Faculty members do not attend the hearing. Once OJA receives from an instructor evidence alleging academic dishonesty, the hearing officers use this information, in conjunction with the student’s statement, to determine if a violation of policy has occurred. The student’s adviser attends in order to offer guidance and support.
Frequently Asked Question From Faculty
The standard of proof used to make a determination of responsibility is that of “preponderance of the evidence”. This standard allows hearing officers to find a student responsible if the information shows that it is more likely than not that a violation occurred. If the student is found responsible, the degree of seriousness of the offense and the student’s previous disciplinary record, if any, will determine the severity of the sanction to be issued.
As it is a disciplinary process, a student found responsible for academic dishonesty will be subject to appropriate sanctions. However, the Dean’s Discipline process is also an educational one designed to challenge students to make better decisions and facilitate a broader understanding of the impact his/her behavior may have on the Columbia Community.
Through the Dean’s Discipline hearing process, OJA seeks to support the faculty in ‘the intellectual venture in which we are all engaged’ by promoting the ‘highest level of personal and academic integrity’. (Faculty Statement on Academic Integrity) Academic dishonesty undermines our academic community and we have a shared responsibility to promote intellectual honesty and scholarly integrity.
For cases involving Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, two staff members from the Dean of Student Affairs Office serve as the hearing officers. For cases involving students from General Studies, one staff member from OJA and one staff member from the GS Dean of Students Office serve as hearing officers.
It is important to report academic misconduct so that we can challenge students to reason through ethical situations they encounter as part of the learning process. Reporting academic misconduct is also important for promoting consistency, fairness and accurate record keeping, particularly when students are found to be repeat offenders. Academic integrity is essential to the success of our mission as educators and it is our shared responsibility to address behavior that is counter to our values.
While a student’s educational record is protected the by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), any instructor who reports an academic dishonesty incident will be notified whether or not a student has been found responsible.
Frequently Asked Question From Students
Professors reserve the right to determine the grades that his/her student receives. The grading process, even in cases involving alleged academic dishonesty, is determined separately from that of the disciplinary process.
Yes. A student may postpone the hearing if there is an academic conflict (for example, a class, a midterm or a final examination). Please contact the OJA staff for assistance.
The hearing will proceed in the student's absence.
Two hearing officers from the Dean of Student Affairs staff and the accused student will be present for the hearing. The student's Advising Dean may also be present in cases of Academic Dishonesty to support the student.
No. As the Dean’s Discipline hearing process is not a legal or adversarial process, neither attorneys nor other advocates are permitted in the hearing. However, there are a variety of University resources available to assist students with questions or concerns about the hearing or the Dean’s Discipline process in general.
• A student can speak with a Dean’s Discipline Process Resource Person. These individuals are trained to assist students with many aspects of the Dean’s Discipline process. They can answer questions about the Dean’s Discipline process, the hearing, as well as provide guidance regarding general preparation for the hearing. However, it is the student’s primary responsibility to prepare for his or her hearing.
• A student can speak with their Advising Dean. An Advising Dean's participation as a support for the student is required in cases of alleged academic dishonesty/misconduct. This participation is optional for cases of alleged behavioral misconduct.
• A student can contact the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards and request to meet with a staff member to discuss general information about the Dean’s Discipline process prior to your hearing.
Students are also encouraged to speak with staff members in Counseling and Psychological Services should one begin to feel overwhelmed while going through this process. Family and friends or others in their personal support network may also serve as helpful points of contact.
No. Witnesses are not permitted to attend the hearing. A student may provide the hearing officers with the names and contact information of individuals who may help the hearing officers determine whether or not a violation took place. The hearing officers will determine whether or not they need to speak with said individuals. Students are permitted to present statements from witnesses during the hearing.
No. The written report, sometimes called an incident report, or a written complaint by the accuser will serve as the statement for the person who has brought forward a report of a policy violation. However, if deemed appropriate (by the hearing officers or the student), the hearing officers will contact the accuser in order to obtain additional information when necessary.
No, students are not required to dress up for a Dean's Discipline hearing.
The hearing officers will ask a student for his/her account regarding the incident report. They may also ask students to provide thoughts on the incident itself.
Disciplinary proceedings conducted by the university are subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, also called the “Buckley Amendment”). There are several important exceptions to FERPA that will allow the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards to release information to third parties. For example, it is important to note that the release of student disciplinary records is permitted without prior consent to: University officials with legitimate educational interest such as a student's Advising Dean, the Office of Preprofessional Advising, faculty members in academic dishonesty cases, and Columbia Athletics for student athletes; victim/s of an alleged crime of violence or of an alleged sexual assault; and parents of a student who is financially dependent.
Please refer to Essential Policies for the Columbia Community for a complete list of exceptions under FERPA.
Yes. File information shared with the accused student during the hearing may also be accessed before and after the hearing. An appointment may be scheduled by contacting the OJA staff at least 24 hours in advance.
A file/record contains information related to the incident. Minimally, the contents will include the incident report, correspondence with/from the OJA, hearing notes, and an outcome letter. A student's file/record is maintained by the OJA.
• If a student has a disagreement with the incident report itself, he/she may inform the hearing officers during the hearing.
• If a student has a disagreement with the notes taken during the hearing, he/she may speak with the OJA staff. If the OJA hearing officer chooses not to change the notes, students are permitted to make a written addendum and have this information added to the file.
Please refer to question #10.
No. Columbia College and Columbia Engineering do not have a policy regarding expunging a students' records.
A transcript notation may be placed on a student’s transcript if the student has been expelled.
A student's record in this case is their judicial file. Many students believe that a judicial record equates to your transcript however, this is not the case. A transcript represents a different type of record. Please refer to the answer to the previous question.
The appeal is considered a review of the record and the process, not a new hearing. Therefore, the appeal officer will not conduct an in-person meeting. Appeals should be typed and submitted electronically. Specific instruction is provided on the outcome letter if a student is found responsible.
There are three grounds upon which a review of a decision of responsible may be made:
- If a student has new information, unavailable at the time the hearing
- If a student has concerns with the process that may change or affect the outcome of the decision
- If a student feels that the sanction issued is too severe.
The student will be contacted if further clarification is needed. The appeal officer will contact the student in writing once a decision is made. It is possible for the decision to sustain, overturn, or modify the original decision made by the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. The decision of the appeal officer is final. It is important to note that a modification of the original decision may result in a sanction that is more severe.
It is not necessary to submit character reference letters unless the person writing on your behalf has direct information about the actual incident that was not originally submitted as part of the hearing process.
Please refer to the answer to question #10. You may also speak with a staff member in the Office of Preprofessional Advising for questions related to medical schools, law schools, dental schools, and with the OJA for all other inquiries.
Frequently Asked Question From Parents
The best approach is to discuss your student's status with your son or daughter directly. Communicating with young adults isn't easy and they are not always as forthcoming as you might like. The college years are a period of remarkable growth and maturation, and students' ability and willingness to share information and insights usually grows, particularly as they acquire the confidence that comes with assuming greater responsibility for their own lives.
The OJA will generally not contact parents to notify them about a disciplinary issue their student is having unless there is a specific concern about the student’s safety or the student’s disciplinary case has resulted in a sanction of probation or higher. While the OJA generally does not contact parents, students can give members of the OJA permission to speak with parents about their disciplinary issues if they choose to do so.
The Office of Parent and Family Programs is a resource for all questions related to your student’s experiences at Columbia. Please feel free to contact the office by calling 212-854-2446.