The Who, Where and What of the Miami University Discipline (OCS) Process

Bad news: you've received an email from the Miami University Office of Community Standards (OCS) indicating that the University believes that your conduct violated the Student Code of Conduct. What could this mean for you? It could mean anything from the imposition of a mandatory class, to dismissal from the University.

In the OCS process, even matters that start small almost always put you in jeopardy of something big later, so it would be smart to contact an attorney as soon as you receive this email, but in the meantime here is a quick rundown of the process:

Step 1: The Email

OCS sends an email to your Miami email account indicating that they believe that there has been a violation; the email will often include supporting documentation (i.e. police report). The email will also include either (1) a list of recommended sanctions, or (2) an indication that you have a Procedural Review and/or Summary Suspension Hearing. If (1) you should get the matter reviewed by an attorney to be safe, and if (2) you should be running to the phones.

Step 2(a): Accept Responsibility or Request a Hearing (called an "Appeal" in OCS parlance)

If your initial email outlined the recommended sanctions, you can choose to accept the sanctions without further action, or you can request a hearing with the Student Court (made up of students) or with a Miami Administrator (an "Administrative Hearing").

Step 2(b): Procedural Review Hearing

Warning---this hearing will likely be scheduled within a day or two of you receiving your email, so do not delay in reviewing the email. At this hearing you will meet with the Assistant Director at Warfield Hall who will review the allegations against you, reveal to you (for the first time) the recommended sanctions for your conduct (almost certainly suspension), and give you the option to either accept the recommended sanctions, or to request a hearing (either a Disciplinary Board Hearing, or an Administrative Hearing (or an Administrative Panel for Title IX cases)).

Warning #2 --- this meeting will be recorded via audio and can be subpoenaed in related criminal proceedings! You may have an advisor (attorney) accompany you at this hearing.

Step 2(c): The Summary Suspension Hearing + Procedural Review Hearing

If you have received notice that you have a "Summary Suspension Hearing" with the Dean of Students, then the University considers your conduct to be of the upmost seriousness. This hearing, like the Procedural Review Hearing, will be set within a day or two of you receiving notice, and the outcome of this hearing will likely be an interim (summary) suspension, or a restriction on your activities while a student. This interim (summary) suspension will last until the matter has been fully vetted (with a final hearing) by the OCS. The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether or not you are an immediate threat to persons or property on campus. This hearing will also be recorded via audio and can be subpoenaed in related criminal cases. If you have a Summary Suspension Hearing, you will also have a Procedural Review Hearing (but the reverse is not necessarily true). You may have an advisor (attorney) accompany you at this hearing (although you must notify the OCS in advance).

Step 3: The Final Hearing

If your offense is non-suspendable, then you will have the option of either a Student Court Hearing (all students) or an Administrative Hearing (one administrator). If your offense is suspendable, then you will have the option of either a Disciplinary Board Hearing (students + faculty combined), or an Administrative Hearing. Title IX cases (i.e. sexual assault) are only heard by Administrative Panels (three faculty members). At any of these hearings you do not have the normal protections that you would have in court: there are no rules of evidence, you do not have the ability to fully cross-examine adverse witnesses, and your silence can (and likely will) be held against you (meaning if you don't talk, you will likely lose). You may have an advisor (attorney) at this hearing.

The hearings are divided into two parts, a fact-finding portion (to determine whether or not you are "responsible" or "not responsible" for the individual violations) and, if you are responsible for at least one offense, a sentencing portion (where your sanction is determined). Both portions are heard by the same person or persons, and "part one" moves immediately into "part two" (usually on the same day). As indicated, you could leave with a small sanction, or a suspension or dismissal—frankly the entire course of your life can be altered at one of these hearings.

Now you have a quick overview of the process, but please note that this only scratches the surface of what you need to know to successfully make it through. Please further note that Title IX Hearings involve additional steps than those listed above. Contact the attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers—with an office conveniently located in Oxford, Ohio—today for assistance in evaluating and preparing your OCS case.