A-to-Z Index

Video Transcript

Administrative Option Hearing*
JMU Office of Judicial Affairs

(View Video)

*Note:  This hearing was filmed in the Spring 2011 semester.  The rights and sanctioning descriptions were correct at that time but may be different at the time of your viewing.

Hearing Officer:  Hi Suzie, how are you today?

Student:  I’m doing all right, how are you?

Hearing Officer:  Good!  Thanks for coming in today.  I know you’ve not been in our office before.  What I need to do first is double-check our database to make sure we have correct contact information for you.

Student:  Okay

Hearing Officer:  I have that you’re a freshman, is that correct?

Student:  Yes

Hearing Officer:  And you go by Suzie, correct?

Student:  Yes

Hearing Officer:  And you’re living on campus?

Student:  Yes

Hearing Officer:  And you’re PO Box 4862?

Student:  That sounds right

Hearing Officer:  And are you involved in any varsity sports on campus?

Student:  No I’m not

Hearing Officer:  What about sororities?

Student:  Nope

Hearing Officer:  And it looks like you’re 18?

Student:  Yes

Hearing Officer:  And, Suzie, did you get an e-mail from our office that prompted you to schedule your appointment today?

Student:  Mmm hmm

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Hearing Officer:  Okay, so you know that we’re looking at a destruction of property charge, correct?

Student:  Yes

Hearing Officer:  All right.  Well Suzie, let me go ahead and explain what we’re doing today.  We’re in something that’s called an administrative option hearing.  Basically what that means is that you and I are here to have a conversation one on one about a report that Residence Life sent to us.  I will review that with you and I’ll get your perspective on what was going on and then I will make a decision for you today on whether I find you responsible or not responsible for that destruction of property charge.  Then you will have a decision to make for me.  You can either accept my decision today or you can choose to reject my decision.  If you reject, you are really saying you prefer to have this  case heard in a board style setting as opposed to having just one hearing officer.  All of that making sense?

Student:  Mmm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  The next thing I’m going to cover with you is what your rights are in the process today.  The first six on this sheet have to do with the meeting we’re having right now so I’ll go over those in more detail. 

Student:  Okay

Hearing Officer:  The first one just says that you have the right to a fair and impartial hearing.  I don’t know you so what I’m going to do is try to get your perspective so I make sure to provide you a fair hearing today.  The second one says you have the right to be presumed not responsible of the violation until evidence proves you responsible.  You’ve probably heard people talk about beyond a reasonable doubt before.

Student:  Mmm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  We tend to be familiar with that, it’s a criminal standard of evidence which means about 95% level of evidence to find someone guilty in a court system.  In our office, because we’re an educational setting, we’re going to be using something called preponderance of the evidence.  It’s 51% or more likely than not that the violation occurred.

Student:  Okay

Hearing Officer:  You can see that there’s a big difference between 51% level and 95% level.

Student:  Right

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Hearing Officer:  The third one says you have the right to be notified of the charges and that’s why I asked if you got the e-mail from us.

Student:  Okay

Hearing Officer:  The fourth one says you have the right to be present during this entire hearing and you will be and I’ll be talking with you about the incident.  The fifth says that you have the right to remain silent and I won’t choose to believe that silence means you are responsible for something but I do hope we have a really good conversation because I usually make better decisions that way.

Student:  Okay

Hearing Officer:  The sixth one says that you have the right to be notified in writing of my decision and what will happen is I will verbally give that to you today and then we follow up with an e-mail to you.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  I’m going to have you review 7 through 11 for me.  Those would only apply if you decide you want to reject my decision today and go to that board-style setting.  I’m happy to answer any questions you have about those but if everything’s making sense there’s a pen here, I just need you to sign and date that saying that you’ve reviewed your rights.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, do you have any questions, Suzie?

Student:  Nope, I don’t think so.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, let me read this documentation to you really quickly.  It’s from Residence Life and it’s written by June White, dated January 27, 2011 and it looks like it happened in Hoffman Hall room 205.  It says “RA June White was walking through the hallway and saw three dry erase boards torn off of people’s doors, one of them broken in half.  Further down the hall, I saw Suzie walk by a room door and knock the dry erase board off.  I went down the hall and announced myself to Suzie and stated what I had just seen.  I asked her if she was okay to which she replied, ‘I’m fine.’  I asked if she had torn down the other boards on this hallway to which she replied ‘I hate this floor…they are all mean-girls.’  I requested that she not hit another dry erase board like the one I had just witnessed, to which she said ‘sure, whatever.’”  So that’s what I have from June, the RA.  Can you tell me a little about what was going on this day and what was happening?

Student:  I was in my room studying for a couple of exams I had coming up the next week and the girls on my floor like to party and be loud and all of that and so I kind of…it was the last straw for me.  I don’t remember what time it was but they were just being really obnoxious and I decided to retaliate and, I guess, tore down their whiteboards.

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Hearing Officer:  Okay, so you said this was just the last straw so it sounds like this has been going on for a while?

Student:  Mm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Student:  I just feel as though they’re not really here for academic reasons they’re just here to be social and whatnot whereas I’m more focused on doing well in school and all that good stuff and I just feel like they don’t really respect that.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, so there’s a respect issue that’s happening here?

Student:  Yes.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Can you tell me a little bit more about things that you’ve done to let them know that you feel disrespected?

Student:  Well, I haven’t really talked to them personally but I put a note on my door saying that I’m studying but I don’t feel like they read that at all.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  So you’ve kind of taken a little bit of a passive approach at putting a note on a door but not actually talking with them about this?

Student:  Right.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Have you talked with your RA at all about your concerns?

Student:  Not about this situation, no.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Would you consider doing that?

Student:  If you think it would be a good idea, sure.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Well, do you think it would be a good idea?

Student:  I’m just not really sure what she could do to help me out with the situation, I guess.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  It sounds like she’s not aware of it, is that correct?

Student:  Probably not, no.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  So, perhaps if she was aware of it maybe she could help a little bit.

Student:  Okay.

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Hearing Officer:  Do you feel like you have a relationship where you could talk with your RA?

Student:  I mean, yeah, we’re friendly so I don’t know why she wouldn’t be open to that.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  So you feel like it might be a pretty open conversation if you talked to her.

Student:  Mmm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Well that might be one thing that we could look to do.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  Is there anything else, looking back on how you felt during this process, is there anything else you might want to do to change this in the future?

Student:  What do you mean?

Hearing Officer:  So that you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with, is there anything else you can think that you might want to do?

Student:  I don’t know I just felt really disrespected, like my time wasn’t being put to good use because they were being obnoxious.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  So maybe it sounds like you want to start with the RA and explore some other options that might happen on your floor.

Student:  Right

Hearing Officer:  All right.  You mentioned that you described this as a retaliation.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that decision and the decision to do this as opposed to maybe talking with a staff member at that time?

Student:  I just felt like they were being loud and I thought a point needed to be made.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  And for you that point was to do this with the dry erase board.

Student:  Yes.

Hearing Officer:  So, tell me a little bit, Suzie, about if you had come back to your room and you had seen that your dry erase board had been torn down and broken in half, tell me a little about what some of your feelings would be.

Student:  Well I feel like if I wasn’t respecting the other girls on the floor I would have expected something to happen, I guess.

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Hearing Officer:  Okay, so you feel like that was an appropriate response.

Student:  Mmm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  Okay, so you would be okay with the fact that that had happened to you?

Student:  Well, I don’t know if I would really be okay with it but I guess I would be more expecting it to happen.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Do you think that they were okay with this?

Student:  Probably not, but I don’t really talk to them so I don’t know.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, so maybe not though.  Maybe they probably weren’t happy that they came back and this had happened.

Student:  Right.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  It sounds like your school work is pretty important to you.

Student:  Mmm Hmm

Hearing Officer:  Can you tell me a little bit about what school’s like, classes that you’re taking, do you have a major, those kinds of things.

Student:  Well, it’s a huge adjustment for me coming from high school so I’m just trying to get acclimated to classes and all the schoolwork so I haven’t really gotten involved on campus I’m really focused on doing well.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, so really your focus is your academics right now.

Student:  Mmm Hmm.

Hearing Office:  Do you think you may want to get involved in any clubs or organizations or anything like that in the future?

Student:  Yeah, I’m looking into possibly getting involved with Club Tennis.  I was on my high school tennis team.

Hearing Officer:  Well that might be a nice way to get involved on the campus then.  And what is your major?

Student:  I’m an Art History major.

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Hearing Officer:  Okay.  Are you still looking into minors or do you think you’ll have any minors?

Student:  I’m not quite sure yet.  I’m just kind of exploring.

Hearing Officer:  All right.  Can you tell me a little bit about, now that you know that this led to you having to come to the Judicial office, what do you think you might want to do differently in the future?

Student:  Maybe not just staying in my dorm but going elsewhere to study, even though that is my space.

Hearing Officer:  Okay so maybe looking for other locations to study.  Anything else that you might want to look into doing?

Student:  Well I guess like you mentioned before, having a conversation with my RA.  Maybe that would be a good starting point.

Hearing Officer:  Yeah, obviously academics and being in school here is important to you so I think we want to look for ways to avoid having to come through the Judicial office again.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  So I think that maybe having a conversation with your RA is a good place to start.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  All right, Suzie, is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that you think is important for me to know before I make any decisions for you?

Student:  No, I don’t think so.

Hearing Officer:  Okay, great.  Well, let me tell you what my decision would be in the case and then we’ll talk about what your decision is.

Student:  Okay.

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Hearing Officer:  There is enough evidence to find you responsible for the destruction of property charge.  You did admit that you did break this board and that’s going to meet that standard for that particular violation.  So what I would do is I would find you responsible for that charge and then in response to that I’m going to do two different things.  The first thing I’m going to do is place you on disciplinary probation through the end of this semester.  Disciplinary probation means two things for you.  When you’re on probation, if you come back to see us during that time, your next sanction is going to be more severe than what might be recommended in the handbook.  The other thing that probation will impact is applications you fill out.  So if you fill out something that asks if you have a disciplinary record with your university, you’re going to say “yes” until the end of this semester.  After the end of this semester, if you never come back to our office, you can start to say “no” to that question.  The other thing that I’m going to do is I am going to assign you to something that’s called a Values in Action program.  This program is really meant to get you to think about “Who am I as a person?” and “What are the decisions that I make based on who I am and what my values are?”  We’re going to look at that in response to your own decisions for yourself as well as the decisions within your community.  That program’s going to meet for four hours total, two hours one week and two hours the second week and we do work that around your academic schedule.  There is a fifty dollar fee that goes along with that and that’s all the programs that are peer-styled that are offered in our office.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  And that happens at the end of the second session so you would be charged that onto your student account after you completed the program.

Student:  Okay.

Hearing Officer:  How does that feel, do you have any questions for me about that decision?

Student:  It seems appropriate.

Hearing Officer:  Okay.  If everything’s feeling okay for you and you feel like that’s something you want to follow through on I can get you to sign off on this paperwork.  What you’re saying when you sign this is that you agree to the decision and not to reject it later.  You’re also saying that you agree to attend both sessions of that Values program and that if you’re late or you don’t show for those you’d have to come back and see me for something called “Failure to Comply.”  That’s a potentially suspendable charge so you just want to make sure that you follow through.  Does all that make sense?

Student:  Yup.

Hearing Officer:  Then I’m going to get you to sign off on the bottom there for me and then I’ll take you to our administrative assistant who will go over scheduling you for that program and any other details that you need to know.

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