Accountability Response FAQs

So you’ve been charged with a violation of the Student Code of Accountability. Now what?

According to the Code of Accountability, all charges shall be presented to the respondent in written form. You will receive a letter via email from a Student Accountability Administrator outlining next steps and any action you need to take. There are three response options available to the college: Educational Conference (Informal Adjudication), Student Accountability Hearing (Formal Adjudication), or Alternative Resolutions.

Review your letter carefully and be sure to ask questions if you need clarification on any part of the student accountability process.

Educational Conference

What is an educational conference?

An educational conference is an informal adjudication process for violations of the Student Code of Accountability. This is a collaborative process between the Student Accountability Administrator and the student. The goal of this conference is to discuss the incident and come to an agreement regarding appropriate sanctions without referring your case to a formal student accountability hearing.

What happens during an educational conference?

During the conference, you will discuss your involvement in the incident and the circumstances surrounding it with the Student Accountability Administrator. Together, the two of you will determine what violations of the Code occurred.

Should you accept responsibility for the violations, the rest of the conference will be spent discussing appropriate sanctions. You will then sign an educational conference agreement, which indicates that a mutual agreement of responsibility was reached where you accepted responsibility for the acts of misconduct and the College acknowledged a responsibility to provide educational resources and support services via sanctions to assist you in learning from this experience. 

What happens if I don’t agree with the Student Accountability Administrator?

If you do not accept responsibility for the violations with which you are charged or do not agree to the sanction(s) imposed, the case will then be referred to a different Student Accountability Administrator for a student accountability hearing.

Can I appeal a decision made during an Educational Conference?

No, signing the educational conference agreement form indicates that you agree with the outcome of the conference, and you waive the right to appeal this decision.

How do I prepare for an Educational Conference?

It is recommended that you spend time reviewing your charge letter carefully. It contains important information about the charge(s) and the educational conference process. It will also tell you who the Student Accountability Administrator is.

Read the appropriate sections in the Student Handbook. Make sure you understand the charges against you and your rights as a student.

Come prepared to have an open and honest discussion with the Student Accountability Administrator about your involvement in the incident. Be prepared to tell the truth. Presenting false information may result in further judicial action.

Can I bring someone with me for support?

Yes. The Student Code of Accountability allows you the right to be assisted in this process by an advisor who is a member of the College community, but who is not an attorney. The selection of an advisor is your responsibility, though, should you be unable to find someone to serve in this capacity, the Chief Accountability Officer, Grace Giancola can assist you. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

What happens if I miss the educational conference?

If you miss an educational conference, your case will automatically be referred to a student accountability hearing. Should that happen, you will receive a new letter from the Student accountability office with further instructions.

Where can I find my rights?

Policy statements and your rights as a student may be found in the Student Handbook. Copies of the most updated information are available on the College’s web page at wowuigallery.com/handbook

What kind of sanctions could I be facing?

A sanction, in the context of student accountability, refers to an official disciplinary action imposed upon a student who has violated a school’s code of accountability or policies. It is a consequence or penalty that is intended to hold the student accountable for their behavior, promote personal growth, and maintain a safe and respectful learning environment.

The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have committed any violation of the Student Accountability Code other than academic dishonesty:

  • Warning
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Loss of Privileges
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Discretionary Sanctions
  • Parental/Guardian Notification
  • Residence Hall Suspension
  • College Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation of Degree
  • Withholding Degree
  • Prohibition from Professional Practice
  • Mandatory Transcript Notifications 

Sanctions in an educational conference are developed collaboratively between the respondent and the Student Accountability Administrator, with the goal of restoring both the respondent and the Sage community through education, empowerment, and the recognition of the unique needs of each student. 

Student Accountability Hearing

What is a Student Accountability Hearing?

A Student Accountability Hearing is a formal adjudication process for violations of the Student Code of Accountability. Hearings are more structured than educational conferences, and generally occur when one or more of the following situations exists:

  1. a resolution does not occur during the educational conference,
  2. the student fails to attend an educational conference or to respond to a request for an educational conference, or 
  3. the severity of the alleged violation or the student’s prior accountability history warrants a student accountability hearing.

Who is involved in a Student Accountability Hearing?

A hearing will typically have three parties involved: the accused party, a complaining party, and a hearing facilitator. On occasion, in lieu of a hearing facilitator, there may be a hearing panel.

Other individuals involved may include witnesses from both the accused and complaining parties.

What happens during a Student Accountability Hearing?

A hearing begins with introductions, comments regarding tape recording of proceedings, comments regarding confidentiality, presentation of charges, and then the student plea.

You will be expected to respond to the charges listed in your charge letter by entering a plea of “Responsible” or “Not Responsible.”

Should you enter a plea of “not responsible,” the hearing will proceed as follows:

  1. The complainant presents the information on which the referral was made
  2. The facilitator and accused party question the complaining party
  3. Complaining party witnesses are called. The complaining party questions the witness, then the facilitator and accused party question the witness.
  4. The accused party then has an opportunity to present their case. 
  5. The facilitator and complaining party question the accused party.
  6. Accused party witnesses are called. The accused party questions the witness, then the facilitator and complaining party question the witness.
  7. The facilitator dismisses all parties and deliberates in private using a preponderance of the evidence as its standard
  8. The student is notified in writing of the results of the hearing

If you enter a plea of “Responsible,” the hearing will proceed as follows:

  1. The complaining party makes a statement about the incident
  2. The accused party makes a statement about the incident
  3. The facilitator deliberates in private to determine sanctions
  4. The student is notified in writing of the results of the hearing

Can I appeal a decision made during a Student Accountability Hearing if I don’t agree with the outcome?

If you wish to appeal a decision made in a hearing, you may do so in writing to Trish Cellemme, Vice President for Student Life [email protected] by 5:00 PM within two business days of the date of receipt of your outcome letter. Guidelines for appeal are outlined in  the Student Code of Accountability, available online at http://www.wowuigallery.com/student-life/office/code-of-accountability/.

How do I prepare for a Student Accountability Hearing?

It is recommended that you spend time reviewing your charge letter carefully. It contains important information about the charge(s) and the hearing process. It will also tell you who the Hearing Facilitator and Complaining Parties are.

Read the appropriate sections in the Student Handbook. Make sure you understand the charges against you and your rights as a student.

Collect information. You can present witnesses as well as other visual material if it is relevant to the charges you are facing. 

Contact relevant witnesses and submit their names ahead of time. Your charge letter will tell you when and to whom you must submit the names. Admission of witnesses is at the discretion of the Student Accountability Administrator. If they do not think your witnesses are relevant to the charge(s), they may be refused. You can also request that the hearing officer provide you with the names of the complaining party’s witnesses once they are available. You should think about the types of questions that you would like to ask each witness during the hearing. You will have the opportunity to ask questions of any witness that appears before the hearing panel. When you address a witness it must be in the form of a question.

Prepare opening and closing statements. You will have the opportunity to make an opening statement to the hearing facilitator which will set the framework for the rest of the material/information you intend to present. Your closing statement should summarize the information you have presented and include and closing remarks you would like the hearing facilitator to hear before they begin considering the merits of your case.

Be prepared to tell the truth. Presenting false information may result in further judicial action.

Get your questions answered and reach out for help. If you have questions, contact the Chief Accountability Officer at [email protected] prior to your hearing.

Can I bring someone with me for support?

Yes. The Student Code of Accountability allows you the right to be assisted in this process by an advisor who is a member of the College community, but who is not an attorney. The selection of an advisor is your responsibility, though, should you be unable to find someone to serve in this capacity, the Chief Accountability Officer, Grace Giancola can assist you. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

What happens if I miss the hearing?

If you miss your hearing, your case may be heard and a decision made in your absence. Should that happen, you will receive a letter from the Hearing Officer detailing her ruling, any sanctions assigned, and directions on how to appeal the decision.

Where can I find my rights?

Policy statements and your rights as a student may be found in the Student Handbook. Copies of the most updated information are available on the College’s web page at wowuigallery.com/handbook

What kind of sanctions could I be facing?

A sanction, in the context of student accountability, refers to an official disciplinary action imposed upon a student who has violated a school’s code of accountability or policies. It is a consequence or penalty that is intended to hold the student accountable for their behavior, promote personal growth, and maintain a safe and respectful learning environment.

The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have committed any violation of the Student Accountability Code other than academic dishonesty:

  • Warning
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Loss of Privileges
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Discretionary Sanctions
  • Parental/Guardian Notification
  • Residence Hall Suspension
  • College Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation of Degree
  • Withholding Degree
  • Prohibition from Professional Practice
  • Mandatory Transcript Notifications 

What is the standard of proof in a hearing?

The standard of proof in the Russell Sage College Code of Accountability hearing process differs from that used in criminal cases. The hearing facilitator will follow preponderance of the evidence as its standard of proof.

Preponderance of the evidence dictates that the information presented at the hearing causes the panel to find that it is more likely than not that the accused party is responsible for the charges.

Alternative Resolutions

RSC subscribes to the ideal that resolutions for conflict should be as unique as the types of incidents and students involved. To this end, a spectrum of alternative resolutions has been adopted to promote resolution at the lowest level possible. These alternative resolutions include the following:

  1. No Conflict Management
    1. Administration intentionally refrains from initiating involvement in a campus conflict to make space for student learning achieved by direct and independent engagement in an emerging issue.
  2. Dialogue
    1. Students engage in a conversation to gain understanding or to manage a conflict independent of administrator intervention or third-party facilitation.
  3. Conflict Coaching
    1. Students seek out counsel and guidance from administration to engage a conflict more effectively and independently.
  4. Facilitated Dialogue
    1. Students access administration for facilitation services to engage in a conversation to gain understanding or to manage a conflict. In a facilitated dialogue, parities maintain ownership of decisions concerning the conversation or any resolution of a conflict.
  5. Mediation
    1. Students access administration to serve as a third party to coordinate a structured session aimed at resolving a conflict and/or constructing a go-forward or future story for the parties involved.
  6. Restorative Practices
    1. Through a diversion program or as an addition to the adjudication process, administration provides space and facilitation services for students taking ownership for harmful behavior and those parties affected by the behavior to jointly construct an agreement to restore community.
      1. Restorative Circles
        1. The goal of restorative circles is to restore the sense of peace and community, to defuse tensions and conflicts, and to explore mutual responsibility and impact. Restorative circles can also be used to negotiate rules of engagement between individuals or groups.
      2. Check-In Circles
        1. Check-in circles may be useful for students in recovery programs or who are healing from trauma. It is a communication tool that allows group members to check in with one another on how they are doing with the recovery process. It differs from group therapy in that no one provides therapy or has greater power than any of the others in the circle. Members provide mutual support as well as share observations and concerns about each other. 
        2. Check-in circles can also be used in smaller communities, like residence hall floors or living units, to ensure that any lingering concerns, hurts, resentments, and other emotions after an incident are attended so that there is peace.
  7. Shuttle Diplomacy
    1. Administration actively negotiates an agreement between two parties who do not wish to directly engage with one another. This method may be an alternative to a formal adjudication process or part of the process associated with the accountability code.

What is restorative justice?

Restorative justice is an approach to addressing misconduct that focuses on repairing harm, promoting accountability, and fostering meaningful dialogue and understanding among all parties involved. It aims to shift the traditional disciplinary paradigm from punishment to healing, growth, and restoring relationships within the college community.

Why does Sage take a restorative approach?

RSC subscribes to the ideal that resolutions for conflict should be as unique as the types of incidents and students involved. Restorative and educational approaches align with an educational philosophy that emphasizes personal growth, learning from mistakes, and encourages students to take responsibility for their actions. These approaches also place a strong emphasis on relationships and rebuilding trust within the campus community by engaging in open dialogue and collaborative problem-solving. Finally, these alternative resolutions provide an opportunity for student empowerment, as it involves students in the decision-making process and allows them to actively participate in resolving conflicts. 

Limited Communication Agreement and No Contact Orders

What is a Limited Communication Agreement?
Students at Russell Sage College may at times have interpersonal conflicts that disrupt their academic or personal environment. To remedy such situations, and to support the individuals involved, it may become necessary for the college to issue Temporary Agreements of Limited Communication. These agreements are designed as temporary measures to help mitigate the potential for future problematic interactions between the two individuals, with the goal of engaging in restorative conversation to manage the conflict.

A Limited Communication Agreement is a mutual agreement between two or more individuals who voluntarily affirm that they will not have harmful contact with each other in person or electronically, or make indirect contact through third parties, except for that which is necessary for their academic or employment pursuits. 

Following discussion and agreement to enter into the Agreement, the two individuals will receive a letter confirming the terms of said agreement. In the event that an individual declines to enter into a requested Limited Communication Agreement, the appropriate college officer may elect to review the matter to determine whether a No Contact Order is warranted. 

What is a No Contact Order (“NCO”)?

Upon receipt of a report of a Sexual Offense by a student, RSC will issue a “no contact order.” This “no contact order” is an RSC document that does not have the legal effect of orders of protection, which are obtained through a court. 

NCOs are supportive measures that may be implemented by the Title IX Coordinator in order to help ensure safety, prevent retaliation, and avoid an ongoing hostile environment to reporting individuals of Sexual Offenses.

Upon request, RSC will provide both the respondent and the reporting individual a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and terms of any such interim measure and accommodation that directly affects him or her, in which they are allowed to submit evidence in support of his or her request. Requests to review interim measures and accommodations should be submitted to: Trish Cellemme, Vice President for Student Life [email protected] or 518-292-1710. If a request for review is received from one party, the other party will be notified of the request for review. The Vice President for Student Life will issue a determination in response to the request, and notify both parties of the determination.

NCOs may also be used in connection with the student accountability process, or other process determining the responsibility of a community member who is alleged to have violated a college policy, either as an interim measure during the pendency of the process, and/or an outcome associated with a finding of responsibility from the process. NCOs may be unilateral or mutual, depending on the underlying circumstances. 

Who can request a Limited Communication Agreement, and for what reasons?

Any student may request a meeting with a designated College administrator to discuss their options for a Limited Communication Agreement and determine whether entering this agreement is necessary.

You may contact one of the following offices to set up a meeting regarding a Limited Communication Agreement:

Individuals may request Temporary Agreements of Limited Communication due to interpersonal conflicts or situations that they believe are interfering with their educational or social environment.

Do I have to use a Limited Communication Agreement? Are there other ways that this issue can be addressed?

This is an optional conflict resolution process that allows for and encourages open, honest, and restorative dialogue between two individuals with a college administrator present. If you are unsure of whether a Limited Communication Agreement is right for you and your situation, it is encouraged that you contact one of the offices listed above to review your options.

Alternative options to this process are outlined in Appendix D of the Student Code of Accountability, and may include but are not limited to the following:

1. No Conflict Management

Administration intentionally refrains from initiating involvement in a campus conflict to make space for student learning achieved by direct and independent engagement in an emerging issue.

2. Dialogue

Students engage in a conversation to gain understanding or to manage a conflict independent of administrator intervention or third-party facilitation.

3. Conflict Coaching

Students seek out counsel and guidance from administration to engage a conflict more effectively and independently.

Are Temporary Agreements of Limited Communication punitive?

No. These Agreements are not disciplinary sanctions and do not constitute a finding of, or charge of, any violation of College policy. Rather, they are intended to aid in resolving conflict between two individuals.

What is restorative justice?

RSC subscribes to the ideal that resolutions for conflict should be as unique as the types of incidents and students involved. To this end, a spectrum of alternative resolutions has been adopted to promote resolution at the lowest level possible. These alternative resolutions are outlined in Appendix D of the Code of Accountability and may include but are not limited to the following:

6. Restorative Practices

Through a diversion program or as an addition to the adjudication process, administration provides space and facilitation services for students taking ownership for harmful behavior and those parties affected by the behavior to jointly construct an agreement to restore community.

a. Restorative Circles

The goal of restorative circles is to restore the sense of peace and community, to defuse tensions and conflicts, and to explore mutual responsibility and impact. Restorative circles can also be used to negotiate rules of engagement between individuals or groups.

b. Check-In Circles

Check-in circles may be useful for students in recovery programs or who are healing from trauma. It is a communication tool that allows group members to check in with one another on how they are doing with the recovery process. It differs from group therapy in that no one provides therapy or has greater power than any of the others in the circle. Members provide mutual support as well as share observations and concerns about each other.

Check-in circles can also be used in smaller communities, like residence hall floors or living units, to ensure that any lingering concerns, hurts, resentments, and other emotions after an incident are attended so that there is peace.

How long will the Agreement be kept in place? 

Temporary Agreements of Limited Communication are temporary and will always have an end date. The time between when an Agreement is issued and when it is resolved is approximately two weeks, though the issuing college administrator has discretion over how long to maintain the Agreement. A meeting must occur between all parties and the College administrator in order for the Agreement to be resolved.

What do I do if a conflict with someone arises at night or on a weekend?

Contact the Office of Public Safety at (518) 244-3177 and ask to be connected to the on-call staff. A college administrator will work with you on temporary measures until a meeting can be held during normal business hours.