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Disciplinary Procedures for Students

I. Overview

Normally, the first step in the College’s disciplinary system for serious infractions of its policies and rules is Dean’s Discipline. This is a relatively informal process by which the Dean (Dean of Studies in the case of academic charges and an appropriate administrator designated by the Dean of the College for alleged non-academic violations) receives charges, advises the accused student of the charges, investigates the evidence, makes a
determination of fact, and imposes discipline.

If the accused student accepts the determination and discipline recommended by the Dean, the matter is concluded. A student has the option, however, to reject the Dean’s determination of facts and/or the discipline she imposes. In that case, she has the right to a plenary hearing by the Honor Board in the case of academic violations. In the case of nonacademic violations, the accused student may appeal Dean’s Discipline to an appointed Hearing Committee.

Minor violations of residence hall rules and regulations may be processed by Hall Council student judicial boards (if a residence hall has established such a board), the Area Directors for Residence Life, and the Director of Residential Life.

In addition to their hearing functions, the Honor Board may serve in an advisory capacity to the Dean of Studies and to the designated deans in Dean’s Discipline.

A Barnard student is subject to the rules and procedures of Columbia University or of any school of the University when participating in activities or classes at or sponsored by the University or when on the University campus or property. In most cases, the Barnard student will be referred back to Barnard and charges of violations of University or school rules are processed through Barnard’s disciplinary system. Similarly, a Columbia student
who is charged with a violation of Barnard rules on the Barnard campus will be charged and subject to the disciplinary procedures of the accused student’s own school.

However, there are exceptions to this general practice. In the event a student is charged with violations of the University’s Rules of Conduct, which relate to demonstrations on campus, the special disciplinary procedures of those rules apply to all University and Barnard students, regardless of the school in which they are enrolled.

N.B.: While these academic and non-academic disciplinary procedures are intended to establish guidelines for the proper evaluation of academic and non-academic infractions, it is sometimes neither possible nor advisable to adhere strictly to such guidelines. Therefore, provided that the parties are afforded proper due process — prior notice of the substance of the complaint or grievance, a fair and reasonable opportunity to present evidence and to respond to the grievance, and an opportunity to appeal any decision on the basis that substantial due process was not provided — reasonable deviations from the process set forth herein shall be permitted.

At any time during the disciplinary process, the College may take interim measures including, but not limited to, reassignment or suspension, if it is determined that circumstances require that such action be taken to protect the safety of individuals or property, or to minimize disruption to the operations of the College.

II . Honor System

A. The Academic Honor Code

The Barnard Honor Code, established in 1912, is founded upon respect for the academic honesty of each student and upon the willingness of students to accept responsibility for their own actions and for the academic integrity of the entire community. Upon entering the College, every student subscribes to the code:

“We, the students of Barnard College, resolve to uphold the honor of the College by refraining from every form of dishonesty in our academic life. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any papers or books not authorized by the instructor in examinations, or to present oral or written work which is not entirely our own, unless otherwise approved by the instructor. We consider it dishonest
to remove without authorization, alter, or deface library and other academic materials. We pledge to do all that is in our power to create a spirit of honesty and honor for its own sake.”

B. The Academic Honor Board

1. Membership

The Honor Board is composed of eight student members and three faculty members, all of whom have full voting privileges.

2. General Procedures

The Honor Board has the responsibility to develop its rules of procedure, to determine penalties and appropriate remedies for offenses, and to establish and maintain standards of fairness and confidentiality in the conduct of hearings.

The procedures for the Honor System allow for potential resolution of a charge of dishonesty at several levels. Procedures at every level have been designed with three goals in mind. First, the rights of students should be clearly defined at all stages of the disciplinary process. Second, students should have specific rights of appeal. Third, the responsibilities of each party in the Honor System should be clearly delineated.

A complete description of the Honor Code and the policies and procedures of the Honor Board, including procedures, penalties, and appeals, is distributed to all entering students and is available in the Office of the Dean of Studies, 105 Milbank, 212-854-2024.

N.B.: These policies and procedures are subject to amendment from time to time at the discretion of Honor Board and without prior notice.

C. Appeal to the Judicial Council

1. Judicial Council Membership and Organization

Judicial Council is convened as needed. It has the responsibility to develop its rules of procedure, to determine penalties and appropriate remedies for violations, and to establish and to maintain standards of fairness and confidentiality in carrying out its functions. Depending on the nature of the matter before it, Judicial Council has two functions: As a committee of the whole, it serves in an advisory capacity in cases of Dean’s Discipline;
and through its Appellate Panels, it hears and determines appeals from Honor Board determinations.

Each panel should have a minimum of three members: two students and one faculty member. In the event of an appeal of a case in which the Judicial Council acts as an Advisory Committee in cases of Dean’s Discipline, the Appellate Panel membership must be different from the membership on the Advisory Committee for that case. More than three members may serve on a case as long as both students and faculty are represented. Flexibility is permitted and membership should rotate to ensure an equitable workload.

2. Appellate Panels

(i) Jurisdiction. An Appellate Panel reviews actions taken by the Honor Board. If the penalty appealed is suspension or expulsion from the College, then an Appellate Panel must review the case. If a lesser penalty has been imposed, an Appellate Panel, at its discretion, may decline to review the case.

The Appellate Panel’s decision is final except when the disciplinary action is suspension or expulsion, the accused student has the right to appeal to the President of the College (or in the absence of the President, her designate), who may affirm, reduce, or set aside the suspension or expulsion. Students may appeal the decision of the Honor Board for two reasons. First, a student may appeal if she feels she has not been afforded due process.

Second, she may appeal the appropriateness of a sanction.

(ii) General Procedures. The student appealing a disciplinary determination must submit a written request to the chair or the administrative member of Judicial Council for review within five academic days of the date of the contested determination, or within seven calendar days of an Honor Board determination.

The request for review must include a statement of objections to the original determination and/or the procedures followed in arriving at the determination. If the case does not involve suspension or expulsion, the Appellate Panel must meet within 10 academic days of receipt of a request for review to determine whether it will hear the case on appeal.

In the event the Appellate Panel hears an appeal, it considers the student’s written objections, reviews the record of the case, and may solicit other opinions. The panel deliberates in closed session. When it has reached a decision, the panel informs the accused student and such other persons involved in the case as appropriate, in writing. Normally the determination should be made within 15 academic days of acceptance of the appeal, and notice of the determination should be given within three academic days after the determination is made. Appeal from this determination to the President in cases of suspension or expulsion must be made within five academic days.

An Appellate Panel’s determination may include, but is not limited to, the following actions:

  • Remanding the case to the Honor Board, as appropriate, for further consideration (from which another appeal could be taken).
  • Upholding the decision of the original body.
  • Modifying the prescribed disciplinary action.

D. Disciplinary Action.

Disciplinary action is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant circumstances, including whether the student has a record of any prior violations, the nature of the violation, and its impact on the community.

At a minimum, if a violation is found, a student will be placed on disciplinary warning. Further disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to, probation, suspension, and expulsion. Any student who receives disciplinary action becomes ineligible to continue in or run for any elected office for at least one year. The graduation date for a student who receives disciplinary action in her senior year is deferred if the period of her penalty extends
beyond her completion of degree requirements.

If the case does not involve suspension or expulsion, the record of the disciplinary action is kept in the confidential files of the Officer of Record and/or the appropriate Dean/Director. Suspension or expulsion becomes part of the student’s file, but is not noted on the academic transcript. Although information on disciplinary action is not normally volunteered, a direct question from a school or employer evaluating an applicant’s
credentials must, of course, be truthfully answered.

E. Miscellaneous Provisions.

The time frames set forth in these guidelines are intended to allow ample time to investigate, hear, and deliberate on a case, but at the same time to promote as prompt a determination as feasible. Accordingly, time periods should be extended only in exceptional circumstances such as reasons of health or personal emergency.

If a panel cannot be constituted from regular members of Judicial Council, the Council may appoint alternates or recent past members of the Council to serve.

These guidelines are subject to amendment from time to time at the discretion of the Judicial Council and without prior notice. In any given case, the Council or a panel may determine more specific procedures for that matter which are consistent with the general intent of these guidelines.

III . Procedures for Non-academic Infractions

A. Dean’s Discipline

1. General Procedures

The first step in cases involving serious infractions of non-academic policies and regulations is Dean’s Discipline. Charges may be brought to the Director of Residential Life or other appropriate administrator orally or in writing at any time. In either event, the appropriate administrator interviews the complainant to garner as much information as possible.

While there is no set time limit for bringing a charge (this is in recognition of the fact that it is difficult in some cases, e.g., sexual assault or harassment, to bring a charge quickly), the longer the time between the alleged violation and the report, the more difficult it is to investigate and resolve a charge. In fairness to the accused, excessive delay may result in dismissal of the charge.

An administrator then meets with the accused student, advises her of the charges, and provides her with a written copy of the charges and the relevant disciplinary procedures. The student may bring an advisor, who must be a member of the Barnard faculty,
administration, staff, or student body, to this or any subsequent interview.

2. Disciplinary Action

Based on information from the complainant and the accused, the administrator conducts an investigation of the facts and notifies the parties of her determination. She further advises the accused of her recommended discipline. Disciplinary action is individually determined but may include, without being limited to, disciplinary warning, community service, residence hall restrictions, probation, suspension, and expulsion. Discipline may be imposed immediately pending further investigation in cases involving extremely serious charges.

If the accused student accepts the discipline, the matter is resolved. If she disputes the determination she has the option to have her charges adjudicated by the hearing panel in accordance with its guidelines.

The complainant may bring her charges to the hearing panel if the Director rejects the charges.

If the case does not involve suspension or expulsion, a record of the action by the Director of Residential Life is maintained in the Director’s confidential file and is destroyed upon the student’s graduation if there are no further violations. Suspension or expulsion becomes part of the student’s file, but is not noted on the academic transcript.

Although information on disciplinary action is not normally volunteered, a direct question from a school or employer evaluating an applicant’s credentials must, of course, be truthfully answered.

3. Appeal of Dean’s Discipline to a Hearing Panel

A complainant or the person charged in connection with the complaint may appeal Dean’s Discipline by making a written request to the Dean of the College within 10 days of receipt of the decision. Thereafter, the Dean of the College shall within 10 days of receipt of the appeal, appoint a three-member hearing panel, whose membership shall include 2 students and 1 administrator. The administrator shall act as chair.

Once constituted, the panel shall meet within 15 days to review the grievance and to determine whether it is appropriate for consideration. In the event that a more appropriate committee is available to hear the grievance, it shall be referred to that committee. If the panel determines that the grievance should be heard, it will schedule a hearing within 15 days of that determination. Notice to all parties shall be sent at least 5 days prior to any scheduled hearing. That notice shall include a description of the charges and a copy of this Grievance Procedure.

The party bringing the charge and the accused shall be allowed to present witnesses and other relevant evidence (such relevancy to be determined by the grievance panel) to the panel. The grievance panel may also seek out testimony and evidence. Panel members will question witnesses, although the parties will be allowed to submit questions to the panel for consideration. The questioning may be done with both parties present or with each party individually, at the discretion of the grievance panel.

Any party to the complaint may submit a written statement to the panel at any time prior to the rendering of a final decision.

The panel shall render its decision within 15 days of the completion of hearings.

4. Appeal to the Dean of the College

The parties may appeal the decision of the hearing panel to the Dean of the College within 10 days of its receipt on the grounds that the grievant has not been afforded adequate due process. A panel may be appointed to consider the appeal. The decision on appeal is final.