Referring a Case to Student Citizenship
According to MIT policies, complaints alleging that MIT students or student organizations have violated Institute policy should be directed to the Office of Student Citizenship. Complaints against MIT faculty and staff should be directed to Human Resources.
This page answers general questions about submitting a case to Student Citizenship. Because each case is unique, if you are considering filing a case, we encourage you to meet with the staff in the Office of Student Citizenship to discuss the incident’s specifics, how the process addresses violations, and so we may answer any questions you have. This initial meeting does not require you provide us with any information, but would allow us to provide you with more context to the process. To make an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-253-3276.
Q. This is very stressful for me. How can I get help managing that stress?
Feeling stress about this is not unusual. We encourage those involved in the discipline process to seek support from deans, advisors, housemasters, GRTs, friends, and MIT Mental Health and Counseling. Determining how to manage the associated stress is a very helpful step for many people.
Q. How do I refer a case?
To submit a complaint, we suggest completing the complaint form on this website. Documentation can also be submitted informally for initial consideration, but a formal complaint will eventually be needed in order to fully address some violations. Please complete as much of the form as you can and be as detailed as possible when writing about what happened. The following are some general tips for writing about the incident.
- Focus on the facts. As much as possible, describe someone’s behavior (example: “He raised his voice to a level I would describe as yelling”) rather than what that behavior led you to conclude (example: “He was angry.”).
- If a person is involved in the incident, the person's name and involvement should be in the narrative of the complaint form. If you believe a policy violation has occurred, the narrative should focus on specific information about an individual's role in an incident. The discipline process is designed to determine if a student is responsible or not responsible for alleged policy violations.
- To the best of your ability, identify the policies you believe were violated. Student Citizenship can assist you with understanding the policies, but providing an initial list is helpful.
Q. What do the following words mean in the referral form?
Complainant: The person(s) submitting the complaint.
Respondent: The MIT student(s) or student organizations alleged to have violated an MIT policy.
Witness: Anyone who will be providing information about this incident. This may include people who gained information without being eyewitnesses and it can include people who will submit a written statement, rather than appearing in person. This can include people who are not part of the MIT community. Additionally, on rare occasions, the COD Chair may call an expert witness.
Advisor: Any member of the MIT community (excluding families, attorneys, and media) who will be present with you throughout the process as you would like. They cannot speak for you, but they can be an available resource for advice, consultation, and support.
Q. The complaint form says I should list "MIT rules, regulations, or policies you believe were violated." Where do I find the list of regulations? How many regulations can I list?
The Mind and Hand Book lists policies that are most typically referenced. You can find those here. Select the allegations that best describe the behavior that occurred during the incident. During your meeting with the OSC staff, before and/or after you submit documentation, you can discuss potential allegations and add or subtract some.
Q. What happens after I submit the complaint?
The Director will review the report and request a meeting with you. During this meeting, the Director will review the complaint and ask any clarifying questions they may have. The Director will also confirm with you the violations you are alleging. Finally, the Director will go over next steps with you and answer any questions you may have.
After that, the complaint will be shared with the student alleged to have violated policy (the respondent). That student will meet with the Director, review the complaint, learn next steps, and ask any questions they have. Then, they have an opportunity to submit a written response.
Once Student Citizenship has both the complaint and the response, those will be shared with the COD Chair who will determine if they case will be handled as an administrative resolution, via sanctioning panel, or via hearing.
Q. Does the person who is the subject of the complaint (respondent) have to know it came from me?
They do not. The respondent needs to have all the information available to those who are making a decision. So, if those making the discipline decision do not have your name, the respondent does not need it either.
MIT can accept anonymous complaints. However, it is helpful for us to have a named person we can contact for questions regarding the case. Additionally, submitting a case anonymously may make it difficult for the Institute to fully address the case. If you are considering submitting a case anonymously, we suggest you contact our Director to discuss options, benefits, and potential issues. You may do so via email or a third party if you are more comfortable.
Q. Is there a deadline for filing a complaint?
No. Generally, cases are best submitted as close to the incident as possible, so that the details are fresh in your memory and the behavior can be addressed as quickly as possible. Sometimes, however, complainants may want to wait until some time has passed or their circumstances have changed. In those cases, consider writing down the details of what occurred for your own future reference. Please note if you are concerned about the respondent continuing to contact you, we can provide you with information about a no-contact order.
Q. How long will it take to resolve the case?
For formal complaints, the respondent will typically have ten Institute days to respond. For informal documentation, the Director will discuss a timeline with you. Following the written response from the respondent, the COD Chair will review the complaint and your response and determine a method of resolving the case.
If the case is resolved administratively, you will typically receive the outcome within two weeks of the respondent's response, although that may vary depending upon if MIT is in session.
If the case is resolved in a hearing or a sanctioning panel, the hearing or panel will take place at least three days after receiving the respondent's written response, but typically it takes longer to accommodate the schedules of everyone in the hearing
Q. What if I want to file referrals about multiple people?
This may be done by listing each respondent’s name. Be sure your narrative specifies who did what and who is alleged to have violated which policy.
Q. How much detail do I need to provide? What if I cannot prove the respondent violated MIT policy?
Provide as much detail as you can that is relevant to the alleged violations you are listing. Typically it is best to document the incident while the details are fresh in your mind.
For the respondent (student alleged to have violated policy) to be found responsible, MIT requires that a case meet the standard of evidence known as "preponderance of the evidence." This essentially means that evidence needs to demonstrate it is "more likely than not" that a violation occurred. You do not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the respondent committed the alleged violations, but the evidence needs to indicate it is more likely than not that they did so.
Q. Will I get another chance to share information about the case?
Following your meeting with the Director of Student Citizenship, you will be given an opportunity to amend your complaint form.
Most cases referred to Student Citizenship are resolved at an administrative level, without a hearing. In those cases, once you submit the complaint form, you will not have another opportunity to provide more information, unless the COD Chair specifically requests it.
Some cases are referred to a full COD hearing or a sanctioning panel. In that situation, you will have an opportunity to be present, ask and answer questions about the matter, and make additional statements, including having witnesses present.
Q. What happens if someone submits a referral form that is determined to be false?
If a person submits a complaint in good faith, they will suffer no consequences, even if the complaint does not result in a finding of responsibility against the respondent.
The bottom of the complaint form requires the person submitting it to sign the following statement:
“I understand that the Institute has the following expectations for honesty and integrity. Fundamental to the principle of Independent learning and professional growth is the requirement of honesty and integrity in conduct of one’s academic and nonacademic life.’ By signing below and submitting this form, I confirm that, to the best of my knowledge, this document adheres to those expectations of honesty and integrity fundamental to the Institute.”
If someone intentionally refers a case with false information, they could be the subject to disciplinary action.
Q. Can I find out the outcome of my complaint?
Generally, no. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as “FERPA”) protects the confidentiality of discipline records. Some exceptions apply for cases of sexual misconduct; for those cases the person identified as a victim/survivor would be informed of the outcome.
Q. Can I submit evidence with my case?
Yes, you may submit photographs, emails, and other evidence. If evidence includes an illegal and/or dangerous item (e.g., drugs, weapon, etc), that should be turned over to MIT Police for appropriate storage. Photos can be submitted as attachments. You can also take a "screenshot" of any computer-based evidence.
Q. What if my case is also proceeding through the court system?
MIT will generally proceed as soon as is reasonably possible, without waiting for the court case to be resolved.