Misconduct warranting disciplinary action includes any significant departures from generally accepted standards of integrity and appropriate behavior. Improper conduct on the part of a degree candidate is of concern no matter where it occurs. The following offenses are examples of those warranting initiation of disciplinary procedures:
Examples of violations of academic or community standards include, but are not limited to cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized use of materials in academic exercises or examinations, misrepresentations, distortions or serious omissions of data in research reports, false statements or serious omissions on admission or financial aid applications, falsification on any other official form or petition, unauthorized removal or misuse of library books or other university property, threat or use of force against others, harassment, including sexual harassment, of another member of the university community, hazing, infractions of university regulations, and infractions of city, state, and federal laws which reflect upon the person’s suitability to be a health professional. Illegal, unethical, or other behavior inappropriate to the public health profession that is engaged in by a student outside of the School community may also be considered.
Occasionally candidates for admission will make inaccurate statements or submit false material in connection with their application. In most cases, these misrepresentations are discovered during the admission process and the application is rejected. If a misrepresentation is discovered after a candidate is admitted, the offer of admission normally will be withdrawn. If a misrepresentation is discovered after a student has registered, the offer of admission normally will be revoked and the student will be required to leave the school. If the discovery occurs after a degree has been awarded, the degree normally will be rescinded. The determination that an application is inaccurate or contains misrepresentations rests solely with the Admissions Office and will be resolved outside the student disciplinary process.
Allegations of Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment
HSPH has adopted that “University Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment.” When there is information suggesting the possibility of inappropriate conduct involving allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment, the “University Policy” applies, as do the University’s Procedures for Handling Complaints Involving Students Pursuant to the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy. In such cases, under the University Procedures, the Harvard University Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) is responsible for determining whether a violation of the University Policy by a student took place. HSPH remains responsible for student discipline through the Disciplinary Board. All members of the Disciplinary Board will receive appropriate training in the handling and resolution of allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment. To the extent any existing HSPH policies and procedures interfere with compliance with the University Policy or Procedures, application of such HSPH policies and procedures shall be suspended. When the Disciplinary Board learns that a formal complaint has been filed with ODR, a Disciplinary Board representative will meet with the respondent to explain, among other things, the disciplinary process that may take place following the issuance of the ODR’s final report, the range of disciplinary sanctions, and the appeals process following the imposition of any discipline. The PRB representative will also be available to meet with the complainant.
Whenever a formal complaint of sexual or gender-based harassment against an HSPH student results in the issuance of a final report from the ODR, the Disciplinary Board must accept as final and non-reviewable the report’s findings of fact and its conclusions as to whether a violation of the University Policy has occurred. The Disciplinary Board may interview the student and may undertake any other action it deems necessary to arrive at its conclusions, including consulting with senior faculty or administrators at the University when it feels additional expertise or advice would be useful. The complainant also will have the option of meeting with the Disciplinary Board, but is not required to do so. However, the Board’s disciplinary proceedings against the student based on conduct addressed by the ODR’s final report will proceed with the understanding that the final report carries the same validity as a determination reached by the Board itself. The role of the Disciplinary Board is solely to determine the appropriate disciplinary response. The Board may take a number of disciplinary actions as set forth below in the Sanctions for Misconduct section. When no violation of the University Policy has been found, the Disciplinary Board will review the factual findings contained in the final report. Should the Board conclude that the alleged conduct, while not a violation of the University Policy, might violate other HSPH policies or expectations for conduct, the Board will take up the case as set forth below. If the Board votes to impose discipline, it will notify the respondent and, as appropriate, the complainant of the discipline imposed.
Sanctions for Misconduct
Formal sanctions, those that become part of the student’s official record, that may be imposed in cases of misconduct are described below. Please note that the Disciplinary Board may also (or instead) impose sanctions as appropriate to a specific case.
Probation: A warning to the student that he/she is in serious danger of being required to withdraw from the school or a period during which a withdrawal action is pending. At the end of that time, the student may be relieved from probation by vote of the Disciplinary Board if the student’s conduct has been satisfactory. A student on probation may be required to withdraw from the school by vote of the Disciplinary Board at any time if his/her conduct is unsatisfactory. No student on probation may be recommended for a degree. The fact that the student is on probation appears on the student’s transcript during the period of probation. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Disciplinary Probation” and will include the dates of the period of the probation.
Requirement to Withdraw: The student who is not in good standing as a candidate for a degree must surrender his/her Harvard University student ID card and leave school property for a period usually lasting two semesters. After lapse of this time, the student may apply to the Disciplinary Board to be re-admitted, and may be re-admitted if his/her conduct has been satisfactory. The fact that the student was required to withdraw for disciplinary reasons appears permanently on the student’s transcript. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Disciplinary Withdrawal Required” and will include the date of the withdrawal.
Dismissal: The student’s connection with the school is terminated. This action must be approved by two-thirds vote of the Faculty Council attending the meeting where the case is presented. Re-admission is possible only if approved by similar vote of the Faculty Council. The fact of dismissal appears permanently on the student’s transcript. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Disciplinary Dismissal” and will include the date of the dismissal.
Expulsion: The student is expelled from the school and may never be re-admitted. This action must be approved by vote of the Faculty Council, as described under “Dismissal”. The fact of expulsion appears permanently on the student’s transcript. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Disciplinary Expulsion” and will include the date of the expulsion.
Misconduct Reporting Procedures
Procedures (including reporting procedures) of suspected violations of the University Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment are set forth in the University Procedures here. The procedures below apply to all other allegations of misconduct.
A faculty member, staff member, or student who questions whether misconduct has taken place is encouraged to discuss the issue with the associate dean for student services.
A faculty member, other instructor, or teaching assistant who becomes aware in the course of his/her duties of a possible instance of misconduct should inform the associate dean for student services (preferably in a written report), specifying the particular circumstances of the apparent instance and supporting evidence of misconduct. Other members of the school community are encouraged to report possible instances of misconduct to the associate dean for student services in like manner.
If the reporting individual is a faculty member and the apparent misconduct concerns work submitted for credit, the faculty member remains responsible for deciding the grade to be awarded for the work on the academic merits. The board may, in consultation with the grading instructor, recommend a grade change in assignments, exams, or final course grades. When the student’s grade depends upon work for which a question of misconduct is not yet resolved, the faculty member will assign a grade of “unassigned grade” until the issue of misconduct is resolved. In some cases, as he or she deems necessary, the associate dean for student services may make a referral to the Disciplinary Board in the absence of a formal complaint from another party.
Preliminary Investigation of a Report of Misconduct
In many instances, reports of possible misconduct can be dealt with informally, without proceeding with the disciplinary process. Therefore, upon receiving a report of suspected misconduct, the associate dean for student services or his or her designee promptly conducts a preliminary investigation for the purposes of determining whether the incident should be treated as a disciplinary case. As part of this preliminary investigation, the associate dean for student services informs the student concerned of the report of suspected misconduct as well as the supporting evidence and seeks the student’s account of the events. Students who are so informed are strongly encouraged to meet at least once with the director of student affairs or his or her designee.
If the preliminary investigation produces evidence indicating that disciplinary action may be warranted, the associate dean for student services initiates formal disciplinary proceedings by sending a written charge to the Disciplinary Board, to the student, and to the student’s academic advisor that explains the nature of the alleged disciplinary infraction, describes in general the evidence on which it is based and identifies the possible disciplinary actions. Such a charge shall be issued only if the associate dean for student services believes it reasonably likely that the charged infraction can be established by a preponderance of evidence.
In cases of suspected plagiarism, student papers may be submitted to a private contracted service that reviews content for originality. Results from this review may be used to inform the associate dean and Disciplinary Board in their inquiry. Papers submitted to this service are retained by that company and become part of their database of materials used in future searches. No personal identifying information is either submitted or retained by the service.
The Registrar’s Office is informed that disciplinary proceedings are under way; transcripts will not be issued to third parties for students facing disciplinary proceedings.
The Disciplinary Board is composed of three faculty members appointed by the dean for three-year terms; one of the members is designated by the dean to serve as chair. There are three students appointed to the board as full voting members. Two of these will be assigned to specific cases on a case-by-case basis and will not be in the same division as the student facing disciplinary action. The associate dean for student services serves as an ex officio member of the board. The board is not an adversarial or prosecutorial body. Its charge is to handle matters which come before it as favorably to students and other members of the Harvard School of Public Health as possible, consistent with the maintenance of the high academic and ethical standards of the faculty of the school.
Rules for Disciplinary Proceedings
1) Upon issuance of a formal charge by the associate dean for student services, the Disciplinary Board begins its review of the alleged misconduct.
2) A member of the board who believes he/she cannot properly discharge responsibilities in a given case may excuse him or herself. At the request of the student or if required by the board, a member may excuse him or herself.
3) The student shall be asked to submit a written statement on the incident to the board within 1 week of issuance of the formal charge and to offer any evidence bearing on the matter. The student shall be advised to seek the help of his/her advisor, another faculty member, the director of student affairs, or the associated dean for student services in writing this statement.
4) The student has a right to a hearing before the Disciplinary Board. Disciplinary hearings will be private. A tape recording will be made of that portion of the meeting in which the student meets with the board. A copy of the tape recording shall be made available to the student (without charge) upon request.
5) A student appearing before the Disciplinary Board may be accompanied by an advisor (chosen by the student) from within the Harvard School of Public Health community. In keeping with the non-adversarial character of the board’s proceedings, attorneys acting as student representatives or advisors will not be present at hearings of the board.
6) The student, after giving prior notice, may bring to the hearing persons who have information relevant to the facts of the alleged misconduct. Individuals wishing to attest to the character of a student may not attend the hearing but will be allowed to communicate with the board in writing.
7) The board considers any evidence which it deems to be relevant and trustworthy. Formal rules of evidence do not apply.
8) The board does not recognize a privilege of noncooperation and may, therefore, draw such reasonable inferences from noncooperation as it deems appropriate. Statements made to members of the board and others are admissible at the hearing regardless of when made.
9) If the student wishes the board to consider a medical excuse, explanation, or justification in a particular case, the student’s consent must be sought for release of information obtained in confidence by University Health Services (HUHS) or other provider of either medical or psychiatric health care. Without the student’s consent, such information shall not be sought or considered by the Disciplinary Board. No weight is to be given to a student’s refusal to authorize disclosure of information obtained by the HUHS or other provider of health care. The absence of such information, may, however, properly preclude the board from considering a medical excuse, explanation, or justification in a particular case.
10) Disciplinary sanctions will not be imposed unless conduct warranting sanction is established by a preponderance of evidence. Decisions of the board are final, except for those recommending expulsion or dismissal, which require two-thirds vote at a faculty council meeting
11) It is understood that the transaction of Disciplinary Board business will not be discussed with anyone not on the board other than the dean or advisors to the dean, except as may be compelled as a matter of law. Board members’ attitudes, votes, or other such information will not be revealed. The student concerned may be told only the disposition of his or her own case and only by the chairperson of the board or the chairperson’s designee (usually the associate dean for student services).
12) All decisions of the board to impose sanctions shall be communicated to the student in writing and shall be supported by specific findings of fact and conclusions, including, wherever appropriate, a statement of the reasons for the specific sanction and the principles or policies upon which the board relied in setting the sanction. This information may also be conveyed to relevant faculty and staff of the school, including the student’s advisor, his or her department chair or program head, the registrar and others as appropriate.
13) The board will maintain locked files concerning all cases about which it makes decisions.
14) If the board concludes that no disciplinary action is warranted, a written statement of this decision is sent to the student. The decision is recorded in the locked files of the board. No record of the charge shall then appear in the student’s file or on the student’s transcript.
15) The board’s decision takes effect immediately unless dismissal or expulsion is recommended, in which case the sanction becomes effective immediately when supported by a two-thirds vote at a Faculty Council meeting.
16) When a disciplinary case comes before the Faculty Council, the associate dean for student services will present the facts of the case in a written report to the Faculty Council.
17) If the Faculty Council fails to accept by two-thirds vote a recommendation by the Disciplinary Board for dismissal or expulsion, the case shall be returned to the Disciplinary Board for decision as to whether another disciplinary action should be taken.
18) In case of emergence of new information at any time, a student may request the board to reconsider its decision. If the board refuses such a request it must notify the student in writing of the reason for the refusal.
19) In the case of a disciplinary proceeding against an alleged perpetrator of a violent crime, HSPH is allowed to disclose the results of the proceeding to the alleged victim of that crime, without prior written consent of the alleged perpetrator.
20) Should situations arise which are not covered by these rules or in which the application of these rules, in the judgment of the board, is inappropriate, the board may formulate and follow an appropriate ad hoc procedure. In any event, departures from these rules of procedure shall not, ipso facto, constitute a defense to the imposition of a disciplinary sanction.
21) Copies of these procedures shall be published and made generally available. These procedures also should be given to any student involved in a report of misconduct as soon as it appears that the matter may be treated as disciplinary.
Academic Standing, Review of
In fulfilling its responsibilities, the Committee on Admissions and Degrees (CAD) must decide whether applicants have met requirements for admission, requirements for registration as degree candidates, whether students’ academic progress is satisfactory, and whether students applying for degrees have met degree requirements. (A matriculant is defined here as an applicant who has been accepted for degree candidacy, has accepted the offer, and has registered.)
Procedures followed by the CAD in taking any of the actions described below:
1) When any of the actions listed below is contemplated, the individual concerned is informed in writing, and if possible in person (by the associate dean for student services or the registrar), of the conduct under consideration and of the actions which might be taken by the CAD.
2) The individual is invited to write to the CAD within a given time interval to describe or explain the conduct under consideration by the subcommittee.
3) The CAD, meeting after this time interval, considers the individual’s written submission (if one is sent) and any other known circumstances of the case and decides upon action. The decision is communicated promptly in writing to the individual concerned.
4) The decision of the CAD is also communicated to the individual’s department or program head, advisor, and to instructors in any course then being taken by the individual.
Decisions of the CAD may lead to the following actions:
1) Revocation of the offer of admission. An offer of admission may be revoked when the CAD determines that admission requirements have not been met or concludes that the application contained erroneous or misleading material, or omitted relevant material. When an offer of admission is revoked, the individual neither receives credit for any course work taken nor will be required to pay tuition. The individual may apply again for admission, including a statement concerning his or her view of the circumstances leading to revocation of the offer of admission and the reasons why he/she believes reconsideration of admission is warranted. A record of the reasons for revocation of admission will be kept in the Admissions Office.
2) Denial of registration. A matriculant may be denied registration if he/she fails to comply with stated policies and procedures governing registration. When registration is denied, the individual neither will receive credit for any course work taken nor will be required to pay tuition. The CAD may decide to permit the matriculant to register subsequently if specified conditions are met, or may require the matriculant to apply again if he/she desires reinstatement as a degree candidate. Deposits confirming intent to register may be retained by HSPH. A record of the reasons for denial of registration will be kept in the Registrar’s Office.
3) Academic probation. A student may be put on academic probation for a defined period if he/she fails to comply with stated school policies and procedures concerning degree candidacy or if his/her academic progress is unsatisfactory. A student on academic probation is on warning that he/she may be required to withdraw at any time during the period of probation if the CAD decides that the conditions of probation have not been met. The fact that a student is on academic probation appears temporarily on the student’s official transcript but is removed if the term of probation is satisfactorily completed. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Academic Probation” and will include the dates of the probation period.
4) Requirement to withdraw from degree candidacy. A student who is conditionally registered, previously registered or currently registered, may be required to withdraw from degree candidacy if he/she fails to comply with stated policies and procedures governing degree candidacy or with the terms of the documents signed by the student at the time of conditional registration, or if his/her academic progress is unsatisfactory.
When requiring a student to withdraw, the CAD decides whether the individual will receive credit for any course work taken (ordinarily, if no credit is received the student will not be required to pay tuition); and whether to permit the individual to register following a stated period if specified conditions are met, or to require the individual to apply again if he/she desires reinstatement as a degree candidate. Non-tuition fees, such as registration and late fees, may be retained by HSPH. The reasons for the requirement to withdraw are permanently recorded on the student’s official transcript. The notation on the transcript will normally read “Academic Withdrawal” and will include the effective date of the withdrawal.
Three other actions may be recommended by the CAD but can be taken only if approved by two-thirds vote of the faculty.
1) Dismissal. The student’s connection with the school is terminated. Re-admission is only possible if approved by two-thirds vote of the faculty. The fact of dismissal will appear permanently on the student’s transcript.
2) Expulsion. The student is expelled from the school and shall never be re-admitted. The fact of expulsion will appear permanently on the student’s transcript.
3) Revocation of degree. A graduate who is found after graduation to have misrepresented his/her compliance with degree requirements may have his/her degree revoked. The fact of degree revocation will appear permanently on the student’s transcript.