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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Summary guidelines to the student disciplinary procedure

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    Introduction

    Murray Edwards College is a diverse community of students, staff, Fellows and Bye-Fellows. In order to offer an environment where everyone can thrive and do their best, we ask that all members of our community (regardless of their role in the College) be treated with dignity, fairness and respect. We have a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, exploitation, harassment or intimidation. We expect all members of our community to respect principles of academic freedom and the pursuit of scholarship.  We encourage freedom of speech and want you to feel comfortable expressing your views while respecting those of others.   The following Rules of Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedures underpin our commitment to sustaining and protecting this diverse community.  

    All students of Murray Edwards College are bound by the Disciplinary Procedures of Murray Edwards College and of the University, and they undertake to observe both on matriculation.  They are also subject to the Laws of England.  These Rules of Behaviour and Disciplinary Procedure were agreed by College Council in 2019, and are intended to work in conjunction with the University Procedures and Rules of Behaviour, agreed in July 2019.

    If a Murray Edwards student is believed to have breached one of the College’s Rules of Behaviour, they can be reported to the Dean, who will investigate the concern under the College’s Disciplinary Procedures.  If the behaviour of a Murray Edwards student is believed to constitute more serious misconduct, such as sexual or physical assault, or academic misconduct, they may be felt to have breached the University’s Rules of Behaviour and the concern should be reported to the University’s Disciplinary Procedure, which has the resources and the competence to investigate more serious concerns.  If a student of Murray Edwards College is affected by the behaviour of a student from another College, and that behaviour is believed to constitute a breach of the University Rules of Behaviour, that case could be reported to the University’s Disciplinary Procedure.   Some breaches of behaviour may also constitute a criminal offence and the person concerned may wish to report the matter to the police.  In matters where the college believes there is an immediate or serious risk to others, the College reserves the right to inform the police.

    For further guidance on which Disciplinary Procedure should be used, students and other members of College may ask the Dean, the Senior Tutor, their College Tutor, or a member of staff at the Office for Student Conduct, Complaints, and Appeals (OSCCA).
     

    Principles

    • These rules of behaviour and procedures have been written to comply with good practice outlined by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
    • We recognise that being part of disciplinary proceedings may be stressful for those concerned, and that we have a duty of care to all our students. All participants, including the respondent, reporting person and any witnesses, have access to pastoral support either in College, from the University or external sources. All participants may be accompanied by someone to support them during any hearing or meeting in the course of the proceedings.
    • At every stage, participants will be made aware of the process and its possible consequences, and of the options open to them at every stage. They will be informed in writing of decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, at every stage of the process.
    • All students have the right to appeal against any sanction imposed, whether by the Dean or the Discipline Committee. If they remain dissatisfied after the completion of the College procedure, they may further complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

    The full rules of behaviour and disciplinary procedures are necessarily detailed. Anyone wishing to report a concern, or whose behaviour is the subject of a concern, is advised to read the full Rules and Procedures (Ordinance 37). The following is intended as a summary to outline the process and principles that lie beneath it. Appendix A is a flow chart, which explains the procedure.

    Rules of behaviour

    1. All students are responsible for following the College rules of behaviour. Not knowing or forgetting about rules or their consequences is not an excuse for not following them. The following breaches of the rules constitute misconduct:

    (a) Disruption of, or improper interference with, the academic, administrative, sporting, social, religious or other activities of the College, whether on College premises or elsewhere, including interference with anyone's right to freedom of speech.

    (b) Obstruction of, or improper interference with, the functions, duties or activities of any member of the College, employee or authorised visitor, including the unlawful denial of any such person's right to freedom of speech.

    (c) Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening, abusive or offensive behaviour or language, including such language in any poster, sign, notice or publication whether on College property or on social media, aimed at any University person; or when engaged in any College activity or if directed to any member of employee of the College or any visitor.

    (d) Fraud, deceit, deception or dishonesty in relation to the College, in connection with holding any office in a College club or society or in relation to being a student.

    (e) Action likely to cause injury or impair health and safety on College premises.

    (f) Improper discrimination against any person within College.

    (g) Harassment of any member of the College, employee or authorised visitor – please see the College policy on harassment and sexual misconduct.

    (h) Damage to, or defacement of, College property or the property of members or staff of the College caused intentionally or recklessly, and misappropriation of such property.

    (i) Obstructing the Dean in carrying out duties under these rules of behaviour or disciplinary procedures, giving false evidence at any hearing under the College disciplinary procedures or in any other way seeking to pervert the course of justice in relation to action under the College disciplinary procedures.

    (j) Disorderly or unruly behaviour within the College, including any anti-social conduct resulting from the consumption of drink or drugs.

    (k) Breach of the terms of the code of practice issued under the provisions of section 43 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986 regarding meetings and public gatherings on College grounds.

    (l) Knowing breach of any instructions issued by any person or body authorised to act on behalf of the College in the proper discharge of their duties.

    (m) Breach of the Statutes and Ordinances of the College, and any rules and procedures established under the Statutes and Ordinances.

    (n) Misuse or unauthorised use of College premises or items of property.

    (o) Misuse or unauthorised use of the College computer system, including accessing prohibited material.

    (p) Conduct which amounts to a criminal offence in English law where the conduct:

          (i) took place on College premises or through the College's computer system; or

          (ii) affected or concerned other members of the College community; or

          (iii) is an offence of dishonesty wherever committed and the student holds an office of responsibility within the College.

     

    2. The effects of self-administered alcohol or non-prescribed drugs shall neither constitute a defence to a charge of misconduct nor afford a basis for mitigation of sanction.

     

    3. The following definitions are applied under the rules of behaviour:

    (a) 'Activities of the College' include activities in which a student is participating that involve other organisations working in partnership with the College, in the context of a person's membership of the College.

    (b) 'Instructions issued by any person or body authorised to act on behalf of the College' include requests to attend meetings, to provide identification upon request, and to share primary datasets or data analysis with a supervisor.

    (c) 'The code of practice issued under the provisions of section 43 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986' relates to meetings and public gatherings on College premises. The Code of Practice is available on the University website.

    (d) 'Rules and procedures established under the Statutes and Ordinances' include policies and procedures that govern student conduct, for example: harassment and sexual misconduct, freedom of speech, privacy, health and safety, social media, and College rules relating to accommodation and the payment of fees and fines.

    4. Any breach of the rules of behaviour may be considered more serious if:

    (a) it took place under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances;

    (b) it was motivated by the protected characteristics or perceived protected characteristics of another;

    (c) the respondent has previously been found to have breached the same rule of behaviour;

    (d) the respondent has not complied with any sanction or measure under the student disciplinary procedure;

    (e) the respondent has breached precautionary action measures while the student disciplinary procedure has been ongoing;

    (f) the respondent has not provide the College with reasonable information upon request so that it can assess the risk the respondent may pose to the College community;

    (g) the respondent has attempted to conceal or destroy evidence, or coerce or intimidate officers, reporting persons or witnesses, in relation to that breach;

    (h) the respondent has abused a position of power of trust.

    Summary procedure

    Reporting a concern

    Anybody can report a concern if they have good reason to believe that a Murray Edwards student has breached the rules of behaviour.  You can speak to your tutor, to the Dean, or to a member of Office for Student Conduct, Complaints, and Appeals (OSCCA) informally for advice if you are not sure whether to report, or which procedure you can use, but the decision to report will always rest with the reporting person.  The reporting person may be a member of College staff or College Fellow, a member of another College or University, or a member of the public.  

    If you have been affected by, or witnessed, behaviour by a student of Murray Edwards, which you believe contravenes our rules of behaviour, you can report a concern in writing to the Dean, Sophie Turenne. Include as much information and evidence as you wish. The Dean will consider the concern carefully, and may ask you to provide more evidence or information.  

    If appropriate, on minor matters, the Dean may seek to resolve the matter informally with those concerned, without the need to formally start an investigation. 

    If the Dean decides the alleged behaviour may have breached the rules, that it is appropriate to investigate it under these procedures, and that the same behaviour has not already been reported, the Dean will undertake an investigation into the alleged breach.

    The investigation

    As part of the investigation, the Dean will normally ask to meet both the reporting person, and the respondent (the Murray Edwards student whose behaviour is the subject of the concern).  Both the reporting person and the respondent may be accompanied by someone to support them. The Dean may ask to speak to witnesses, who may also be accompanied by someone to support them; witnesses may also be asked to submit written statements rather than attend a meeting. The Dean will consider collecting any relevant available evidence.

    The investigation will also gather information about the seriousness of the alleged behaviour.  Anyone who has been affected by the behaviour may be asked to provide an impact statement.

    Written notes will be taken at all meetings, and the respondent and the reporting person will have an opportunity to read and comment on any notes relating to meetings they attended. 

    The Dean's decision

    At the end of the investigation, the Dean will produce an investigation report and will decide one of three different courses of action:

    1. Impose a minor sanction. If the rules of behaviour have been breached, it might be appropriate to impose a minor sanction of measure. Minor sanctions might include a fine to cover the cost of material damages, a written warning placed on the respondent's record, or some reflective or educative practice. It might also require the respondent not to contact the reporting person or witness. In imposing the minor sanction, the Dean will take into account the seriousness of the breach and its impact on others, as well as any remorse expressed.

    2. Refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee. This tends to be the case for more serious alleged breaches of the rules of behaviour, where a major sanction might be required.

    3. Dismiss or refer elsewhere. If neither of the other courses of action are appropriate, the Dean can either decide to take no further action or refer to another procedure, either within the College, or the University.

    The respondent will be told in writing of the Dean's decision and the reasons for it, and will also receive a copy of the investigation report. If the respondent is dissatisfied with the sanction imposed, they may appeal the decision to the Discipline Committee. If the respondent does not comply with the sanction, the Dean will refer the case to the Discipline Committee. If the reporting person is a student, and is dissatisfied with a decision to take no further action, they may make a complaint under the student complaints procedure.

    The Discipline Committee

    The Discipline Committee consists of three members: a Chair (who is appropriately experienced for any particular case), a senior member (Fellow) and a junior member (student).  A key principle is that none of the members of the panel should have an interest in the case, so do not normally have a close academic, welfare or social connection (such as Tutor, DoS or supervisor) with the respondent or the reporting person (if a student). The Secretary to the Discipline Committee will normally be the College Administrator.  

    When it is convened, the Discipline Committee and the respondent will be provided with a copy of the investigation report and evidence. The respondent is invited to attend, and can bring a supporter or representative to support them in the meeting. It may be possible for the respondent to attend by video link, or for the date of the meeting to be moved, at the Chair’s discretion. The respondent can also request to call witnesses. This must be done at least 10 days before the meeting. Ultimately, the Chair of the Discipline Committee will decide if the witness can attend, or provide evidence in a different format. The reporting person would not normally be required to attend but may do so at the discretion of the Chair.

    The Discipline Committee will normally ask questions of the Dean and the respondent.  The respondent can also ask questions of the Dean and make a final statement. The Dean and respondent then withdraw. 

    After hearing the case, the Discipline Committee will consider the information that has been received and make one of the following decisions:

    (a) To dismiss the case

    (b) To find there has been a breach of the rules of behaviour

    If there has been a breach of the rules, the Discipline Committee will consider any previous breaches of the same rule by the respondent, as well as any impact statements. The respondent and the Dean will be invited back into the meeting, and the respondent (or respondent’s representative) can make a further statement in relation to mitigation. The Dean and the respondent then withdraw again, and the Discipline Committee determines whether to impose a sanction, which can be minor, or major.

    A minor sanction includes: a written warning; a fine (covering the cost any material damages up to £250); an educative or reflective session; a written reflection or a requirement not to contact a reporting person or witness. If the reporting person or witness agrees, a written apology may also be requested.

    A major sanction includes:

    (a) Temporary or permanent removal from College accommodation

    (b) Temporary or permanent exclusion from membership of the College

    (c) Deprivation of any award or emoluments of the College

    Right of appeal

    If the respondent appealed the Dean’s original decision to the Discipline Committee, and the Discipline Committee re-imposes the minor sanction, the case is closed. If the respondent is still dissatisfied, they now have the right to complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.  

    If the Disciplinary Committee imposes a major sanction, the respondent has the right of appeal to the College’s Appeal Committee. 

    The Appeal Committee

    The Appeal Committee consists of three members: a Chair (who is appropriately experienced for any particular case), and two senior members (Fellows). The College Administrator serves as Secretary.

    If the respondent wishes to appeal, they should write a formal letter to the President within 14 days of the Discipline Committee’s decision. The grounds for appeal are outlined in section 7.2 of the Discipline Procedures. Normally the Appeal Committee considers an appeal in a private meeting, but may request further information of the respondent.

    The Appeal Committee will consider all information provided, and decide:

    (a) To dismiss the appeal

    (b) To uphold the appeal

    The College procedure is now complete. If the respondent is dissatisfied with the decision of the Appeal Committee, they may complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.


    Flowchart of the template College student discipline procedure