Section 1: Scope and Administration
New England Conservatory is dedicated to fostering a community that is built on mutual respect and the correlation of rights and responsibilities. In order to fulfill this purpose, a Disciplinary Code is necessary. The Code reflects the values of our community. It also defines clear behavioral expectations that help to ensure an orderly educational environment and encourage free inquiry and expression. However, it is important to bear in mind that a Disciplinary Code is normally framed in negative terms—that is, it describes behaviors that are not acceptable. As such, it can only be taken to embody minimum standards of behavior. The Conservatory encourages all students to embrace a commitment to ethical behavior that is positive, open-ended, and reflects and supports our mission.
The Code also outlines the process for addressing reported violations of the Conservatory rules and regulations. This process is rooted in the fundamental concepts of fairness to, and respect for, each person who participates in it. The goal is to provide a forum for the unbiased pursuit of truth in matters of dispute, and for the creative resolutions of conflicts. Situations in which one or more students have violated the rights of others will involve the application of sanctions. The point of a sanction is not simply deterrence and punishment, but rather the protection of the community and its values. The Disciplinary Code is a resource created by this community, to assist in maintaining a social environment where all our members can flourish, and grow intellectually.
Violation of Law and Conservatory Discipline
The Conservatory does not protect students from the consequences of violating federal, state or local laws, and public authorities may act independently to investigate and prosecute such violations. Students charged with legal violations committed on- or off-campus will also be subject to NEC disciplinary proceedings. If the Dean of Students determines that the student is a potential threat to the safety or security of individuals, he or she may suspend the student without prejudice to his or her record until the conclusion of the court case.
Section 2: Definitions
- The term “Conservatory” means New England Conservatory.
- The term “student” includes all persons taking courses or lessons, for credit or not for credit, at the Conservatory, either full-time, part-time, pursuing undergraduate or graduate degree or diploma programs, or enrolled in any other program. This Disciplinary Code applies to all locations of the Conservatory including programs or activities sponsored off-campus or abroad. The term “student” does not apply to those enrolled only in the Preparatory School or School of Continuing Education.
- The term “faculty member” means any person employed by the Conservatory to conduct classroom, studio, teaching, or other music activities, or who is otherwise considered by the Conservatory to be a member of its faculty.
- The term “Conservatory Official” means any person employed by the Conservatory performing assigned administrative or professional responsibilities.
- The term “member of the Conservatory community” means any person who is a student, faculty member, Conservatory official or any other person employed by the Conservatory. A person’s status in a particular situation shall be determined by the Dean of Students.
- The term “Conservatory premises” means all land, buildings, facilities or other property in the possession of or owned, used or controlled by the Conservatory as well as any land, buildings, facilities or other property off-campus contracted for use for NEC related events or activities.
- The term “Student Disciplinary Committee” means those persons who have been authorized by the Dean of Students to determine whether or not a student has violated specific Conservatory regulations, as accused, and to recommend sanctions that may be imposed when a violation has been committed. The Dean of Students, or his/her designee, will be responsible for assigning a Chair to each Student Disciplinary Committee that is determining specific allegations of violations by a Respondent. The Chair has the authority to convene the Student Discipline Committee, consisting of faculty, staff, and student representative(s).
- The term “Student Conduct Administrator” means a Conservatory official or group authorized to impose sanctions upon any student(s) found to have violated the Disciplinary Code.
- The term “Appeal Authority” means any person or persons authorized by the Provost and Dean of the College and the Dean of Students to consider an appeal from a decision by a Student Disciplinary Committee or Student Conduct Administrator.
- The term “Appellate Committee” means a group of persons authorized by the Provost and Dean of the College and the Dean of Students-- consisting of the Provost and Dean of the College, Dean of Students, and one non-studio faculty member--to consider an appeal from a decision by a Student Disciplinary Committee.
- The term “shall” is used in the imperative sense.
- The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.
- The Dean of Students is the person designated by the Provost and Dean of the College to be responsible for the administration of the Disciplinary Code.
- The term “policy” means the written regulations of the Conservatory as found in, but not limited to, the Disciplinary Code, Student Handbook, Residence Hall Agreements, Conservatory policies on the NEC website, and the Academic Catalog.
- The term “cheating” includes, but is not limited to:
- use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations;
- use of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments (this includes, but is not limited to, sites such as CourseHero.com or WriteMyPapers.org);
- the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the Conservatory’s faculty or staff;
- engaging in any behavior specifically prohibited by a faculty member in the course syllabus or class discussion.
- The term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling or providing of term papers or other academic materials (see Academic Integrity Policy).
- The term “Complainant” means any person who submits a report alleging that a student violated a Conservatory rule or regulation.
- The term “Respondent” means any student accused of violating a Conservatory rule or regulation.
- The term “Advisor” shall refer to any person that a complainant or respondent selects to provide assistance and support during the adjudication of a matter, at any administrative level in the Review process.
- The term “notification” shall mean providing notice via a student’s Conservatory assigned email account.
- The term “day” refers to academic days or days when the Conservatory is in normal session for the fall or spring semesters. The only exception to this definition is the Appeal Process. For purposes of that section of the Disciplinary process, “day” refers to calendar days.
- Preponderance of Evidence: The standard of proof used to determine, if, based on the information gathered in the matter, it is more likely than not that the Respondent violated the Disciplinary Code
Section 3: Rules and Regulations
The following conduct may subject a student to disciplinary action:
- Any violation of Conservatory rules, regulations, or policies as found in, but no limited to, the Disciplinary Code, Student Handbook, Residence Hall Agreements, Conservatory policies on the NEC website, and the Academic Catalog.
- Physical abuse—any physical act that threatens, intimidates, harasses, or coerces any person, and/or other conduct which threatens or endangers the health and safety of any person.
- Verbal abuse—any use of words or sounds that threaten, intimidate, harass, incite violence, or coerce any person, and/or other verbal conduct which threatens the health or safety of any person, including, but not limited to, oral, written, and electronic communication.
- Any act of academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, or knowingly furnishing false information. (see Academic Integrity)
- Any violation of Residence Hall rules and regulations. (see Residence Hall Policies)
- Attempted or actual theft of property of the Conservatory or property of a member of the Conservatory community or other personal or public property, on- or off-campus.
- Vandalism and/or damage to property of the Conservatory or property of a member of the Conservatory community or other personal or public property, on- or off-campus.
- Intentional setting of a fire. Actions that create a fire hazard. Misuse or abuse of fire safety equipment, including the setting of false alarms, the misuse of emergency exits, the wrongful discharge of fire extinguishers, or tampering with alarm and/or smoke alarms. Included in this is failure to immediately evacuate a building or area upon the sounding of an alarm. (see Fire and Fire Alarm policy)
- Any violation of the Guest Policy.
- Use, possession, manufacturing, or distribution of alcohol beverages (except as expressly permitted by Conservatory regulations), or public intoxication. Alcoholic beverages may not, in any circumstance, be used by, possessed or distributed to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age. (see Alcohol and Other Drug Policy)
- Use, possession, manufacturing, or distribution of marijuana, heroin, narcotics, or other controlled substances (i.e. prescription drugs) in violation of local, state, or federal laws. This includes the possession of paraphernalia associated with controlled substances. Paraphernalia includes but is not limited to bongs, hookahs, rolling papers, etc. Although Massachusetts law permits the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana, federal laws prohibit the use, possession, and/or cultivation of marijuana at educational institutions. Federal law also requires any institution of higher education which receives federal funding to have policies prohibiting the use and possession of marijuana on campus. The use, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes is there for not allowed in the Residence Hall or any other Conservatory property. (see Alcohol and Other Drug Policy and Medical Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana policy)
- Smoking on any Conservatory grounds. NEC is a smoke-free campus and environment. (see Smoking policy).
- Any act of discrimination against another student, teacher, administrator, or Conservatory employee on the basis of race or ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
- Any conduct that constitutes a crime under law, whether occu‑rring on- or off-campus.
- Any violation of the Dangerous Weapons Policy.
- Any violation of the Conservatory’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual- or Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment and/or Massachusetts state law related to sexual misconduct. (see Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual- or Gender-Based Discrimination and Harassment)
- Lying to or bribing a Conservatory official, including faculty, staff, security guards, and students at the Conservatory.
- Misuse of any Conservatory equipment, including instruments from the Instrument Library, Residence Hall furnishings, computer terminals, library materials, audio/visual equipment, etc., in a manner that violates the law or the property rights of the Conservatory and/or others.
- Unauthorized use of electronics or other devices to make and/or publish an audio or video record of any person without his/her prior knowledge, or without his/her effective consent when such a recording is likely to cause injury or distress.
- Failure to display an appropriate NEC ID to staff, faculty, staff, or security guards.
- Unauthorized use, possession, duplication or use of keys or ID cards to any Conservatory premises, facility, or service.
- Disruption or obstruction of academic, musical, or cultural activities at NEC; examples include cell phone interruptions in class, rehearsals, or lessons; excessive noise; or the use of other electronic or mechanical devices that are distracting in a classroom environment.
- Hazing, defined as an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of an individual, or which destroys or moves public of private property, regardless of intent, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group or organization. The express or implied consent of the victim does not waive responsibility for any participant. Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts, they are violations of the Code. (see Hazing Policy)
- Any act of inappropriate access to employment, financial, academic, or other records regarding one’s self or others at NEC, whether as a result of “hacking” or direct access, including efforts to alter one’s own billing charges, library fines, or other obligations to the Conservatory.
- Misrepresentation. This includes, but is not limited to, misuse of purchasing authority, accepting unearned funds, and submitting false time sheets.
- Unauthorized use of the name, logo, or seal of New England Conservatory by individuals or groups, or misrepresentation by individuals or groups as authorized spokespersons on behalf of New England Conservatory or any of its offices, departments, or students.
- Display on or within public areas of NEC property of any literature, films, pictures, images, advertisements, flyers, websites, or other materials that an average person applying contemporary community standards would find, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interests, depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Section 4: Review and Hearing Procedures
Any member of the NEC community may report a violation of the Disciplinary Code to the Dean of Students, who may initiate disciplinary action when he/she has reason to believe a student has violated that code. The report should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place to maximize the ability to respond promptly and effectively. In order to permit the expeditious handling of cases involving minor judicial violations or matters that might be resolved through mediation, the Dean of Students may delegate responsibilities for mediation or adjudication to Residential Life or other Student Services administrators.
Internal Investigations and Procedures
Once the Dean of Students receives a report, he/she may proceed with an informal inquiry into an alleged violation of the Disciplinary Code to try to determine if such a violation has occurred, or to attempt to resolve the matter.
The inquiry may include any student, faculty, or staff deemed appropriate by the Dean of Students. As part of this inquiry, he/she may:
- Determine that no further disciplinary hearing is required and so resolve the issue.
- Drop the case if he/she determines that there is insufficient evidence of any alleged violation.
- Refer the case to a different Student Conduct Administrator.
- Accept an accused student’s petition, admitting to a Disciplinary Code violation and agreeing to sanctions determined by the Dean of Students.
- Hold the case for a reasonable time (up to four weeks) while seeking more information.
- Refer the case to the Student Disciplinary Committee for a formal hearing.
In extreme cases in which the Dean of Students determines that there is an imminent risk to the safety of community members or the ongoing functions of NEC and its community, the Dean of Students may suspend or otherwise restrict NEC access for the accused student without prejudice to his or her record until the conclusion of the disciplinary proceeding.
All meetings and hearings associated with any conduct matter will be scheduled to avoid conflict with a Respondent or Complainant’s enrolled academic class schedule. This is the only reason that a meeting or hearing may be rescheduled.
Student Disciplinary Committee
The Dean of Students has the authority to convene the Student Disciplinary Committee. The committee consists of the Associate Dean of Students or the Assistant Dean of Campus Life (chair, non-voting), faculty, staff, and student representative(s). A Respondent may challenge any Committee member for cause, which might include such matters as personal involvement, prior bias, or conflict of interest. Challenges for cause must be stated in writing and submitted to the Student Disciplinary Committee Chair no later than 48 hours after the official notice (see below). A simple majority constitutes a Committee quorum. Student Discipline Committee hearings are closed to the public; only the Committee members, the complainant(s), witnesses, the respondent(s), and their advisor(s) (one per student) are permitted to attend. In conducting its sessions, the Student Discipline Committee will follow these provisions:
a. Notice: student(s) will receive written notice of the hearing at least five academic days before the date of that session, unless the Student Disciplinary Committee Chair determines that circumstances warrant a hearing on shorter notice.
b. Advisors: student(s) may ask for an advisor from within the NEC community to help in preparing a response to the charges or in appearing at any hearing. Advisors are not permitted to address the committee during the hearing. Attorneys are not permitted, unless related criminal charges are pending in the courts, in which case the student’s attorney may be present but may not participate. In addition, any person bringing charges to the Committee may seek the assistance of any member of the Conservatory community.
c. Evidence, Testimony, Witnesses: student(s) have the right to present relevant evidence, testimony, and witnesses; to know the nature and source of any evidence or testimony; and to question any such testimony. The Conservatory expects all participants to respect the confidentiality of its proceedings.
d. Committee Procedures: the Student Disciplinary Committee considers evidence, listens to witnesses, and interprets the disciplinary code. It reaches decisions by a majority vote.
e. Decision: the Student Disciplinary Committee’s determination shall be made on the basis of preponderance of the evidence - whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent(s) violated a Conservatory rule or regulation. The Respondent(s) will receive the Committee’s decision in writing within five (5) academic days of the completion of the hearing, unless specific circumstances preclude a decision within that time. In the case of violations involving physical violence or threats, notice of findings and sanctions will be received by the Complainant as well. This decision may include any sanction the Committee considers appropriate, including but not limited to: warning, official reprimand, disciplinary probation, suspension, expulsion from the Residence Hall, or expulsion from the Conservatory. This decision will also be sent to the Respondent’s studio professor and department chair. (see Sanctions)
f. Appeals: parties who wish to appeal the decision of the Disciplinary Committee must follow the procedures outlined in the Appeal Process.
The Committee may accommodate concerns for the personal safety, well-being, and/or fears of confrontation of the Complainant, Respondent, and/or other witnesses during the hearing by providing separate facilities, by using a visual screen, and/or by permitting participation by telephone, videophone, closed circuit television, video conferencing, videotape, audio tape, written statement, or other means, where and as determined in the sole judgment of the Student Disciplinary Committee Chair, to be appropriate. Such means may also be used in rare circumstances when the Complainant, Respondent, and/or other witnesses are unable to be physically present at the hearing.
If a Respondent, with notice, does not appear before the Student Disciplinary Committee or meet with the designated Student Conduct Administrator as requested, the information in support of the charges shall be presented and considered even if the Respondent is not present. The Student Disciplinary Committee/Student Conduct Administrator will make a decision about responsibility for alleged violation(s) and sanction(s) based upon the information received. Cases decided in absentia may not be appealed.
Section 5: Sanctions
The Conservatory has a range of sanctions of graduated severity to deal with infractions of varying seriousness. Insofar as possible, sanctions should “fit” the offense in a common-sense manner. The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated a Conservatory rule or regulation. Prior violation(s) of the NEC policy will always be considered as aggravating circumstance(s) that could potentially increase sanction(s) for a current policy violation. The number of prior cases and the egregiousness of those past violations will be carefully considered, and prior violations for similar offenses will be viewed as particularly exacerbating. To determine the sanction or combination of sanctions, the following are considered:
- The severity of the violation
- The Respondent’s previous record of relevant disciplinary sanction(s)policy violations and sanctions, if any
- The effect of the Respondent’s misconduct upon the Conservatory community and/or individual community members
- Consistency with previously issued sanction(s) for similar misconduct
- Verbal Warning—A verbal notice to the student that the student is violating or has violated a Conservatory rule or regulation.
- Written Warning—A written notice to the student that the student is violating or has violated a Conservatory rule or regulation.
- Loss of Privileges— Privileges within the Conservatory community may be restricted or revoked for a specific period of time.
- Fines— A dollar amount required to be paid to the Conservatory, appropriate to the level of violation.
- Restitution—Compensation for loss, damage, or injury. This may take the form of appropriate service and/or monetary or material replacement.
- Educational/Discretionary Sanctions – Sanctions intended to contribute to the education of the student, the Conservatory community and/or to be a form of social restitution. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Developmental exercises – requirement to attend, plan and/or participate in a program, workshop or other appropriate activity.
- Conservatory-mandated service – service assignment for a number of hours or the equivalent that is appropriate to the violation.
- Educational class – attendance at a class or workshop appropriate to the violation such as an Alcohol/Drug Education class.
- Administrative Reassignment of Housing – A temporary or permanent relocation of a person’s housing assignment in the Residence Hall.
- Residence Hall Suspension—Separation of the student from the Residence Hall for a specified period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified.
- Residence Hall Expulsion—Permanent separation of the student from the Residence Hall.
- Disciplinary Probation-a defined period during which additional violations of the Conservatory rules and regulations may lead to further disciplinary action as determined by the Student Conduct Administrator.
- Suspension—Separation of the student from the Conservatory for a specified period of time, after which the student is eligible to return. Conditions for readmission may be specified.
- Expulsion—Permanent separation of the student from the Conservatory without opportunity for readmission.
- Revocation of Admission and/or Degree—Admission to or a degree awarded from the Conservatory may be revoked for fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of any Conservatory rule or regulation in obtaining the degree, or for other serious violations committed by a student prior to the actual start of classes or graduation.
- Withholding Degree—The Conservatory may withhold the awarding of a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the process set forth in Disciplinary Code Review process, including the completion of all sanctions imposed, if any, at its sole discretion.
Section 6: Appeal Process
Disciplinary Committee Cases
A decision reached by the Student Disciplinary Committee may be appealed by the Respondent. For cases involving violations of physical violence or threats, the Complainant may also submit an appeal in support or disagreement with the original decision and/or sanction(s) imposed by the committee.
- A written appeal which shall not exceed 1,500 words or 3 pages (appeals that exceed the 1,500 word count will not be considered)
- If the appeal is to express disagreement with the original decision and/or sanction, it must be based upon one or more of the following grounds for appeal:
- There was a significant procedural error by the Student Disciplinary Committee.
- There was new information to be considered sufficient to alter a decision not brought out in the original hearing because such information and/or facts were not reasonably available at the time of the hearing.
- Appeals submitted by third parties, including legal representation, will not be considered.
Steps for Appeal:
- Written appeals must be filed with the Disciplinary Committee Chair within five (5) calendar days of notification of the decision. This is the only period for appeal. Should one party decide to appeal and the other does not, the party not appealing does not receive a new five (5) day period.
- The Disciplinary Committee Chair will have two (2) academic days to determine the validity of the appeal based on the grounds listed in the Appeal Requirements.
- If the Disciplinary Committee Chair determines the appeal is not valid based on the grounds listed in the Appeal Requirements, the original sanctions of the Disciplinary Committee remains with no further option to appeal.
- If the Disciplinary Committee Chair determines the appeal is valid, the appeal will be forwarded to the Appellate Committee (consisting of the Provost and Dean of the College, the Dean of Students, and a non-studio faculty member).
- The sanction(s) imposed as a result of the original hearing shall be in effect until such a time as an appeal is granted and the sanction(s) is charged. Any exception to this shall only be made at the discretion of the Dean of Students.
- An appeal shall be limited to a review of the approved supporting documents from the hearing or review, along with the written appeal.
- The Appellate Committee has ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the appeal from the Disciplinary Committee Chair to make a decision. The Appellate Committee may reduce the severity of the sanction, increase the severity of the sanction, or sustain the original sanction. When circumstances warrant, as determined by the Appellate Committee, the case may be referred to a new Student Disciplinary Committee for additional proceedings.
- The Respondent will then be notified of the Committee’s decision by the Dean of Students. For cases involving violations of physical violence or threats, notice of the outcome will be provided to the Complainant as well.
- The decision of the Appellate Committee is final.
Other Administrationally Proposed Sanctions
- Any sanctions given by a single Student Conduct Administrator (without a Student Disciplinary Committee hearing) may also be appealed by either the Respondent or the Complainant and must be filed in within five (5) calendar days of notification of the decision. Such appeals shall be in writing and shall be delivered to the appropriate Appeal Authority outlined in the outcome letter. Appeals submitted by third parties, including legal representation, will not be considered.
- The appeal shall not exceed 1,500 words or 3 pages. Appeals which exceed 1,500 words will not be considered.
The Appeal Authority may reduce the severity of the sanction, increase the severity of the sanction, sustain the original sanction, or refer the case to the Student Disciplinary Committee. The appeal decision is final.