A witness is an individual who has firsthand, relevant knowledge of the incident in question. Due to the nature of conduct cases, it can be difficult to determine what information is relevant to a conduct case. Therefore, Lafayette College has developed the following to assist all those involved. 

What is the role of a witness in a conduct hearing?

A witness is an individual who can provide firsthand relevant knowledge of an incident. Witnesses should be prepared to recount an incident—who was there, what they saw, etc. Witnesses may be asked questions by the case administrator and/or members of a panel and/or the respondent (the person facing charges). The questions may be general or specific, and they may cover the incident, additional relevant information, or a witness’s judgment. Witnesses should answer all questions truthfully and honestly.

Witnesses may attend the relevant portion of the hearing or submit a written statement via their Lafayette email to the interim dean of students, but it is the respondent’s responsibility to bring a witness or witness statement to the hearing.

Character witnesses are not allowed, but respondents may provide character statements to be read by the case administrator or panel after responsibility has been decided.

What is a character witness?

A character witness is a person who has no relevant information to impart regarding the hearing other than an opinion as to the character of the parties involved in the proceedings. Statements from character witnesses are due 24 hours prior to the hearing and should be submitted to the case administrator. Character statements may be considered in the sanctioning process but will not be considered while determining responsibility.

Who can serve as a witness?

Generally, a person appears as a witness if that person has information regarding the incident in question. For example, that person may have seen the incident as it occurred; the person may have heard significant sounds, words, or statements, etc., while the incident was occurring; or the person may have some other information which, in the opinion of the hearing panel or case administrator, may make that person a relevant witness.

Can a witness also serve as an adviser?

Yes. While an adviser may serve as a witness, students should consider the impact the dual role may have on the adviser/witness’s credibility. For example, most witnesses are not privy to portions of the hearing other than their statement, nor do they have access to information reports, etc. Students are typically best served when advisers are impartial supporters rather than directly involved in the incident in question.

Can witness statements be anonymous?

Typically, students who participate in hearings will be identified to the panel and the respondents. Requests to give statements anonymously will be considered on a case by case basis. Students wishing to participate anonymously should contact the interim dean of students.