faq.jpg

FAQs

I have a Question . . .

Allegedly violating MIT policy can be
a stressful experience. We hope this
page will increase your understanding
of the process.

The FAQ page provides an overview of questions that are typically and most often asked by parties who are about to participate in our process.


General FAQs for Complainants



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.

General FAQs for Respondents

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.  Determining how to manage the associated stress is a very helpful step for many people. 



Q. The following words appear in several documents.  What do they mean?

Complainant: The person submitting the complaint.

Respondent: The MIT student or student organization 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.

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. I received a list of policies I allegedly violated.  How was that list created?

The complainant generated that list of alleged violations.  Student Citizenship reviewed the list to determine if information was provided that substantiated the allegations.  This list is not a list of violations you have been found responsible for committing.  Rather, it provides you of notice of the violations being considered in the disciplinary process.  We provide this list so that you receive notice and can respond. 



Q. I have received an email from Student Citizenship indicating they have a complaint about me.  What should I do next?

The email you received instructs you to make an appointment with our staff to discuss this case.  During that meeting, our staff will review all the information with you, discuss next steps, and answer questions you may have.  Following that meeting, you will have an opportunity to respond in writing. 



Before your meeting, you can consider what questions you have and who else might be able to assist you.  You can have an advisor during any meetings and you can submit witnesses and 

.  You don’t need to have decided any of this by your first meeting, but they are things to consider. 



Q. How long will it take to resolve the case?

For formal complaints, you will typically have ten Institute days to respond.  For informal documentation, the Director will discuss a timeline with you. Following your response, 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 your 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 you submit your response, but typically it takes longer to accommodate the schedules of everyone in the hearing.  



Following a hearing or panel, you will typically receive the outcome in a few business days. 



Q. Other MIT students were involved in this case.  Can we all meet together?

Generally, it is most helpful to the people involved to meet with the Office of Student Citizenship separately.  It is possible that two people who have been involved in the same incident may have different degrees of involvement, varying histories of prior violations, dissimilar personal factors and other circumstances that may impact the handling of the case.  In addition, information about you is generally private, even from other people involved in the same case. 



Q. How much detail do I need to provide in my response? 

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 you 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. This presumes that you are not responsible until the evidence indicates that you are, but the complainant does not need to prove your responsibility beyond a reasonable doubt. 

 

Q. Will I get another chance to share information about the case?

Most cases referred to Student Citizenship are resolved at an administrative level, without a hearing.  In those cases, once you submit the

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 you. 



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 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.

 

Q. Should I consult an attorney?

This is a personal decision.  MIT’s discipline process is very different from the courts and attorneys are not permitted to speak for their clients, to be present during actual proceedings, or to submit written materials on your behalf.  Parties are expected to speak for and represent themselves.

General FAQs for Witnesses

Q. Are character witnesses allowed?

 

Character witnesses are allowed. Typically, however, if a hearing body does not feel the witness will provide information necessary to determine responsibility in the proceedings, the Committee on Discipline may only ask that the character witness submit a

.

 

General FAQs for Advisors

Q. What is my role in the process?

 

Advisors can be any MIT students, faculty, or staff.  Advisors may not be attorneys, family members, or media.  Advisors do not address hearing bodies or other parties during proceedings.  They can serve as moral support, planning assistance, logistical support, and advising resources for the party they advise.  Both the complainant (person bringing the case) and the respondent (student alleged to have violated MIT policy) have equal rights to advisors in the process.  Advisors may be in the room for the entire hearing, excepting deliberations, when only the COD and staff to the COD may be present.

 

Q. Am I allowed to speak on behalf of my advisee at any point during the process?

 

The simple answer is no. You may speak with your advisee as often as you like and serve in whatever capacity they need you to serve in, but you may not address hearing bodies or other parties during proceedings.

 

General FAQs for Academic Integrity Violations

What are the consequences?

The consequences for cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, and other forms of academic dishonesty vary widely based on the severity and nature of the allegations.  Eggregious academic misconduct can be very serious, possibly including suspension or expulsion from the Institute.  Instructors decide how to handle violations of academic integrity on a case-by-case basis, and three general options exist.  Questions about these options should be directed to the Office of Student Citizenship.



1. Academic action within the subject

  • Instructors may determine an academic consequence ranging from redoing the assignment for a reduced grade to failure of the subject.
  • When an instructor chooses this option, they are encouraged also to submit documentation to the Office of Student Citizenship in the form of a letter to file or a COD complaint.  Those options are outlined below. 

2. Faculty letter to file

  • Informal letters to file can be done in conjunction with academic actions within the subject. 
  • Informal letters to file are generally maintained as internal records only.  If a student has subsequent alleged violations, letters to file would be reviewed as part of the determination about how the newer case would be resolved.
  • Students who receive a faculty letter to file may submit a reply for the file or request that the Committee on Discipline (COD) review their case.

3. Committee on Discipline (COD) complaint

  • COD complaint can be submitted in conjunction with academic action within the course. 
  • A COD complaint will be reviewed by the COD Chair and considered for a hearing.  Cases resulting in a hearing are subject to a full range of sanctioning outcomes, including probation, suspension, dismissal, and educational sanctions.