Judicial Authority

Within the judicial system, there are a variety of individuals and groups who have responsibility for making decisions and resolving conflicts. Listed below are the decision-making bodies that have been given authority to serve within the system and a brief description of their roles.


A judicial coordinator is an agent of the college and of the Dean of Students who acts on behalf of the college and the Dean of Students in carrying out all judicial functions. The dean of students retains the right to appoint judicial coordinators from among the deans in the Division of Student Life and Services. The dean of students also retains the right to designate a member of her/his professional staff to serve in the absence of a judicial coordinator. While individuals of the college community are encouraged to bring complaints to the attention of a judicial coordinator, it is the responsibility of the judicial coordinators to:

a. Determine if the alleged behavior is an infraction of the code of conduct.

b. Determine if there is enough information to warrant charges.

c. Bring judicial charges against students on behalf of the college.


a. Interpreting policies and procedures within the judicial system, in light of precedent and past practices.

b. Training members of the Judicial and Community Boards.

c. Training residential education staff members who hear cases.

d. Maintaining judicial records and correspondence.

e. Investigating reports of misconduct, determining if the alleged behavior is an infraction of the code of conduct, determining if there is enough information to warrant bringing charges, and initiating charges on behalf of the college when appropriate.

f. Adjudicating alleged violations and determining appropriate sanctions only when 1) the violation does not warrant a sanction of suspension or dismissal, 2) adjudication by the judicial coordinator has been requested by the respondent, 3) the respondent admits responsibility, and 4) there is no fundamental disputation of facts.

g. Attending (without a vote) Judicial and Community Board hearings, deliberations and appeals, and speaking in such meetings upon the invitation of the chair.

h. Recommending that the Registrar withhold the degree of a graduating senior until the case has been heard and properly resolved.

i. Possessing the authority–along with the Dean of Students or the dean's designee–to impose a temporary stay–away, temporary housing relocation, or temporary suspension until a decision has been reached by the Judicial Board.

j. Meeting with the chair of the Judicial Board to approve the consistent format of the letter to the respondent and to advise when necessary.

k. Meeting every other year with members of the Judicial Board and Community Board to recommend changes to the judicial system and process. Changes to this document shall be approved by the Student Life Committee (SLC) and the General Faculty (GF).

l. Reporting a summary of all cases at the end of each semester to the Oberlin College community. These will be posted in the campus newspaper and on the Oberlin website. The summary will only include information about the charges and decisions of the boards. The summary will not contain confidential information, including the identity of the individuals.



a. Fifteen students will be appointed by the Student Senate to serve as members. Appointments will be made in the spring semester for the upcoming year and as vacancies arise. If fewer than five Judicial Board members will be on campus and available during the summer and winter term, the Student Senate will appoint interim members before the end of the preceding semester.

b. Members shall be appointed for a two-year term, and may be reappointed.


a. Board members shall complete a training program prior to being assigned to a case.

b. Board members shall not participate in a hearing if they believe there is a conflict of interest, or if they feel that their participation may give the perception of an unfair or biased hearing.

c. Board members shall hold all information in confidence. Failure to do so will constitute grounds for immediate removal and judicial action.



a. Nine faculty members (appointed by the regular process for establishing General Faculty Committees) and six students (appointed by Student Senate) shall constitute the Community Board. Two students and two faculty members, plus the chair, will constitute a panel. The board is authorized to review appeals of judicial cases upon request and will authorize Judicial Board sanctions at the level of suspension or above.

b. One of the three faculty members shall be appointed as chair prior to the hearing.

c. Should it become necessary, student members of the Community Board may be used for Judicial Board panels, and Judicial Board members may be used as student members of Community Board, as long as the membership of hearing and appeal panels for a single case does not overlap.


a. The Chair of the Community Board shall be a nonvoting member unless there is a tie.

b. The chair shall maintain good order, recognize who is to speak, move the process along, and preside over the meeting.


a. The Community Board will hear cases assigned to it by the judicial coordinator.

b. The Community Board reviews appeals of Judicial Board decisions and determines if a new hearing shall be granted. Additionally the Community Board may determine that the original sanction should be altered or set aside.

c. Judicial Board sanctions at the level of suspension or dismissal must be approved by the Community Board.

d. The Community Board will be the board of original jurisdiction for cases judged by the judicial coordinator to involve a) obstruction or disruption of the essential operations of the college or b) non-academic disputes between faculty members and students. In addition, a judicial coordinator may elect to assign Community Board as the board of original jurisdiction for cases that he or she believes could result in a sanction of suspension or dismissal. This assignment may be made for incidents that follow multiple previous violations of college policies; allegations of violent behavior; illegal behavior such as drug possession, use, or sales; arson; weapons possession; or other acts that pose a credible threat to the individual or the community. (Approved by General Faculty in February 21, 2007.)

e. Board members shall treat all information with confidentiality. Violations of confidentiality are regarded as a serious matter.


a. Under normal circumstances, the assistant and associate deans, designated resident directors, and graduate assistants are given the authority to adjudicate minor cases involving up to three low-level violations that occur in combination, as long as that combination of violations does not warrant a sanction of probation or higher. Low-level violations include, but are not limited to, first and second instances of roommate problems, excessive noise, possession of pets, or other low-level conflicts having a bearing on the quality of life in the residence halls.

b. Under normal circumstances, the assistant and associate deans, designated resident directors, and graduate assistants are given the authority to adjudicate intermediate level cases involving first time instances of:

  • Failure to evacuate a building in response to a fire alarm.
  • Smoking.
  • Use of candles or incense.
  • The possession or consumption of alcohol.

Authorized residential education staff members may adjudicate cases even when one of these four violations occurs in combination with up to three minor violations such as noise or guest policy violations as long as the combination of violations does not warrant a sanction of probation or higher. Note: Under normal circumstances, residential education staff members are authorized to hear such cases if the reported incident is the student's first involving a violation of college policy.

c. Under normal circumstances, the assistant and associate deans are given the authority to adjudicate intermediate level cases involving first instances of:

  • Intoxication.
  • Possession or use of an illegal substance.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia without residue.

If such violations occur in combination with each other, the case will be referred to the appropriate judicial coordinator in the Office of the Dean of Students. However, the assistant and associate deans are authorized to adjudicate cases if one of the three above violations occurs in combination with up to three minor policy violations.

d. Members of the residential education staff who are authorized to adjudicate the kinds of cases mentioned in section E. 4. c. above may impose sanctions that include verbal and written warnings, fines, community service, educational activities, and deferred probation.

e. The assistant and associate deans for residential education shall also have the authority to relocate a student (temporarily or permanently) to another hall or house or to remove a student (temporarily or permanently) from the residential system. Students have the right to request that their cases be heard by the Judicial Board or a judicial coordinator instead of a member of the residential education staff.

f. In extraordinary circumstances, the appropriate judicial coordinator in the Dean of Students Office may authorize an associate or assistant Dean, or a designated residential director or graduate assistant in the Office of Residential Education, to adjudicate a case that would ordinarily fall outside of his or her jurisdiction.

g. Sanctions imposed by the residential education staff may be appealed by scheduling an appointment with a judicial coordinator in the Office of the Dean of Students to arrange for a Judicial Board hearing.

h. Major or persistent violations shall be referred to a judicial coordinator. The judicial coordinator will communicate with the resident education staff members on a regular basis to discuss behavioral issues and to determine appropriate courses of action.