BYLAWS OF THE VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE HONOR COUNCIL
Responsibility of Students
If a student has reason to suspect that a breach of the Honor Code has been committed, he or she must:
1. Issue a personal warning to the suspected student, or
2. Report the incident to the Undergraduate Honor Council (“Honor Council”) for action by the president, or
3. Inform the instructor in the course of the suspicions and identify, if possible, the person(s) suspected.
A member of the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards, & Academic Integrity, which may include a graduate student, shall be appointed to investigate each case and report their findings to the Honor Council. In case of a hearing, the investigator(s) shall present evidence to the Honor Council president who shall decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to hold a hearing on the case in question. In all cases, the reporting party shall be notified fully of the Honor Council’s action.
Penalties given to those declared guilty will be decided upon by the Honor Council, shall be based on the Honor Council’s determination of the seriousness of the offense, and shall conform to the limits herein set forth:
1. The presumptive penalty for a first offense is failure in the course. In certain circumstances, after reviewing the flagrancy of the violation, the degree of premeditation, and the truthfulness of the accused throughout the hearing and investigation, the Honor Council may, at its discretion, reduce the penalty on a first offense to an Honor Council reprimand with a recommendation for failure on the assignment or increase the penalty to suspension for one or more semesters, or expulsion. The minimum penalty for a second offense is failure in the course and suspension for not less than a semester, and depending upon the severity of the violation, the penalty may be suspension for multiple semesters or expulsion. The penalty for a third offense is expulsion.
2. Penalties must be approved by a vote of four of the six members during a full panel hearing, unless the penalty is expulsion and then five of the six members must approve. The factors that should be considered in deciding the penalty are the following: the flagrancy of the violation, the degree of premeditation, and the truthfulness of the accused throughout the investigation and the hearing. During discussion of penalty for second offense cases, panels may also consider the ratings assigned for the previous violation.
3. If, after review by, and at the discretion of, the Director of Student Accountability, Community Standards, and Academic Integrity, mitigating circumstances exist with regard to the commission of the violation in question, then the presiding officer will be provided relevant information and may introduce those circumstances to be considered in the discussion of penalty. Such circumstances may not relate to the possible ramifications of the panel’s decision. 4. Failure to cooperate with the Honor Council in providing information about an alleged offense shall constitute a violation of University policy.
Any undergraduate student may bring a charge to impeach, suspend, or otherwise discipline members of the Honor Council for negligent or incompetent performance of their responsibilities as Honor Council members by contacting an Honor Council officer. Officers of the Honor Council may make similar charges on their own or on behalf of a member of the faculty, student body, or Honor Council. The president or acting presiding officer shall appoint two investigators to investigate the charge, and a seven-member committee to hear the case. A majority of the hearing committee is required to find the member guilty and to impose discipline, including impeachment.
Role of Student Advisers
Section 1. Members of the Undergraduate Honor Council shall serve as advisers to support accused students during the investigatory and hearing process and to educate accused students about the Honor Code. Advisers will explain to an accused student the procedures of the Honor Council, the hearing, and the penalties that may be assigned. An adviser may also answer questions about the Honor Code or help students understand responsibilities under the Code. If a student is not sure what constitutes a violation or does not understand what actions to take after witnessing a violation, an adviser may help.
Section 2. Every accused student will be assigned a student adviser from the body of Honor Council members. A list of all possible student advisers will be made available on the Honor Council website, and the accused student may select an adviser from it during the investigation and the hearing. The accused also may select an individual not on the list from the University community, including faculty, staff, or students. Persons who are related to the accused or who have formal legal training are not eligible to serve as advisers. The accused student’s adviser, or an appointed substitute adviser, shall attend all meetings that the accused student may have with investigator(s). The adviser also may be present in the hearing room with the accused student; however, the adviser may not question witnesses or address the panel. The adviser’s role in a hearing is to provide support to the accused student and advice and information regarding hearing procedures and the Honor Code.
Election of Vice Presidents
The General Body of The Honor Council shall elect, from members of The Honor Council, three vice presidents who will work collaboratively on the internal functions of the organization. These vice presidents will serve as members of the Executive Board and will serve in a calendar year appointment.
Appointment of Directors
The incoming President shall appoint, from members of The Honor Council, two directors who will work collaboratively on external functions of the organization. These directors will serve as members of the Executive Board and will serve in a calendar year appointment.