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Student Code of Conduct

A student's conduct at Virginia State University is expected to reflect that of a person engaged in a serious endeavor - the pursuit of an academic degree.

The Student Code of Conduct was designed to promote an environment in accordance with the highest standards of academic excellence, institutional integrity and the free expression of ideas and opinions. The Student Code of Conduct contains rules and regulations governing student conduct and represents a means by which the orderly development of appropriate student conduct is assured.

Disciplinary Standards and Procedures

By authority of the Board of Visitors, the President is delegated the responsibility and authority for establishing and enforcing regulations governing student life. The President has further delegated these responsibilities and authority to the Vice President for Student Affairs and University Police Chief, respectively. The regulations are designed to enable the University to protect itself and its members against the conduct of those who would impair or infringe upon the disciplinary rules and regulations of the University. The regulations and procedures contained herein were formulated through the process of shared governance. This fact in no way abrogates the authority granted by the Board of Visitors to the President and his designee(s) to determine, to manage, and to maintain a system of discipline and safety in the University community. The Board of Visitors and the administration may alter or modify the rules and regulations concerning student conduct and discipline at any time.

The judicial process is authorized to make a determination as to whether the student's conduct is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The applicable criterion of review is the preponderance of the evidence standard. Evidence, both verbal and in other respects, is presented by the parties and/or witnesses called by the parties. Evidence presented may be in the form of, but is not limited to: (a) oral or written testimony from parties or witnesses; (b) affidavits, depositions; (c) police reports and memoranda; (d) properly signed court documents; and (e) other taped or written statements.

Violation of Public Laws by Students

The University considers students as citizens of the community and expects them to abide by its laws. While it is not the University's desire to assume the regulatory and police functions of public government, the University is duly authorized to adjudicate cases when a student is charged with a violation of a city, county, state or federal law which would tend to have a negative effect on the University's standing in the community. The University is neither bound to wait for civil or criminal procedures to be completed nor bound by decisions rendered by the judicial agency. A student offender may be charged by both the University and a county or state law enforcement agency for the same offense. The University reserves the right to bring charges which it deems appropriate, and it will do so whenever the student's continued enrollment is considered a threat to persons or property, and/or it adversely affects established procedures of discipline and decorum.

 Normally, criminal cases and parking infractions are processed through local, state and federal courts of law. However such criminal cases may be referred to Judicial Affairs for Administrative Action.  On‑campus appeals of traffic infractions, however, will be handled through the Department of Student Activities. The University may summarily suspend any student, pending a hearing, convicted of a felony which adversely reflects upon his/her character and fitness as a member of the student body or which negatively reflects upon the University's mission.

Felonious convictions of any type, including the illegal use, possession, distribution or intent to use, possess, or distribute controlled substances (i.e. drugs), shall be cause for expulsion.

The University does not assume liability, directly or indirectly, for personal items belonging to a student. Personal items include, but are not limited to, clothing, books, musical equipment, televisions, radios, watches, rings, automobiles or any other items that are leased or owned by the student. Students are encouraged to contract for their own insurance coverage.

The University is not a collection agency for private businesses, nor will the University assume this role, directly or indirectly. Any and all bills, cashing of checks, and contracts created or entered into are the sole responsibility of the student and the private business in questions.

If a student is arrested, the University is in no way responsible for providing bond, directly or indirectly. However, all students are required to report immediately or as soon as practical all infractions of public law, which they are involved or charged to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Failure to do so may result in immediate suspension.

Violation of or being formally charged with the violation of a public law in a legal jurisdiction outside the campus environment of Virginia State University is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. This does not apply to traffic infractions.

Disciplinary action may be taken when a student is on property other than the University campus where such student's conduct violates federal, state or local laws, and which materially and adversely affects the student's suitability as a member of the University's community and/or which adversely affects the University's educational mission.

Channels for Charges Against a Student

Whenever, in the opinion of any member of the University community, a student's or a student organization’s conduct is disorderly or disruptive, it is the responsibility of the person(s) observing the breach of conduct to report the same in writing to the Vice President for Student Affairs, University Police, or the Director of Student Activities. It is the Office of Judicial Affairs that is authorized to process and effectuate the adjudication of all complaints filed against students . The following procedures are to be followed: Complaint is communicated to the Office of Judicial Affairs. Students shall be notified of university charges in writing, unless a more effective form of notification is deemed appropriate.

Charges may be presented in person, by placement in a student's residence hall mailbox, by email to the accused student’s official university email address, or by mail to the accused student's local or permanent address on file in the office of the university registrar. Students are reminded that their VSU email is their official means of communication between the University and the student. All students are required to maintain an accurate and current local and permanent address with the university registrar. Following notification of charges, students are strongly encouraged to and shall be afforded the opportunity to meet with a university official for the purpose of explaining the university judicial process and discussion of the charges. Failure of the accused student to respond to the initiation of charges or schedule a preliminary meeting shall in no way prevent the university from scheduling and conducting a hearing in the absence of the accused student.

Office of Judicial Affairs sends letter to student(s) informing him/her of the charge(s) and requesting his/her appearance at a pre‑hearing conference within three business days except when pre-hearing is conducted at the scene of the incident. Student is advised of his/her rights at the pre‑hearing conference. Student is informed that the case will be heard by the Administrative Judicial Panel or an Administrator's Court as determined by the Director of Student Activities. Student is informed that the hearing cannot occur within three business days of the pre-hearing. Student is advised that he/she is responsible for informing his/her witnesses and/or representative about the hearing. Student appears at his/her hearing. An audio tape is made of each hearing. Student returns to the Office of Judicial Affairs within a week of the hearing to receive information regarding the decision of the Administrative Judicial Panel or the Administrator's Court. Where warranted, letters will also contain the sanction. In cases, which appear before the Executive Judicial Panel (EJP), a decision will be rendered within two business days. If a student wishes to appeal, he/she must submit a written letter of appeal within two business days upon receiving the letter containing the findings and/or the sanction(s) for cases heard by the Administrative Judicial Panel. Cases heard by the Executive Judicial Panel, appeals must be received within one business day. Case is heard on appeal. Student is not present when case is reviewed on appeal, unless requested by the appeal authority. Letter is sent to student regarding the appealed case.

Immediate Suspension

Immediate suspension from the University or the suspension or limitation of privileges may be imposed by the President, Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designees pending final disposition of the student's offense. Immediate suspension will take place for offenses that constitute a clear and present danger to the property and safety of the University and its constituents or which pose a serious detriment to the established system of discipline and decorum on the campus.

Before suspending a student and/or where possible, the appropriate administrator will confer with the student to hear his/her explanation and to give him/her the reasons for the suspension and advise the student of his/her rights. If a student is suspended/dismissed from a residential facility for disciplinary or financial reasons, the University relinquishes all obligations relative to the student's room and board. The student agrees to leave the campus within 24 hours of the suspension/dismissal decision. The student further understands that he/she is responsible for his/her own transportation. The University is not liable for personal belongings left in residence facilities.

Rights of the Accused

At least three business days prior to the hearing by the appropriate judicial court or administrator, the student is entitled to the following:

1. Pre‑hearing conference

2. Written notification of the time and place of the hearing

3. A written statement of the charges to enable the student prepare a defense

4. The names, if known, of witnesses who may testify at the hearing

5. The student shall be entitled to appear in person and to present his/her defense to the appropriate judicial court or administrator and may call witnesses in his/her behalf.

6. The student shall be entitled to decline to answer questions.

7. The student shall be entitled to be accompanied by representative counsel of his/her choice. The representative may be an attorney, a member of the faculty/staff, student body, or other individual. If the student engages an attorney, written notice must be given to the Director of Judicial Affairs at least forty‑eight hours prior to the hearing. The representative shall be permitted to advise and otherwise counsel the accused before, during and after the proceedings, but shall not be permitted to actively and personally examine witnesses or argue the accused's case.

8. The student shall be entitled to an expeditious hearing of his case.

9. The student shall be notified of his/her right to appeal the decision of the Administrative Judicial Panel or the Administrator's Court within a period of forty‑eight hours. Should the accused appeal, the findings of the Judicial Affairs Panel will remain in effect unless overruled by a higher body.

10. If a student fails to attend the scheduled hearing, he/she can be tried in absentia.

11. WAIVER/HEARING ‑ A student may waive his/her right to a hearing. Such a waiver must be executed by the student in writing and communicated to the Office of Judicial Affairs. The penalty is imposed by the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee and is not appealable.

Administrator’s Court

Composition: The Administrator's Court will consist of one staff or faculty member who will be designated by the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee. When so elected, he/she will be notified by the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee and given sufficient data and information to adjudicate the cases.

Jurisdiction: The Administrator's Court will adjudicate those disciplinary cases assigned to it by the Director of Student Activities. This Court will also hear cases when circumstances prevent the Office of Judicial Affairs from convening the requisite members of the Administrative Judicial Panel. Infractions deemed minor by the AJP may be referred by the Director of Student Activities to be adjudicated by an appointed. [

Powers: The Administrator's Court is authorized to determine whether a violation has occurred. When a decision is reached that the student's conduct is in violation of the Code, the Vice President for Student Affairs or his/her designee will impose the necessary disciplinary sanction. In some instances, the administrator hearing the case may be requested to recommend a penalty. The sanction to be imposed will include all sanctions applicable to student conduct.

Appeals: Decisions handed down by the Administrator's Court may be appealed to the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Students appealing a case must submit a written letter of appeal to the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs within 48 hours of the decision.

Administrative Judicial Panel

Composition: The Administrative Judicial Panel (AJP) will consist of faculty and staff members appointed by the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management or his/her designee. Student members will be selected from the Student Government Association and the general student body to serve on the panel. All members will serve throughout the school year. Any three members of the panel will constitute a requisite number to adjudicate a case. When the requisite number of members is not available for a hearing, the Director of Student Activities will select substitute members subject to approval by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The composition of the panel may be changed as deemed necessary.

Jurisdiction: The Administrative Judicial Panel will adjudicate those cases that are assigned to it by the Director of Student Activities. Normally, those cases which may result in a student's separation from the University will be heard by this body. However, other types of cases may be heard within the discretion of the Director of Student Activities. Powers: The Administrative Judicial Panel is authorized to determine whether the Student Code of Conduct has been violated. When a student is found to be in violation of the Code, the Administrative Judicial Panel will make a recommendation of the necessary disciplinary action. The following penalties may be imposed: warning, probation, community service hours, fines, forfeiture or suspension of campus privileges, restitution, suspension from residence halls, permanent suspension from on‑campus housing, suspension from the University, suspension held in abeyance or expulsion. However, all penalties will be referred through the Office of Judicial Affairs. Final approval of all penalties at this juncture rests with the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Appeals: Decisions handed by the Administrative Judicial Panel (AJP) may be appealed directly to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Procedures for Formal Hearings

The hearing begins when the chairperson of the panel calls the meeting to order. The chairperson states the time and date of the hearing and the applicable charge(s) against the accused. The chairperson reads the accused's name. The chairperson reads the names of the members of the panel and all persons present at the hearing, including the Director of Judicial Affairs or his/her designee. The chairperson reads the name(s) of the witness(es) present to testify for the parties (accused and University) and the name(s) of the parties' legal counselor and/or advisor. The chairperson will conduct the hearing as follows:

a. Administer the oath to all parties and witnesses (Do you affirm that the testimony which you are about to give is the truth?).

b. Ask the accused if he/she wishes to challenge any of the members of the AJP

c. State the allegation(s) contained in the complaint, which is communicated to the accused at the pre‑hearing conference.

d. Ask the accused whether he/she attended the pre‑hearing conference.

e. Ask the accused whether he/she violated the Code and/or policies of the University.

f. If the response is, "Yes," the accused is not required to submit additional testimony. The accused may then make a closing statement.

g. If the response is, "No," the AJP will listen to the parties' opening statements, testimony from the accused and the University, testimony from witnesses for the accused and the University.

h. Allow the panel members, including the Director of Judicial Affairs, to ask questions.

i. Allow parties to make closing statements.

j. Inform the accused that a written decision regarding the charge(s) will be communicated to him/her by a specified date.

k. Any accused found to be in violation of the Code shall be informed that he/she has the right to appeal the decision and the penalty. The accused will have two business days within which to appeal the decision after receiving written notification of the decision and the penalty. Information regarding the appeal to the Executive Committee on Discipline is obtained from the Office of Judicial Affairs.

l.Bring closure to the hearing and state that the AJP will convene without the presence of the parties and/or witnesses to deliberate the decision.

m. Dismiss the accused from the room.

n. Allow the members of the AJP to discuss the case against the accused and call for the decision. A majority of the AJP must support a decision that the Code was violated.

o. The members will render a decision.

p. The hearing will be closed.

Executive Judicial Panel on Discipline

If an Executive Judicial Panel (EJP) on Discipline is convened, it will consist of: five (5) persons at the Vice President/Director/Department Chair level and Student Affairs personnel, one (1) administrator appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs, and one (1) student selected by the President of the Student Government Association. Three (3) members present will constitute a quorum. When the requisite number of members is not available, the chairperson may select substitutes.

The Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of Student Activities will serve as ex‑officio members. Jurisdiction: The body will convene at the request of the President and or Vice President for Student Affairs to review cases on appeal from the Administrative Judicial Panel. Powers: The role of the Executive Committee on Discipline in the matters of appeals shall be limited to the following:

1. Accepting or rejecting an appeal on the merits. The determination must first be made whether the student has properly and sufficiently indicated the basis for an appeal.

2. Review the case to determine if indeed the student's appeal is justified and render one of these findings:

a. Sustain the findings and penalty

b. Sustain the findings and alter the penalty

c. Reverse the findings and, if necessary, impose a penalty

d. Order a rehearing

e. Render decisions on disciplinary matters referred to it by the President, Vice President for Student Affairs, or the Director of Judicial Affairs.

 In certain instances, this body may serve at the panel or original jurisdiction when certain complex cases are referred directly by the President or Provost or any Vice President. The decisions of the Vice President for Student Affairs or the Executive Judicial Panel on Discipline are final except in those cases resulting in suspension or expulsion. Students who have been expelled or suspended by the Vice President for Student Affair or the Executive Judicial Panel on Discipline may appeal by submitting a written letter of appeal within two business days after receiving the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs. After review, the Vice President for Student Affairs may either affirm the decision or render a greater or lesser sanction.

Grounds for Appeal

A decision or judgment of a judicial court may be appealed on the following grounds:

1. Prejudicial error was committed during hearing whereby a fair hearing was not conducted.

2. Non‑cumulative material and relevant evidence, new or newly discovered, which with reasonable diligence, could not have been produced at the hearing.

3. The decision or judgment is not supported nor justified by the evidence.

4. The penalty or sanction imposed was excessive.

Granting or Denying of Appeals

A written request for an appeal must be submitted by the student to the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs within two business days after receiving the disciplinary decision. Should the deadline fall during the weekend, the next business day shall be considered the final day to receive an appeal. The Vice President for Student Affairs and or the Executive Judicial Panel has the right to deny an appeal if the body decides that an appeal is not warranted.

Contents of Appeal Letter

Letters of appeal shall contain a statement or statements of the grounds for the appeal in order to allow a reasonable judgment on whether to grant the appeal. If an appeal is denied, an appropriate written response will be given to the person making the request.

Action and Appeals

Once an appeal letter has been accepted and the court reviews the case and evidence, the court may do one of four things:

1. Sustain the findings and penalty

2. Sustain the findings and alter the penalty

3. Reverse the findings and, if necessary, impose a penalty

4. Order a rehearing

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