While our Judicial process is outlined below, we have provided the attached PDF for a brief Visual Representation of the OSFL Judicial Process.
Step 1: Judicial Complaint
Any person may lodge a complaint with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) against a chapter by completing an appropriate Reporting Form, outlining the alleged violation(s) of policy/ies. In addition, the complaint should include, but is not limited to the following: a summary of the incident leading to the charges, a description of the alleged misconduct, date, time, place, organization involved, number of participants, estimated damage, and witnesses.
Step 2: Chapter Notification
The Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life or Vice President for Judicial from the respective governing council will notify the accused chapter via the chapter president and apprise the chapter of the charges.
The Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life in their sole discretion will either:
- Schedule an informal resolution meeting
- Send the matter to the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board
- Send the matter to the Chapter Review Board
In the event that a serious violation of one or more of the policies has occurred, where the misconduct may result in removal of the chapter’s recognition at Cornell University, the Director of Sorority & Fraternity Life reserves the right to refer the matter directly to the Vice President for Student and Campus Life or their designee(s). If a case is referred to the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board, the Vice President for Judicial from the respective governing council will arrange a time and place for the hearing. Notice of a Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board hearing should be given in writing or by e-mail to all parties involved at least 72 hours prior to the hearing. The notice to the President of the chapter charged with misconduct should include a brief, but clear, description of the alleged offense and the time and location of the hearing.
Step 2, Part 2: Interim Suspension
As a general rule, the status of an accused chapter will not change while a case is pending against it. However, the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life reserves the right to temporarily suspend activities, including but not limited to new member and social activities, of an accused chapter whenever necessary to promote the best interest of the accused chapter and the University. The Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life, or their designee, will notify the chapter president if such action is necessary.
Step 3: Resolving the Complaint
Informal Resolution Process
The informal resolution is a meeting with the Vice President of Judicial, the Chapter President and the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life, or their designee, to review all evidence and question the chapter president about the matter in order to determine the facts, and, if necessary, impose sanctions. A representative of the respective Council may be involved in the informal resolution meeting. An informal resolution implies that the parties will resolve the matter through discussion and agree upon an outcome. If an agreement is reached, the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life, or their designee, will confirm the informal resolution in writing and provide a copy to the Chapter President. The chapter may rescind its agreement within forty-eight (48) hours of receiving the decision in writing and the matter will then be referred to the Greek Judicial Board.
Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board
Sorority and Fraternity Chapter Review Board
A Chapter Review Board is an adminstrative hearing with representatives of the accused Chapter, the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life, student representatives from the Tri-Council, and, if possible, Cornell Staff representatives familiar with the Judicial process. The purpose of the meeting is to review the chapter’s history of misconduct, including any current allegations of misconduct, the overall health of the organization, and the organization’s ability to comply with University and Sorority and Fraternity policies. The goal of a Chapter Review Board is to determine the chapter’s status with the University and conditions for continued University Recognition.
Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board
Period for Appeal
All decisions of the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Process are effective immediately upon receipt by Chapter Representatives, unless a written notice of appeal is received within seventy-two (72) hours to the corresponding individual.
Basis for Appeal
Appeals must be based on one or more of the following:
- New evidence not reasonably available at the time of the original hearing, the absence of which can be shown to have had produced a fundamentally unfair result,
- Procedural error that can be shown to have produced a fundamentally unfair result,
- Errors in the interpretation of University policy so substantial as to deny either party a fair hearing,
- Grossly inappropriate sanction having no reasonable relationship to the charges.
Appeals of an Informal Resolution Process should be sent to the Director of Sorority and Fraternity life and if they met the basis for appeal, will be forwarded to the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board.
Appeals of the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board should be sent to the Director of Sorority and Fraternity life and if they met the basis for appeal, will be forwarded to the Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board.
Findings of fact will be accepted as determined by the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board unless the Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board determines that the Judicial Board acted in an arbitrary, capricious, or unfair manner. The Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board will make a decision based on the written submissions and arguments of the accused chapters and judicial board. The Appeals Board will notify the appropriate parties within ten (10) business days of the Board’s decision. Decisions of the Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board will be final when reviewed and confirmed by the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement or their designee.
Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board hearings are held in closed session. The accused chapter shall submit a written argument to the Appeals Board. The decision of the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial Board and all written materials considered in their decision shall also be submitted in writing to the Appeals Board. The accused chapter and Judicial Board will each be given 15 minutes for oral argument. The Chairperson of the Sorority and Fraternity Appeals Board shall forward the Board’s written decision, including rationale, to the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement within twenty-four (24) hours after the hearing. The Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement shall review all decisions and make any additional recommendations within ten (10) working days. Advisors, accused chapters, and the inter/national fraternity shall receive copies of the final decision.
Appeals of the Sorority and Fraternity Chapter Review Board should be sent to the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement and if they met the basis for appeal, will be forwarded to the Vice President for Student and Campus Life.
The Vice President of Student and Campus Life can apply the method of their choosing in making a final determination, including but not limited to hearing verbal arguments from involved parties, and/or sending the case back to the Sorority and Fraternity Chapter Review Board with direction for reconsideration.
Step 4: Sanctions
In instances of less serious deviations from the University norms of conduct, the chapter may be formally warned of the possible consequences of continuing such behavior. No other specific action is taken unless further misconduct occurs. A “Warning” will remain active in a chapter’s disciplinary file for one calendar year.
The primary goal of the Sorority and Fraternity Judicial system is educational in nature. The Sorority and Fraternity Informal Resolution Process, Judicial Board, Chapter Review Board, and respective Judicial Officers may design sanctions that are specific to an individual case when it is determined that educational or remedial value may result and the interests of the University community are maintained.
This status is applied as a result of a breach of specific social regulations. Its primary effect is to suspend a privilege related to the nature of the offense and/or restrict access to specific campus facilities or programs for a minimum of four (4) weeks.
This action is a formal admonition on behalf of the Sorority and Fraternity Community and is intended to clearly document in a chapter’s disciplinary file that its behavior has been deemed unacceptable.
This action constitutes a change in status between good standing and loss of chapter recognition. The chapter is permitted to retain recognition at the University, but under certain stated conditions depending upon the nature of the violation and upon the potential learning value that may derive from such a restrictive measure.
Loss of Recognition
The Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life and the Sorority and Fraternity Chapter Review Board always reserve the right to refer serious chapter misconduct to the Vice President for Student and Campus Life to review whether the chapter should be allowed to maintain its status as a recognized chapter. The board can recommend to the Executive Director of Campus & Community Engagement that a chapter lose recognition of their respective governing council, which is parallel to loss of university recognition as a chapter must be recognized by a council in order to be recognized by the university. Such determinations will be made pursuant to the Cornell University Recognition Policy for Sorority and Fraternities.
Step 5: Disciplinary Records
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life retains disciplinary files of all Judicial Procedures. Disciplinary files are confidential in nature but may be shared within the University with other faculty, staff, or administrators or their agents or representatives where such disclosure serves a legitimate educational purpose, as determined by the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life or their designee. Disciplinary files are maintained for ten (10) years from the issuance of a decision in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life.