Information for Witnesses

The witnesses page provides an overview of some basic and additional information potential witnesses should know, as well as the role a witness plays in a COD hearing.

Witnesses in MIT’s discipline process are not limited to eyewitnesses. Our process does not follow formal rules of evidence; therefore, witnesses can be people who have secondhand or hearsay information, indirect information, or character information to provide. If you are agreeing to serve as a witness or provide a

, you play an important role in sharing information to help the Committee on Discipline (COD) or other disciplinary body make a thoroughly considered decision. 

Unable to appear in person?

When necessary, witnesses who have been unable to join the hearing in person have still participated; this can be done via skype or phone. If you choose this method, please contact the Office of Student Citizenship as soon as possible, so technological arrangements can be made.

Additionally, witnesses who are unable to appear in person can submit a statement. While this does not allow for questions that sometimes help increase understanding, this option remains available.

Additional Information to Consider

You may be providing a statement for a friend, a supervisor, a professor, or someone else important in your life. Be honest with them about what you will say and then be honest within the hearing. You are not obligated to answer any questions, but if you are found to have provided information that was untrue, you could be subject to disciplinary allegations.

Given that you have not been present for the entire hearing, the panel may already have some of the information you share. That said, please feel free to provide a general summary of your perspective. Following that, clarifying questions may be asked.

Some witnesses find it helpful to submit a witness statement prior to the hearing. This is not mandatory, but it helps the panel understand your perspective. It also provides you an opportunity to write down your recollections before the hearing, which is likely to occur at least a few weeks after the incident. You may simply write a statement for yourself and read it or refer to it, as well.

During a COD Hearing

Witnesses only participate in the COD hearing during their portion of the hearing. We cannot tell you exactly when that will be, unfortunately. For that reason, most witnesses choose to wait outside the hearing room and bring work to do while they wait. When it is your turn to present, the staff to the COD will meet you to walk you into the room and to your seat. The chair will ask you to introduce yourself and provide a brief statement about your understanding of the incident. If you are serving as a character witness, you will be asked to describe the person’s character.
Following that, the person who did not ask you to appear will ask you questions. The panel will then ask you questions. You are not required to answer questions; you may respectfully decline. Once the panel has asked you questions, you will be excused. You may leave or wait outside until the end of the hearing. The panel occasionally asks witnesses to remain in case of follow-up questions.