Student Accountability

College Disciplinary Process

The College disciplinary process is not intended to be legalistic or punitive but rather a system that is educative and restorative. The disciplinary process should help the student or student group gain a better understanding of College policies and procedures, and established community standards. The College disciplinary process is very different from the criminal justice system. Differences include the level of proof required, the format, the adjudicator and the use of attorneys. The College disciplinary process is not designed to address innocence or guilt or concepts of right or wrong. The College disciplinary process evaluates behavior to determine if a student and or student group is responsible or not responsible for violating established policy, procedure or the honor code. 

Adjudication by Office and Department

The College has designated the Office of Residential Life, the Office of Student Involvement, the Division of Student Life, the Dean of Studies and the Honor Code Council to serve as hearing bodies to address violations of policy, procedure or the honor code.

Examples of the conduct adjudicated by each office

Office of Residential Life

  • Inappropriate conduct that occurs within the residence halls and other College-owned housing units.
  • Violations of policies specific to living in the residence halls (e.g., Escort, Fire Safety, Guest, Housing, Noise/Quiet Hour, Pet, Smoking).
  • First offense violation of the College Alcohol Policy and/or Drug Policy. 
  • Questionable behavior that may not violate campus policy but that affects others within the community.

Office of Student Involvement

  • Inappropriate conduct that occurs connected to a recognized student group.
  • Violations of policies specific to student groups.

Division of Student Life

  • Inappropriate conduct that occurs outside of the residence halls, including conduct that happens within student groups as well as inappropriate conduct that occurs at Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, UMass Amherst or off campus on College-related business.
  • Violations of policies that involve harm to self and others.
  • Repeated violation of the College’s Alcohol Policy and/or Drug Policy.
  • Repeated violation of policies specific to living in the residence halls. 
  • Noncompliance with sanctions issued by the Office of Residential Life or the Honor Code Council. 
  • Questionable behavior that may not violate campus policy but that affects others within the community.

Dean of Studies

  • Chair of Academic Honor Board, reviewing dishonorable academic conduct, such as plagiarism and cheating (See Academic Honor Board).
  • Chair of Academic Administrative Board, reviews both student petitions and student records in January and June each year to determine actions such as probation, suspension or required withdrawal based on academic performance.

Honor Code Council

  • Peer-to-peer complaints of violation of the honor code. 
  • Peer-to-peer complaints of inappropriate behaviors.
  • Violation of campus practice or protocol (e.g., student failing to swipe OneCard during meals, student blocking an accessible entrance by locking their bike to a handicap ramp, or student refusing to adhere to regulations in Kendall).
  • Noncompliance with sanction issued by the Office of Residential Life or the Dean of Students.
  • Violations of policy in which the facts of the case are disputed during an administrative hearing with the Office of Residential Life or the Dean of Students.

The majority of the reported violations are heard during an administrative meeting or conference with a member of the Residential Life or Division of Student Life office using notice of the violation as evidence of the violation. The hearing officer and/or the student alleged to have violated policy may request that a matter go to the Honor Code Council in instances where the initial violation report is contested or a fuller investigation is required.   

There will inevitably be conduct that confuses lines of accountability. In instances such as this, the sensitivity of the issue, severity of the behavior, or severity of the outcome will determine the hearing body. In many cases, officials from the various hearing bodies will convene to address the behavior.

The Conduct Review Board

The Conduct Review Board is made up of staff and faculty from the Office of Student Success and Advising, the Division of Student Life, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This group will convene to assess cases where students have had repeat allegations, offenses or an incident that spans multiple offices (i.e., a bias incident that also involved a College policy violation and resulted in academic dishonesty). This group will also assess recommendations for separation from the College due to violations of College policy.

The Conduct Review Board may request that a representative from other areas of the College present information about the student’s experience. Other administrators who are not already represented may be added to the review board if expertise is needed, including but not limited to legal counsel for the College, a student group advisor, etc. The Conduct Review Board may access the student’s educational records.

The Conduct Review Board’s decision following consideration of all relevant information will be the final decision of the College and are not subject to appeal. The review board will communicate its decision to the student and the appropriate administrative offices.

Standards of Proof

The College uses the preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not) as the threshold for determining responsibility for a campus violation or conduct issue.

Disciplinary Sanctions

Sanctions are not intended to be punitive but rather, to educate and restore the community.

Examples of possible disciplinary sanctions

  • Letter of warning. 
  • Mandatory educational project.
  • Mandatory written apology. 
  • Restitution in money or in kind to the College or individual for a loss caused by the student and or student group. 
  • Required service completed within the Mount Holyoke community.
  • Temporary or permanent loss or suspension of privileges or use of College facilities.
  • Housing probation.
  • Removal from office or position of responsibility. 
  • Dissolution of the student group.
  • Removal from residence hall. 
  • Disciplinary probation.
  • Notice stating that further violations during a specified period of time will result in increased sanctions or immediate suspension.

Disciplinary probation is a written reprimand for violation of institutional policy. Terms of the probation will be articulated and may include denial of specified social privileges, exclusion from cocurricular activities both on and off campus, removal from leadership positions, exclusion from designated areas of campus, no-contact orders, and/or other measures deemed appropriate. Students on disciplinary probation are not in good standing with the College.

Students who are not in good standing with the College may not be allowed to hold a leadership position in any registered student group or position of authority. In addition, students may also be removed from appointed or elected leadership positions of any registered student group or position of authority.

When asked, the Division of Student Life will report the student’s standing to College offices, which will weigh their behavior against access to a specific job, privilege or activity of the College.

Behavioral Agreement

A behavioral agreement is a written notice that names a particular behavior that is problematic within the community. A student is warned that continued negative behavior will result in a suspension. A behavioral agreement is used when the problematic behavior has had a consistent negative impact on others. Behavioral agreements are private and not ordinarily shared with other offices on campus.

Recommendation of Separation

When the hearing officer determines that an appropriate sanction mandates a separation from the College, the hearing officer will make this recommendation to the Conduct Review Board. The review board will either approve the recommended sanction or suggest an alternative in lieu of suspension. 

Separations from the College include:

  • Suspension from the College: a required leave from the College for a specific period of time that goes into effect immediately.
  • Suspension in abeyance: a required leave from the College for a specific period of time; however, the start of the suspension is delayed.
  • Required withdrawal: a required leave for an unspecified period that requires a process of application to return to the College. 
  • Expulsion from the College: the permanent termination of an individual’s status as a student, with the loss of all rights and privileges of a student at Mount Holyoke College. 

Note: A combination of these sanctions can be applied to a specific instance. A student’s failure to fulfill sanctions imposed may result in further proceedings and additional sanction, including suspension or expulsion from the College.

A disciplinary outcome letter is placed in the student’s educational file in instances where the student is found responsible for the alleged violation. The release of conduct information is subject to the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and may be accessible to future employers, graduate schools, etc. when a student requests that information be provided to  them.

Appeals

A student may appeal a finding and/or related sanction to the appeals officer. The specific appeal officer will vary based on the nature and severity of the violation. The name and contact of the appeals officer will be included in the disciplinary outcome letter. Appeals are accepted only on the grounds of new information that was not present at the time of the hearing, bias in the hearing process, procedural error or inappropriate sanction.

Appeals based on information not known by or available to the appealing party at the time of the hearing must be submitted within three (3) business days after the information is discovered. Appeals on any other criteria (i.e., sanction, procedural error or bias) must be submitted within three (3) business days after the date noted in the disciplinary outcome letter. 

Once the appeals officer receives a request for an appeal, they will notify the hearing officer. The hearing officer will provide the appeals officer with all of the information and materials gathered to make the initial determination. Materials forwarded to the appeals officer include a copy of campus violations report, investigation report (if any), witness statements (if any), the decision letter, and in the case of an honor code hearing, copies of information presented at the hearing and a recording or transcripts from the hearing.

The appeals officer may uphold the previous decision, reverse or alter the previous decision, reduce the sanctions, or return the case to another hearing body for further consideration or proceedings. 

Record Keeping

All records of disciplinary procedures are kept in private files in the Residential Life and Division of Student Life. A summary of the violation and related outcomes are maintained by the College’s student information system. After a student’s graduation, the records are kept for seven (7) years; after seven (7) years, the identities of the individuals involved are redacted, but the records are kept for historical purposes. 

Administrative Hearing Procedures

The Office of Residential Life and/or the Division of Student Life staff will conduct an administrative hearing to determine if a violation of policy has occurred and what sanction, if any, will be issued as a result of that policy violation. The administrative hearing should help the student gain a better understanding of College policies, procedures and established community standards. 

The administrative hearing is designed to build:

  • Awareness of the behavior in question.
  • Awareness of the effect of behavior upon others
  • Awareness of the effect of behavior upon oneself.
  • Awareness of alternatives. 
  • Problem-solving skills. 
  • A sense of responsibility for one’s actions and accountability to the community.

Steps to an Administrative Hearing

The Division of Student Life or the Office of Residential Life receives an information report (referral) of an allegation of inappropriate behavior or policy violation. Public Safety and Service or the residence hall student staff typically generates the report. The College will review reports from any member of the College and from third parties. In the course of providing the student a fair and impartial review, the College will release the name of the third party.

  1. The Residential Life or Division of Student Life staff will review the referral and route it to the appropriate hearing body as described earlier in this document.
  2. The assigned hearing officer will send a notice via email requesting a meeting with the students to probe the situation and determine if a violation took place and the specific student’s responsibility for the violation. This letter requesting a meeting will include:
    1. Reference to the date, time, location and type of the violation in question.  
    2. The date, time and location of the meeting. 
    3. A deadline to reschedule the meeting.
    4. Next steps that will be taken should the student fail to reschedule or fail to attend the scheduled meeting.
  3. The hearing officer will meet with the students to discuss the information in the referral. This is the point in the process when the student can respond to the allegation, presenting any information that confirms or disproves the allegation:
    1. If the student accepts responsibility for the allegation, the hearing officer will then decide upon a sanction. The hearing officer will reference the student’s past disciplinary offenses when deciding upon a sanction. 
    2. If the student is found not responsible for the allegation, the hearing officer will note the finding of not responsible on the campus violation report or incident report. There will be no reference of the allegation in the student’s record. The report will be filed for record keeping purposes. 
    3. If the student does not accept responsibility for the allegation, the hearing officer can: 
      1. Continue with the administrative hearing where the hearing officer will render a decision based on the preponderance of the information standard presented.
      2. Request/refer the allegation to a hearing by the Honor Code Council. A hearing by the Honor Code Council will allow for the use of witnesses and other relevant materials as evidence to determine if the student is responsible for a violation of policy.

The Honor Code Council (HCC)

Duties of the HCC

The HCC shall have the following duties, powers and responsibilities: 

  • To adjudicate cases involving the violation of non-academic regulations. There are some exceptions to this including alcohol and drug violations, some residence hall-based violations, and cases that are deemed more appropriate for adjudication by staff in the Division of Student Life in consultation with the HCC. 
  • To review, at the request of any group or individual member of the College community or at its own initiative, existing non-academic regulations and policies.The HCC shall recommend modifications to the appropriate structures of the College when these regulations are in conflict with state or federal law, safety or health regulations, individual rights, the general welfare of the community, or the ability of students to maintain a system of shared governance under which non-academic regulations are made and enforced.
  • To educate students, faculty and staff as to its activities. The HCC shall periodically consult with appropriate campus committees, such as the Student Government Association and the Advisory Committee on Multicultural Community and College Life (MCCL), to discuss issues of common concern.
  • To serve as the hearing board for student group conflict that is either referred by the Office of Student Involvement or when a group’s constitution does not have procedures for managing conflict.
  • To hear disciplinary cases in the area of student non-academic life that is not specifically delegated to other bodies. The HCC shall not assume executive, legislative or judicial powers conferred on the SGA under its Grant of Power.

Composition of the HCC

The HCC shall consist of at least seven selected students and an advisor. The HCC shall choose the chair from among its student members. The term of service of the selected students shall be a minimum of three academic semesters. 

Selection of HCC Members

The advisor and the continuing members of the HCC will conduct an interview process to select new members of the committee. The HCC will publicize the openings any time the current membership falls below five active members (including the chair). Any student who is in good academic and social standing with the College can apply to be on the council. A representative of the Student Government Association is asked to take part in the selection of HCC members to ensure the HCC membership represents the broadest set of goals and ideals of the student body.

Role of the Chair of the HCC

The chair of the HCC manages the weekly meetings of the council, coordinates training, and responds to questions and concerns. The chair shall preside over hearings and is responsible for procedural correctness during the hearing proceedings. The chair does not vote except to break a tie. During the hearing, the chair shall resolve any procedural questions that may arise. The chair is responsible for ensuring the orderly conduct of hearings. The chair is the point of contact for all parties in the hearing.

Role of the HCC Advisor

The HCC advisor shall be the assistant dean of students/director of residential life or designee. The primary role of the HCC advisor is to provide the HCC with clarifying information and general assistance throughout the hearing proceedings. The HCC advisor serves as a nonvoting member of the board. The HCC advisor may also, at their discretion, when circumstances warrant, extend or adjust time periods set forth in these procedures.

HCC Disciplinary Procedures

The HCC’s disciplinary process is a procedure for determining the facts surrounding a complaint that a student has violated College policy or the honor code. The HCC strives to make a fair and informed resolution of the complaint. The procedures are designed to treat all matters individually and to ensure fairness in all considerations. The HCC is not designed to and should not be expected to function as a court of law, and the College reserves the right to modify the College policy, the HCC disciplinary process, and any other provision contained herein.

Filing a Complaint

Any member of the Mount Holyoke community may file a complaint against a student. Complaints should be filed with the HCC after an initial attempt to resolve the matter has failed. Individuals desiring a hearing should complete the complaint form. The complaint form must contain a detailed description of the conduct alleged to violate College policy, a description of past efforts to resolve the complaint, a listing of the exact policy violated, documentation and materials to support the allegation, and a list of names and contact information of witnesses and other parties involved with the complaint. The complainant, the person submitting the complaint, can email the completed form to hcc@mtholyoke.edu or return the form to the Division of Student Life, Blanchard Hall, room 205.

By filing a complaint with the HCC, the complainant agrees to comply with all HCC disciplinary procedures. A complaint may be withdrawn at any point before deliberation by the hearing board. Complaints must be received within 14 days of the alleged violation, or within 14 days of the date that the complainant became aware of the alleged violation. If a complaint is filed after those 14-day periods, the HCC advisor and HCC chair will determine whether to accept the case based on the specific reasons for the delay in filing. In the event that a case is filed during January Intersession, College breaks, over the summer, or during a significantly stressful academic time of year, the advisor and chair may determine to alter the case timeline or refer the case to another hearing body. 

Initial Review of the Complaint by the HCC

Within seven days, or such further period of time as is warranted, after receiving the complaint the HCC shall make a judgment by majority vote to accept the case, refer the case to a College office for disposition, or dismiss the complaint. The HCC bases this decision on the type of the alleged violation and efforts the complainant has taken to resolve the case directly (when appropriate). If the case is accepted by the HCC, a hearing is organized. If the complaint is dismissed, no record of the complaint shall be kept. If the case is referred to another office, all materials will be forwarded. 

The advisor redacts the name of the complainant and respondent of the complaint during the vote to accept the case. The hearing board is selected at this time, providing an opportunity for council members to recuse themselves due to a possible conflict of interest. Once a complaint is accepted, the complainant and respondent (the person alleged to have violated policy or the honor code) are notified that the case has been accepted and that a hearing will be scheduled. 

When a Complaint Is Accepted by the HCC

Once a complaint has been accepted by the HCC, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the facts and responsibility. A letter will be sent from the chair of the HCC to all involved parties outlining the hearing procedures and listing the names of the hearing board members, along with the date and time for a hearing. The parties of the hearing will have an opportunity to provide evidence, names of witnesses, resolve possible rescheduling conflicts, or request the removal of a hearing board member due to potential bias or conflict of interest.

All involved parties are required to attend the hearing. Should a complainant or respondent fail to be present for the hearing, the HCC will proceed without their involvement and make a determination based upon the information provided. Academic conflicts should be directed to the chair or advisor, who may decide to reschedule or proceed with the hearing. All procedural and process questions and support needed before a hearing should be directed to the chair or advisor.   

In the event that there is an associated criminal complaint pending, the hearing board may, but is not required to, delay the hearing until the completion of the criminal proceedings.

Hearing Proceedings of the Honor Code Council

Composition of the Hearing Board

The composition of the hearing board will be determined at the discretion of the council. The hearing board will consist of at least five members, one of whom will be the chair.  

Conflicts of Interest 

Any HCC member, the respondent, and the complainant must make known to the chair any actual or perceived conflict of interest with regard to any proceeding conducted under these procedures within five days of the initial notification by the chair. The respondent or complainant must submit a written request demonstrating specific information why a particular person should not be a part of a hearing board for the case. If the chair deems that a conflict exists, another member will be substituted. If the chair is excluded in this process, the HCC will appoint another member of the HCC or a judicial advisor to act as chair during the hearing. If exclusions due to bias or scheduling reduce the number of available hearing board members, the hearing may continue before the remaining members. 

Steps of the Hearing

  1. Reading of the charge and the related policies.
  2. Response from the respondent (person or persons alleged to have violated policy or the honor code).
  3. Statement of any additional facts from the complainant (person bringing forward the case).
  4. Questioning of claimant and respondent by hearing board.
  5. Questioning of witnesses by complainant, respondent and hearing board.
  6. Final round of questions by the hearing board.
  7. Summary statement from complainant and respondent.
  8. Deliberations.
  9. Delivery of finding and sanctioning, if appropriate.

The complainant and respondent have the opportunity to state their case and will be expected to answer honestly and clearly questions of the hearing board. The complainant, the respondent and the hearing board may ask the chair to admit witnesses to the case, and approval will be granted by the chair based on the chair’s judgment as to the relevance of a witness’s information. Both the complainant and the respondent will be permitted to question each witness, provided their questioning is reasonable and relevant, as determined by the chair. If a witness is unavailable, their statement shall normally not be admitted. The hearing board shall consider only information admitted at the hearing. It is the responsibility of both the complainant and the respondent to organize their cases to the best of their knowledge, providing all documentation, witnesses and facts relevant to the matter.

To the extent possible, the complainant and the respondent will both receive at least one day in advance a list of witnesses who will participate in the hearing. Before the hearing proceedings, the complainant and the respondent may not communicate (including in writing, by telephone, by email, online, verbally, etc.) with witnesses proposed by the other party. Any attempt to do so is a violation of College policy.

It is expected that any member of the College community who is requested to be a witness will make every effort to attend the hearing.

The hearing board shall provide for a verbatim record, i.e., an audio recording, of all hearings, which shall be available, together with copies of all exhibits, to the complainant and the respondent for purposes of appeal. All materials are confidential. The complainant and/or the respondent have the right to listen to the tapes in a confidential space arranged by the HCC judicial advisor. The recordings will also be available, in the event of an appeal, to the dean of students. The verbatim record is destroyed once the appeal window has closed. 

The rules of evidence and procedures applicable to courts of law are not applicable at the hearing. The HCC uses the preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not) as the threshold for determining responsibility. The chair will make decisions on the inclusion or exclusion of information, to safeguard the fairness and integrity of the hearing. The hearing will be conducted with an emphasis on the goals of attempting to ascertain fact and reaching a finding that is appropriate to the rights of the students, to the College community, and to the educational mission of the College.

Except for members of the hearing board, the complainant, the respondent, advisors and witnesses, the hearing is closed.

Advisors

The complainant and the respondent may each be accompanied at the hearing by an advisor of their choosing. Advisors may include peers, Mount Holyoke College faculty or staff, parents or outside attorneys. The role of the advisor is to consult with the student and provide support as needed. The advisor is not allowed to speak on behalf of the student nor can the advisor serve as their proxy in written or verbal communications. The College will notify the other party to the complaint if the advisor is an attorney. A complainant or respondent who wishes to have an advisor at the hearing must inform the chair of the HCC of the name of the advisor 48 hours in advance of the hearing.

Decision of the Hearing Board

In the event that a respondent announces responsibility for a violation at the beginning of a hearing, the board will move directly to the sanctioning phase of the hearing, only considering presentations from the complainant and respondent regarding appropriate outcomes.

After the complainant and the respondent have presented their cases and suggested possible outcomes, the hearing board will meet, in private, to determine whether a violation of College policy has occurred. The hearing board will consider whether or not the conduct in question violates the standards of conduct of the community as expressed in the honor code and/or the College’s rules, regulations and policies. In determining whether a violation occurred, the hearing board will not review or consider any previous disciplinary history of the respondent. The respondent’s disciplinary record will be taken into account during the sanctioning process. A majority of the voting members of the hearing board is needed to find that a violation occurred. A tie is broken by the chair. If the hearing board deliberation lasts more than 20 minutes, the board will call a recess and inform the complainant and the respondent of when they will reconvene. 

The hearing board will announce its findings to the complainant and the respondent at the hearing. In the event that the respondent is found responsible for an honor code violation, all rulings on sanctions will then be announced to the respondent only, except to the extent that the sanction affects the complainant directly (e.g., a no-contact agreement or restitution). The hearing board will notify the complainant separately in these instances.   

The chair will send a letter approved by the board to the complainant and the respondent summarizing the finding of the board. If a violation was found, the letter to the respondent will include sanctions to be imposed. This letter will be placed in the respondent’s disciplinary file. 

Basis for Decision

The determination of a violation of the honor code and/or College policy shall be made on the basis of whether it is more likely than not that the respondent violated the honor code and/or College policy according to the information presented at the hearing. 

Multiple Respondents

When one incident involves more than one student, the chair may determine that the hearing board shall hear the cases together. If the chair concludes that this may result in unfairness to one or more students, the chair may direct that separate hearings be held.

Policy on Hearings During Reading Days and Exams

No disciplinary proceedings will take place during reading days or exams. Notice of violations or complaint forms received later than one week prior to the end of classes will be referred to the Dean of Students or held over for adjudication in the following semester.

Academic Honor Board

Statement of Policies and Procedures Form 

The Statement of Policies and Procedures Form is used to report an alleged violation of the Academic Honor Code.

Mount Holyoke College is a community of students, faculty, staff and administrators committed to free inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge in the tradition of the liberal arts. The decision to join this academic community requires acceptance of special rights and responsibilities that are essential for its effective functioning and the realization of its mission. All members of the community share the responsibility to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity. Failure to accept and act on this responsibility threatens the rights of the rest of the community by undermining the trust upon which the community is built.

Students, faculty, staff and administrators assume a commitment to the academic community that supports teaching and learning in an open environment based on mutual trust, respect and concern. All members of the community have the right to careful and constructive analysis of their work, and they have the responsibility to provide a serious response to the work of others.

Each member of the academic community has the right to benefit from its collective knowledge and resources as well as the responsibility to contribute to them. Plagiarism or other forms of scholarly misconduct can have no purpose or place in the academic life of the College. Each student is responsible for observing established procedures in the preparation of assignments, the writing of papers and examinations, and for submitting only original work. 

Each instructor is responsible for making clear what procedures are acceptable when completing work for a course and for guiding students in those methods and standards of research relevant to the particular discipline. Instructors and students share the responsibility to observe the procedures established by the College and publicized in official announcements, such as those for preparing and writing final examinations.

A carefully maintained library collection is central to any academic institution. The collection is built over a long period of time and must be preserved for the benefit of future students and faculty members as well as for those who currently use the collection. The open stacks and reserve book privileges of the library require that all members of the community accept responsibility for the correct use of library materials and for following the established borrowing procedures. Students should be aware that reserved and limited materials must be shared; instructors should allow for sufficient time and adequate copies when assigning work that relies on such materials.

II. The Honor Code

A. The Pledge

All new students take the honor code pledge during Orientation. Upon matriculation, students affirm their intention to abide by the honor code: “I will honor myself, my fellow students and Mount Holyoke College by acting responsibly, honestly and respectfully in both my words and deeds.” The honor code applies to both the academic and social aspects of student life. It forms the foundation of the Mount Holyoke community. 

The guide, How To Use Sources Properly, provides information on different forms of academic dishonesty and links to helpful websites for further information.

International students, or students who have attended schools abroad, may not be familiar with the concept of an academic honor code as defined within a U.S. context.  These students should also consult the special publication prepared by the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives titled “Academic Responsibility at Mount Holyoke College: What International Students Should Know”.

B. Violations of the Honor Code

Students are expected to always conduct themselves with academic integrity:

  • Course materials are part of the intellectual property of the faculty instructors and cannot be distributed, shared or sold (for monetary gain or access to goods or services) without the expressed consent of the faculty instructor.
  • Students may not purchase or acquire materials for use in a course or other academic function.
  • Students should not access course materials (online or in hard copy) associated with current or previous versions of a Mount Holyoke College course without explicit permission from the faculty instructor. If permission is not explicitly provided, accessing material from previous course offerings is prohibited. 

Infractions of academic regulations include but are not limited to:       

  • All forms of plagiarism.
  • The unauthorized or unacknowledged use of material that is not a student’s own.
  • Cheating in any form in preparing assignments (including homework, essays or take-home exams), in completing in-class work (including quizzes or tests), or in taking a final examination.
  • Theft, mutilation and unlawful or improper use of library materials.
  • Unlawful or improper use of digital or online materials (e.g., Moodle).

Violations of academic responsibility in preparing coursework include but are not limited to:

  • Using quotes without appropriate quotation marks and citation.
  • Paraphrasing from a source without appropriate citation.
  • Using unacknowledged or unauthorized outside sources, including those of a fellow student or colleague.
  • Misrepresenting the actual source from which material is cited.
  • Failing to acknowledge a coauthor.
  • Using a purchased term paper to complete any portion of an assignment.
  • Submitting the same or substantially similar papers in two courses without prior permission and proper acknowledgment.
  • Submitting in whole or in part the work of another student or author as a student’s own.
  • Falsifying data.

Violations of academic responsibility related to final examinations include but are not limited to:

  • Using notes, books or other sources during examinations without prior approval by the instructor.
  • Receiving help from or giving help to another student during an examination.
  • Revealing the content of an examination before all students have completed it.
  • Exceeding the allotted time for an examination without prior authorization.
  • Failing to follow examination procedures as published by the registrar and printed on the final examination envelopes.

Violations of academic responsibility in using the library include but are not limited to:

  • Removing a book from the library without properly checking it out.
  • Keeping a reserve book or equipment beyond the specified time limit.
  • Marking, defacing or destroying library materials.

Violations of academic responsibility in using digital or online resources include but are not limited to using unauthorized or unacknowledged software or online materials, and plagiarizing in any of its forms.

III. The Academic Honor Board

A. Purpose

The Academic Honor Board (AHB) reviews and adjudicates all alleged academic violations of the honor code. The AHB ensures consistent interpretation of the honor code, swift and impartial review of alleged infractions, and fair and equitable sanctions for confirmed violations. The AHB also serves as a resource for students, faculty and administrators when questions concerning the interpretation of the academic honor code arise, regardless of whether an infraction is believed to have occurred. The existence of the AHB serves as an ongoing reminder of Mount Holyoke College’s commitment to academic integrity and the enforcement of its academic principles. The AHB is distinct in both composition and purpose from the Honor Code Council, which is a student disciplinary board tasked with reviewing alleged violations of the honor code relating to social conduct.

B. Membership 

  1. The dean of studies ex officio, who shall serve as chair of the AHB.
  2. Three additional faculty members appointed by the dean of faculty, one each from the three academic divisions of the College (humanities, science and mathematics, and social sciences).
  3. One student recommended by the Honor Code Council and appointed by the dean of studies.

C. Tenure

The three faculty members shall serve staggered three-year terms, with at least two continuing members each academic year. The student may serve until graduation.

D. Responsibilities

  1. Interpret the honor code in an advisory capacity for students, faculty, staff and administrators seeking clarification.
  2. Establish and publicize clear procedures for adjudicating alleged violations of the honor code.
  3. Receive all complaints concerning alleged academic violations of the honor code.
  4. Review promptly all reported complaints, ensuring that a fair, consistent and confidential process is followed.
  5. Recommend or decide on appropriate sanctions when the AHB determines that a violation of the honor code has occurred. No disciplinary action may be taken by a faculty or staff member concerning an alleged violation without prior consultation with the AHB.
  6. Present an annual report to the faculty summarizing all cases heard and their resolution. The names of the parties involved in the cases shall be omitted to protect confidentiality.

IV. Process for Adjudicating Complaints

A. Filing a Complaint

Any community member who suspects a violation of the academic honor code should promptly submit a report to the AHB. Reports should contain a complete description of the incident and the identity of the alleged violator(s). Supporting material, if available, should be submitted to the dean of studies. 

B. Notification of Charges

  1. The AHB will provide a written notification to the student accused of violating the academic honor code (hereafter the “respondent”). The notification will specify the alleged violation and the identity of the person filing the complaint (hereafter the “complainant”). The student must respond in writing to the charge within the time frame given in the notification.
  2. The College’s primary means of communicating with students is through their Mount Holyoke email accounts; students are responsible for reading and responding to all official emails sent by the College. 

C. Investigation of Charges

  1. The AHB will review the complaint and any supporting material within two weeks and determine if sufficient grounds exist for adjudication.
  2. If the board determines there is insufficient evidence, the charges will be dismissed and the complainant and respondent will be so notified.
  3. If the board determines there is sufficient evidence, the dean of studies will communicate with the complainant and the respondent and proceed as follows:
    1. If the respondent accepts responsibility for the alleged violation and it is a first violation, the AHB will offer the option of an individual meeting with the dean of studies or a hearing before the full AHB to finalize adjudication.
    2. If the respondent denies the alleged violation or if it is a repeat violation, the dean of studies will schedule a hearing with the full AHB.

D. Procedure During the Hearing

  1. Hearings require the presence of the dean of studies, who serves as chair, at least two other members of the AHB, and the respondent. The respondent may request the presence of the appropriate class dean or academic advisor, but this person may speak only with the respondent during the hearing. Additionally, the AHB may require the complainant and/or additional witnesses to appear at the hearing.
  2. The chair will summarize the alleged academic honor code violation.
  3. The respondent will respond to the allegations.
  4. The complainant and/or witnesses (if present) will offer their account of the incident.
  5. The respondent may offer a rebuttal to the statements of the complainant and/or witnesses.
  6. AHB members may question the respondent, the complainant and/or any witnesses.
  7. The complainant and/or witnesses will have the opportunity to make final statements.
  8. The respondent will have the opportunity to make a final statement.

E. Resolution of Complaints

  1. The AHB shall meet in closed session immediately after the end of the hearing to deliberate and render its decision.
  2. The dean of studies shall communicate the AHB’s decision in writing to both the respondent and the complainant. The decision shall be communicated within two business days from the conclusion of the hearing.
  3. The AHB will resolve the complaint in one of the following three ways:
    1. No violation — A decision that the respondent did not violate the honor code.
    2. Warning — A decision that the preponderance of evidence does not clearly confirm a violation but the facts of the case raise sufficient concern.
    3. Violation — A decision that the accused student did violate the honor code as charged and is subject to sanctions. 

F. Sanctions

  1. Violations of the academic honor code are among the most serious offenses that a student may commit at Mount Holyoke College. The AHB shall invoke penalties at its discretion, up to and including suspension or dismissal from the College. The number and nature of violations shall be taken into account in the deliberations of the AHB.
  2. If a complaint filed with the AHB involves a student’s work is associated with a course,  the student may not take any action(s), for example, withdraw from a course or elect the ungraded option, until the complaint is fully adjudicated.
  3. For first violations: The AHB will consult with the faculty member in whose class the violation occurred concerning the choice of sanction, but the final decision as to which option is selected rests with the faculty member. The AHB will recommend one of the following sanctions depending on the nature and level of the first violation:
    1. An F (failing grade) for the specific exam, paper or other assignment; the student may elect to withdraw from the course by the appropriate deadline, and thus lose credit for the course.
    2. Expulsion from the course with a W (withdrawal) recorded on the student’s transcript.
    3. Expulsion from the course with an F (failing grade) recorded on the student’s transcript.
  4. For subsequent violations: The AHB will consult with the faculty member in whose class the most recent violation occurred, but the final decision regarding sanctions rests with the AHB. The sanctions that the AHB may impose include:
    1. An F (failing grade) in the course with no opportunity to withdraw from the course or to elect the ungraded option.
    2. Suspension from the College.
    3. Required withdrawal from the College.
  5. If a complaint submitted involves behavior that is not related to a student’s work in a course (e.g., marking, defacing or destroying library materials), the AHB will render the final decision and impose sanctions, if appropriate.

G. Appeals

  1. Appeals of AHB decisions must be addressed in writing to the Office of the Dean of Faculty within three business days of the issuance of the AHB decision.
  2. The letter must state one or both of the following grounds for the appeal:
    1. Violation of fair process.
    2. Availability of new evidence not presented at the hearing.
  3. Sanctions imposed by the AHB will not be implemented until after the appeal is resolved.
  4. The Office of the Dean of Faculty will notify the student in writing of the outcome of the appeal. If the appeal is denied, the sanctions imposed by the AHB will be implemented, and the College will consider the case closed.

V. Principles Underlying the Adjudication Process   

A. Policies Governing the AHB

  1. The AHB shall conduct all business with utmost regard for ensuring fairness at every stage of the adjudication process.
  2. Members of the AHB who feel they have a conflict of interest involving a case shall recuse themselves.
  3. The AHB may require the cooperation of any member of the Mount Holyoke community in furnishing testimony or evidence directly related to the adjudication of a case.
  4. Ordinarily, the AHB shall hear a case within two weeks of receiving a complaint. Complaints received when the AHB cannot convene a majority of its members along with the respondent (for example, during winter or summer break) may be held in abeyance until such time as the AHB may be able to convene a majority of its members along with the respondent, either on campus or by videoconference.
  5. If the respondent fails to appear for a scheduled hearing without prior notification, the AHB may proceed with the available information and render a decision. The College will not necessarily drop charges of misconduct because an accused student leaves the College for any reason.
  6. Hearings will be held in closed session.
  7. Hearings will be recorded. Recordings will be used by the AHB during its deliberations and by the Office of the Dean of Faculty should an appeal be filed. The recordings will normally be destroyed after a decision is rendered or the appeal process is complete. If the AHB decides to archive recordings from a specific case, the recordings cannot be held past the student’s enrollment at Mount Holyoke College.
  8. The AHB will render decisions based on the standard of “fair preponderance.” That is, in cases where the respondent denies violating the honor code and where no conclusive evidence of a violation is present, the AHB should decide — based on the available evidence and testimony — if it is more likely than not that the alleged violation occurred.
  9. The dean of studies will maintain a written summary of all hearings, which will be included with the respective case file. The summaries will be compiled into an annual report to the faculty in which all names shall be redacted. Case files will be archived for seven years following a student’s graduation or withdrawal from Mount Holyoke College and destroyed thereafter.
  10.  All material in the case file is to be treated as confidential and may be shared with individual faculty and staff members only on a strict need-to-know basis as determined by the AHB.
  11.  Disciplinary action taken against a student beyond the first violation may be reported to outside institutions and agencies.

B. Rights of Students Charged with Honor Code Violations

  1. Written and detailed notification of charges, including the identity of the complainant.
  2. Presumption of innocence until found in violation by the AHB.
  3. Resolution of charges according to established, announced and published AHB policies and procedures.
  4. At least 72 hours’ notice of the time and place of a hearing, and the right to ask for an extension under extreme circumstances.
  5. Opportunity to review in full the report of the alleged violation and any supporting material. 
  6. Assistance before, during and after the hearing from the appropriate class dean or faculty advisor.
  7. Right to produce supporting evidence or witnesses.
  8. Right to appeal the AHB ruling to the Office of the Dean of Faculty.
  9. Written notification of the results of hearings and appeals.
  10. Confidentiality regarding the outcome of the hearing and any subsequent appeal. This right of confidentiality is qualified only by the complainant’s right to be informed of the AHB’s ruling on whether a violation did or did not occur (but not necessarily the sanctions imposed, if any) and qualifications specified in Section V, A: “Policies Governing the AHB” in the section above.

Resolution of Grievances 

The College has established guidelines and procedures  to aid in resolving conflict, discriminatory and/or harassing behaviors as identified in the Mount Holyoke College statement of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity. The grievance procedure is available to those who are:

  • Employed by or enrolled at Mount Holyoke College at the time of the incident or occurrence giving rise to the grievance
  • Prospective students
  • Employment applicants
  • Visitors and guests of the college

Confidentiality of Student Records

Mount Holyoke College Policy, with respect to confidentiality of student records, complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended (PL 93-380, Section 438, the General Education Provisions Act), which gives students certain rights, consistent with the privacy of others, to review their own official records, files and data, and to challenge the accuracy of the contents of such records. The act also generally prohibits the release of personally identifiable information (other than "directory information" defined below) about students without their written consent other than to teachers and officials within the College who have legitimate educational interests; to officials of other institutions in which the student intends to enroll; and to certain authorized state and federal officials, in connection with a student applying for or receiving financial aid, or in connection with the student applying for government employment; and in the case of students who are tax dependents of their parents, to a student’s parents. Except in the case of Frances Perkins scholars, the College will assume that a student is a tax dependent of their parents unless they document that they are not. Forms for such documentation can be obtained at the Registrar’s Office. 

Notification of Rights Under FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. These rights are as follows:

  1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the institution receives a request for access.
    Requests for review of specific records must be made in writing. A student who seeks to review only health or career records should file a written request to do so with the director of health services, the director of the counseling service, or the Career Development Center. All other requests should be made at the Office of the Dean of the College. The appropriate College official will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the official to whom the request was submitted, that official shall advise the student of the correct official to whom the request should be addressed.
  2. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading.
    A student may ask the College to amend a record that she believes is inaccurate or misleading. She should write to the College official responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record she wants changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, a College official will notify the student of the decision. The student has a right to request a hearing regarding a denied request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided upon request.
  3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
    These exceptions include the disclosure of "directory information" as detailed below and disclosure of any information to: teachers and other College officials who have legitimate educational interests; to officials of other institutions in which the student intends to enroll; to certain authorized state and federal officials; to appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to the student; to organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the College; to accrediting organizations; to comply with a judicial order or lawfully ordered subpoena; and to appropriate officials in the case of health and safety emergency.

    A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research or support support staff position (including law enforcement personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted as its agent to provide a service instead of using College employees or officials (such as an attorney, auditor, IT specialist, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student or appointed volunteer serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the College.

    The regulations of the Act make clear that, in the case of students who are dependents of their parents for Internal Revenue Service purposes, information from the education records of the student may be disclosed to parents without the student’s prior consent. It is the policy of the College to notify both the student and her parents in writing of academic probation, required withdrawal, and suspension. In communications with parents concerning other matters, it is normally College policy to respect the privacy of the student and not to disclose information from educational records without the student’s prior consent.

  4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.
    The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-5920

Public Notice: The Privacy Act gives Mount Holyoke College the right to make public at its discretion, without prior authorization from the individual student, the following personally-identifiable directory information: student's name; class year; home/permanent, off-campus/local, and College addresses; home, local, and residence hall telephone numbers; College electronic mail address; identification photograph; dates of attendance at Mount Holyoke College; enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate; full- or part-time; on leave); date and place of birth; major(s); degrees, honors and awards received; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; status as a student employee; and previous educational agency or institution most recently attended.

An individual student may limit release of the above directory information for any given year by filing such a request with the Registrar, in writing and with signature, by July 1 for fall entrants, January 1 for spring entrants. Requests received after these dates will be put into effect as quickly as possible but directory information already released cannot be recall

Parental Notification and FERPA

Mount Holyoke College reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status or student conduct situation, particularly alcohol and other drug violations. Mount Holyoke College may also notify parents/guardians of nondependent students who are under age 21 of alcohol and/or drug policy violations. 

When a student is nondependent, Mount Holyoke College may contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant and articulable health and/or safety risk. The College also reserves the right to designate which College officials have a need to know about incidents that fall within this policy, pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Directory Information 

As indicated above, FERPA requires the College, with certain exceptions, to obtain written consent of a student prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their education records. However, the College may disclose appropriately designated “directory information” without students’ written consent, unless they have advised the College to the contrary in accordance with the following procedures. Directory information, which is information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can be disclosed to campus and outside persons or organizations without prior written consent. The College has designated the following information for directory information: 

  • student’s name 
  • participation in officially recognized activities and sports 
  • address (both local and permanent)
  • telephone listing (both local and permanent)
  • weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • email address
  • photograph
  • degrees, honors and awards received
  • date and place of birth
  • major field of study
  • dates of attendance
  • class year
  • school or division of enrollment
  • enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time) 

If a student does not want the College to disclose directory information from their educational records without their prior written consent, the student must notify the registrar in writing by the second week of classes. 

Students have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is: 

Family Policy Compliance Office
U. S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605 

Parental Notification

The College’s philosophy is to work with students directly in managing their curricular and cocurricular lives. However, there may be instances in which contacting a student’s parent/guardian is necessary or appropriate. In such cases, the College will try to discuss notification in advance with the student. 

It is the policy of the College to notify both the student and their parents in writing of academic probations, reclassification, dismissal and suspension.

The vice president for student life/dean of students (or designee) and/or dean of studies (or designee) may notify a student’s parent/guardian: 

  • If the dean judges that such notification is necessary because of a health or safety emergency. 
  • In other situations when the dean judges that such notification is appropriate, including but not limited to changes in the student’s academic or disciplinary probationary status. 
  • Of any changes in the student’s enrollment status or other “directory information.” 
  • In the case of a student listed as a dependent on the parent/guardian’s most recent federal income tax return. 

The regulations of the act make clear that, in the case of students who are dependents of their parents for Internal Revenue Service purposes, information from the education records of the student may be disclosed to parents without the student’s prior consent. However, in any communication with parents, it is normally College policy to respect the privacy of the student and not to disclose information without the student’s prior consent.