After a long and grueling process with administration, all members of SCOPE have been held responsible for an incident involving the acts of a few individuals in April, 2012. Regardless of SCOPE’s attempt to comply with the guidelines and new rules set to better the organization, administration proceeded to revoke all memberships, leaving the organization with no current standing and curtailing the success of a 40+ year institution. All references in the article are straight from official documentation or from SCOPE members involved through the process. The information is intended to provide the readers the facts they are entitled to and respect their need for an understanding on the matter.
We understand there may be questions that still arise after reading this piece and those whom recently were revoked are still searching for answers. For further information in regards to this process, the administrators of the University directly involved were:
Memorial Union Building (MUB) Staff
Office of Conduct and Meditation (OCM) Staff
Assistant Vice-President, Student & Academic Services
Timeline of Events:
Incident occurred: April 10, 2012
- May 25th – First incident report written
- May 29th – First mention of incident from the administration
- June 1st – First meeting with MUB administrator
- June 29th – Updated incident report written
- July 6th – Second meeting with MUB administration
Hearing scheduled: August 2, 2012
- August 9th – Judicial Board Hearing
- August 29th – Judicial Board’s Recommended Sanctions*
- September 7th – Judicial Officer’s Decision*
- September 24th – Appeal Decision
*Response to sanctions must be submitted by August 31, 2012 (2 business days).
*Appeal must be submitted by September 11, 2012 (2 business days).
Appellate Officer’s Revised Sanctions: September 24, 2012
- October 19th – Notification of membership review
- November 5th – Membership review meeting
- November 16th – All SCOPE memberships revoked
Detailed Explanation of Events:
The Incident: April 10, 2012
On the night of April 10, 2012, four members of SCOPE were in Portsmouth, NH collecting menus from area restaurants (a MUB approved activity). Two of the members were sophomores and new members to SCOPE, and the other two were senior members of SCOPE. At a certain point, the new members left the senior members to collect menus on their own (a normal part of this activity). During this time, one of the new members stole 3 items, including signs, and put the items in the car that all four people had driven to Portsmouth in. When the four individuals returned to Durham, the two seniors were present when the new members moved the materials to the car of the other new member (the one not responsible for the theft), but they were unaware that any theft had occurred. The Portsmouth Police received an anonymous tip that night regarding the theft and a description of the new member’s car where the items were being held.
The following morning the UNH Police questioned car’s owner about the stolen property in her car. She told the police that the other member had taken the items, and when questioned about SCOPE said that the theft was not part of the SCOPE activity. The stolen items were immediately returned to the authorities and the two students received notice a few days later that all charges were being dropped. Leadership of SCOPE found out about the incident after the items had been returned and were also made known that all charges were being dropped. In the week following, SCOPE members were made aware that an incident had occurred but had been dealt with by the police.
The Incident Report: May 25, 2012 (updated June 29)
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the process of a conduct hearing, it starts with a complaint or incident report. The writer(s) of the complaint, or in this case an incident report, are known as the “complainant(s)” and the party being accused is known as the “respondent(s).” The complainants in this case were David Zamansky (Assistant Director for Student Leadership) and Nate Hastings (Coordinator of Leadership & Student Organization Services). The respondent was SCOPE.
The incident report stated that the student questioned by Police went into work later that day and seemed very upset. It claims that the student’s coworker asked why she was so upset and the student eventually divulged that she had been questioned by the Police in regards to stolen property in her car from the previous night. She, supposedly, told this coworker that it was the result of a SCOPE scavenger hunt requiring her and the other new member to steal the signs. The coworker proceeded to tell her supervisor, who then proceeded to tell their supervisor, who then informed Dave Zamansky of the incident. The report also claims that the coworker expressed “there has been talking of “hazing” within this particular group in the past, and it is pretty well known throughout most of campus that hazing happens in SCOPE (from what [she] has gathered from other students usually it is something even more severe than the scavenger hunt).”
Important things to take note of in the incident report:
- The claim that the individual told her coworker that the theft was part of a SCOPE scavenger was false. The student stated the incident was not at all related to SCOPE.
- The incident report is based on a story that has been passed through three people before getting reported to the writer.
- There is no mention of the writer getting in contact with the two individuals involved with the theft to confirm the account.
- “Hazing” was suspected, but the writer never reached out the students suspected of being hazed.
- The writer makes an unsubstantiated statement that it is pretty well known around campus that SCOPE hazes and even claims that it is usually more severe than this incident. The person who made this statement is not a student at the University.
SCOPE has had previous issues involving MUB staff filing incident reports, but this is the first one that has gone to a conduct hearing in which SCOPE was found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct. In the fall of 2009, SCOPE took the initiative to resolve an issue informally with the MUB staff, which resulted in a one-year probation and changes to the organization’s constitution and hiring manuals. At this point the MUB agreed to help SCOPE prevent future issues. In the fall of 2011, SCOPE was accused of violations pertaining to hazing by the MUB staff and was taken through the conduct system resulting in a hearing with the Office of Conduct and Mediation. In this hearing SCOPE proved that hazing had not occurred and was thus found not responsible for the charges. Even though SCOPE was found not responsible, the Executive Board of SCOPE worked with MUB administration to again revise organizational documents to ensure future issues were avoided. They also invited the MUB administration to attend any meetings or activities that they wanted to ensure that SCOPE was being run to their standards. MUB administration never attended any SCOPE meetings or activities following this invitation. And finally, over the past seven months SCOPE has been brought through the conduct system based on the suspicion of hazing. It was later proved in the hearing that hazing did not occur, but the organization was found responsible for theft. This is the second time in a year that SCOPE has been wrongly accused of hazing by the same MUB administrator.
The Hearing: August 9, 2012
The complainant must file the incident report with the Office of Conduct and Mediation (OCM) and include specific violations. The OCM then contacts the respondent with a scheduled hearing (SCOPE was contacted on August 2). Most cases involving student organizations result in a hearing. Witnesses are also allowed in the hearings, in this case SCOPE brought the member that actually committed the theft as a witness. Two SCOPE Executive Board members were present to represent SCOPE, both of these members were not in leadership positions at the time of the incident.
The first step in the process is a hearing at the OCM with the complainants, respondents, a mediator, a student advisor, and a three person hearing board. The hearing board consists of three volunteer members from the university that have been trained by the OCM in Student’s Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities (SRRR). During the hearing, each side gets to present their case. Following the presentation, the opposing side and the board are allowed to ask questions about the accounts. After both sides make their case, all parties are allowed to ask any questions and make final points in their accusation or defense. The complainant and respondent then leave the hearing room and wait in separate rooms while the board deliberates whether or not the respondent is responsible for the charges.
Once the board comes to a conclusion, the hearing reconvenes. At this point the board discloses their findings and presents the verdict. Both sides have an opportunity to ask questions about the verdict and reasoning behind it. If the respondent is found responsible for any of the charges, the hearing proceeds. The next step is for both sides to present their proposed sanctions. This is conducted in the same manner as the first part of the hearing. After both sides have proposed sanctions and all questions have been asked, the complainant and respondent leave the room and the board deliberates. The hearing is reconvened after the board has decided on their “recommended sanctions.” The sanctions are not official, but rather a suggestion for the Judicial Officer to take into account when he or she makes the official decision.
Hearing Board’s Findings: August 9, 2012
- 9k. Violation of Published Policies Responsible
- 3d. Coercion Not Responsible
- 5. Attempted or actual theft Responsible
- 6. Hazing Not Responsible
Complainant’s Proposed Sanctions:
- Suspension until Fall 2014
- Probation for 4 years once recognition is returned
- All new and updated manuals approved before re-recognition
- No current members may participate in other organizations that rise up to take SCOPE’s place during suspension
Respondent’s Proposed Sanctions:
- New or additional advisor(s)
- Revised manuals
- Ulead Team Workshop
- Utilize more advising resources (to be done with new advisors)
- Browne Center event added to new member orientation
- Monthly meetings with advisor(s)
- New members given a current member as a mentor
Hearing Board’s Recommended Sanctions: August 29, 2012
- Probation until April 10, 2015
- Monthly meetings with an advisor until at least May 2015
- Modification of organizational manuals to be done by October 1, 2012
- No events held until manual modifications are completed and approved
- Browne Center used for new member bonding for at least two years
Important Quotes from the Judicial Board’s Rationale:
“The only information that suggested this was a SCOPE scavenger hunt was second hand information, whereas firsthand accounts consistently stated that [the member] had stolen the items on his own volition.”
“Given that we did not find that the individual who stole the signs and painting was acting on the encouragement of SCOPE, we are not recommending suspension in this case. However, the other members of SCOPE neglected their responsibility to respond, which is what resulted in SCOPE facing disciplinary charges as an organization.* Probation for three years will remind the members of the organization of the importance of following university rules as well as local, state and federal laws.”
- Please take notice* “SCOPE facing disciplinary charges as an organization.” The intent here was for the organization to be reprimanded not the individual members within the organization.
Some important facts surrounding the hearing:
- The hearing began at 8am and did not finish until 2pm, at which point the board had not come to a decision on sanctions. It wasn’t until twenty days later that SCOPE finally received the board’s recommended sanctions.
- One board member left prior to the discussion of proposed sanctions.
- A complainant also left during the hearing.
- The student advisor, there to support the organization, also left prior to the hearing ending.
- The witness present, on behalf of SCOPE, was rigorously interrogated by the complainants and the board on minor details of the incident, which took place four months prior.
- Immediately following the witness’s testimony, after which he was asked to leave, he was arrested by the UNH Police outside the OCM. This is four months after he was told charges were being dropped.
- The remaining complainant repeatedly accused the individual members representing SCOPE of lying during the hearing.
- It was clear that the complainant was treating SCOPE, and the individuals representing SCOPE, as if they had been guilty of hazing, even after it was proved otherwise.
Letters to the Judicial Officer: September 11, 2012
Once both the complainant and respondent receive the recommended sanctions from the board, they can both write a letter to the Judicial Officer in response. The response is intended to simply be an agreement or disagreement with the proposed sanctions. The Judicial Officer reads these responses, all documents from the hearing, and the board’s findings to determine the final sanctions for the respondent*. The officer has the ability to impose any sanctions to any degree, regardless of the board’s recommendation. The Judicial Officer is also a volunteer member from the university that is trained by the OCM. Below are the summaries of the respondents’ and complainants’ responses to the recommended sanctions.
*Please note that according the UNH Student’s Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities, Article IV, D. 7, “Any decision [made by the Officer] shall be solely based on the record of the Hearing Board.”
Respondent’s (SCOPE) response to recommended sanctions:
1. Probation until April 10, 2015
- SCOPE suggested a one year probation period that will be reevaluated at the end of the period by SCOPE leadership, SCOPE advisors, and MUB staff to determine if an extension of the probation is necessary.
- SCOPE takes full responsibility for the charges and for making any necessary changes to ensure that incidents like this do not happen again.
2. Monthly meetings with advisors until at least May 2015
- SCOPE believes that these meetings will be greatly beneficial for the organization and have already found two new advisors, one being a professional in the industry and another a long-time UNH Campus Recreation staff member and member of the ACPA.
- SCOPE also suggests a regular meeting with the Coordinator of Leadership and Student Organization Services, Nate Hastings, as a means of creating a positive and productive relationship with MUB staff. This also eases access to leadership building programs, workshops, etc.
- All SCOPE meetings and activities would be open to MUB administrators.
3. Modification to the organization manuals to be completed by October 1, 2012
- SCOPE will remove all off-campus activities from the new member activities.
- Thus, menu gathering will be part of regular business activities and removed from new member activities.
- SCOPE will work with MUB staff to revise disciplinary action policy as well as responsibilities of members who observe actions that violate UNH policies.
4. Replace new member orientation with Browne Center event for at least 2 years.
- SCOPE reiterates the importance of the new member orientation as a way for new members to learn how the organization operates.
- SCOPE suggests a revised version of the orientation activities to be made with MUB staff in addition to the Browne Center event.
At no point in this response did SCOPE bring up any evidence in their defense or make any claims about issues discussed or not discussed in the hearing. This is because the intent of the response was to be in direct relation to the recommended sanctions, which was followed exactly by the organization.
Complainant’s response to recommended sanctions:
- Disagreed with all recommended sanctions and reiterated his original proposed sanctions.
- Accuses SCOPE of being “not truthful” during the hearing and claimed that SCOPE “jeopardized the integrity of this process and should be held accountable for that.”
- Claimed SCOPE is “unhealthy” for campus and for its current and future members.
1. “The fourth time in five years we are dealing with SCOPE in a conduct situation.”
- This information is false and there is no have actual documentation provided to support the information.
- “The first time was in 2007/08,” upon further research the actual academic year of this event was 2005/06.
- “In Fall of 2009,” this incident actually occurred in the Spring of 2009. SCOPE brought the issue to the MUB administration and took responsibility for it, resulting in a one year probation.
- In Fall of 2011, “They were found not responsible.”
- Spring of 2012, “This happened during their new member process again.” SCOPE was found responsible for theft based on the failure of other members to report the theft, not based on the fact that a new member committed the crime.
2. The complainant refers to an incident and other information that was never brought up in the hearing.
- “We were contacted in May by the Whittemore Center,” the Whittemore Center confirmed that the incident described was never brought to Zamansky and they do not agree with the statements he made in his response.
Judicial Officer’s imposed sanctions: September 24, 2012
1. Suspension until Fall 2014
- “There is a history of violations according to David Zamansky’s, Assistant Director of the Memorial Building documentation. This is the 4th time within 5 years that there has been misconduct involving SCOPE, most often concerning hazing of prospective members but now the condoning of stealing by new members through the inaction of senior members.”
2. Revise and update manuals to be approved before return to campus.
3. Creation of an advisory board, “approved by David Zamansky/MUB staff.”
4. Probation for 2 year upon return as an organization
Issues with this decision:
- The officer almost directly quotes pieces of the complainant’s response, even though it was stated in the SRRR that “Any decision [made by the Officer] shall be solely based on the record of the Hearing Board.”
- References Zamansky’s “documentation,” which does not exist and was not presented to support any of his statements.
- The officer seemed to disregard all recommendations of the Judicial Board and SCOPE, as well as, SCOPE’s compliance with the recommended sanctions and acceptance of responsibility.
- There was false information in the complainant’s response to the Judicial Officer.
- There was new information in the complainant’s response that was never discussed in the hearing and SCOPE had no chance to question or refute it.
- It is apparent that both the complainant and the Judicial Officer were not responding to the recommended sanctions and were making decisions based on false information.
- “the organization became responsible for these actions,” again the organization is responsible, not the individuals within it.
- Specifically mentions the complainant, Zamansky, as someone to approve the advisory board. Additionally the idea of an advisory board was only recommended by Zamansky, not by the Judicial Board.
- The organization accepted responsibility for the violations and agreed that probation would be beneficial. SCOPE did not try to dispute a sanction was necessary, but agreed with the Judicial Board that one fitting of the violation was appropriate.
The Appeal: September 11, 2012
After receiving the final decision of the Judicial Officer, the respondent has the option of appealing the outcome on four possible grounds; Procedural Error, Inappropriate Sanctions, Lack of Substantial Evidence, and New Evidence. The request is sent to an Appellate Officer, who will decide whether or not to grant the appeal. The complainant cannot write a response to the appeal. This officer is also a volunteer member of the university trained by the OCM. The respondent has two business day to appeal the decision. The decision of the Appellate Officer cannot increase the sanctions imposed by the Judicial Officer. SCOPE appealed the decision on grounds of inappropriate sanctions and lack of substantial evidence. Below is a summary of SCOPE’s appeal and the actual document sent to the Appellate Officer.
Grounds for the appeal:
1. Inappropriate Sanctions:
- The sanctions imposed almost exactly mirrored those proposed by the complainant.
- The Judicial Officer did not seem take the board’s recommendations into account and did not reference them at all in the sanction rationale.
- SCOPE took responsibility for the charges and proposed realistic and logical sanctions in line with those recommended by the board.
- The response provided by the complainant contained supplementary information not included during the hearing or in the incident report and did not directly apply to the sanction recommendations.
2. Lack of Substantial Evidence:
- The decision reached by the Judicial Officer was not based on substantial evidence.
- The response provided by the complainant contained supplementary information not included during the trial or in the incident report and did not directly reference sanction recommendations.
- Additionally, the complainant referred to other false information in his response.
Appellate Officer’s Decision: September 20, 2012
The Appellate Officer’s decision is sent to the respondent as the absolute final decision in the process. Below is a summary of the Appellate Officer’s findings in SCOPE’s appeal.
1. Inappropriate Sanctions: Appeal Granted
2. Lack of Substantial Evidence: Appeal Rejected
1. Establish a permanent advisory board
- The board would include a Student Activity Fee Committee representative, Student Senate representative, MUB Administrator, and an independent entertainment booking agency.
- The purpose of the board is to restructure the organization and to conduct an immediate review of and subsequent revocation of membership of those members, “who knew or should have known about the theft in April, 2012.”
2. Suspension until 2014 deferred, as long as the certain requirements are completed by the organization.
- The organization would not be on suspension as long as the requirements are met and the organization does not violate the Code of Conduct. A violation, no matter how minor, would result in immediate suspension.
- Requirements included revised manuals, leadership job descriptions, mandatory accountability training via Browne Center, mandatory hazing workshops.
- No internal activities, planning, meetings, or training until fall 2013, unless authorized and supervised by the advisory board.
3. Probation for two years upon return to campus.
At this point SCOPE was not allowed to meet or participate in any activities and individuals were not allowed to speak on behalf SCOPE.
Issues with this decision:
- “Knew or should have known,” is a very ambiguous statement and was interpreted by the board in a very “black and white” manner. There was no mention as to when the members knew or should have known about the theft, meaning even if members found out this semester they could be removed.
- Looking at the sanctions in a “black and white” way, the board was supposed to consist of four members, two students and two professionals. Yet the board was assembled with five members, two students and three University staff members resulting in an uneven distribution of staff to students.
- The head of the advisory board was a complainant in the case and runs a private entertainment management company out of Portsmouth, NH.
The Advisory Board: November 5, 2012
On November 5, all current members of SCOPE were required to attend a membership review if they “would like to maintain their membership.”
The advisory board had every member bring their phone to the front of the room and place it on the table. They then distributed a two-page question sheet with questions regarding the incident and the time surrounding it. The most relevant questions related directly to when members became aware of the theft and what SCOPE activities they were involved in during the week of April 9-13th, 2012.
The members of the board then left the room, which was being supervised by a proctor, and eventually took every individual member into a separate room to be questioned.
The Advisory Board’s Decision: November 16, 2012
On Friday November 16, members of SCOPE received an email reiterating the sanction of a permanent advisory board and concluded that “the membership of all members who went through the review process on November 5th is hereby revoked.”
Issues with the decision and subsequent reaction:
- There was no meeting held to tell the members that they had been removed from the organization and allow them to ask questions regarding the decision.
- The reaction of such a severe revocation of membership was unknown, but should have been considered by the board. No reference was made to how members could seek out personal support for having something they had worked so hard for taken away from them.
- Members of the board would not respond to questions regarding the decision via email or in person following the notification.
- Upon further inquiry, members were repeatedly referred to other parties for answers and often left without resolve.
- The board seemed to be an executioner for a predetermined result.
Major Points of concern regarding the students removed from SCOPE:
- The Judicial Board’s recommended sanction were both appropriate and logical, but were ignored.
- SCOPE took responsibility for the violation, accepted a probationary period, and made many logical suggestions for how to fix the issues within the organization.
- SCOPE was found responsible for charges because of the three other members that were present at the time of the theft and did not act. The sanctions should have reflected this point, yet all members of SCOPE were punished.
- The members of SCOPE were individually punished for a violation that was charged to the organization.
- One member was studying abroad during the spring of 2012 and was not present for the incident, but was still removed from the organization.
- The head of the advisory board created for SCOPE was a complainant in the case and runs a private music entertainment management company.
- All past knowledge, handed down over the years of SCOPE, about how to successfully plan, promote, and manage a concert will be lost.
- Future opportunities in the industry for members of SCOPE are also most likely lost.
- Many members have expressed that they would have transferred out of UNH if it wasn’t for their involvement in SCOPE.
- The punishment does not fit the crime and effectively destroys the entire organization.
Please see the Why Should this Concern you? to see how this effects UNH Students and the UNH Community.
We thank you for reading our story and hope you can see the serious issues regarding what has happened to SCOPE. Please support us by signing our petition below!