UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
CAMPUS COMMITTEE ON STUDENT BEHAVIOR
NOTICE TO WITNESSES

You have been asked to serve, either by the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative, as a witness in a hearing before the Campus Committee on Student Behavior (CCSB). In order to help you better understand what will happen at a formal hearing, the following questions have been addressed:

What is a CCSB hearing?
It is not a court of law, but rather a part of the University’s internal system for handling alleged violations of the Student Conduct Code (Code). The fact that allegations have been made and are taken seriously does not assume that they are true. The question being considered by this hearing body is whether or not there has been a violation of the Code.

What is a Witness?
A person who is asked by either party to provide information that is relevant to an incident being heard by the CCSB. You have been asked to be a witness because you can provide information that may not be available from any other source or because you can supplement information from a written report. Your participation is valuable to the people involved. As a witness you are not an advocate or helper for one side; your obligation is simply to tell the truth. Your testimony will consist of: recalling events regarding the incident in question, answering questions from the Panel, and answering questions from the opposing party.

Will I have to "take the stand?"
The hearing room for a CCSB hearing is ordered with designated spots for various participants. The parties and the CCSB panel sit around a conference table, with witnesses to the side. After initial introductions, all witnesses will leave. In accordance with state law, CCSB procedures allow the primary reporting party/complaining witness/victim of an incident of alleged sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, and relationship violence to be present in the hearing during any portion of the hearing he/she feels comfortable observing and may be accompanied by a non-participating support person. (This does not extend to the deliberative session.) Such individuals will also be notified of the outcome of the procedures. You will wait outside the hearing room until it is your turn to provide information. Separate areas are provided for witnesses to each side.

How long does a hearing last?
On average, the hearings last a minimum of four hours, but there is no true prediction. For each witness called, anticipate that s/he will be in the hearing room for approximately 30 minutes. When the panel excuses you, you may return to the waiting room until the end of the hearing or provide a contact phone number in case the panel wishes to recall you for more information or clarification. Consider bringing work or something to read. You may wish to bring a snack or beverage as well. CCSB thanks you in advance for willingly sharing your time.

What if I want to attend, but have a class or another commitment?
A formal hearing is a serious event, so every effort should be made to attend. Your presence at this hearing is essential in order for you to provide the CCSB with all pertinent information. If you have a time conflict, please call either the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative. You may be able to make arrangements to come to the hearing late or leave early, or in some cases, submit a notarized statement. Please understand that formal hearings are difficult to schedule, and that the formal hearing will likely proceed whether or not you are present.

How should I prepare?
Most likely the person who has requested your presence will address this question with you prior to the hearing. Your responsibility will be to tell what you know in response to questions. You do not need to prepare any statements or memorize your testimony. You should, however, take some time to think carefully about the events you witnessed and about what you remember so that you can testify clearly at the hearing.

Should I bring notes to the hearing?
If you wrote an incident report, you will likely receive a copy during the hearing to look at, but you should not bring any notes with you.

Will I have to face the people involved in the hearing?
During your testimony, you will be in the same room and at the same conference table except in special circumstances. If you have any questions or special concerns regarding your presence in the hearing room, please address them with either the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative.

What if I am afraid that the information I provide will lead to acts of retaliation?
The University wants all witnesses to feel secure. Talk to either the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative for the case to discuss the options available to you. They may be able to work out a comfortable way for you to provide your testimony. If any harassment does result from your testimony, please inform the CCSB Secretary, Becky Hippert at 612-626-8743, immediately so action can be taken.

Can I be charged, if it is revealed during the hearing that I also violated the Code?
As a general rule, the University is concerned with the more serious charge in a case. Although it is possible, witnesses are not routinely charged by admitting to minor violations during hearings. If you are concerned, talk with either the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative prior to the hearing.

What if I know of other witnesses who should be at the formal hearing?
If you know of other witnesses who have firsthand information about the incident, please notify the either the University Presenter or the accused student/his or her representative.

Will I be informed about the decision?
Student disciplinary records are confidential and are protected by institution policy and law, therefore you should not discuss the incident or the people involved with anyone who is not directly involved with the case. Additionally hearings are closed to the public so guests or media will not be present.

Are the hearing room and waiting area handicap accessible?
If you have special needs please let the CCSB Secretary, Becky Hippert at 612-626-8743, know as soon as possible so appropriate room arrangements can be made.

Can I leave the witness waiting room during the hearing?
Witnesses, when they are not testifying, are permitted to leave the witness rooms for short periods to use the bathroom or get something to eat/drink. Information on the location of amenities will be provided to all witnesses at the hearing.

What if I have more questions?
You can contact the appropriate University Presenter or accused student/his or her representative or the CCSB Secretary, Becky Hippert at 612-626-8743.

This document was adapted from:

LaSalle University Office of Community Development, Formal Hearing Witness Request. (2001)
Marshall University Office of Judicial Affairs, Student Conduct Hearings, Notice to Witness. Huntington, WV (2000)
University of Michigan Office of Student Conflict Resolution, The Witness, Questions and Answers. http://www.umich.edu/~oscr/witqa.html (2001)