Responding student(s) and petitioning party(ies) have the right to request a review of decisions through the Dean of Students Office. Students should submit written appeals within five days of the date of the written decision. Appeals should be submitted online per instructions in the sanction letter. The filing of a request for review will stay the enforcement of previous decisions except in the most unusual circumstances. Students who ask for a review will not be subject to harsher sanctions as a result of the appeal. Typically within 3-5 business days, the Dean of Students, or a designee, will determine if a submitted appeal meets one or more of the grounds for appeal (see below), and can move forward.
For appeals that have standing, one designated staff member and two students from the Student Conduct Panel (separate from the original hearing body for the case) will review the written appeal of the case. The Student Conduct Panel will review the written appeals of cases from Administrative Meetings, Student Conduct Panels, and Dean of Students Meetings.
Appeals will be heard by two students and one staff member from the Student Conduct Panel who are unaffiliated with the case. The members will make the decision based only upon documents from, or related to, the hearing (such documents include, but are not limited to, the appeal, the written decision of the original conduct hearing body, written statements by parties involved in the hearing, and incident reports).
Appeals requests are limited to the following grounds:
- A procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing (e.g. substantiated bias, material deviation from established procedures, etc.);
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included;
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
If the appeal is not timely or substantively eligible, the original finding and sanction will stand and the decision is final.
The appeal by one party may be shared with the other party (parties) when appropriate under procedure or law (e.g., if the responding student appeals, the appeal is shared with the complainant, who may also wish to file a response, request an appeal on the same grounds or different grounds). All request-related documents are shared with all parties prior to submission.
- Every opportunity to return the appeal to the original decision-maker for reconsideration (remand) should be pursued, with clear instructions for reconsideration only in light of the granted appeal grounds
- Where the original decision-maker may be unduly biased by a procedural or substantive error, a new panel will be constituted to reconsider the matter, which can in turn be appealed, once.
- Appeals are not intended to be full re-hearings of the complaint. In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal; Witnesses may be called if necessary.
- Appeals are not an opportunity for panelists to substitute their judgment for that of the original decision-maker merely because they disagree with the finding and/or sanctions.
- Appeals decisions are to be deferential to the original decision-maker, making changes to the finding only where there is clear error and to the sanction only if there is a compelling justification to do so. The original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately, thus the burden is on the appealing party(ies) to show clear reasoning for a reversal or sanction adjustment, and the Student Conduct Panel must limit its review to the challenges presented.
- On reconsideration, the members chosen for the appeal review or original decision-maker may affirm or change the findings and/or sanctions of the original hearing body according to the permissible grounds. Procedural or substantive errors should be corrected, new evidence should be considered, and sanctions should be proportionate to the severity of the violation and the student’s cumulative conduct record.
- The presumptive stance of the University is that all decisions made and sanctions imposed by the original decision-maker are to be implemented during the appellate process. At the discretion of the Dean of Students, and in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator when necessary, implementation of sanctions may be stayed pending review only in extremely exigent circumstances. This does not include proximity to graduation, end of term, or exams. Instead, it refers to an overwhelming likelihood, as determined by the Dean of Students, in consultation, that the appeal would result in a reversal of the finding and/or substantial modification of the sanctions.
This process is intentionally not overly technical. State clearly the reasons for your appeal.
- It is helpful for you to offer some context in your appeal. Describe your situation and a little bit about yourself. Since you will not meet the appeal board in person, it is okay to personalize your document, within reason. This is especially important in cases involving suspension or expulsion and when your appeal is being submitted based on the harshness of the sanction.
- The appeal only needs to be one or, at most, two typed pages.
- Since this is your process, the appeal board appreciates appeals that are submitted by students, and not ones that are written by parents or attorneys.
For any questions, please contact:
mkruse [at] trinity.edu
Last reviewed: August 2016