Honor Council Policies
| Responsible Department: Office of Student Affairs||Applies to: All Students |
GENERAL PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS: POLICIES FOR THE HONOR COUNCIL
I. THE HONOR COUNCIL
The University of Cincinnati’s Student Code of Conduct (“SCOC”) identifies those behaviors considered unacceptable and not permitted for all University students, including students of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine (“COM”). Students in the COM are expected to abide by both the SCOC and the COM’s Medical Student Honor Code. Accordingly, COM students must maintain an exceptional level of professionalism in keeping with the unique nature of the practice of medicine and the exigencies of the clinical setting. The Honor Council will serve as the COM’s primary committee for review of misconduct by medical students. It will promote overall high standards of professional behavior by medical students. The Dean of the COM, or designee, reserves the right to transfer misconduct matters to the University of Cincinnati’s Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards when appropriate.
The full UC Student Code of Conduct document may be found online: http://www.uc.edu/conduct/Code_of_Conduct.html. The Medical Student Honor Code may be found online in the COM’s Medical Student Handbook.
A. JURISDICTION AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The responsibilities of the Honor Council are as follows:
- Engage with the COM administration, faculty and student leadership to promote activities that heighten the awareness and commitment to ethical behavior by medical students.
- Consult with medical students, faculty, committees, and administrative staff to clarify ethical issues and professional behavior and conduct expectations of medical students.
- Conduct periodic review of this Policy and recommend changes to the Educational Program Committee who will, in turn, review and forward to the Dean and the COM Council for approval.
- Require first-year students to sign an electronic acknowledgment of receipt and understanding of the Medical School Honor Code and the SCOC.
- Host an educational session for medical students at least once a year.
- Receive reports of misconduct from the co-chairs of the Honor Council and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs (“ADSA”).
- Meet as necessary to investigate reports of alleged misconduct.
- Hear and recommend action, if any, in cases of medical student misconduct brought before it. If the Honor Council determines, during its investigation and/or deliberations, that the alleged behavior may be criminal in nature or a Title IX violation, it will refer the case to the ADSA who is to contact the appropriate University offices or outside authorities.
B. STRUCTURE OF THE HONOR COUNCIL
The Honor Council will consist of the following members as set forth below. The Honor Council will be co-chaired by a faculty member and a student. All appointments are subject to approval by the Dean of the COM. Overall responsibility for the ongoing functioning of the Honor Council is with the co-chairs.
A total of eight medical students, two from each academic year, shall serve on the Honor Council. One student from each class will be appointed as the class representative to the Honor Council, and the other as an alternate representative. The class representatives will have voting rights during meetings of the Honor Council, and alternate representatives will vote only in the event that a class representative is not able to attend. When a class representative is not able to attend, the alternate for their academic year will serve as a voting member in their absence. In the event that both representatives from a specific class are not present, an alternate representative from another class will serve as a voting member. The most senior alternate member who is available will serve as that voting member.
One class representative is selected annually from among the M3 and M4 representatives by vote of the Honor Council to serve as the student co-chair. The student co-chair is a voting member during hearings.
Four student members will be required for quorum at all Honor Council proceedings.
Student representatives will be appointed by their Medical Student Association (MSA) class officers. Students may nominate themselves, nominate each other, or be nominated by their class officers. All nominations should be directed to the ADSA, who will review the nominees to be considered for appointment. Candidates must be in both good academic and professional standing, as defined by the Performance Standards and Procedures for Performance and Advancement Committees. If a candidate is not in good academic or professional standing, the ADSA will remove the student’s name from the list of eligible candidates. Once the ADSA has compiled the list of eligible student candidates, the ADSA will provide the list to the class officers.
The class officers will conduct interviews of all candidates from the list and make the appointments for the Honor Council class representatives and alternates as outlined above. The M1 representatives will be appointed before January 31. Appointees will serve for four academic years on the council, provided that they remain in good academic and professional standing. Failure to remain in good academic and professional standing will result in a medical student being removed from their role as a student representative on the Honor Council by the ADSA. A student representative may also be removed from the Honor Council by the ADSA for failure to abide by the terms of this Policy. In the event that a class representative is unable to continue their duties, their alternate will become the class representative. The current MSA class officers will convene to select a new alternate representative that will be reviewed and confirmed by the ADSA.
Recommendations for voting representatives and alternate representatives from the faculty will be solicited from the faculty. Faculty representatives to the Honor Council are to be appointed by the Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs (“SADEA”). Eight full-time faculty members, along with one faculty co-chair, will serve on the Honor Council. Four of the eight faculty members are to serve as representatives with voting rights. The other four faculty members will each serve as an alternate representative for one of the voting faculty representatives. There should always be at least one basic scientist serving as a voting faculty representative. Alternate representatives will vote only in the event that a voting faculty representative is not available. When a voting faculty representative is not available, their alternate representative will serve as a voting member in their absence. In the event that both the voting and alternate faculty representative are not available the SADEA will select one of the other alternate members to , serve as a voting member. If none of the alternate representatives are available, the SADEA will appoint a temporary faculty representative to serve as a voting member for the duration of the specific matter.
Four faculty members will be required for quorum at all Honor Council proceedings. The faculty co-chair does not vote, except in the case of a tie. Faculty members will be appointed for a three year term with the option for reappointment.. New faculty members will be appointed as needed by the SADEA. An Honor Council faculty member may be removed by the SADEA for misconduct and/or failure to abide by the terms of this Policy, at the sole discretion of the SADEA. An alternate, as appointed by the SADEA, will serve as needed.
An Honor Council member shall recuse themselves from an Honor Council hearing when involvement or interest in the individual(s) or activities under review might reasonably pose questions regarding the Honor Council member’s impartiality. Conflicts of interest occur when an Honor Council member is unable to make an objective determination based on the information obtained and presented at an Honor Council hearing due to direct or indirect personal, professional, educational, or financial interest. With regard to faculty members, some examples of a conflict of interest that would necessitate recusal include but are not limited to: having administered a failing grade to the student in the past, serving as the faculty member for the class/course/rotation in which the student took action that resulted in the Honor Council investigation, or being the supervisor in a lab, research project, etc. in which the student took action that resulted in the Honor Council investigation. With regard to students, some examples of a conflict of interest that would necessitate recusal include but are not limited to: the student against whom allegations have been brought is a friend, roommate, relative, significant other, or someone with whom the student has had a past conflict.
Any Honor Council member who believes they have a conflict of interest must inform the faculty co-chair in writing of his/her recusal as soon as the conflict of interest becomes known or evident. If a Honor Council member is unsure if a conflict of interest exists, they must provide all relevant information to the faculty co-chair who will make a determination regarding the existence of a conflict of interest and, subsequently, the need for recusal, if any.
For student representatives, an alternate will be chosen according to the process described in Section I(B)(1), above. For faculty representatives, an alternate will be appointed by the SADEA.
4. Executive Secretary
The assistant to the ADSA will serve as the Executive Secretary (ex-officio) who will assist the co-chairs of the Honor Council as needed. The Executive Secretary does not have voting rights on the Honor Council.
C. ACTIONS OF THE HONOR COUNCIL
Members of the Honor Council will not discuss or share the deliberations and actions of the Honor Council except as required by applicable University policies and the law. Any breach of this requirement may subject the Honor Council member(s) to disciplinary action and/or removal from the Honor Council.
When the Honor Council votes on recommendations in a hearing, the following specifications apply:
- A quorum of eight voting members must be present, four of whom must be student members, and four of whom must be faculty members.Among the student members, at least one must be an M3 or M4 student.The faculty co-chair must also be present. If the faculty co-chair is not available, the SADEA may appoint a temporary faculty co-chair to serve for the duration of the specifc matter.
- A simple majority vote is sufficient for a recommendation of professional/educational counseling or oral reprimand. In the event of a tie vote, the Faculty Co-Chair would be required to vote.
- A two-thirds majority vote is required for a recommendation of a written reprimand, a statement in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (“MPSE”), a recommendation for dismissal, or other severe action.
The Honor Council can recommend to the Dean for consideration any of the following actions in cases of confirmed misconduct:
- Professional or educational counseling
- Oral reprimand
- Written reprimand
- A statement in the MSPE
- Change of grade
- Recommendation for dismissal from the College of Medicine
- Other actions deemed appropriate by the Honor Council in cases of confirmed misconduct
If the Honor Council recommends any action provided for above, except dismissal, a notation in the student’s MSPE should also be recommended and the language of it should be set forth in the Honor Council’s written recommendation. If the Honor Council does not recommend that a notation be made in the student’s MSPE, it must state as such in its written recommendation. In the event the Honor Council recommends a student’s dismissal, but its recommendation is ultimately reduced to another form of discipline, a notation will be made in the student’s MSPE at the discretion of the Dean.
II. THE MANAGEMENT OF STUDENT MISCONDUCT
A. CATEGORIES OF MISCONDUCT
1. Non-Academic Misconduct
A. Criminal Misconduct
These offenses are defined by the SCOC. Examples include theft, destruction of property, trespassing, disturbing the peace, etc. Instances of student misconduct resulting in alleged criminal conduct or investigation must be reported to the ADSA. It is the responsibility of the student to self-report all criminal investigations, arrests, convictions, and guilty pleas for any offense other than minor traffic violations, to the ADSA as soon as possible after the occurrence and no later than seven business days after the occurrence. The reporting requirement includes DUI, DWI, OR OMVI (driving under the influence) offenses, any instance where the student is called into court as a criminal defendant, or any instance where the student is named a defendant in a criminal lawsuit.
B. Other Non-Academic Misconduct
Other non-academic misconduct includes unprofessional behaviors that occur at any time or place that are in conflict with the behaviors outlined in the Medical Student Honor Code and/or any other non-academic misconduct as provided for in the SCOC. A non-exhaustive list of examples include inappropriate professional behavior, substance abuse, misuse of resources, failure to divulge or misrepresentation of information as requested on medical school applications, financial aid, and other required forms or communications, etc.
2. Academic Misconduct
Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to acts of cheating, plagiarism, falsification, and forgery as defined by the SCOC. These acts originate within a required or elective course and its related activities or within activities undertaken to meet the administrative or curricular requirements for matriculation and potential licensure.
All reports of misconduct should be directed to the ADSA, who will share with the Honor Council co-chairs as appropriate.
B. REPORTING AN INCIDENT
- Decision to Report
Since behavior may occasionally appear other than what it is, the observer of alleged misconduct may want to clarify his or her perceptions personally by discussion with the person involved. If satisfied that no further action is warranted, no report need be filed. However, if for any reason the observer decides not to proceed with personal contact or if the matter remains unresolved after discussion, a written report may be filed in any one of three routes described below.
University employees are required to abide by all other reporting requirements set forth by applicable law and/or University policy.
- Reporting Procedures
Any of the following three routes may be used to file a written report of misconduct.
- An observer of misconduct may file a report directly with any member of the Honor Council, including the co-chairs, who will then forward this report to the ADSA.
- An observer of misconduct may prefer to give a report to a faculty member. When the report is made, the faculty member alone or through an appropriate departmental representative (course director, department chair, departmental committee) must forward the report to the ADSA.
- An observer of misconduct may make a report to the ADSA.
Some documentation, as requested by the Honor Council co-chairs or members, is required for the Honor Council to conduct an investigation. Documentation should include at least the following:
1) Date of the report
2) Name(s) of individual(s) involved
3) Location/activity/setting of incident
4) Date and time of incident
5) Description of incident
6) Name(s) of witness(es)
7) Name(s) and phone number(s) of person(s) submitting report. Anonymous reports are permitted, but may limit the Honor Council’s ability to investigate the matter.
In the event an initial report does not contain sufficient information to proceed with an investigation, the Honor Council co-chairs may contact the individual who submitted the report to gain the necessary information.
C. PROCEDURES UPON RECEIPT OF A REPORT OF MISCONDUCT
- Interim Measures for Nonacademic Misconduct, Including Criminal Misconduct
When the COM receives a report that a student has been accused or implicated in nonacademic misconduct, including criminal misconduct, it may impose interim measures (e.g., removal from coursework, mandatory leave of absence pending further investigation, etc.) to protect the rights and ensure the safety or address the concerns of students, staff, faculty, and the university community.
- Reports of Misconduct
Upon receipt of a report of misconduct from the ADSA, the Honor Council co-chairs, in consultation with the ADSA, will determine a course of action, including but not limited to proceeding to an Honor Council hearing, not proceeding to an Honor Council hearing, or refering refer the report to another appropriate group (i.e. PAC, Title IX, etc.). The co-chairs and ADSA may decide to meet with the student to discuss the issue and gain more information. Following this meeting, which may involve counseling of the student.
- Decision to Proceed or Not Proceed with Hearing
The Honor Council co-chairs, in consultation with the ADSA, will determine if an Honor Council hearing is appropriate. If they decide not to proceed with an Honor Council hearing, then the accused student(s) named in the report will be notified. The individual who submitted the report may be notified of the decision regarding whether a hearing is or is not convened.
If there is a decision to convene an Honor Council hearing, the report author may be called as a witness in the hearing and thus become aware that a decision to convene a hearing was made.
- Preparation for Hearing
Prior to the hearing, the Honor Council co-chairs will carry out the following as appropriate:
- Notify the student named in the report that a hearing will be held. The ADSA will inform the SADEA. The co-chairs set a date for the Honor Council to hear the case. The date should usually be within 60 days of receipt of the report.
- Inform the student of the names of the Honor Council hearing members. If the student believes any Honor Council member may be biased in the matter, the student may object in writing, detailing the basis of the objection, to the faculty co-chair within two business days from the receipt of the names of the Honor Council members. If the faculty co-chair determines that a student member may be biased based on the accused student’s request, the student's alternate or an alternate from another year will serve. If the faculty co-chair determines that a faculty member may be biased based on the accused student’s request, the SADEA will appoint a replacement if necessary to have a quorum. The student or faculty member in question may not object to the accused student’s request. However, if the faculty co-chair determines that the accused student’s request is not substantiated, the accused student's request may not be honored (e.g., accused student objecting to two or more Honor Council members without substantial proof/documentation of bias).
- Determine investigation teams, if necessary, to request additional information, documentation, and investigation. Written and/or oral reports may also be requested. Departments, the Dean's Office, or any individuals with information pertinent to the case may be asked to report on the matter or serve as witnesses.
- Identify and arrange for witnesses to appear at the hearing.
- Receive and add to the agenda those names of witnesses and documents that the student in question wishes to present.
- Explain the nature of a closed hearing to the hearing participants. All hearings will be closed, meaning they may only be attended by the Honor Council and its advisor, the party bringing the charges and their advisor, the accused student and their advisor. Witnesses will be present at a closed hearing only during the times of their own participation. They can also be asked to return to the hearing if further questioning is required. Should an accused student not wish to appear before the Honor Council, the case will still be heard.
- Prepare and distribute a hearing agenda and materials to the Honor Council members, the charging party, and the accused.
Above all, the co-chairs are to conduct the hearing to insure that the proceedings are fair and impartial, that relevant information is presented, and that thorough study is given to all recommendations.
D. HEARING PROCEDURE
The Honor Council may proceed through the disciplinary process outlined below regardless of any action by other authorities (e.g., police) under the laws of any jurisdiction. All written notices to students are sent via email to the student’s UC email address. All time limits in these procedures refer to business days. If a student withdraws from the University and/or the COM during a disciplinary proceeding and then is readmitted to the University and/or the COM, the disciplinary procedure may be reopened.
The purposes of the Honor Council hearing are twofold:
- To determine if the alleged misconduct occurred, to establish its degree of severity, and to explore extenuating circumstances.
- To determine what response is appropriate and to make well-judged recommendations for action to the Dean.
The general procedure of the Honor Council hearing shall be as follows:
a. The hearing, except for the Honor Council deliberations, will be recorded by a court reporter. The final transcript of the hearing will be kept by the COM’s Office of Student Affairs along with other evidence from the hearing. All present in any capacity during the hearing will be informed of the confidentiality of all proceedings.
b. The role of the faculty co-chair is to conduct the hearing according to this Policy for the Honor Council. The faculty co-chair serves to facilitate the hearing process and remains an impartial moderator.
c. All participating, voting members of the Honor Council must be present for the entirety of the proceedings.
d. The Honor Council members and their advisor, the party bringing the charges and their advisor, and the student named in the alleged misconduct and their advisor may be present throughout the presentation of witnesses and questioning.
e. The Honor Council members (excluding the Executive Secretary) may question anyone appearing before the Honor Council. An advisor may not address the Honor Council or question any of the witnesses but can confer with their respective party.
f. Each witness will be present only during their testimony and/or period of questioning.
g. Those bringing the case of alleged student misconduct before the Honor Council, as well as their witnesses, will be heard first.
h. The student to whom misconduct has been attributed, as well as their witnesses, will be heard second.
i. The party bringing the charges and the accused student will have the opportunity to summarize their positions prior to the close of the hearing. Each closing statement shall not exceed 10 minutes.
j. The Honor Council decision will be based upon consideration of the weight of the evidence.
k. Deliberations will follow and are closed to all but Honor Council members. Deliberations will not be recorded.
l. Any record of past misconduct shall be available to consider in recommending the penalty, if any. The Honor Council co-chairs will be in communication with the ADSA prior to recommending a penalty, if any. If the ADSA is aware of prior misconduct, this information will be made available to the Honor Council.
m. The Honor Council co-chairs will prepare a written report within five business days following the hearing. The report should contain the Honor Council's decision regarding whether misconduct has occurred, the justifications for the decision, copies of all written materials provided the Honor Council, and the specific recommendation of the Honor Council.
E. HONOR COUNCIL DECISION
The Honor Council's report, including recommendation(s), is forwarded to the ADSA who informs the student of the Honor Council's recommendation and right to appeal. A student may choose not to appeal and accept the recommendation of the Honor Council. If the student's decision is not to appeal, the ADSA forwards the Honor Council's report and recommendation(s) to the SADEA who will review the recommendations with the Dean. The Dean makes a final decision and notifies the student. If the student appeals, the ADSA forwards the Honor Council's report and recommendation to the SADEA and the Dean for informational purposes and to the Judiciary Appeal Board for action.
III. APPEAL PROCESS
The student must provide written notice (email) of their decision to appeal within five business days after receipt of the Honor Council's report and recommendation(s). The student must submit, in writing (email), documentation supporting the appeal within 15 business days following the date in which they submitted the decision to appeal. The student’s appeal documentation must specify the grounds for appeal, and should be directed to the SADEA.
Grounds for appeal:
- Discovery of new information not available at the time of the Honor Council Hearing - the student believes there is new, clear and convincing evidence that would affect the decision rendered.
- Procedural error - the student believes a substantial error was made in the Honor Council procedures as outlined in this document, which resulted in a fundamental change in the outcome.
- Harshness of sanction - the student believes the sanction(s) imposed are not commensurate with the violation.
B. STRUCTURE OF THE JUDICIARY APPEAL BOARD
The Judiciary Appeal Board shall consist of three faculty members and two senior (M3 or M4) medical students appointed by the SADEA. One of the three faculty members will be designated as chair. None of the Board's members may be Honor Council or PAC members. All members have one vote, including the designated chair.
The SADEA shall inform the student of the Judiciary Appeal Board appointments. The student may object in writing within two business days to the appointment of any Judiciary Appeal Board member who the student believes may be biased in the matter. The SADEA will review any objections and make a determination as to whether the objection is valid and a replacement is warranted.
The SADEA will provide the Judiciary Appeal Board with the detailed report and recommendation(s) of the Honor Council and the appeal documentation provided by the student. Except as described below, the review of the Judiciary Appeal Board will be limited to these records. In the rare instance where new information could not have previously been presented to the Honor Council, it must be submitted in writing to the SADEA with the appeal documentation and may be considered at the discretion of the Judiciary Appeal Board. The Judiciary Appeal Board session must occur within a reasonable time period, generally within 30 business days, after the SADEA receives the student's appeal documentation. During the session, the Judiciary Appeal Board will review the record, including any new information permitted, and make a determination regarding both the Honor Council’s findings and recommendation(s). All Judiciary Appeal Board decisions are made by majority vote. The Judiciary Appeal Board may make new recommendations that differ from those made by the Honor Council. Following the session, the chair of the Judiciary Appeal Board will prepare a written report that states the reason(s) for its finding(s) and recommends appropriate action when the Judiciary Appeal Board’s recommendation differs from that of the Honor Council. The report should be shared with the SADEA and the Dean of the COM within five business days following the Judiciary Appeal Board’s session. The final decision for the COM will be made by the Dean.
C. ACTION BY THE DEAN
The Dean, without unnecessary delay, will communicate the final decision in writing to the student.
 Some misconduct, including some professionalism concerns, of a student may be addressed by other reviewing bodies within the University and the COM (e.g., Performance and Advancement Assessment Committee, Grade Appeal Committee, etc.) and, therefore, be governed by other policies and procedures found in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine Student Handbook and/or other University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the University of Cincinnati’s Student Code of Conduct.
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