When They Leave the Nest…
A guide for Eagle families on the Office of Student Conduct and Responsibility (OSCAR) and UMW’s community standards.
Like any community, UMW has expectations about how individuals within it will conduct themselves. These expectations are not onerous, and they are guideposts to acting honorably and with integrity at UMW, and within the greater Fredericksburg community. Some are based on local, state, or federal laws. Others are based on our experience of what works best in our community. All of these community standards – our Code of Conduct – are intended to create an environment in which every student’s success and well-being are the highest priorities.
Most conduct issues here are minor. More serious issues, such as alcohol intoxication, harassment, physical violence, illegal drugs, etc. are not common, but we address them if they arise as well. We also hold students accountable for incidents in the Fredericksburg community. Students are encouraged to be “good neighbors” when away from campus, and to realize that arrests have consequences off and on campus.
If your student is accused of any Code of Conduct violation, they may be asked to meet with an administrator informally, or to attend a more formal conduct hearing, to determine whether or not a UMW policy was violated. Hearings are conducted by Student Affairs administrators, or by a panel of peers elected by the student body. The focus of the conduct process is education, and respect and support are at the core of it. The process does not determine whether a student violated a law; it determines whether they violated a UMW policy.
All conduct violations are part of a student’s educational record while they remain at UMW, and usually for three years after. Students are encouraged to be aware that law schools and potential employers often ask about applicants’ educational records.
How can you help?
1) Tell your student what’s not OK with you. Yes, many of them are learning to be independent, but they still look to you for guidance. If you don’t want them using alcohol or marijuana, say so. “Don’t get into trouble,” sends a mixed message!
2) Talk to your student about alcohol. Perceptions of alcohol use are often inaccurate. In a recent study, only 56 percent of our students drank during the previous month. Furthermore, 27 percent of our students reported complete abstinence from alcohol. At UMW, misuse of alcohol is not the norm, and intoxication never justifies or excuses disrespectful behavior or violence.
3) Talk to your student about marijuana. Research shows that just two brief conversations with your student can reduce marijuana use for at least a year. At UMW, 67 percent of students report never having used marijuana at all. UMW does not tolerate the possession or use of illegal drugs, including marijuana.
Sometimes students in urgent need of medical assistance because they overused alcohol or other drugs do not seek it because they do not want to “get in trouble.” Our “Safe Sammy” policy is intended to reduce barriers to getting help for them. Under this new policy, students generally will not face conduct sanctions from UMW as long they actively seek help for themselves, or for other students. (They still will meet with an administrator to discuss their substance use, and what the UMW community expects of them.) Please encourage your student to be a Safe Sammy!
4) Talk to your student about values. Eagles speak out against injustice and work diligently to help create a great living and learning environment for everyone. This does not require unusual skills or taking significant risks. All it requires is caring in a world where it sometimes is easier to turn one’s head and say, “That’s none of my business. I don’t want to get involved.”
5) Talk to us and trust us. We view families as allies, and together, we can create student success. Let us know if you have a conduct-related concern. (As a first step, we’ll usually recommend that we speak with your student directly.) Chances are we’ve dealt with a similar situation before, and we will bring our professionalism and experience into play to assist your student.
For more detailed information, please visit students.umw.edu/studentconduct/parents.