Student Governance

The philosophy of governance at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is that of a community gathered together for the purpose of education and growth in human understanding. Ordinarily, authority resides within the community itself and is exercised through its constituent organizations – Student Senate, Faculty Assembly, Staff Assembly, President’s Cabinet, College Council and the Board of Trustees. The exercise of that authority lies at various times in the hands of each of those constituencies, depending on the nature of the decision at hand.

The student role in the governance procedures at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is very important and is central to the College’s mission “to engage in lifelong learning and leadership, and to effect positive change in a global society.” Students serve in various roles in the campus governance system. Student leadership, and representation of your constituency, is vital to committees and organizations.

Student Senate

The Student Senate is the main organization to which students can turn to express concerns, foster communication, and centralize student action. The purpose of the Senate, in which all full-time students elected by the student body hold membership, is to provide an opportunity and means for self-expression and self-government by and for the student body. It is the College’s vision that the Student Senate shall be democratic in its organization, sound in its functioning and effective in its actions.

Upper-class students are elected in the spring for the following school year, and first-year senators are elected by new students in September. The Senate is the representative body of students. All meetings are open. The Student Senate strives to keep SMWC students informed of important legislation and events involving the College community on the whole. Meetings are held on weekly.

For more information on the Student Senate, please contact a Senator.

College Council

The College Council is the campus’ main legislative body. Some of its regular business includes considering matters affecting the entire College community, setting the College calendar and acting on legislation brought forward by the Student Senate, Faculty Assembly or Staff Assembly. Resolutions passed by the College Council require approval by the President of the College to become effective.

The Council comprises one representative of the College administration, one Academic Council representative, two Faculty Assembly representatives, two Staff Assembly representatives, two Student Senate representatives and three at large student representatives. Each constituency elects its own members. College Council meetings are held as needed. All meetings are open.

Judicial Board

The Judicial Board hears cases concerning all violations of College policies referred through the Campus Life incident report system. Elected student representatives preside at all hearings to review the information of each alleged violation. Any student called before the Judicial Board has the opportunity to present her case to the board members. Decisions and sanctions are arrived at by discussion and consensus. Membership on the board consists of four upper-class students. Students are elected for two-year terms in the spring for the following academic year. The board is served by one advisor. Three students must be present to hold a hearing.

When a student is in alleged violation of College policy, a College community member completes an incident report which documents the situation and states the policy violation. Incident reports can be obtained from any member of the Campus Life staff or from Security. The student in alleged violation has the right to read the incident report. She may do so by contacting the director of Campus Life. All reports are to be filed with the director of Campus Life in Le Fer Hall. The director of Campus Life will determine if the incident will be forwarded to the judicial board. A hearing is scheduled and board members convene to read the report and listen to the student testimony. The community member who wrote the report may also be called upon to clarify information presented.

A student will be notified if she is found in violation of College policy. Notification of a hearing date will follow within a few days of notification. The Judicial Board will render a written decision to be delivered via campus mail or email within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, etc.,of the hearing. Any student called before the Judicial Board has an obligation to be present at the hearing, although sanctions can and will be rendered if the student fails to appear at the specified time. Sanctions rendered by the Judicial Board are binding; however, the sanction may be appealed.

The following violations will go before the Judicial Board. Depending on the nature and severity of an incident, referrals may be made directly to senior staff members of the College for action.

  1. Initiating any physical harm or threat to any student, staff or faculty member.
  2. Possession or consumption of alcohol, controlled substances or drug paraphernalia.
  3. Misuse of fire and safety equipment and actions that pose a threat to persons or to property.
  4. Failure to comply with established visitation hours.
  5. Failure to comply with directives from college personnel, including Campus Life staff and Security staff.
  6. Possession or use of weapons or firearms.
  7. Failure to comply with all other policies of the College as stated in the SMWC Student Handbook.

Disciplinary Sanctions

The Judicial Board may impose any of, but is not limited to, the following sanctions on a student as a result of violation(s) of College policy:


  1. A letter of disciplinary warning.
  2. Imposition of fine and/or restitution for damage to personal property.
  3. Imposition of service hours to be performed within a specific time period.
  4. Imposition of disciplinary probation and appropriate restrictions. (See Disciplinary Probation section.)
  5. Recommendation for suspension or expulsion from the institution. (See Disciplinary Probation section.)

Noncompliance with a sanction results in a minimum $25 fine. Failure to comply with the sanction(s) within the time allowed results in the imposition of the sanction of disciplinary probation. A student may be placed on probation for her failure to comply with the sanctions previously imposed by the Judicial Board or due to the severity of the violation of College policy. A student already on disciplinary probation will have her case reviewed by the vice president for Student Life, who will make decisions regarding further sanctions.

Disciplinary Probation

This is a written notice to the student that her specific behavior was of such a nature as to place that student in jeopardy of removal from the College community. The student is in a probationary status with the College for a specific period of time. While probation is usually reserved for a repeated infraction, it may be given for any serious violation.

When a student is placed on disciplinary probation, at least one of the following restrictions may be imposed; the board is not limited to one:

  1. Restriction from representing the College and/or participating in College activities. For example, public performances, athletics or membership to a student elected office.
  2. Restricted from registering for future classes until service work and/or fine(s) is paid in full.
  3. Sanctions as determined by the Judicial Board.


A student may be suspended from the College for any specified period of time. Suspension is defined as mandated absence from classes and/or residence halls and/or partial or total campus absence. The following cases may lead to immediate suspension:

  1. Possession and/or use of a controlled substance.
  2. Alcohol sale and/or distribution.

Such cases will be directly referred to the vice president for Student Life for action.


Expulsion is permanent dismissal from the College and may be ordered as a result of very serious violations or repeated offenses. In addition to forfeiting all tuition paid, the student suffers all other losses and restrictions imposed upon suspended students and is not eligible to apply for readmission at any time. The student must leave the campus immediately. The president of the College, or his/her appointed agent, may enact immediate expulsion in the following cases:

  1. Distribution or sale of drugs, narcotics, barbiturates, hallucinogens, marijuana, amphetamines or alcohol on College premises.
  2. Arrest and conviction for a felony crime.
  3. Physical harm or attempted physical harm to a student, faculty or staff person of SMWC.
  4. Theft of personal and College property.

In all such cases, the College reserves the right to file reports with the local, civil, and criminal authorities. Any significant violation of this code or other College policies may result in the student’s immediate removal from the College.

How to Appeal a Judicial Board Decision

Students wishing to appeal disciplinary suspension or expulsion should notify the Vice President for Student Life their intent to do so. The vice president for Student Life will meet with the student to review the steps in the appeal process. All appeals of disciplinary suspension or expulsion may be referred to the president of the College.

Any student that feels she has been unjustly accused and/or unfairly sanctioned by the Judicial Board may schedule a meeting with the vice president for Student Life by emailing Your email should state the following information:

  1. Date of the Alleged Incident
  2. Date you met with the Judicial Board
  3. Decision rendered by the Judicial Board
  4. The reason you feel that you have been unjustly accused and/or unfairly sanctioned
  5. Best days and times for you to meet

The vice president for Student Life will respond via email a day and time that you can meet to discuss the issue. Following the meeting, you will receive an email stating whether the decision made by the Judicial Board has been upheld or appealed along with the process you would take for further appeals.