Adjudication Process for Student Groups

The Student Group Adjudication Board (SGAB) is a hearing board made up of student representatives from the following boards and councils:

  • Activities Board at Columbia (ABC)

  • Columbia College Student Council (CCSC)

  • Engineering Student Council (ESC)

  • General Studies Student Council (GSSC)

  • Student Governing Board (SGB)

SGAB's purpose is to adjudicate incidents related to student organizations that are recognized under one of the above governing boards/councils or student organizations and advised by Undergraduate Student Life or General Studies Student Life.

The adjudication board is a peer-to-peer process that consists of trained students elected from the above boards and councils. The director for academic integrity is the adviser for SGAB and the associate dean for Student and Family Support is the administrator. The executive director of Student Engagement serves as the appellate officer.

Students elected to serve on SGAB are trained by Student Conduct and Community Standards (SCCS) and remain in their elected position for one academic year.

SGAB hearings occur as needed as submitted reports are received, reviewed and deemed appropriate for the peer-to-peer SGAB hearing board process.

If you have additional questions about the Student Group Adjudication Board, please click here to learn more or email the SGAB at [email protected].

 

INTERIM Judiciary Process of the Activities Board at Columbia (ABC)

 

Section 1 – Purpose

 

Group Adjudication will provide a formal process to review and assess grievances, culpability and potential penalties for groups that allegedly violate university policy, violate ABC policy, fail to uphold the general values and principles of our community, fail to implement their own constitutions, act in a way that interrupts or impedes another group or organization’s mission and/or function, or engage in other acts of misconduct as subject to the ABC’s discretion.

 

Every effort will be made to preserve the integrity of the ABC constitution. The ABC auditing process is not covered by this policy. ABC reserves the right to refer cases to be reviewed by the Student Group Adjudication Board, the Dean’s Discipline process, the University Judicial Board, and any other appropriate university office based on the nature of the offense. 

 

Section 2 – Jurisdiction and Who Is Allowed to File a Report

 

If members of the ABC’s general body desire a redress of grievances against the ABC board, such groups may communicate with ABC’s undergraduate student life advisor, as defined in the ABC Constitution in Article II, Section 3, employ established impeachment mechanisms, or appeal to the executive boards of the Columbia College Student Council, Engineering Student Council, General Studies Student Council, and the Barnard Student Government Association, according to their procedures.

 

In accordance with the following, the ABC may hear grievances lodged by individuals against any recognized ABC groups, by any recognized ABC group against another recognized ABC group, by members of a recognized ABC group against fellow members of that same recognized ABC group, and by Columbia University against ABC student groups.

 

Local, state and federal crimes cannot be addressed by ABC.

 

Section 3 - Receipt of Judicial Complaints

 

ABC may receive complaints via email at [email protected] or in writing from the designated ABC undergraduate student life advisor. Violations will be classified based on the nature and origin of the submission.

 

Cases submitted by University under the Interim University Policy for Safe Demonstrations; or thereafter the University Policy for Safe Demonstrations will be reviewed by a five-member panel consisting of the ABC executive board and the appointed ABC Student Group Adjudication Board representative. This group may recommend referrals or sanctions to the Administration and University Senate Executive Committee, including but not limited to, referral to the student group adjudication board, allocation deduction, account freeze, loss of space reservation abilities, banning individuals from leadership positions, group probation, group suspension, and group de-recognition. This panel must send a recommendation to the same groups within five (5) business days of receiving the complaint, with all recommendations sustained by at least three (3) out of five (5) votes. In addition to the main recommendation, each member of the panel is entitled to write and attach concurring and dissenting opinions to the submission, as is appropriate. The administration will decide to sustain or reject the recommendation. Appeals of Administration decisions will go to the Student Group Adjudication Board (SGAB).

 

Violations of the Student Group University Event Policy will be automatically referred to the SGAB. The SGAB will provide ABC with a comprehensive final report describing the nature of the case and outcomes, to assess the impact of the Student Group University Event Policy.

 

All other violations will first be shared with the five-member panel consisting of the ABC executive board and the appointed ABC Student Group Adjudication Board representative. At this stage, the ABC President may choose to refer to the complaint to the ABC auditing process, empanel a temporary panel, consisting of at least one e-board member and two representatives, without relevant conflicts of interest, to perform judicial review, or prepare all necessary documentation, detailing both the complaint and the relevant policy guidelines broken, to submit the case to the SGAB. In these circumstances, the SGAB is obligated to investigate and report on its decision within twenty business days of receiving the complaint.

 

Section 4 – Student Group Adjudication Board Empowerment

 

The Student Group Adjudication Board (SGAB) is a hearing board made up of student representatives from the following boards and councils: ABC, SGB, CCSC, ESC, GSSC. They are appointed by the Presidents of these respective bodies. The ABC President will appoint one member to represent this governing board in the SGAB.

 

The SGAB is obligated to report on all cases relevant to ABC with detailed documentation at least once per semester, or otherwise report a lack of cases. Per Section 3, the SGAB is obligated to investigate and decide on referred violations of ABC policy. Failure to maintain these agreements, as assessed by the full ABC board, can result in revocation of the SGAB’s jurisprudence over ABC groups, by a two-thirds majority vote of the ABC board.

 

Section 5 – ABC Ad-Hoc Judicial Committee Procedures

 

An executive board member will serve as the chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee. They will be responsible for relevant and timely communications with the remaining ad-hoc board and involved parties. They are responsible for organizing agendas and meetings. They will charge a different executive board member, not present on the committee, to explore the option of mediation.

 

If the complaint involves a student group constitution, the ad-hoc board must at some point during their proceedings review the group constitution, specifically the one on file with the ABC Board.

   

The chair will run the proceeding, declaring the nature of the case and inviting all relevant parties to speak in turn.

 

No more than two (2) members of each party will be allowed to be present at the time of the hearing.  The number and length of the hearing(s) may vary depending on the particular case; the ad-hoc board will vote on specific hearing procedures to use for each particular case brought before it and will let the involved parties know the hearing procedures at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The hearings will be closed. During the session, any ad-hoc board member may ask questions at any time. The Chair will facilitate this questioning as necessary.

 

Should a party desire to include the use of evidence in the hearing, the evidence must be submitted to the Chair at least 48 hours prior to the hearing and must be deemed appropriate and meet validation standards to be determined by the Chair. If the evidence submitted is not deemed appropriate and does not meet validation standards, the evidence will not be allowed in the hearing. Additional support may be submitted in writing by other individuals. Consideration of such material is at the discretion of the ad-hoc board.

 

Legal counsels cannot be involved in the hearing procedures.

 

If the complaining party fails to attend the hearing at the agreed time, the hearing will be dismissed.  If the defending organization fails to attend the hearing at the agreed time, the ad-hoc board may consider this failure when determining a recommendation for sanctions and reserves the right to proceed in their absence.

  

Section 6 – Mediation 

 

Prior to hearings scheduled to be heard by the ad-hoc board, there will be an opportunity for the involved parties to settle their dispute through mediation. Mediation is an informal resolution to a judicial matter. Mediation implies that the parties will resolve the matter through discussion and will agree upon an outcome.

 

The Chair will ask involved parties whether or not they are willing to first address the complaint through mediation. If all parties involved are interested in pursuing mediation, the Chair will arrange a mediation meeting.

 

At said meeting, the uninvolved ABC executive board member, the groups’ ABC Representative, and the groups’ USL student group will jointly mediate the discussion between the parties using the model for restorative conferencing.

 

If an agreement is reached, the uninvolved ABC executive board member will collaborate with the USL advisors present at the mediation meeting to confirm the informal resolution in writing and to provide a copy to the parties involved within 24 hours of the conclusion of said meeting.  Each party has a right to rescind this agreement within forty-eight (48) hours of receiving the decision in writing and the matter will then be reviewed by the ad-hoc board.

 

Section 7 - Voting Procedure and Decision Making

 

Once the investigatory hearings are over, the ad-hoc board will deliberate and vote on the necessary action(s) to be taken. The deliberations will be closed to anyone other than ad-hoc members. A tentative timeline for the length of deliberations will be established by the Chair in conjunction with the other ad-hoc members.

 

Once deliberations are over, there will be a closed vote. The votes will be counted by the Chair, who does not vote. No abstentions are permitted in the vote. A simple majority is required for a vote to pass.

 

In the cases of elections, the vote is an affirmative predetermined vote (i.e., whether or not to hold new elections). In other cases, the specific action to be taken must be decided upon. Once a consensus is reached as to what action is to be taken, the ad-hoc board will vote.

 

At this stage, the ad-hoc board may also vote to refer the complaint to the relevant university office, the ABC auditing process, or the Student Group Adjudication Board.

 

Section 8 – Sanctions

 

The J-Board has the power to recommend one or a combination of sanctions. These sanctions will be brought before the ABC for a final vote prior to being announced. The following is a list of possible sanctions; however, the ABC is not limited to the implementation of these sanctions alone:

 

-   Warning

-      Censure, implying risk of a more severe penalty if future violations are committed.

-  Training

-   Letter of apology from the defendant party

-   Loss of privileges

-   Category demotion

-   Loss of recognition

-   Financial Punishment

-  Constitutional Restructuring

-           Mandatory Elections or Leadership Changes  

 

Section 9 – Announcing the Decision

 

The outcome of the J-Board hearings will first be made known to the ABC USL Advisor and the administrative advisors of the student group(s) involved. The outcome will then be made known to the involved parties.

 

The number of the vote will not be announced.

 

The decision that is reached will be announced. Any sanction(s) recommended by the ad-hoc board will be announced at the same time as the decision. The decision and sanction(s) will be explained fully, with relevant concurrences and dissents.

 

If a group's constitution is found to need updating, the ABC Vice President and the group’s ABC Representative will assist in any necessary constitutional revision/amendment.

 

Section 10 – Appeals

 

Any of the parties involved in the judiciary process, upon receiving the announcement of the decision, may file an appeal with the student group adjudication board representative for ABC. This must be done within forty-eight (48) hours of the announcement of the decision to the parties involved. The grounds upon which an appeal may be filed are as follows:

 

  1. New substantial information can be presented which was unavailable at the time of the hearing.

 

  1. Parties involved have concerns with the process that may change or affect the outcome of the decision.

 

  1. Parties involved feel that the decision was too severe.

 

The student group adjudication board advisor will decide on whether or not the appeal is valid.  An organization is only allowed to appeal a decision once.

 

If the appeal is deemed valid, the student group adjudication board representative for ABC will have five business days to review all documents associated with the particular judiciary process and decide on the appeal.

 

The decision made by the student group adjudication board representative for ABC to reject or sustain the appeal is final.