Office of Student Conflict Resolution

Is the Resolution Process different from that of the criminal justice process? 

Yes. The courts have consistently recognized the distinct differences between a university dispute resolution process and the criminal justice process.

Per the Statement: “The University has an enduring commitment to provide students with a balanced and fair system of dispute resolution. Accordingly, this Statement will not deprive students of the appropriate due process protections to which they are entitled. This Statement is one of the University's administrative procedures and should not be equated with procedures used in civil or criminal court.”

“[S]chool regulations are not to be measured by the standards which prevail for criminal law and for criminal procedure.” 

-- Harry A. Blackmun, then Eighth Circuit judge, later, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Esteban v. Cent. Mo. State Coll., 415 F.2d 1077, 1090 (8th Cir. 1969), cert denied 398 U.S. 965 (1970), aff g 290 F. Supp. 622 (W. D. Mo. 1968), following new hearing order, 277 F. Supp. 649 (W. D. Mo. 1967)

“The voluntary attendance of a student in [a tax supported educational institution of higher learning] is a voluntary entrance into the academic community. By such voluntary entrance, the student voluntarily assumes obligations of performance and behavior reasonably imposed by the institution of choice relevant to its lawful missions, processes, and functions. These obligations are generally much higher than those imposed on all citizens by the civil and criminal law. So long as there is no invidious discrimination, no deprival of due process, no abridgement of a right protected in the circumstances, and no capricious, clearly unreasonable or unlawful action employed, the institution may discipline students to secure compliance with these higher obligations as a teaching method or to sever the student from the academic community.” 

-- Judges for the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.  General Order on Judicial Standards of Procedure and Substance in Review of Student Discipline in Tax Supported Institutions of Higher Education. 45 F.R.D. (W. D. Mo. 1968) (en banc)supra note 2, at 141.

What is the purpose of the University of Michigan’s resolution process?

Per the Statement: “The University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (the University) is dedicated to supporting and maintaining a scholarly community. As its central purpose, this community promotes intellectual inquiry through vigorous discourse. Values which undergird this purpose include civility, dignity, diversity, education, equality, freedom, honesty, and safety.

When students choose to accept admission to the University, they accept the rights and responsibilities of membership in the University's academic and social community. As members of the University community, students are expected to uphold its previously stated values by maintaining a high standard of conduct. Because the University establishes high standards for membership, its standards of conduct, while falling within the limits of the law, may exceed federal, state, or local requirements.

… This Statement describes possible behaviors which are inconsistent with the values of the University community; it outlines procedures to respond to such behaviors; and it suggests possible sanctions which are intended to educate and to safeguard members of the University community.”

“The voluntary attendance of a student in [a tax supported educational institution of higher learning] is a voluntary entrance into the academic community. By such voluntary entrance, the student voluntarily assumes obligations of performance and behavior reasonably imposed by the institution of choice relevant to its lawful missions, processes, and functions. 

These obligations are generally much higher than those imposed on all citizens by the civil and criminal law. So long as there is no invidious discrimination, no deprival of due process, no abridgement of a right protected in the circumstances, and no capricious, clearly unreasonable or unlawful action employed, the institution may discipline students to secure compliance with these higher obligations as a teaching method or to sever the student from the academic community.” 

-- Judges for the United States District Court for the Western District of MissouriPer General Order on Judicial Standards of Procedure and Substance in Review of Student Discipline in Tax Supported Institutions of Higher Education. 45 F.R.D. (W. D. Mo. 1968) (en banc)supra note 2, at 141.

What procedural safeguards are in place to protect the rights of students engaged in the resolution process?

Per the Statement, “Students at the University have the same rights and protections under the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Michigan as other citizens. These rights include freedom of expression, press, religion, and assembly. The University has a long tradition of student activism and values freedom of expression, which includes voicing unpopular views and dissent. As members of the University community, students have the right to express their own views, but must also take responsibility for according the same right to others.

Students have the right to be treated fairly and with dignity regardless of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin or ancestry, race, religion, sex (including gender identity and gender expression), sexual orientation, or veteran status. The University has a long-standing tradition of commitment to pluralistic education. Accordingly, the University, through this Statement, will not discriminate on the basis of group status.

Students have the right to be protected from capricious decision-making by the University and to have access to University policies which affect them. The University has an enduring commitment to provide students with a balanced and fair system of dispute resolution. Accordingly, this Statement will not deprive students of the appropriate due process protections to which they are entitled.”

The following due process protections and procedural safeguards have been established to ensure appropriate protection of students going through the resolution process.  These protections are:

  • Written notice of allegations against a student.
  • The assistance of an advisor of the student’s choice during meetings with the Resolution Coordinator (RC) and during an arbitration.
  • Sufficient time to prepare for an arbitration or other meeting.
  • The opportunity to challenge the participation of a Resolution Coordinator (RC), Resolution Officer (RO), or Student Resolution Panelist for bias or other cause.
  • Knowledge of the names of witnesses who may provide information.
  • Access, in advance, to the information that may be considered during an arbitration. Note that this information may be redacted to protect the privacy rights of individuals not directly involved in the resolution process.
  • The choice to decline to attend an arbitration. However, arbitrations can proceed without the student present, and the student will be bound by any determinations made.
  • The opportunity to present verbal or written information in their own support, including information from witnesses.
  • The opportunity to pose questions to the RC, complainant and any witnesses.
  • The opportunity to hear / read all information presented at an arbitration.
  • The choice to decline to answer questions during an arbitration with the knowledge that silence will not be used as evidence of responsibility for an allegation.
  • In an arbitration, all students are presumed not responsible unless clear and convincing evidence is presented that a violation of the Statement has occurred. 
  • Arbitrations result in recommendations to the Dean of Students, who may accept or modify a recommendation.  (The Dean may not modify a sanction to include suspension or expulsion.  However, when expulsion is recommended, the Dean may instead suspend the student.) 
  • An appeal process is available to each party to appeal an arbitration’s outcome.
  • Confidentiality as provided by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the University’s Student Rights and Student Records Policy.

My student is experiencing a conflict.  Can you help?

We strive to meet all student needs when it comes to conflict, or refer them to other available resources.  See what kinds of conflicts OSCR can assist students in resolving.

A letter from your office came in the mail.  What do I need to do? 

Give the letter to whomever it is addressed to, and encourage that person to carefully read it and comply with any requests.

My student has an appointment with your office.  How should my student prepare?  

Responding to a complaint

Are there any national guides on student conduct processes?  

Yes.  The Association for Student Conduct Administration publishes a parent guide to campus student conduct processes.