Character References

During a judicial board hearing, a charged student may present information from one character reference prior to the hearing panel’s deliberations. A character reference must be a current Lynchburg College student, faculty member, or staff member. Because a character reference does not have first-hand knowledge of the reported incident (as does a witness), he/she may not comment on the reported incident or his/her assessment of the incident. However, because a character reference knows the charged student personally, he/she can speak to the charged student’s behavior, achievements, and contributions to the campus community beyond the reported incident. Information provided by the character reference does not help the hearing panel determine responsibility or lack thereof for misconduct, but it is considered if sanctions are warranted.

If the character reference is unable to attend the judicial board hearing at the scheduled time, the charged student may submit a letter from the character reference to the hearing panel in lieu of the character reference's presence.

Additionally, if a charged student submits an appeal request concerning decisions rendered through a judicial board hearing, the appeal may include one letter from one character reference (current Lynchburg College student, faculty, or staff member only). The character reference may write about the charged student's behavior, achievements, and contributions to the campus community beyond the reported incident.

Guide to Being a Character Reference

What is the role of a character reference during a hearing?

A character reference may speak on behalf of a charged student prior to the hearing panel's deliberations. A character reference should be someone who knows the charged student well. Because a character reference does not have first-hand knowledge of the reported incident (as does a witness), he/she may not comment on the reported incident or his/her assessment of it. Instead, the character reference may speak to the charged student's general behavior, achievements, and contributions to the campus community beyond the reported incident.

How does the hearing panel use information provided by the character reference?

Information provided by the character reference does not help the hearing panel determine whether or not the charged student violated the Honor and Students Conduct Codes. Instead, a character reference's information is considered when the panel deliberates regarding sanctions to be issued, if sanctions are warranted.

How does a character reference present his/her information to the hearing panel?

A character reference may participate in the hearing either in person, in writing, or both. If the character reference cannot attend the scheduled hearing in person, he/she may write a letter to the hearing panel and give it to the charged student, who will deliver the letter to the hearing panel during the hearing.

I've been asked to be a character reference. What can I expect during the hearing?

A character reference who chooses to attend the judicial board hearing must arrive at the hearing location for the start of the hearing. The chairperson of the hearing will explain at the beginning of the hearing when the character reference will present his/her information to the hearing panel. Please refer to hearing procedures for a general guidelines regarding when a character reference will present his/her information during a hearing. Once the character reference presents his/her information about the charged student, the hearing panel may or may not have follow-up questions for the character reference about the information shared.

If a hearing is closed, a character reference will be permitted to be present in the hearing room only during the introductory portion of the hearing and when he/she is directly speaking with the panel about the charged student. A character reference will be asked to wait outside the hearing room and will be called in when it is time for him/her to present information. When a character reference presents information during a closed hearing, only the panel, charged student, and his/her hearing advisor are present in the hearing room while the character reference presents information.

If a hearing is open, a character reference may remain in the hearing room throughout the time when all of the information about the reported incident is shared with the hearing panel. When a character reference presents information during an open hearing, anyone present in the room may stay to hear the character reference's comments.