Internal - Current Students

Community Standards

The Simmons community culture is founded on the values of respect, integrity, inclusion, honesty and trust. The Student Code of Conduct is our guide to expectations of behaviors by our students and by student organizations. When violations of the Code of Conduct occur, Simmons has policies and procedures in place to inform our responses. Behavior that is not consistent with the Code of Conduct is typically addressed through an educational conduct process designed to help develop critical thinking, sound judgment, good citizenship, and to promote overall well-being.

The Community Standards Mission

  • To coordinate the student accountability process, including administering the formal disciplinary process in a rational and responsible manner.
  • To resolve allegations of individual and organizational misconduct in a manner consistent with our core values of respect, integrity, inclusion, honesty and trust.
  • To balance the interests of the individual student and the community at large through fair, consistent and timely case resolution.
  • To facilitate learning and student development of future leaders and ethical global citizens.
  • To educate and train students, staff and faculty about their shared responsibility to maintain community standards.

Code of Conduct

Report a Concern

Academic Integrity Concern

Student Accountability Process

We want students to know that the Simmons student conduct process is not intended to be the same as a criminal or civil court proceedings. Procedures and rights in student conduct procedures are conducted with fairness to all. Students are notified of any charge brought against them and have an opportunity to respond to the charges. The following safeguards are in place for all students:

STEP 1: Filing a Report

When an incident occurs, an incident report is completed by a student, faculty, staff or community member who becomes aware of, or observes the violation, or who believes they are a victim of the violation. Reports regarding graduating students should be filed before their graduation and when possible, with enough time before graduation so that investigation and hearing can occur. Incident reports can be submitted by completing the Non-Academic Incident Report form.

STEP 2: Reviewing a Report

The Assistant Dean of Community Standards (ADCS) will oversee any behavior reports on students and can serve as an arbitrator and mediator in this process. The ADCS, or designee, will conduct a preliminary review or inquiry into the nature of the incident, complaint or notice, the evidence available, and the parties involved. The preliminary review/inquiry may lead to:

  1. A determination of insufficient evidence to pursue the investigation because the behavior alleged, even if proven, would not violate the Code of Student Conduct
  2. A decision to conduct a comprehensive investigation to gather additional information and perhaps interview others with relevant knowledge
  3. A decision to institute a formal process that includes gathering and reviewing material and meeting with those with relevant knowledge of the incident.

Note: Title IX & Bias Response have a different reporting and investigation process.

STEP 3: Conduct Hearing

Once the Administrator has identified that the alleged acts are in conflict with the Student Code of Conduct, they will assign the matter to an appropriate hearing officer. Often the ADCS will serve as the hearing officer for the case. During the conduct hearing, the impacted parties will have an opportunity to address the allegation(s) and share information regarding the incident. Since the focus of the meeting it to determine whether or not one or more policy violations have occurred, character statements/letters of support that are not from witnesses or do not directly pertain to the case will not be considered. Adjudication meetings are the process by which the conduct officer reviews evidence and narratives to come to a decision. These meetings are for impacted students only; no parent, guardian, spouse, family member or legal representative is allowed into the hearing room or to otherwise participate in the process.

The steps of the process are as follows:

  1. A formal notice will be sent to a student’s/organization’s University email requesting a meeting and with the allegations. Generally, three business days are given for the student to respond to the request to meet.
  2. If a student/organization does not respond, a second notice is sent, and a hold may be placed on a student’s account.
  3. If no response occurs again, a third and final notice will be sent, with three business days to respond. If there continues to be no response to a meeting request, the hearing officer has the right to adjudicate the case with the student/organization in absentia; the student/organization has five days to appeal.
  4. Based on the information presented, the hearing officer will determine if the student is responsible or not responsible for the alleged violation(s).
  5. Sanctions are defined as actions that a student must fulfill when given a responsible outcome. Sanctions require students to complete a specific assignment. Sanctions may be issued individually or in combination. Sanctioning is considered only after responsibility has been determined and is typically based on the severity of the violation, the student’s previous conduct record, and what is holistically best for the impacted parties.

STEP 4: Outcomes and Sanctions

Sanctions for code violations are typically a developmental and educational tool, with the purpose of redirecting the student’s behavior toward upholding the mission and values of the institution and utilizing, where appropriate, restorative justice (i.e., repairing harm to the community, to victims, and to the institution as a whole) to address any damage that impacted others and the community. The possible actions available to hearing officers and hearing committees are described below. Outcomes are determined as a result of the conduct meeting or hearing. Sanctions are included when a finding of responsibility is determined. The standard used to determine whether or not a student is responsible for a policy violation is Preponderance of Evidence. Preponderance of Evidence is the determination based on whether it is more likely or not that the violation occurred.

Title IX cases will be handled through the Title IX team and may have different outcomes and sanctions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a student is part of an incident? What will happen?

If a student is documented for a potential conduct code violation, they will receive a letter via their student email address with information about a conduct meeting, based on their class schedule. The student will meet with a hearing officer or investigator to discuss the incident. If they are found responsible for the violation, appropriate charges and sanctions will be given.

If they do not attend their meeting, a decision will be made in absentia, and they forfeit their ability to appeal that decision.

Can a parent or guardian attend a student's conduct meeting?

Parents and guardians are not allowed at the conduct meeting, however, a student can bring a support person to the hearing if they would like. The support person can be any Simmons staff/ faculty or a trained student ambassador. Students or individuals who are eyewitnesses cannot be a support person, and they will be interviewed separately. The support person may not speak on behalf of the student, and is there to provide emotional support.

What is a support person and how do I contact them?

We understand that the conduct process might be stressful and can be overwhelming to some students. At Simmons University we want our students to know there is a network of care available for them through the conduct process. Simmons students have the right to seek a support person to have them understand the various aspects of the Student Code of Conduct, students’ rights and responsibilities, and the appeals process. A student may obtain from their Hearing Officer or from the Office of Student Affairs a list of names of staff and faculty members who have expressed a willingness to serve as a support person and have participated in training regarding the University’s conduct process. It is the individual student’s responsibility to seek out a support person if they wish to have one. Failure to secure a support person is not grounds for an appeal.

The role of a support person is to assist a student by providing support throughout the student conduct process. Although a support person cannot represent a student and therefore has a non-speaking role during the investigation meetings, a support person may:

  • Assist the student in understanding the Student Code of Conduct and any alleged charges
  • Assist the student in understanding the conduct process
  • Assist by accompanying the student to any meeting with the hearing officer
  • Assist the student in understanding and processing the outcome letter and sanctions
  • As appropriate, foster a student’s personal growth through reflection, decision making process, values and goals

Sam Fox
Health, Wellness and Recreation Coordinator
Send an email | 617-521-2044

Sarah McCord
Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Send an email | 617-521-2001

Sara Squeglia
Associate Director Office of Undergraduate Advising
Send an email | 617-521-2474

Jessica Gadson
Executive Assistant Gwen Ifill College
Send an email | 617-521-2908

Kate Benson
Director of Graduate Admissions
Send an email | 617-521-2801

Sarah Cormier
Director of Annual Giving
Send an email | 617-521-2354

Michele Almeida
Student Services Specialist
Send an email | 617-521-2485

What is the standard of proof used to make a determination of responsibility?

The Student Conduct system is a not a court of law and therefore the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not used. The Student Conduct system uses the “Preponderance of the Evidence” standard, meaning that determinations will be made based on whether it is more likely or not that the violation occurred. Additionally, the Student Conduct Code denotes the rules of the university, which may or may not also align with laws, but often include violations that are in addition to the law. It is the responsibility of all students to review the Student Conduct Code.

Because this is an administrative hearing and not a trial, it is not adversarial in nature. Therefore, the institution’s process may not have the same procedures as a criminal trial. In our conduct process, students must speak for themselves. They are not permitted to have an attorney, or anyone else, speak on their behalf. This is mainly to preserve the educational nature of university disciplinary hearings. It is important for students to represent themselves and to explain their conduct to others. Finally, as the student conduct process is considered an educational tool, the sanctions imposed tend to focus on repairing harm to the community, to victims, and to the institution as a whole.

They also take into account what the accused student needs to learn from the situation. The process focuses on helping the student understand why their behaviors violate community standards and how the person can avoid making the same mistake again. It is also focused on helping the student see how the instances of misconduct affect others. These are generally not addressed in the criminal process. However, where weapons or violence are involved, students may be facing separation from the institution. In these instances, the campus’s primary concern is maintaining a safe environment and an educational response would not be appropriate.

Will this remain on a student's record?

Conduct incidents remain on a student’s record for seven years after the date of the incident, except for expulsion which is noted on the student’s transcript.

How long does it take to resolve a case?

Cases that are handled informally are often resolved within a couple of weeks. If the case is complicated and involves many individuals or more investigation, the process may take longer.

What happens if the student does not attend their scheduled meeting?

The meetings are scheduled based on the student’s academic schedule. If there is a different type of conflict, the student should contact their hearing officer (contact information included in initial letter) before the scheduled meeting to set a new time. However, if your student does not attend their scheduled meeting, a decision will be made on responsibility and sanctions if applicable, without their input. Additionally, they lose their right to appeal the outcome.

Will parents be notified if their student is documented for an incident?

Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we cannot notify parents/guardians about conduct cases. The office encourages students to speak with their parent/guardian about all Student Conduct Code violations.

Resources

Students/Organizations may request a Simmons support person in their meetings. This person is a non-participating observer and must be a Simmons staff/faculty or trained peer ambassador.

Peer ambassadors are trained to ensure that you understand your rights in the judicial process. They can answer questions you have about the process, discuss next steps, and be someone to process the information shared in the process.

Additional Resources

Accessibility and Accommodations

Every student should be able to fully participate in the process. If you believe you will need an ability-related accommodation and or accessibility information for any part of the conduct process, please contact the Office of Accessibility Services via email.

Accessibility Services
Center for Student Success, Ground Floor, Lefavour Hall Monday
Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(617) 521-2474