Resolving the Complaint

A. Informal Resolution

The informal resolution is a meeting with the chapter president and the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement to review all evidence and question the chapter president about the judicial matter in order to determine the facts, and, if necessary, impose sanctions.  The Multicultural Greek-letter Council (MGLC), Interfraternity Council (IFC), or Panhellenic Council (PA) Vice President for Judicial Affairs 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 Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement 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.

B.  Greek Judicial Board

1. There will be one student Greek Judicial Board designated for the Greek system.  Each of the governing councils (IFC, MGLC and PA) will select a pool of members from their community to serve on the Greek Judicial Board and to resolve cases of chapter misconduct. Because IFC has more chapters, the IFC should recruit at least six (6) men to serve on the Greek Judicial Board throughout the year.  The MGLC should recruit at least five (5) candidates and the PA at least five (5) candidates as well.  The Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement will assist the governing council Vice Presidents for Judicial Affairs in selecting Board members through application and review.

2. For each case referred to the Greek Judicial Board, a panel of five (5) board members and one Chair will be selected to hear the case from the pool of students recruited by each governing council.  The composition of the Board will vary depending upon the case at hand.  The Vice President of Judicial Affairs for the respective council will Chair the hearing, and three (3) members will be selected from the respective council’s pool of board members, and one (1) member from each of the remaining two councils will be selected.  For example, if an IFC chapter is accused of violating a policy, the case will be heard by a Board composed of the following: the IFC Judicial Chair, three members from the IFC pool of board members, and one member from the PA and MGLC pool of board members to comprise a panel of five (5) Greek Judicial Board members and one (1) Chair.

3. The Greek Judicial Board will meet weekly with the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement , where the Board will undergo training, review judicial activity, and resolve cases of chapter misconduct.

4. The Chair for the Board will rotate depending upon the case at hand.  The IFC, MGLC, PA Vice President of Judicial Affairs, hereafter referred to as “Judicial Chair”, will Chair hearings that involve an organization of their respective Council.  In the event that the Judicial Chair’s chapter is accused, a Judicial Chair from another council will preside over the hearing.

5. The Greek Judicial Board shall appoint a Recorder for the semester to take minutes for proceedings and to draft the Board’s written decision, which includes the findings of fact and rationale for the Board’s decision.  The Recorder is responsible for emailing this information to the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement within 48 hours for confirmation.  Once confirmed, The Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement will email the Board’s decision to the chapter president of the accused chapter within fifteen (15) days of a hearing and copy related parties (e.g. the chapter advisor, national headquarters, Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement, the complainant, and the Judicial Administrator).

6. Board members must be initiated, dues-paying members of their chapters for at least two semesters, and must be registered Cornell undergraduate students.  Members of a chapter that is under suspension from the Greek Judicial Board are ineligible. No more than two representatives for any one chapter shall serve as Board members at any given time.

7. In the event that a Board member ceases to be a registered student of Cornell University, ceases to be an initiated, undergraduate, dues paying member of their chapter, or if their chapter is placed on suspension, the member shall resign their Board position.  The Judicial Chair of the respective Council shall appoint qualified applicants in the event a vacancy arises.

8. The Greek Appeals Board is composed of six (6) members and advised by the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement.  The three Presidents of the Governing Councils (IFC, MGLC, PA) and three representatives from the appealing chapters governing council, which totals six (6) Appeals Board members.  The Chair shall be the council president of the appealing chapter’s respective council and will rotate depending upon the case at hand.  The Chair will appoint the Recorder.   The Recorder shall take minutes for proceedings, draft the Board’s findings, rationale, and prepare the written decision.  In addition, the Recorder is responsible for emailing the decision to the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement or his/her designee for confirmation of the Board’s decision.  The Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement Office will forward the decision, once confirmed, to the chapter president of the accused chapter within fifteen (15) days of a hearing.

C.  Hearing Process

1. The purpose of the hearing is to provide the opportunity for complainants and accused chapters to present all relevant testimony and evidence with regard to the alleged violations of Greek-related policies.  It is the responsibility of the hearing board to consider impartially all relevant testimony and evidence, determine the facts, and (if a violation is found) impose appropriate sanctions.  Decisions of the respective hearing boards are confirmed by the appropriate University officials, as outlined in Section V (Roles of Judicial Chairs and Administrators).

2. Judicial system hearings are administrative, rather than criminal or civil, in nature.  Rules of evidence and the criminal standard of proof do not apply.  The Board shall endeavor to evaluate all the relevant facts of a given case.

3.  The agenda for a typical hearing includes:

A. Introductions

B. Review of the judicial process.

C.  Explanation of the charges.

D. Presentation of evidence and testimony against the chapter by the Judicial Chair.

E. Presentation of evidence and testimony of witnesses on behalf of the accused and complainant.

F. The hearing board members may ask questions at any time subject to limitations of relevance, as determined by the Chairperson.  The parties may ask questions indirectly through the board Chairperson subject to reasonableness and relevance, as determined by the Chairperson.

G. Concluding statements by the spokespersons for the parties involved.

H. Deliberations in closed session by voting members.

I. Announcement of decision.

J. Confirmation of decision by the Associate Director or  Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement  (for Appeals).

4. The agenda may be modified at the discretion of the Chair.

5. During the questioning of witnesses, a person must be recognized by the  Chairperson before a question may be asked.  Normally, the Chairperson will permit committee members to ask their questions first.  The president of the fraternity or sorority charged with misconduct has the right to examine all evidence during the hearing, including all written documentation presented to the Board.

6. Greek judicial system hearings are confidential and closed to persons not directly related to the case.  The results of hearings are held confidential by the University, but may be shared within the University with other faculty, staff, students, or administrators or their agents or representatives, where such disclosure serves a legitimate educational purpose.  In addition, the results of hearings are subject to subpoena by appropriate civil and criminal court authorities.  The University reserves the right to correct any misinformation with regard to Greek judicial system actions that may be circulated in the media when the wellbeing of the community so requires.  The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, & Independent Living will publish data related to the activity of the Greek judicial system on a periodic basis without disclosure of names or other personal identifiers.  Given the public notoriety that is often associated with misconduct by Greek organizations, the University cannot and does not promise that such data will always preserve the anonymity of chapters or individuals involved.

7. Complainants, accused chapters, and the respective hearing boards, are the principal participants in the Greek judicial system proceedings.  All parties are expected to maintain the confidentiality of judicial system proceedings.

8. The Greek judicial system supports a self-governed student community, and as such is a student-centered judicial process.  Advisors, and attorneys when applicable, have no standing in the fraternity and sorority judicial system hearings, except to provide advice to their respective parties in a quiet manner.  Advisors, and attorneys when applicable, may not actively represent or speak for their respective parties, except at the request of the board Chairperson.

9. If a fraternity or sorority fails to appear at a hearing after being given proper written notice, the evidence in support of the charges shall be presented, considered, and the case adjudicated.

D. Witnesses

The Greek Judicial Board may request that fraternity or sorority members appear as witnesses.  A chapter’s members should normally be served with a notice to appear at least seventy-two (72) hours before the scheduled hearing.  This notice period, however, may be shortened if circumstances warrant.

Faculty/Staff members, students who are not members of a Greek-letter organization(s), and others may be requested to appear as witnesses at hearings. Although witnesses are not placed under oath during hearings, every witness is expected to speak the truth.  If the judicial board has reason to believe that any witness has provided false testimony, the Board may refer that individual to the Judicial Administrator. If the Board determines that any member of a Greek organization has provided false testimony, the Board may take action against the fraternity or sorority.

E. Standard of Proof and Decisions

Responsibility for the alleged violation must be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence”.  The strict rules of evidence do not apply and the Board shall endeavor to evaluate all of the relevant facts of a given case.  In all cases, the complainant shall have the burden of producing a sufficient quantity of evidence to sustain the complaint and shall have the burden of persuading the hearing panel that the evidence is sufficiently credible to justify a ruling in favor of the complainant.

A decision of the judicial board will be derived by members coming to consensus about a course of action and must be based upon evidence brought out during the hearing.   In the case that the judicial board cannot come to consensus, the Chairperson shall determine the outcome.

The Chairperson and Recorder will prepare findings of fact and written decision via a letter to the chapter and forward it to the OFSIL for the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement review and confirmation.  All parties will be notified in writing or by e-mail within fifteen (15) business days.  The written decision will contain a brief statement of the facts of the case, the sanctions imposed, and the notice of the right to appeal the decision in writing within forty-eight (48) hours after the decision is made available.

F.  Roles of Judicial Chairs, Recorders and Administrators

A. The responsibilities of the MGLC, IFC, and PA Judicial Chairs as they pertain to the judicial process are to: 

1. Assist the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement  in investigating reports of alleged misconduct.

2. Assist the Associate  Director of Campus and Community Engagement  in resolving complaints.

3. Suggest an informal resolution to the  Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement .

4. Present information to the Greek Judicial Board.  Make procedural rulings.

5. Be available for presenting information at Appeals Board hearings.

6. Coordinate Greek Judicial Board hearings and appeals, including mailing notices.

7. If the Chair’s chapter is involved in the incident, the judicial responsibilities, as they pertain to that case, shall be assumed by the president of the respective governing council.  If the President is also a member of a chapter that is involved in the incident, a Vice President of Judicial from one of the other two councils shall assume the judicial responsibilities related to the case.

8. Approve judicial board Minutes.

B. The role of the Recorder:

1. Keep pertinent notes during the hearing and prepare a written decision regarding the Board’s findings of fact, the outcome of the hearing , and the rationale for the decision.

2. Forward the written decision to the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement within forty-eight hours following the hearing.

C. The role of the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement and his/her designee are to:

1. Inform all fraternities and sororities of relevant Greek policies, University regulations and expectations, and applicable local, state, and federal laws.

2. Determine whether a case is to be resolved informally via an administrative meeting or whether it is to be referred to the Greek Judicial Board.

3. Investigate all complaints regarding fraternities and sororities.

4. Train, assist and advise the Judicial Chairs in the performance of their responsibilities and confirm decisions offered by the judicial board. No Greek judicial process, including hearings, may be conducted without the knowledge, and if necessary, presence of the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement or his/her designee.

5. The Chair of the Judicial Board will consult with the Associate Director of Campus and Community Engagement or  his/her designee regarding the judicial board’s decision.  In the event that the chapter has rescinded agreement to an informal resolution or appeals the board’s decision, the matter will be referred to the Greek Judicial Board, and the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement or his/her designee shall consult with the Board regarding their decision.

6.  Advise all chapters regarding the judicial process.

7. Serve as advisor to the Greek Judicial Board and Appeals Board.

8. Maintain appropriate records in the Office of Fraternities, Sororities, & Independent Living.

9. Prepare reports as needed by the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement and/or the Vice President for Student and Campus Life.

10. Assist in dealing with a fraternity or sorority complaints, including the Cornell Police, Campus Life, the Office of the Judicial Administrator, and the Vice President for Student and Campus Life.  Refer matters of individual behavior to the University Judicial Administrator. 

D. The role of the Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement and the Vice President for Student and Campus Life or his/her designee are outlined below:

1. The Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement or his/her designee will review and confirm decisions of the Appeals Board.

2. In the event that a case is referred to the Greek Judicial Board because a chapter rescinds their agreement to an informal resolution, the  Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement or his/her designee will review and confirm decisions offered by the judicial board.

3. The  Executive Director of Campus and Community Engagement  and the Vice President for Student and Campus Life reserve the right to be involved in a judicial matter in the event that a serious violation of one or more of the Greek policies has occurred, where a possible outcome of the judicial process may be to remove the chapter’s recognition at Cornell University.