Members of the University Student Conduct System
Process for Handling Alleged Violations of UMW’s Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines for how University of Mary Washington students are expected to conduct themselves. Although it is based partly on federal and state laws, its intention is to promote student success, learning, and personal wellness. For example, students who create a late-night disturbance in their residence halls can have a negative impact on other students’ ability to do well on a test the following day. Therefore, the Code of Conduct prohibits violating quiet or courtesy hours in the residence halls, and disorderly conduct. Also, students who use illegal drugs, in addition to possibly having a negative impact on their peers, may be compromising their own safety, health, and potential for academic success. Therefore, the Code of Conduct prohibits the possession and use of illegal drugs.
The purpose of conduct hearings is not to determine whether a student violated the law, but whether a student violated the Code of Conduct.
There are three levels of Code of Conduct violations.
1) Alleged Level I violations are adjudicated by the Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Responsibility (OSCAR), or by a professional Residence Life staff member.
2) Alleged Level II violations are adjudicated by Residence Life Area Coordinators.
3) Alleged Level III violations are adjudicated by the Student Conduct Review Board (SCRB).
If, in the same incident, a student is charged with multiple Code of Conduct violations corresponding to both Levels II and III, the alleged violations will be adjudicated by a Residence Life Area Coordinator. If, in the same incident, a student is charged with multiple Code of Conduct Violations corresponding to both Levels I and II, or both Levels I and III, the alleged violations will be adjudicated by the Director of OSCAR or by a professional Residence Life staff member. At his or her discretion, the Director of OSCAR may adjudicate any alleged Level II or Level III violation, even if there is no alleged Level I violation. This may happen if the student has had prior violations, or if the reported conduct is of a more serious nature, for example. This also may happen if the incident did not occur in a residence hall.
Any Level I, Level II, or Level III incident that involves an off-campus student, or that is reported to have occurred off campus, may be adjudicated by the Director of Transfer and Off-Campus Student Services.
Pre-hearing conferences: Every student who has been charged with a violation of the Code of Conduct, whether their hearing is with an administrator or with SCRB, is asked to attend a meeting with an administrator prior to the hearing. The purpose of this meeting, which is called a “pre-hearing conference,” is to: 1) share available incident documentation with the student; 2) orient the student about the procedures to be followed during the actual conduct hearing; and 3) inform the student about their rights throughout the conduct process. At the student’s request, the conduct hearing may follow the pre-hearing conference directly, but this is at the administrator’s discretion, and will not apply if the student is to have a hearing with SCRB.
In any conduct hearing related to alleged violations of the Code of Conduct, students are guaranteed specific rights throughout the process. These are detailed here, and are described during the pre-hearing conference.
Pre-hearing conferences and hearings (both administrative and those conducted by SCRB) are recorded to digital media.
Alleged violations of the Code of Conduct may be reported and/or documented by any member of the community. Incident reports are completed and routed to the appropriate disciplinary process as outlined elsewhere in this section. A documentation template is available online.
Students will be notified of their charges prior to their being asked to attend a hearing. The standard of evidence used in all Code of Conduct hearings is preponderance of evidence (see “Student Conduct Process Rights and Responsibilities“).
UMW may adjudicate all conduct violations by enrolled students or by degree-seeking students, regardless of their enrollment status, that occur on campus, at a UMW-sponsored event, or in UMW-leased or controlled properties.
Students may voluntarily withdraw from the University after having been charged with a Code of Conduct violation, and prior to completion of the conduct process (i.e., prior to being found responsible or not responsible for the charge(s), prior to issuance or completion of a conduct sanction, or prior to the completion of appeal process). However, if students who withdraw wish to re-enroll, the conduct process will need to be completed either before or after their return to the University.
Violations of civil or criminal law are subject to University adjudication in cases where the interests of the University may be affected (as judged by proper authorities to be the case). Participants in this decision may include the Director of Student Conduct and Responsibility, the Dean of Student Life, and/or the Vice President for Student Affairs (or designee).
OSCAR is committed to assisting accused students throughout the conduct process, and students in need of further information related to the charges, or to the conduct process in general, are invited to meet with the Director.
Adjudication of Off-Campus Incidents
Students are expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct both on and off campus. The conduct of UMW students away from campus has an impact not just on those students involved, but also on UMW peers and on members of the greater Fredericksburg community. Holding students accountable, through the conduct system, for off-campus conduct (particularly when it results in an arrest or a citation) is a standard process in higher education resulting in positive learning outcomes for students and favorable town-gown relationships. UMW’s conduct process is an educational tool to support student learning and is intended to perpetuate life skills and citizenship through accountability.
The University may choose to adjudicate any misconduct that implicates the interests of the University or jeopardizes the health and safety of the campus community. UMW may choose to adjudicate off-campus violations that occur in any program for which students receive UMW academic credit regardless of their UMW enrollment status at the time. UMW may also choose to adjudicate off-campus violations by any degree-seeking students regardless of their enrollment status at the time the violation occurred. Participants in the decision to adjudicate may include the Director of Student Conduct and Responsibility, the Dean of Student Life, or the Vice President for Student Affairs.
UMW may adjudicate off-campus violations when the conduct has an equivalent in the Code of Conduct. For example, if a student is arrested or cited for being “drunk in public,” he or she could be charged with violating UMW’s policy related to alcohol intoxication. If a student is charged with public urination, he or she could be charged with violating UMW’s policy related to disorderly conduct. This information will typically come to the University through official police communication. The incident will be adjudicated by an administrator or by the Student Conduct Review Board as noted in the conduct hearing procedures.
The University may, notwithstanding the location of an offense, suspend a student on an interim basis pending conduct or criminal proceedings for any alleged major violation of state or federal criminal law or university policy which the Dean of Student Life, or designee, finds would jeopardize the safety and security of the campus community. The student shall have the right to appeal the interim suspension, and the Vice President for Student Affairs will hear the appeal.
The Dean of Student Life or designee also may immediately relocate a student within the residence hall system, or immediately suspend a student from the residence halls, or from specific areas of the University pending conduct or criminal proceedings.
Relocations and interim suspensions are enacted when the student’s continued presence is reasonably believed to pose a substantial threat to him/herself, to the safety and wellbeing of any member of the University community, to the preservation of property, or to the normal operations of the University.
- Prior to the administrative hearing, the accused student is asked to attend a pre-hearing conference with an administrator. During the pre-hearing conference, available incident documentation is shared and the conduct process and procedures are explained.
- The accused student is contacted in writing about the scheduled date and time of the hearing.
- At the hearing, the hearing administrator reads the Code of Conduct charges to the accused student, who pleads “Responsible” or “Not Responsible” after each charge. (If the accused student pleads “Responsible” to all charges, the hearing may move directly into the sanctioning phase.)
- The accused student is invited to share their perspective of the incident, and to comment on any perceived errors or omissions in the incident documentation.
- The incident documenter (if present) and witnesses (if present) requested by the hearing administrator relate their perspectives of the incident. The accused student and the hearing administrator may question them.
- Witnesses (if present) requested by the accused student share their perspectives of the incident. The accused student and the hearing administrator may question them.
- The accused student is given the opportunity to hear all statements made by the incident documenter and by the witnesses.
- The hearing administrator deliberates whether or not the accused student is to be in violation of the charge(s). The hearing administrator may recall any individual to question them further.
- If the accused student is found “Responsible” for one or more charges, the hearing administrator considers sanctions. Sanctions are based on the incident documentation, statements made during the hearing, educational questions asked by the administrator, and any prior violations for which the accused has been found “Responsible.”
- The hearing administrator states their decision to the accused student and reminds them about their right to appeal the hearing. The accused student also is sent the hearing administrator’s decision in writing.
The procedural steps outlined above typically occur in the order stated, but can occur in a different order or be repeated at the discretion of the hearing administrator. For example, the hearing administrator may recall a witness later in the hearing in order for the witness to be asked additional questions. Also, at the discretion of the hearing administrator, a hearing may take place over two or more non-contiguous blocks of time. For example, the hearing administrator may pause a hearing and reconvene it later the same day, or at a later date.