How To Directory

Section 13 of the SUSU model constitution covers disciplinary action against members  – this guide is explain what the section means and give more detail about how committees should proceed. 

When should Section 13 be used? 

If committees are made aware of incidents or behaviour involving their members which might be covered by 13 (1), they need to investigate and potentially proceed to disciplinary action as outlined in 13 (2) to 13 (6). Committees may be aware of such incidents or behaviour either through witnessing it directly or through a complaint being raised with them; complaints may be raised by other members or by SUSU or the University. 

What sort of complaint is covered? 

Any complaint where the incident or behaviour can be directly linked to club or society activities. Other disciplinary processes should be used if the incident or behaviour has no direct link to club or society activities, including the central SUSU Disciplinary Procedure and the University’s Student Non Academic Misconduct Regulations. If the committee is unsure which applies, they should speak to the Activities team at SUSU for guidance (activities@susu.org). 

 

Overarching principles 

Confidentiality is essential. The committee must not discuss any disciplinary process more widely at any stage, including once it is complete.  

Natural justice must be respected at all times. This means that the student who is the subject of a complaint/disciplinary action must be presented with all available evidence and given the chance to answer all accusations.  

Fairness – any committee member taking part in an investigation or disciplinary action must not be directly involved in the incident or behaviour and must have no conflict of interest (eg being a housemate/partner of anyone involved). 

 

Support 

A disciplinary investigation and hearing can be difficult for everyone involved and it is important to make everyone aware of the support available. The Activities team at SUSU are available to provide advice and support to all involved in the process; the Advice Centre is there for practical help and support if there are any effects on the studies or housing of students involved and the University’s Wellbeing Service is available for general support with students’ mental health and wellbeing. 

 

Process to follow if a complaint is received/raised 

  • Unless the complaint is about the President, it should immediately be passed to the President to deal with. If the complaint is about the President, it should be passed to the Vice President (or suitable Committee Member) to deal with. At this - and all – stages, the minimum number of people should be informed in order to preserve confidentiality. So unless someone needs to know about the complaint, they should not be told (an example of this would be if Student A had complained about the behaviour of Student B towards them on a social, the Social Sec might need to be informed if there are other imminent socials planned). 
  • Consider if the complaint is appropriate for the committee to deal with – does it relate to an incident or behaviour linked to club or society activities? If there is any doubt, speak to the Activities team at SUSU. 
  • The President should appoint a Committee Member to investigate the complaint. (Ideally this will not be the President themselves as they should chair any disciplinary hearing but in the case of a small committee this may be unavoidable). 
  • The Investigating Committee Member should then start by speaking to the student who has submitted the complaint to clarify the details and ask any follow up questions. If the student refers to other students as potential witnesses, the Investigating Committee Member should also contact them to see if they are prepared to give a statement. In the case of both the student who raises the complaint and any witnesses, the Investigating Committee Member must obtain permission to share their evidence should the outcome be a disciplinary hearing. (Only in very exceptional circumstances can the evidence be submitted anonymously). 
  • Once the investigation is complete, the Investigating Committee Member should recommend whether there should be a) no further action or b) a disciplinary hearing to the President.  
  • The President should then speak to SUSU (Activities team and VP Activities/Sport) to confirm everything is in order and that the correct procedure has been followed. 
  • The President must then contact the student who is the subject of the complaint, explain that a complaint has been received and investigated, and that they have the choice of a disciplinary hearing with the committee or with all members (our strong recommendation is that the committee is a better option for all). Full details of the investigation report should be included and the student should be given a deadline to respond. If no response is received, the hearing will go ahead in the student’s absence. 
  • If the disciplinary hearing is to consist of the committee, the President will brief them and ensure they understand they must be fair and balanced and that they are aware of the possible outcomes as listed in the constitution (although NB that list is not exhaustive). 
  • If the hearing is to be via an EGM, the President must ensure all members understand the need to be fair and balanced. The hearing should proceed the same way as a committee hearing, except that all members present can ask questions and all members present shall be able to vote on the final outcome (be secret ballot).  
  • At the hearing, which will be chaired by the President, the Investigating Committee Member should summarise the allegations and evidence and allow the ‘accused’ student to respond. The committee/members may ask questions of both the Investigating Committee Member and the ‘accused’ student.  
  • The Investigating Committee Member and ‘accused’ student will then leave the hearing, and the committee/members will deliberate and reach a decision. This decision should then be communicated to the student with a deadline to appeal. 
  • If no appeal is received by the deadline, that is the end of the process. Confidentiality must still be maintained at all times. 
  • If they wish to appeal, the student should contact representation@susu.org who will arrange for the appeal to be considered by the SUSU Discipline Committee.