The University Student Conduct System affects and applies to all currently enrolled students and to all registered student organizations. Its major purpose is to help create a fair, just, and disciplined university community. The University Student Conduct System supports the educational mission of the university by educating students about appropriate behavior and by fostering a community in which academic success can occur. The system is based on the assumption that students and groups have the capacity to assume responsibility for their own behavior and that the university has the authority to establish an internal structure for the enforcement of its policies and procedures, which students have agreed to accept by enrolling in the university.
The mission of Student Conduct at Virginia Tech is to partner with Virginia Tech community members to address a student’s conduct inconsistent with university expectations and resolve interpersonal, organizational, and community conflicts. Through a student-focused and learning-centered lens, we utilize a comprehensive approach of informal and formal options to uphold community standards, foster personal growth and development of life skills, and promote a civil learning environment.
The president of Virginia Tech is ultimately responsible for the discipline of all students at the university. Administrative authority and responsibility for Student Conduct policies and procedures is delegated to the vice president for student affairs. Within the Division of Student Affairs, direct supervisory jurisdiction of disciplinary matters involving violations of University Policies for Student Life and the Student Code of Conduct is assumed by Student Conduct. The director of Student Conduct serves as the chief student conduct officer for the university.
Students and student organizations will be considered for disciplinary action whenever violations are committed on university property. For the purposes of disciplinary action only, a student is defined as any individual who has accepted an offer of admission as an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student and who has not yet graduated or officially transferred to another institution. If a student’s enrollment lapses for more than one calendar year, the student will no longer be subject to disciplinary action under this policy. In this policy, a lapse refers to a voluntary decision by the student not to enroll. Students who are separated for disciplinary and/or academic reasons are still considered students for disciplinary purposes.
For violations that do not occur on university property, action will be considered if university officials decide that university interests are involved. Disciplinary action may be taken by the University for any act constituting a violation of the law when the act is contrary to the university’s interests as an academic community. For example, the university may act on information received from other higher education institutions and other agencies from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additionally, Virginia Tech will share information about individuals visiting our campus who engage in misconduct with other institutions as appropriate. The university is especially concerned about high-risk behavior which threatens the lives, health, safety, and academic success of our students and has deemed off-campus violations to be actionable in the university Student Conduct system. Behaviors deemed high-risk include but are not limited to major alcohol violations, illegal drug violations, hazing violations, major theft, abusive conduct, and gender-based violence. When conduct violates both civil law and the policies found in University Policies for Student Life and the Student Code of Conduct, disciplinary action may be taken by the university, irrespective of and separate from action taken by civil authorities. The university may proceed with disciplinary action before a trial or postpone action until after a trial, at the discretion of the university. Student Conduct uses the preponderance of the evidence standard when determining responsibility for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
The Commandant of Cadets administers those elements of the Student Conduct system that adjudicate alleged violations of cadet regulations, directives, policies, and the Cadet Honor Code. Student Conduct in conjunction with the appropriate office (Fraternity and Sorority Life for Greek letter organizations and Student Engagement and Campus Life for all other student organizations) will administer those elements of the Student Conduct system that adjudicate allegations of misconduct related to student organizations.
Direct supervisory jurisdiction is assumed by Student Conduct. It is the responsibility of the Student Conduct to coordinate the adjudication process among the various adjudicating agencies. The following criteria will be used to determine if an incident may be organizational activity, for which a student organization itself may be disciplined. This determination would not remove potential responsibility for the violation by the participating individuals. A student organization can be considered for disciplinary action, if any two of the following characteristics are present:
a. The faculty advisor (if applicable), or any of the executive officers of the organization is aware of the incident sufficiently in advance of its occurrence to prohibit its taking place, and takes no action to prohibit it.
b. The faculty advisor (if applicable), or any of the executive officers of the organization knows the identity of the members involved in the incident and refuses to divulge that information to the appropriate university authorities or the police.
c. The incident takes place in any public area within a chapter house or in any public place.
d. The incident involves the expenditure of any organizational funds.
e. The incident involves or is actively or passively endorsed by a majority of the members of the organization.
f. The incident involves six or more members of the organization.
Any student, faculty member, staff member, administrator, or a concerned party may bring a complaint to the attention of the Student Conduct Office for resolution. Persons who plan to bring a complaint against a Virginia Tech student should notify Student Conduct of their intention to do so as quickly and as prudently possible.
Alleged conduct violations by cadets of university policies and/or Corps of Cadets regulations are adjudicated either by the Cadet Executive Committee or a Deputy Commandant hearing. The Cadet Executive Committee consists of a panel of cadets in senior class standing trained by Student Conduct and the Commandant’s staff. For cases involving the most serious alleged misconduct or misconduct by senior cadets, a Deputy Commandant hearing is convened who is trained by Student Conduct and certified by the Commandant. In these serious cases the Deputy Commandant makes findings and can award sanctions. The responsible Deputy Commandant or the Executive Committee Advisor (a Deputy Commandant), coordinates with the appropriate representative in the Student Conduct to determine, with the Commandant, the procedure for adjudication. The Commandant is the final appellate authority for findings and awarded sanctions for violations of Corps regulations. Cadet regulations stipulate the detailed process of adjudicating alleged cadet misconduct. The appeals process listed outlined in the Formal Conduct Hearing Appeals section applies to any university sanctions.
The university Student Conduct system is supported by a number of student affairs faculty members who are certified by the director of student conduct as university student conduct officers. These individuals have been specifically trained in student conduct and are knowledgeable about university policies and student conduct system precedent. Student Conduct Committees are comprised of students who are specifically trained and certified by the director of student conduct in the university student conduct process.
When a complaint is received, it is reviewed to determine if there is a conflict to be resolved or if there is a potential violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The involved student(s)/organization is/are contacted for a meeting with a student conduct designee to discuss the incident in question. The purpose of the meeting is to review the contents of the complaint and discuss options for resolution.
Possible outcomes of this meeting include:
1. The complaint will be considered resolved if the student conduct designee believes that the complaint is unsupported by the available information.
2. All identified parties impacted by the conflict can agree to proceed via an adaptable conflict resolution (ACR) process.
3. There may be a potential violation of the student code of conduct and the complaint may be resolved through an agreed resolution.
4. The complaint is referred to a formal hearing and the student/organization is notified of Student Code of Conduct charges and the hearing date.
Adaptable conflict resolution (ACR) processes allow individuals involved in a conflict to have significant influence over the resolution process and the outcome. If (1) all identified parties impacted by the conflict agree to attempt resolution through one of these processes, and (2) the student conduct designee believes that the process is an appropriate form of resolution, then arrangements will be made for resolution via ACR. The nature of some complaints, especially those involving abusive conduct and gender-based violence, may render ACR inappropriate.
Participation in an ACR process is voluntary and may or may not result in an agreement or resolution. When a mutually satisfactory resolution is reached by the parties, the matter is resolved. By resolving the matter through ACR, the student/organization agrees to fulfill any outcomes that are developed during the meeting. Resolutions reached through ACR may not be appealed. If a resolution is not achieved through an attempt at ACR or there is a failure to complete the agreed upon outcomes and the matter involved a potential Student Code of Conduct violation, the director of student conduct, or designee, will determine if the complaint will be resolved through an Agreed Resolution or a Formal Hearing.
When a complaint alleging a bias-related incident is received, the involved parties will be contacted for a meeting with a student conduct designee to discuss the incident, the options for conduct resolution, and determine next steps for moving forward. The pathway to resolve the case will be determined by the nature of the complaint, whether a potential policy violation exists, and the requests of all parties involved, including the university. Some incidents may not be suitable for Adaptable Conflict Resolution or an Agreed Resolution.
The student/organization will meet with a conduct officer to discuss the specific incident in question. The conduct officer will provide a copy of the complaint and ask the student/organization to make a statement regarding their involvement in the reported incident. If the student/organization accepts responsibility for the violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct, the student/organization has the option of resolving the case through an agreed resolution. By resolving the case through an agreed resolution, the student/organization accepts responsibility for the alleged violation(s) and agrees to fulfill any sanctions or educational assignments that are developed during the meeting. By entering into an agreed resolution, the student/organization waives the right to a formal hearing and the outcome is final. If the student/organization rejects the agreed resolution, the case will be referred to a formal hearing. A student/organization may indicate their preference of an administrator or student conduct committee hearing, absent special circumstances. Not receiving the preferred hearing body is not a basis for a formal appeal. The director of student conduct, or designee, reserves the right to refer cases to a formal hearing without the opportunity to handle the case through an agreed resolution.
The student/organization will be notified in advance of the conduct charges he/she has allegedly violated, and the time, date, and location of the hearing. During the formal hearing, the conduct officer(s)/committee will determine responsibility for the alleged violations, including sanctions, if necessary. The outcome of that formal hearing will be final unless the hearing results in certain outcomes (see Student Conduct Formal Hearing Appeals Section).
In formal conduct hearings, a student or organization is entitled to the following procedural guarantees:
1. The student or organization will be provided with a written statement of charges sufficiently in advance of the hearing and in reasonable detail to allow the student or organization to prepare a case for the formal hearing.
2. Although students or organizational representatives may remain silent during a formal hearing, they may choose to refute or question any information or witnesses and will be given an opportunity to present a rebuttal to the charges and to produce witnesses or written statements on their own behalf.
3. To help them prepare their response, students or organizational representatives may choose an advisor, who may be present at the formal hearing but may not participate in the proceedings. The advisor’s role is specifically limited to conferring with her or his advisee. When the formal hearing involves an assault or any complaint where a student is the referral agent, and/or an alleged victim, the complainant and accused student may have a support person or advisor present throughout the formal hearing, but the support person may not participate in the process.
4. At a formal hearing, the student or organizational representative may challenge the objectivity of any committee member or administrator, given reasonable cause to believe that the member may be biased or have a conflict of interest. (In the case of a committee formal hearing, the committee advisor will make a final ruling on any such challenge.)
5. After the formal hearing, the student or organization may appeal the decision of the hearing officer or committee, provided there are appropriate grounds as found in the Student Conduct Formal Hearing Appeals section.
These incidents will be reviewed and/or investigated by the university's Deputy Title IX coordinator (or designee) and the information gathered by the Deputy Title IX coordinator will be the basis of the complaint. The Deputy Title IX coordinator is Frank Shushok, Jr., Ph.D. and can be reached at 540-231-8069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both students will be advised of their procedural guarantees in a informational meeting with a representative from Student Conduct. A formal hearing will occur within 30 days of receipt of information from the Deputy Title IX coordinator. Hearings involving alleged gender-based violence will be adjudicated by a mixed gender team of university student conduct officers. For incidents that occur at the end of the fall or spring semester or during breaks, the 30 day timeframe for a hearing may be adjusted at the discretion of the director of student conduct. The student conduct officers will request witnesses that they believe are necessary to the hearing. Both students will have the option to bring any additional witnesses. For gender-based violence cases both the complainant and the charged student have the same procedural guarantees and can file an appeal (see Student Conduct Formal Hearing Appeals).
When the outcome of a formal hearing results in one of the following sanctions (suspension, dismissal, and denial of athletic privileges/housing/network access) the charged student/organization may appeal. A written request for an appeal, stating the specific grounds upon which the appeal is based, must be received in the Student Conduct office by the end of the seventh business day following notification of the decision regarding the case. The day the decision is given is considered the first day of the appeal period. Appeals submitted after the seventh business day will not be accepted except in extenuating circumstances as determined by Student Conduct. For gender-based violence cases both the complainant and the respondent can file an appeal regardless of the outcome. Both students have the same grounds to appeal and the same timeframe in which to submit an appeal.
An appeal is defined as a written request for review of the original case. The burden is on the appealing student/organization to demonstrate why the finding or sanction should be altered. Sanctions do not typically take effect until the appellate officer decision is final.
Students/organizations may appeal their cases using forms available from Student Conduct. Appeals must be based only on the following grounds: (1) denial of procedural guarantees, (2) significant and relevant new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing, and/or (3) sanctions/findings that are unduly harsh or arbitrary. Appeal requests will be denied in cases not having sufficient grounds in one or more of these areas.
To comply with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (as amended), Virginia Tech will not release educational records or personally identifiable information contained therein, other than directory information, without students’ written consent. For more information, visit the University Registrar’s website at, http://www.registrar.vt.edu/records/ferpa.php. Student Conduct case records are private and will not be released without a student's written consent or by order of a court of law. Exceptions are noted below. A copy of Student Conduct case materials will stay on file in the Student Conduct for a period of five years from the date of the incident, after which time it will no longer be released. Active student conduct sanctions from previous cases will always be considered by the hearing officer when determining sanctions. Records less than five years old with inactive sanctions will be considered, as appropriate, in determining sanctions. For Virginia Tech students who pursue additional degrees at Virginia Tech, active student conduct records will always be considered by the hearing officer when determining sanctions. Inactive sanctions of suspensions and dismissals will be considered, as appropriate, in determining sanctions.
Notification of student conduct outcomes or decisions is made on a need-to-know basis and includes but is not limited to the Dean of Students, the Commandant of Cadets in cases involving cadets, the Office of the Graduate School in cases involving graduate students, the director of Cranwell International Center in cases involving international students, the Athletic Department in cases involving varsity athletes, the director of Housing & Residence Life in cases involving residence hall students, and victims of crimes of violence (including abusive conduct and gender-based violence) involving student respondents. Parents/guardians of students under age 21 will be notified if their student is found responsible for a violation of the alcoholic beverage or illegal drug policies. Other university agencies or organizations may be required to obtain written release before they can receive notification. Student conduct cases involving student organizations are not private. Accordingly, hearing notification and sanction letters are sent to organizational advisors and national headquarters (if applicable).
In the case of suspension or dismissal, notification is sent to the Office of the University Registrar, the chief of the Virginia Tech Police, and the student's academic dean. In the case of suspension, a temporary notation is placed on the student's official transcript: “suspended for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct”. . Upon the request of the student, this notation may be removed at the end of the suspension period and once all sanctions are complete. These requests should be made to the director of student conduct. In the case of dismissal, a permanent notation is made on the student's transcript: “dismissed for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.” Lesser sanctions, such as warning and probation, do not affect a student's academic standing and do not appear on the official transcript.
The following student conduct sanctions may be imposed upon a student or student organization for violation of university policy. Student conduct sanctions are generally cumulative in nature. This information will only be relevant after a student is accepts or is found responsible for the violation. When multiple incidents occur over a short period of time, student conduct hearings are usually scheduled in chronological order according to the date of the incident(s), and all student conduct records are considered in determining an appropriate sanction. Scholarship and student aid committee policy states that university scholarships are withdrawn for students on suspension or deferred suspension, where acceptable university citizenship is a condition of the aid. This policy affects private and some state awards, but does not affect federal aid such as BEOG, SEOG, NDSL, SSIG work study, and guaranteed student loans. Student conduct sanctions may affect a student’s employment with the university such as, undergraduate or graduate teaching assistants, graduate assistantship, or other forms of employment.
Formal Warning Student/organization is officially notified that his or her actions have constituted a violation of university policies and are, therefore, inappropriate. Further violations may result in more serious disciplinary action.
Restitution Student/organization is required to make restitution for damage to university property. Restitution may be in the form of monetary payment or community service.
Educational Activity Student/organization is required to demonstrate his or her responsibility as a member of the university community by performing certain reasonable and relevant educational activities. Failure to complete the educational activity by the time prescribed by the student conduct officer/committee will result in one semester of suspension from the university (excluding summer). Failure of student organizations to complete the educational activity by the time prescribed by the student conduct officer/committee will result in withdrawal of university recognition for one semester (excluding summer).
Probation Student/organization is notified that their status with the university for a specified period of time is such that further violations of university policies will result in being considered for suspension from the university. If at the end of the specified time period no further violations have occurred, the student is removed from probationary status. Student organizations are notified that their status with the university for a specified period of time is such that further violations of university policy will result in being considered for loss of recognition from the university.
Denial of Privileges or Associations Student/organization is notified that, for a specified period of time, certain privileges or associations within the university are withdrawn. This sanction includes, but is not limited to, termination of residence hall contract, removal from athletic events, removal from the Corps of Cadets, denial of the privilege of participating in recreational sports activities, and revocation of the privilege of accessing certain university facilities and revocation of social function privileges for student organizations.
Deferred Sanction In some cases, a sanction of suspension or a denial of privilege may be held in abeyance for a specified period. This means that, if the student/organization is found responsible for any violation during that period, he or she will be subject to the deferred sanction without further review in addition to the disciplinary action appropriate to the new violation. During this time, the certain student organizations may be prohibited from participating in any social functions. For students involved in serious misconduct, the conferring of an academic degree will be deferred for the duration of the sanction.
Suspension from the University Student is notified that he or she is separated from the university for a specified period of time. Students who are suspended must leave campus within the time prescribed by the hearing/appeal officer. Permission to return to Virginia Tech may be required by the director of student conduct. Permission must be granted before a student will be permitted to re-enroll. If the decision to suspend a student is made, imposition of the suspension may be delayed until the following semester at the discretion of the university, for example if the decision occurs very late in the semester. Suspensions effective for the subsequent semester will be effective immediately following the conclusion of the current semester. However, if the hearing officer feels that the health and safety of the student or the university community is at risk, the suspension may be effective immediately. A notation is placed on the student's academic transcript: “suspended for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.” For student organizations, recognition with the university is withdrawn for a specified period of time. Permissions to regain status may be required by the director of student conduct and other appropriate university officials. For students involved in serious misconduct that could result in suspension and have completed their academic course work, the conferring of an academic degree will be withheld for a specified period of time.
Dismissal Student is notified that he or she is permanently separated from the university. A notation is placed on the academic transcript: “dismissed for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.” For student organizations, the organization is notified that the university is permanently removing recognition of the organization. If the decision to dismiss a student is made, imposition of the dismissal may be delayed until the following semester at the discretion of the university, for example if the decision occurs very late in the semester. Dismissals effective for the subsequent semester will be effective immediately following the conclusion of the current semester. However, if the hearing officer feels that the health and safety of the student or the university community is at risk, the dismissal may be effective immediately.
The university retains the authority to impose an interim (immediate) suspension if such action is necessary to preserve the safety of persons or property. In this instance, the students will be afforded an interim suspension hearing and the opportunity to show why their continued presence on campus does not constitute a threat to themselves, others, or property. The interim suspension hearing is separate from a formal student conduct hearing. A formal student conduct hearing will be provided as soon as possible. Students may be interimly suspended from the university or selected campus facilities with proper notice. The following steps explain the procedure for imposing an interim suspension:
1. When a situation, as defined above, occurs, the responding university official contacts the Threat Assessment Team or the associate vice president for student affairs or designee to assess the situation. If the situation is sufficiently serious, the Threat Assessment Team or the associate vice president for student affairs or his/her designee will determine if an interim suspension is appropriate.
2. The student will be sent an interim suspension letter immediately which states that the student is either suspended from the university and/or banned from all or selected campus residential facilities until a formal student conduct hearing can be convened. The chief of police will be contacted to determine if a ban from campus is needed. Upon receipt of the interim suspension, if the student is on campus or in university facilities, the student will be escorted out of the facility and/or off campus by a Virginia Tech Police Officer.
3. The student can immediately request an interim suspension review to be conducted by the associate vice president for student affairs or his/her designee. The interim suspension letter will contain instructions on how to request a review. Those present at the meeting may include the responding university official and other witnesses as deemed appropriate by the associate vice president for student affairs. During the review, the student will be given an opportunity to demonstrate why his or her continued presence on campus does not constitute a threat to themselves, others or property. As part of the review, the student may be required to submit to an immediate medical/psychological evaluation. The student will be evaluated by the director of the Cook Counseling Center or his/her designee.
4. The decision of the interim suspension review will be final. There will be no appeal. If the student does not request a review, the interim suspension and/or ban from campus residential facilities will remain in effect until the formal student conduct hearing is resolved.
5. Interim suspension information will be shared with the Student Conduct. That office will schedule, as soon as possible, a formal student conduct hearing to determine the final consequences of the initiating behavior.