When a student brings a sexual misconduct case to Student Conduct, Duke convenes a hearing after allowing an independent private investigator to interview witnesses and establish the facts of the situation. A three-person panel consisting of one student and two staff or faculty members then presides over the hearing.
Student Conduct provides these panel members with tools to make sentencing decisions, such as rubrics with suggested sanctions based on prior history of the accused, as well as information on similar cases from a database of the past five years of conduct hearings, said Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct.
The decision to reveal the written guideline panel members are given was made at the annual meeting to review campus judicial process Monday, Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta confirmed.
"We will make clear in writing the sanction guideline for sexual misconduct," Moneta wrote in an email Monday.
Previously, the written guideline that the hearing panels look over as they determined sanctions for students found responsible for sexual misconduct were not available.
This change comes after the decision last summer to set expulsion as the starting point for discussion when a student is found responsible for sexual assault.
Duke Student Government President Stefani Jones, a senior, said that publicly codifying the guideline would help students better understand the possible sanctions for a given offense if they proceeded with the conduct process.
“It’s important for victims of sexual assault who are going through the conduct process to have a full understanding of what the possible sanctions might look like for a given offense,” Jones said. “And it’s just as important that they’re not misled in thinking someone might be expelled or given a very serious punishment and then they not be.”
Check back for an analytical piece on Student Conduct's handling of sexual assault cases tonight.