Student Groups: Complaints and DIsciplinary Procedures
All affiliated groups of SBSU and its members have a duty to uphold positive behaviours and operate in a manner which is compliant.
Committee members and nominated student group activity leaders hold responsibility for ensuring their operations and actions of their members comply with the:
relevant codes of conduct for members
Union’s Articles of Association and bye-laws
all policies and processes which relate to a groups activity (the majority of which are accessible of the southbank.su committee hub)
A student group committee could fall short of meeting their obligations if:
an individual member (or groups of members) of their student group breaches the member code of conduct
the committee members (or some of the committee members) breach the terms of affiliation, student group code of conduct or the relevant policies and processes relating to student group activity.
DEALING WITH BREACHES OF STUDENT GROUP OBLIGATIONS
These situations might come about because of notification or complaint by a student; a member of the student group, a member of Union or University staff or a member of public or associated external party.
If a committee member or nominated activity leader is alerted to a breach or potential breach, they must alert the President and the Student Opportunities team without delay. If the matter is a significant breach, or has a legal, health & safety or safeguarding implication they must alert one of the Union’s Senior Management Team immediately who will take the appropriate action to manage any immediate risk.
What to expect when a breach occurs
A representative from the Union’s management team will call a meeting with the President and Vice-President of the Student Group, usually within 10 working days of the matter being raised.
The Union representative will notify the committee members of the potential breach at this meeting and seek any further information necessary to decide what action should be taken. They will also discuss the specific obligations which may have been breached and explain what risk this presents.
Following this the Union representative may decide to:
Take no further action
Give the committee 10 working days to rectify the situation
Issue an informal warning to the student group which will remain on record with the Union for a period of 6 months.
Refer the individual or individuals (including committee members) to the appropriate disciplinary/complaints process as set out in the Bye-laws
In some cases the student group (rather than individuals) may be referred to the student groups disciplinary process which could result in the student group being subject to sanctions.
This is most likely to occur when the breach :
causes significant risk to the Union’s finances or operations
causes a significant risk to the Union or University’s reputation
causes harm or a significant risk to others
is not in line with the Union’s values and/or does not promote an inclusive culture.
involves actions, or lack of action by committee members;
was known by the committee or its members and not acted on (or notified appropriately);
expressly encouraged or permitted by the committee or its members.
DISCIPLINARY PROCESS FOR STUDENT GROUPS
Notification of a hearing
The Union representative who made the referral to the student group disciplinary process will notify the Vice President of Activities who will arrange for a disciplinary panel to meet within 10 working days. The date and the time of the hearing will be notified to the President and the Vice-President of the student group via their southbank.su email account and their lsbu email account.
A disciplinary hearing is made up of the following members;
Vice President Activities
Student Opportunities Manager or a nominee of the Management team.
A member of the Union’s Senior Management Team
The VP Activities will determine who will act as chair of the panel.
Attendance at a hearing
The notification will include which members of the committee are required to attend and will give the attendees a selection of dates and times to ensure attendance. In the event that not all of the requested attendees can make a mutual date and time, the hearing can take place as long as the President and one other committee member is in attendance.
A disciplinary hearing is an important meeting and the outcome could have a significant impact on how you support your members so every effort must be made to prioritise attendance, however, in the event that you can not attend any of the dates/times given you should let the VP Activities know within 3 days of the notification and they will attempt to find new dates for the meeting. If no mutual date and time can be agreed, or if the committee members do not attend, the decision may be taken to hold the hearing despite their absence.
A member of the SBSU staff team will attend the hearing to take notes.
No other person, outside of those specified as a required attendee can attend the hearing on the student group’s behalf.
Preparing for a hearing
Relevant paperwork, such as a copy of the Union representatives investigation or fact-finding notes and supporting evidence; will be issued to the people involved at least 5 days prior to the hearing taking place.
Any relevant witnesses will be invited to attend by the Union representative. if they are unable to attend, their written statement will be read out.
The student group will have the opportunity to call witnesses to the hearing and must notify the VP Activities of their names no later than 1 working day before the hearing.
What happens at a hearing
The Union representatives making the referral will present the case to the panel. This will include details of the original allegation; any statements which have been made; names of witnesses who have made statements and the reasons why it has been referred to the disciplinary process.
The panel will have the opportunity to ask questions to any witnesses. After all witnesses have been interviewed, the Union representative will leave the meeting.
The President of the student group will then appear before the panel. They will respond to the allegations and state any witnesses that will be called if deemed appropriate by the panel.
The panel will have the opportunity to ask questions to any witnesses. At this point, once all witnesses have been interviewed, the student group representatives will leave the meeting.
The panel will then consider the evidence and make a decision.
Outcome of the hearing
After the meeting, the chair of the panel will write to the President of the student group in question, to let them know the panel’s decision along with details of appeal, and will usually do this within 5 working days.
The panel can take one of the following outcomes following the hearing;
No action to be taken
Request a written apology from the committee members
Issue a formal verbal warning regarding their conduct, which will stay on record for the student group for a period of 12 months.
Issue a final written warning regarding their conduct, which will stay on record for the student group file for a period of 12 months.
To suspend or dismiss a member or members of the student group committee
To suspend the student group’s activity, or specific types of activity for a specific period.
To exclude the student group from specific Union events or activities.
A fine from membership funds of up to £100.
To dissolve or disaffiliate the student group
To refer the matter and individuals involved to SBSU’s wider disciplinary procedures
To refer the matter and individuals involved to the university’s student disciplinary procedures.
Any other sanction which may be deemed reasonable under the specific circumstances
The Student Activities manager will be responsible for implementing any sanctions.
Where the Student group committee is not satisfied with the decision of the disciplinary panel, they may appeal the decision for one of the following reasons;
There has been a clear procedural error relating to the original hearing which could reasonably impacted the outcome
There has been subsequent and substantial new evidence that the original panel were unaware of when making their decision
To start an appeal, the President of the Student Group must notify the SU President within 10 working days of being notified of the original outcome that they wish to appeal and which of the reasons above they are using as their basis for appeal. They must submit any supporting paperwork to be considered at their appeal.
The appeal panel will be made up of the following members
Procedure of Appeals Panel
The President will arrange a date and time for the appeal panel to meet within 10 working days of the appeal being received.
The panel will first decide whether the appeal meets one of the grounds listed above by reviewing the appeal request and additional supporting paperwork.
If the appeal is granted, the panel will then review the original documentation and minutes of the original hearing (as well as the additional paperwork).
Outcome of the Appeal
The panel can take the following actions based on the evidence they have received
Modify the original sanction imposed by the disciplinary if they feel that it is either too lenient or severe
Dismiss the original allegation against the Student group and remove any sanctions that were imposed.
Uphold the original decision that has been made by the disciplinary hearing.
Any additional powers as stated within the Union’s Constitution and governing documents
The President of the Students’ Union shall inform the President of the student group of the decision of the Appeals panel within 5 working days of the hearing.
There shall be no appeal available to the student group from the decision of the Appeals panel and all decisions made by the appeals panel are final.