Mar 03, 2024  
Student Handbook 
    
Student Handbook

Community Standards


STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY STANDARDS

Before all else, the students, faculty, staff, and administration of Merrimack College form an Augustinian community that supports and challenges its members in the pursuit of truth. We declare and celebrate our common purpose, and commit ourselves:

  • to serious study, generous service and courageous leadership
  • to academic integrity and personal growth
  • to civilized discourse in the exchange of ideas
  • to friendship, diversity, and mutual respect
  • to primacy of conscience and the spiritual life
  • to responsibility for the common good, and
  • to pride in our school and ourselves.
COMMUNITY STANDARDS LEARNING OUTCOMES

As a result of the Student Conduct process, students will be able to:

  • Identify individual violations of the Merrimack College Student Handbook.

  • Demonstrate their decision making process and their own personal responsibility for their actions.

  • Describe the impact their actions had on themselves and the Merrimack College community.

  • Apply the resources within the Merrimack College community to fit their own needs.

  • Evaluate how their decisions impact their personal and academic success.

  • Develop skills and strategies to prevent future violations.

MERRIMACK COLLEGE STUDENT CONDUCT PROCESS OVERVIEW

The College strives to maintain an environment that is consistent with its Augustinian mission and respectful of the rights of all individuals within the College community. The College affirms that all members of this community are freely united by this agreement in the pursuit of scholarship and intellectual growth. The College and the students accept responsibility toward each other within this community. Consequently, it is necessary to establish procedures to ensure the preservation of this community and its goals and to respond promptly and accurately to actions that are contrary to these values and ideals.

The Merrimack College Student Conduct Process is directed to this end as it seeks in its disciplinary function to impart the values and ideals of this community as well as habits of conduct. When student conduct adversely impacts the College community, the educational program or the community standards of the College, the case will be processed within the student conduct system and sanctions commensurate with the offense will be applied.

The College will address behavior that is in violation of local, state or federal law in accordance with this system.  In these cases, the College reserves the right to take action independent of that which may occur in a court of law and does not preclude a student from prosecution by law enforcement agencies.

 

FACILITATOR

The Assistant Dean of Students or designee is principally responsible for the functioning of the student conduct system. These responsibilities include:

  • Conducting meetings as an Administrative Hearing Officer
  • Selection of Student Conduct Board members
  • Training of Administrative Hearing Officers and Student Conduct Board members
  • Overseeing Student Conduct Board hearing proceedings
  • Maintenance of student conduct records
  • Ensuring compliance with Student Conduct Hearing conclusions
  • General supervision of the student conduct process 
  • Serving as an ombudsperson and conducting pre-hearing conferences to explain the hearing process

 

JURISDICTION

The Merrimack College Community Standards apply to:

  1. Any student who is:
    1. Enrolled in or accepted for an academic course of program regardless of credits carried
    2. Who withdraws from the college after allegedly violating the drug policy, sexual misconduct policy, and/or general safety policies, but before a formal hearing can take place
    3. Not officially enrolled for a particular term but has a continuing academic relationship with the College
    4. Living on- or off-campus
  1. Conduct that occurs:
    1. On College property
    2. At College sponsored events off-campus and all locations of the College such as internships, co-ops, or study abroad
    3. Off-campus and in the College’s sole discretion, calls into question the suitability of a student as a member of the Merrimack Community.

Students are responsible for their conduct even when it may have been influenced by their physical or emotional state (irrespective of any medical or clinical diagnosis) or by alcohol or drug use.

Students who do not complete their assigned sanctions or withdraw from the college prior to the resolution of a complaint will have a disciplinary hold placed on their student account.  This hold will prohibit course registration, requests for transcripts, adding or dropping courses and participation in the housing lottery.

STUDENT RIGHTS

Students who are referred for student conduct action are afforded the following rights:

  • Prompt notification and explanation of the allegations
  • A fair, open-minded and objective consideration of the matter being discussed
  • A timely hearing by the Student Conduct Board or Administrative Hearing Officer
  • The opportunity to present their information surrounding an event
  • An advisor, who is a member of the Merrimack College community, which the student(s) must arrange for themselves
    • Advisors may not be attorneys. Attorneys may only participate in very limited circumstances where a student has pending criminal charges that are related to the matter being discussed in the hearing. Please see the Assistant Dean of Students for the rules regarding attorney participation.
  • To present a reasonable number of witnesses and/or written character references at hearings
  • The opportunity to question, directly or indirectly, people presenting testimony against them
  • To submit an appeal or petition to the Dean of Students Office. All appeals should be submitted in writing within three working days from the date that the student is notified of the findings or when new information becomes available
VIOLATION OF THE LAW AND COLLEGE DISCIPLINE

The College expects that its students will abide by federal and state law in addition to the Community Standards. Violations may be addressed through the college’s disciplinary system, through civil/criminal courts, or through both. When student conduct may have violated federal or state law, Merrimack College may take action against the student prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings at the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee.

If the alleged offense is being heard by the Merrimack College disciplinary system, the College may advise off-campus authorities of the existence of the Community Standards and student disciplinary system and how such matters are typically handled.

INCIDENT REPORTS

Any member of the Merrimack College Community may file an incident report.  The filing of an incident report with an Administrative Hearing Officer (AHO), the Office of Community Standards, or the Merrimack College Police Department, will initiate a response by the student conduct system. These reports will include all pertinent, available information concerning the allegation(s) that is available to the author. The author may be asked to present their report at Student Conduct Board hearings. 

NOTICE OF STUDENT CONDUCT HEARINGS

Student(s) accused of misconduct by any member of the Merrimack College community will be issued a Hearing Notification Letter by a particular Administrative Hearing Officer (AHO). The AHO will contact a student in writing, through electronic mail with the date, time, and location of a scheduled hearing. Student(s) who choose not to meet with an AHO as scheduled or who fail to contact the AHO to reschedule a meeting (for academic purposes only) will forfeit their opportunity to be heard at a hearing.

In the event that the Assistant Dean of Students refers a case directly to a Student Conduct Board due to unusual complexity or seriousness, the student(s) accused of misconduct by any member of the Merrimack College community will be issued a Hearing Notification Letter by the Assistant Dean of Students or designee. The Assistant Dean of Students or designee will contact the student(s) in writing, through electronic mail with the date, time, and location of the scheduled Student Conduct Board hearing. Student(s) who choose not to attend the Student Conduct Board hearing as scheduled or who fail to contact the Assistant Dean of Students or designee to reschedule a meeting (for academic purposes only) will forfeit their opportunity to be heard at the Student Conduct Board hearing.

INTERIM ACTION

In situations where prompt action is required to remove a student(s) who poses a threat to the welfare of the community or any member thereof, the Dean of Students or designee may institute temporary safety measures, including relocation, removal from housing and suspension from the College, in advance of the student conduct process.  The College will attempt to notify parents/guardians in the event that a student is temporarily removed from housing or temporarily suspended.  

NO CONTACT ORDER

A No Contact Order (NCO) is a written administrative action issued by the College requiring students to have no direct or indirect contact including but not limited to  face-to-face, telephone, texting, e-mail, instant messenger/chat rooms, all social media (Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc.) or any print communications as well as non-verbal communication or third-party contact. NCOs remain in effect until removed in writing by the Dean of Students (or designee).

Requesting a No Contact Order:

An NCO may be issued by the College for reasons including but not limited to: harassment, threats, physical assault, stalking, domesitc violence, dating violence, sexual assault, retaliation, intimidation, or other behavior as determined by the Office of Dean of Students. 

Students can request a NCO with another student by meeting with the Office of the Dean of Students, Residence Life or MCPD.  A determination will be made regarding the issuance of a NCO and the appropriate party/ies will be made aware via their Merrimack email address. The Office of the Dean of Students can deny or rescind any request submitted if it does not meet the threshold of a NCO. 

A NCO may be imposed by the College without an individual’s request, including if there is an ongoing investigation.  A student seeking the rescission of a NCO shall contact the Office of the Dean of Students. The issuing administrator shall consult with both parties before determining whether or not to rescind the NCO. NCOs will be reviewed on an annual basis and notice will be given to all parties before a NCO is rescinded, with an opportunity to request the NCO remain in place.

Students who have interpersonal conflicts that do not raise concerns for individual health and safety may be granted temporary NCOs until a meeting with the Office of the Dean of Students can occur. At that time, students will work with the Office of the Dean of Students to pursue other forms of conflict resolution such as mediation with their Resident Assistant or Commuter Advisor, Residence Life staff or other professional staff member.

No Contact Orders and Housing:

  • Per the Office of Residence Life, if a NCO is issued between roommates/suitemates/apartment-mates, both students will be relocated to alternative living spaces.  There will be situations where certain accommodations or spacing issues will not allow for student relocations to occur.  The Office of Residence Life will evaluate and decide the final outcome/relocation at its discretion in consultation with the Office of the Dean of Students.

A violation of a NCO should be immediately reported to the Office of the Dean of Students at 978-837-5175 during business hours. If the violation is after business hours or immediate assistance is needed, all students should contact the Merrimack College Police Department at 978-837-5555 to reach the on call staff. A violation of a NCO is subject to disciplinary action.

STANDARD OF PROOF

In all student conduct proceedings, the hearing body or officer will use the preponderance of information in determining if a respondent is responsible for the alleged violation(s).  This means that the hearing body or officer will determine if it is more likely than not that a violation has occurred. 

STUDENT ORGANIZATION MISCONDUCT POLICY AND HEARING PROCESS
  • This policy and process includes acts prohibited in the Hazing Policy.
  • At the discretion of the College, all activities of the team/organization may be suspended pending an investigation.
  • Individual students may be investigated for alleged violations of Community Standards independently of organizational investigations.
  • The Merrimack College Police Department will conduct interviews and provide an investigative report to the Assistant Dean of Students and the Athletic Director or the Assistant Dean of Intercultural Initiatives.
  • Once an investigative report has been received, the Assistant Dean of Students and the Athletic Director or the Assistant Dean of Intercultural Initiatives will review and determine if a case should be brought to a student organization conduct hearing. The Assistant Dean of Students will determine if individual student conduct hearings need to be held.
  • If a student organization conduct hearing occurs, the organization will be represented by a member of the Executive Board. The organization can also have an advisor participate at the approval of the Assistant Dean of Students.
  • The Dean of Students (or designee) will hear appeals.
  • Potential sanctions could include individual member, program or club/organization suspension as well as educational sanctions.
FILES

Sanctions are kept on file in the Office of Community Standards. All files will be kept under the following schedule after a student’s departure from the institution for any reason:

 

Type of Record                                                                      Time Period for Retention

Suspension or Expulsion                                                         Permanent file                     

All other matters                                                                      Purged 7 years after departure from institution

 

Student conduct records may be kept longer due to special circumstances, as deemed necessary by the Dean of Students.