of the community at Gordon College. Each member of the community has committed himself or herself to live within the College’s expectations of life and conduct which are included in this handbook. When an individual fails to meet the responsibilities that are inherent in membership in this community, there is a need for accountability. The purpose, therefore, for accountability and discipline at Gordon is to create an opportunity for change and growth in the life of the individual, and to create an environment that is conducive to learning and is distinctively Christian.

Accountability

Any discussion of accountability begins, of course, with self-discipline. One of Gordon’s primary goals is to help students become less dependent on rules to govern their behavior and more dependent on their own ability to discern what is right, independent of peer pressure and external props. The highest objectives of self-discipline at Gordon are consistent with the biblical principles that are foundational to our community and are emphasized in the College’s Life and Conduct Statement: “Life within a Christian community must be lived to the glory of God, daily conforming ourselves to the image of Christ and recognizing the Lordship of Christ in every activity.” Members of the Gordon community are called to “assume responsibility for their own behavior as it reflects upon their Lord, their community and themselves, particularly in the area of personal freedom, ...” (see Life and Conduct, General Principles). It is with these goals in mind that members of the Gordon community are expected to hold themselves accountable for their own behavior.

When self-discipline breaks down, peer accountability becomes necessary. Members of the Gordon community are expected to share responsibility for each other’s growth, to willingly express concern and to caringly confront one another. This type of accountability is a necessary element of responsible biblical relationships in our community, including those among students, faculty and staff. Gordon’s expectations for life and conduct call us to become a community where our actions “are not solely a private matter.” We are called to “be concerned about the welfare of other individuals within the community and of the community as a whole” (see General Principles). This level of concern and accountability is essential to produce the support and impetus that enables an individual to change inappropriate behavior and to effect significant growth in a person’s life and in the life of the community. Because of this strong belief in peer accountability, Gordon students who assist or encourage other students to violate the behavioral standards of the community also may be subject to the disciplinary action outlined below.

Failure to comply with the directions of College officials or being uncooperative or disrespectful to College officials in the performance of their duties will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to, resident directors, resident advisors, apartment coordinators, Gordon Police officers and any faculty or staff member.

COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY AND DISCIPLINE

If behavioral change does not occur as a result of peer accountability and behavior continues that is inappropriate to community life at Gordon, community accountability will take place. Community accountability entails confrontation from an RA, Resident Director, Dean, or the Vice President for Student Life. It is desirable that this accountability occurs at the level closest to the infraction. Consequently, inappropriate behavior may first be confronted by the RA. In instances where an RA’s involvement does not bring the appropriate change in behavior, the RA will take the situation to the resident director. Issues unresolved at that level may be taken to the Office of Student Life.

At any point in the process of community accountability, a disciplinary response may occur. RAs and resident directors may administer some disciplinary sanctions. Certain behaviors which have been judged by the community to be of a more serious nature may be confronted by an RA, Resident Director, Dean, or Vice President for Student Life. However, the disciplinary response to these more serious behaviors will be determined by a disciplinary hearing in the Office of Student Life.

Disciplinary Procedures

Cases which are referred to the Office of Student Life will be heard, depending on the nature of the violation, by the Judicial Board or a staff hearing panel. The dean of student care or vice president for student life will determine the appropriate hearing venue of all hearings. For procedures related to sexual assault, please see the Handbook's section on Nondiscrimination & Protection Policies as well as the College's website on sexual misconduct. All records and outcomes of cases are forwarded to the Vice President for Student Life.

PRELIMINARY PROCEDURES

Reporting and Investigation

  • Any member of the Gordon community may report information regarding an alleged incident of misconduct to resident directors or other staff members in the Office of Student Life.
  • The Office of Student Life shall assume responsibility for the preliminary investigation of the incident, and the matter will be discussed with the accused.
  • The dean of student care and/or the vice president for student life will decide whether to dismiss the matter without action or refer the matter for a hearing.
  • If in the judgment of the dean of student care and/or the vice president for student life a matter merits some action but not referral for a formal hearing, the dean of student care/vice president for student life may hear the case and impose sanctions.

Hearing Membership

  • A staff hearing will normally be composed of the Dean of Student Care and/or the Director of Residence Life. Other staff members of the Office of Student Life may also participate depending on the nature and location of the violation.
  • The Judicial Board is composed of two faculty members named by the Nominating Committee of the Faculty, three students named by the President of the Gordon College Student Association, an at-large member of the College staff and the Dean of Student Care, who serves as chair of the board. A quorum will consist of four members with at least one faculty member and one student present.

Hearing Procedures

  • If a hearing is to be held, the accused student shall be notified of the date, time and place of the hearing by the dean of student care or the director of residence life.
  • Evidence will be presented to the hearing officers verbally, in writing or through witnesses at the hearing. The Standard of Proof will be the Preponderance of the Evidence. This means that such evidence, when considered and compared with that opposed to it, has more convincing force and produces in the minds of those hearing the evidence the belief that the alleged misconduct more likely occurred than not.
  • The hearing will be an informal give-and-take between the accused student and those hearing the case.
  • Hearings shall be open only to the hearing officers, the accused student, and the presenter or complainant.
  • Witnesses may be present only while giving testimony. The accused may be accompanied by his/her advisor, but the advisor may not question witnesses. Lawyers representing the accused or the College are specifically prohibited from attending the hearing.
  • The hearing officers shall raise questions pertinent to the alleged incident, the attitude of the accused and to his/her previous behavior.
  • The accused student may question all witnesses.
  • After the hearing is concluded, the chair shall excuse the student and the presenter/complainant from the meeting. The hearing officers shall then discuss the issues and reach a decision. A simple majority will determine whether the preponderance of the evidence supports the allegation.

Report of Decision

  • The dean of student care/director of residence life shall prepare a summary of the hearing, including the decision.
  • The dean of student care/director of residence life shall report the decision and the sanctions to the accused student.

Appeal of Decision

  • If the accused student feels there is substantial evidence that the decision rendered was arbitrary or capricious, or has new evidence with a bearing on the case, he or she may appeal in writing to the dean of student care if he has not been involved in the hearing. If the dean of student care was involved, the dean of student engagement will serve as the appeal.
  • After review of the record of the hearing and evidence by the accused, the decision shall be reversed or affirmed.

Automatic Appeal

  • In the case of a suspension of one term or longer, or expulsion, an appeal will be automatically available. If the student elects to appeal such a sanction, he/she must follow the normal appeal process.

Impositions of Sanctions Prior to a Hearing

  • The College may, subject to a subsequent hearing, impose immediate sanctions against a student including suspension if, in the sole opinion of the dean of student care, the student’s continued presence on the campus might 1) create a danger of physical or mental harm to the student or another person or 2) disrupt the educational process of the College.
  • A hearing subsequent to the imposition of immediate sanctions must be conducted in accordance with the procedures outlined above.

DISCIPLINARY SANCTIONS

There are a variety of sanctions which may be invoked as disciplinary responses. They include: fines, letters of contract, counseling and educational programs, disciplinary probation, community work hours, restriction of housing and other privileges, leaves of absence and suspension. Suspensions may be administered only in disciplinary hearings. Parents of dependent students will be notified that disciplinary sanctions have been assessed.

Suspension normally follows continued violations of the College’s policies, compromises to personal integrity, disruptions to community life, and threats to the health and safety of others. Although suspension is normally reserved for multiple infractions, it can be used after a first offense if the violation is considered particularly egregious or involves concerns over the health and safety of others.

Suspension is the separation of the student from the College for a full academic semester or more. Returning to the College after suspension is conditional upon application and readmission to Gordon; and a student’s readmission is at the discretion of the College. Parents of dependent students are notified and a record is kept in the student’s file. No refunds are made.

Expulsion is a permanent suspension and will only be used as a last resort.

PROCEDURES FOR MANDATORY LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Gordon College offers a range of support services to address the medical and psychological needs of students within the context of the campus community. At times, students may experience health needs requiring a level of care that exceeds what the College can appropriately provide. In such cases, students may decide to take a voluntary leave of absence and, when applicable, file a tuition insurance claim for the semester.

Gordon College may initiate a mandatory leave of absence when:

  • a student exhibits behavior that appears to disrupt the academic process or legitimate activities of members of the College community; or,
  • behavior that presents a danger to the life, health, and safety of other members of the College community; or,
  • in situations where a student is unable or unwilling to cooperate with a recommended evaluation or treatment procedure, and the student does not want to take a voluntary leave of absence.
  • This policy may also apply to any student returning from a hospital confinement who needs a level of care that exceeds what the College can appropriately provide. 

When the College has evidence of the behavioral issues listed above, a medical/psychological evaluation may be required. The results of the evaluation will be provided to the dean of student care. In addition, the dean of student care or his designee may consult with the student about his/her behavior and, to the extent permitted by law, may also notify the student’s parent, guardian, or other appropriate adult. The dean of student care will make the final decision regarding approval of a mandatory leave of absence. The student has the right to be informed of all pertinent information leading to the leave of absence decision. The length of the leave of absence will be determined on a case-by-case basis, and the conditions under which a student may return to the College will be identified at the time of the leave of absence.

CONDUCT AMNESTY POLICY

As a way of supporting and encouraging students to live healthy and faithful lives, Gordon College has developed an approach to encourage godly living and reconciliation to the community standards. Students who have engaged in behaviors outside the Life and Conduct Statement, and who are seeking to change those behaviors, will have the opportunity to access our on-campus support network rather than adhere to the routine disciplinary process. Issues of special concern may include such things as use of illegal drugs, abuse of alcohol, use of pornography, or inappropriate sexual behaviors. Requests must precede any disciplinary confrontation resulting from behaviors contrary to the Life and Conduct Statement. Students who seek help will be given supportive, appropriate, and confidential assistance for accountability from caring staff. 

When a student reaches out to a staff member for amnesty under this policy, the staff member will report it to the Director of Residence Life and/or the Dean of Student Care. The Director of Residence Life and Dean of Student Care will reach out to the student to set up a meeting to discuss a support plan for the student. Attendance at this meeting and consistent engagement with the agreed upon support plan are necessary to the student avoiding any disciplinary consequences. Students who have applied for amnesty but consistently demonstrate unwillingness to engage with the support structure may face standard disciplinary consequences for their behavior.

Please contact the Office of Student Life at extension 4263 or  for more information.