Student Code of Conduct
Shenandoah University has a campus culture of compassion, responsibility, advocacy and justice which students are inspired to replicate in communities beyond Shenandoah.
Shenandoah University is also an inviting, creative, high-energy, principled community where students are educated and inspired. As members of the Shenandoah community, students:
- develop an enduring passion for learning,
- commit themselves to self-reflection and personal development,
- respect diverse cultures, experiences and perspectives,
- celebrate creative performance, expression, teaching and discovery,
- cultivate leadership to advance positive change and growth, and
- dedicate themselves to citizenship, professional service and global outreach.
Students who are fully engaged in the Shenandoah community become alumni who are:
- critical, reflective thinkers,
- lifelong learners, and
- ethical, compassionate citizens committed to making responsible contributions within a community, a nation and the world.
To promote and protect the high standards of the Shenandoah University community, the Student Code of Conduct outlines every student’s rights and responsibilities and establishes just and compassionate procedures for resolving student conduct issues. The procedures have been developed for the benefit of the entire community. Students who choose not to abide by the Student Code of Conduct are accountable for their choices. The conduct resolution process and conduct sanctions are designed so students will learn from their mistakes and develop in their maturity. Serious or repeated violations – indicating a refusal to uphold university policies, contracts or regulations – will ultimately result in a student’s suspension or dismissal from Shenandoah University. Consistently upholding the expectations of the Student Code of Conduct results in graduates who live up to the name Shenandoah: sons and daughters of the stars.
- The Office of the Vice President for Student Life, through its various departments, is responsible for administering the Student Code of Conduct. The vice president for student life (or designee) may establish or amend procedural regulations governing the handling of disciplinary matters, and these regulations may be published online, in print or by other reasonable means of notification. The vice president for student life (or designee) has authority for any interpretation of the Student Code of Conduct and/or accompanying procedures as deemed necessary.
- The university may initiate conduct proceedings with a student whose behavior does not conform to established standards regardless of whether such conduct occurred on or off campus. This includes times when classes are not in session such as summer and breaks. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, or the existence of other mental impairment, does not alter the fact or excuse behavior that constitutes a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. The Student Code of Conduct is applicable immediately after a student is enrolled at Shenandoah University throughout his/her entire matriculation.
The Student Code of Conduct is applicable for guests of students as well, and Shenandoah student hosts are accountable for the misconduct of their guests.
- The university may initiate a complaint, serve as complainant and initiate conduct proceedings against a student at any time, even in the absence of a formal complaint by an alleged victim of misconduct.
- An officially registered student group or organization and its officers may be held responsible for violations of the Student Code of Conduct when particular misconduct received the tacit or explicit consent or encouragement of the club or organization, or of the club’s or organization’s leaders, officers or spokespersons. Under such circumstances, official registration status of the student club or organization may be temporarily or permanently rescinded by the university.
- For student conduct matters, Shenandoah University electronic mail (email) is the official method of communication and notification from university officials to members of the student body. As university students are responsible for viewing their email every day, all conduct notifications will be electronically communicated. Failure to check email or open communications sent will not serve as justification for missed meetings and incompletion of deadlines or sanctions.
- Conduct proceedings are internal to the university and are not an extension of any external conduct system. University conduct procedures are fundamentally fair to students, but are notably different from those used in a civil or criminal proceeding. In addition, the university may initiate conduct proceedings with a student regardless of pending civil or criminal action involving the same or a different set of factual circumstances. University conduct action may proceed before, simultaneous with, or after external investigative or judicial action, and university action is not bound, impeded or otherwise affected by any action taken by external authorities.
- At Shenandoah University, the functions of the chief hearing officer are exercised by the dean of students. The vice president for student life serves as the chief judicial affairs officer. The function of the vice president for student life may be delegated to designees who are members of the university administration and who shall exercise the necessary functions on behalf of the dean of students and the vice president for student life. All references to dean of students and vice president for student life in these procedures include such designees. University conduct outcomes are determined by preponderance of evidence that it is more likely or more likely than not that a conduct violation occurred.
- Students with complaints involving sexual misconduct and other forms of discriminatory harassment are encouraged to report their concerns to the university’s Title IX Coordinator. Please refer to the Sexual Misconduct Policy section of this catalog for comprehensive policy and procedures including definitions, the complaint policy and the appeals process.
Students and student organizations reported for alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct as outlined in this document have a right to the following:
- written notice of allegation(s) citing the time and/or place of the alleged violation in the form of a charge letter;
- resolution of allegation(s) in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct policies as herein outlined;
- at least 48 hours notice of the time and place of a hearing; however, there are times when an expedited hearing may occur.
- review of the reported information (redacted of personally identifiable information) that serves as the basis for the allegation(s) or if a student’s continued presence on campus endangers university property, the physical safety or well-being of other members of the campus community, affects his/her physical or emotional safety or well-being or disrupts the educational process of the community, the dean of students (or designee) may initiate an expedited hearing. (Please see expedited hearing for full details);
- assistance from an adviser who can serve as an advocate (any faculty, staff or student currently affiliated with the university); and
- written notice of the hearings and appeals decision from the conduct official.
Students and student organizations can expect privacy to be respected regarding the outcome of their hearing – except for the reporting party’s right to be informed of the conduct official’s decision – and any subsequent appeal.
The person reporting a violation of the Student Code of Conduct has the right to the following:
1. at least 48 hours notice of the time and place of a hearing; except in cases where extenuating circumstances have resulted in an expedited hearing;
2. assistance from an advocate (any faculty, staff or student currently affiliated with the university);
3. a consultation with an additional conduct official (other than the one assigned to hear the case). This additional consultation helps the student understand and prepare for the conduct process. Request for consultation can be made through the dean of student’s office;
4. participation in the hearing in person or via telephone or videoconference; and
5. notice of the hearings and appeals decisions from the conduct official.
Definitions of Inappropriate and Prohibited Conduct
The following behaviors and definitions constitute the official record of general Student Code of Conduct rules and regulations at Shenandoah University. All applicable housing and residence life policies and regulations (including the housing contract) also fall within action of this code. In an effort to reinforce accountability for one’s actions, individual students and student organizations are responsible for understanding and abiding by these rules and regulations as well as all federal, state and local laws.
Academic dishonesty – For a complete understanding of the term “academic dishonesty,” read the Honor Code under Academic Policies. Academic dishonesty is actionable through the Honor Code.
Accessory – Aiding another person or being involved in any violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Aiding includes the following: being present or failing to immediately leave a situation in which a violation is occurring or is about to occur or abetting, conspiring, hiring, encouraging or being an accessory to any act prohibited by the Student Code of Conduct. A student charged as an accessory may be subject to the same sanction(s) as a perpetrator of the actual violation.
Alcohol – Since alcohol and drug use are governed by national social policy as well as state and federal law, and as the use and abuse of such substances are frequently associated with harm to self and others, Shenandoah University takes alcohol and drug violations seriously.All known offenders face conduct charges and may be subject to arrest. All known violations of the alcohol and drug policies fall under Shenandoah University’s progressive discipline system in which succeeding violations entail more serious consequences, including possible suspension and dismissal from the university.
The following are deemed alcohol violations of Shenandoah University’s Code of Conduct:
- Possessing or using alcoholic beverages by any student under the age of 21 is prohibited. Students may also be charged under this provision if their guests are under the age of 21 and possess or use alcoholic beverages. Students may be charged under this provision even if alcohol is not found but the student admits to or is found to be intoxicated. Shenandoah University abides by the principle that a student’s body is a container. Therefore, if there is cause to believe a student has consumed alcohol and is underage, they are violating this policy;
- Possessing or using alcoholic beverages by any student in areas where alcohol is not permitted is prohibited. For example, alcohol is not permitted in any freshmen/first year residence hall. Alcohol is not permitted in classrooms or other university buildings unless prior approval is obtained. For policies relating to obtaining permission for the use of alcohol, please see Non-Academic Policies, Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy;
- Providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited;
- Possessing common containers or implements – including but not limited to kegs, branded bottles, wine boxes, party balls and beer-pong balls – on university property is prohibited;
- Being intoxicated in public is prohibited. A student may violate this provision by being charged with intoxication in public by local law enforcement or if university officials observe a student who is intoxicated in public. Intoxication factors include but are not limited to: stumbling, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, incoherent speech, etc. Public is defined to include on campus facilities and off campus facilities;
- Having open containers of alcohol in an unlicensed public place;
- Transporting unconcealed or open alcohol containers in public on Shenandoah University property;
- Alcohol paraphernalia is prohibited. Such items include, but are not limited to, empty alcohol containers, bottle caps, posters, or items with alcohol messages/logos, etc.;
- Violating local and state alcohol laws; and
- Serving alcohol to students on university property and/or at off-campus university sponsored events without prior approval from the vice president for student life are prohibited.
- Engaging in any behaviors involving games or devices designed for or intended for the facilitation of mass consumption of alcohol is prohibited. This includes but is not limited to beer funnels/bongs and keg stands.
Animals/pets – Possessing any animal in a university building is prohibited. The exceptions to this provision include service animals for individuals with disabilities, fish in tanks holding 10 gallons of water or less or animals used for university programs. There may be no more than two tanks per residence hall room and the combined gallons of the tanks may be no more than ten gallons. Outdoors, all pets are to be properly leashed and attended to while on campus, and all solid waste must be disposed of properly. Any type of animal abuse is prohibited – including but not limited to hurting or abandoning an animal and/or using an animal in a prank whether it be living or dead.
Balconies/rooftops (unauthorized use of) – Climbing on, jumping off of or utilizing rooftops or the elevated balconies of campus property is prohibited.
Bicycles, mopeds, skateboards, skates, hoverboards (inappropriate use of) – Bicycle racks are located at each residence hall and many academic buildings, therefore individuals may not secure bikes or mopeds to fire hydrants, light poles, street signs, etc., or any place where a chained bicycle obstructs or impedes pedestrian or vehicular traffic, including handrails, corridor railings, doorways and handicapped access ways. Motorized bicycles (mopeds) are not to be driven on lawns or sidewalks. Skateboards are permitted only on sidewalks and parking lots unless otherwise posted. The use and storage of hoverboards on campus is not permitted due to safety risks.
Breaking the law – Violating any federal, state or local law may result in being charged by law enforcement and under the terms of the university’s Code of Conduct. We expect all Shenandoah students to report any criminal charges he or she may receive to the Dean of Students Office.
Building/facilities (unauthorized use of) – Using any university property or facility without authorization or permission is unacceptable.
Bullying – Any repeated and pervasive written, verbal or electronic expression, physical act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, which is intended to cause physical or mental distress to one or more individuals, or the behavior is demeaning, degrading, frightening or causes injury, including fighting, stalking, etc. An act is repeated if it occurs on two separate occasions. Bullying includes but is not limited to: intimidation or menacing acts that may, but not need be, based on the individual’s race, color, sex, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation. Bullying is an elevated charge of harassment and/or verbal abuse as it is a repeated course of conduct directed at another student.
Conduct Unbecoming of a Shenandoah University Student - Enrollment at Shenandoah University presumes a responsibility on the part of the student to act at all times in a manner in congruence with the university’s mission, vision and values. Students are expected to uphold standards of the community in regard to their personal conduct and academic integrity. Students are expected to respect the rights and privileges of all members of the Shenandoah community.
Criminal record (acknowledging one’s) – Failing to report one’s federal or state probation, felony criminal charges or conviction of a felony to the vice president for student life within 10 business days following the charge throughout one’s duration as a student with Shenandoah University may result in expulsion from the institution.
Disruptive behavior – Disrupting the normal functions of the Shenandoah University community on or off campus – including, but not limited to behavior that breaches the peace, violates the rights of others or constitutes a public nuisance – is prohibited.
Endangering conduct – Acting in a way that imperils or jeopardizes the health or safety of one’s self or others is prohibited.
Event promotion (inappropriate and/or unauthorized) – Publicizing an event before scheduling confirmation has been completed and proper approval has been received is prohibited. Additionally, hanging advertisements, posters, etc., without receiving approval from the student life information coordinator in the Office of Student Life is unacceptable.
Failure to evacuate – Failing to immediately exit a university building when a fire alarm or other emergency sounds is prohibited.
Failure to inform guests – Failing to inform guests – both student and non-student – of university policies is prohibited. Shenandoah University students are required to escort their guests at all times and are responsible for their guests’ actions while on campus. If a guest of a student violates university policy, the Shenandoah University student may be charged accordingly under our Code of Conduct as students are responsible for their guest’s behavior. Guests may be banned from the university for failing to abide by the Student Code of Conduct.
Failure to report health and/or safety violations – Failing to immediately report any serious health or safety risk to the Department of Public Safety, the Division of Student Life or, when the danger is immediate and severe, the Winchester City Police, is a violation.Engaging in a health and safety risk to the community may include failure to keep a residence hall room as a clean and safe environment.
Fire and/or emergency threat – Starting a fire, arson, creating a fire hazard, setting off the fire alarm system, making a bomb threat or creating a false emergency of any kind are prohibited. Tampering with fire alarms, smoke detectors, extinguishers or any emergency equipment is prohibited. Creating a fire hazard can include but is not limited to having a candle, candle warmer or extension cord in a residence hall.
Fireworks and explosive devices – Possessing, storing or using fireworks or explosives of any kind on university property are prohibited; this includes hazardous chemicals that could pose a health risk either by themselves or in conjunction with other chemicals.
Gambling – Gambling is against Virginia General Assembly legislation. A person or organization is guilty of illegal gambling if she/he operates, plays or bets at any game of risk at which any money, property or other thing of value is won.
Harassment – Abusive physical and verbal conduct, cyber-bullying and intimidation in any form – including but not limited to curses, epithets or slurs – that creates potential or present danger of violence and/or breach of the peace is prohibited. Harassment is an elevated charge of verbal abuse as the conduct creates potential or present danger of violence and/or breach of the peace.
Hazing – Encouraging, facilitating or allowing hazing by any organization or individual on behalf of an organization or group recognized or not by the university – is prohibited. “Hazing” is any action or situation requiring inappropriate behavior, creating an atmosphere of servitude or allowing potentially dangerous, demeaning, humiliating, ridiculing or degrading activities regardless of intent or consent of the participant(s), by a group(s) or a member of a group(s) on an individual as a part of membership or initiation.
Illegal drugs – Possessing, using, distributing, sharing, manufacturing or selling any controlled substance or illegal drug as well as drug residue and/or possessing paraphernalia associated with drugs is prohibited. Distribution of any controlled substances, regardless of the exchange of money or services, typically results in dismissal from the institution. By Virginia law - incidents concerning illegal drugs and/or paraphernalia require the involvement of local law enforcement.
The following are deemed illegal drug violations of Shenandoah University’s Code of Conduct:
- Possession, consumption, purchase and/or distribution of any drug and/or controlled substance.
- Possession or use of drug paraphernalia. This includes possession of drug paraphernalia that has never been used for drug consumption or use.
- Possession with intent to manufacture, distribute and/or sell any drug or other controlled substance.
- Misuse or abuse of consumer products (ex. medications, bath salts, etc).
Infringing on the rights of others – All pranks and/or careless and irresponsible behavior that cause, or have the potential to cause, damage to university or personal property, cause personal injuries or infringe on the rights of others are unacceptable. Such behaviors include, but are not limited to: water fights, shaving cream fights or tampering with another’s property. No objects are permitted to be thrown or projected against the exterior of any university building.
Invasion of privacy – Transmitting, recording or photographing the image or voice of another person without his/her knowledge or consent while in an environment that is considered private or where there is an expectation of privacy such as a residence hall or bathroom is prohibited. Invasion of privacy as explained here can include but is not limited to posting images or recordings on social media outlets such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.
Lewd, obscene and/or indecent behavior – Conducting one’s self in any way that is offensive to accepted standards of decency is prohibited. Examples include, but are not limited to, indecent exposure, public nudity, public urination and defecation.
Littering – Improperly disposing of trash of any kind – including tobacco products and recyclable material – is inappropriate.
Lying – A misrepresentation or distortion of the truth that misleads another person(s) is inappropriate. Furnishing false information, verbally or in writing, to any university representative with the intent to deceive, or altering or misusing any official documents is violation of university policy. Dishonesty includes the transfer of an identification card to another person or the alteration of an I.D. card. Possession or presentation of a false I.D. card to a student or university official is also a violation.
Noise – Violating the noise policy while on campus is prohibited. Please see the Residence Life Noise Policy for additional information.
Non-compliance – Failing to comply with the directions of university officials or those appointed to act on behalf of the university in the performance of their duties is prohibited. Examples include but are not limited to failing to follow the guidelines of sanctioned programs, failure to show identification (I.D. card) or providing false information upon request of university official who identifies themselves, and refusal to attend a disciplinary hearing. Three charges of non-compliance may result in suspension.
Objects dropped, thrown or propelled – Causing an object to fall from buildings or other elevated areas is prohibited.
Parking – Detailed parking regulations can be found online at https://www.su.edu/parking
Physical abuse – Any action that causes physical injury or physical discomfort to another is prohibited, including threats of violence, which are actions or speech used to express or suggest intent to physically injure an individual or cause a person to have a reasonable belief that harm may occur.
Property damage – Damaging or destroying university property or the property of others is prohibited.
Sexual misconduct – Engaging in any sexual behavior without consent – including sexual conduct that occurs after consent has been withdrawn – is prohibited. Sexual misconduct encompasses a wide scope of behavior that includes, but is not limited to, non-consensual sexual intercourse (or attempts to commit the same), non-consensual sexual contact (or attempts to commit the same), sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, relationship violence and stalking. Sexual harassment can also include making unwelcome sexual advances, requesting sexual favors or engaging in other verbal and/or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Students with complaints involving sexual misconduct are encouraged to report their concerns to the university’s Title IX Coordinator. Please refer to the Sexual Misconduct Policy website for current policy and procedures: www.su.edu/campus-life/shenandoahuniversitys-stance-on-sexual-misconduct.
Smoking – Smoking in any university building or within 30 feet of any entrance or window is prohibited. Smoking is defined as the lighting or burning of any pipe, cigar, cigarette, electronic cigarette (aka vaping) or other product. Shenandoah University is committed to providing a safe, healthy and pleasant learning and work environment for its students and employees.
Solicitation – Any type of door-to-door sale, solicitation or distribution that inconveniences, harasses or annoys members of the university community are prohibited. Solicitations not in accordance with federal, state or local law or without the permission of the director of student engagement or the dean of students are prohibited. Organizations and/or individuals who are not affiliated with the university may not conduct solicitations or distribute information on campus or in any Shenandoah University building without permission from the director of student engagement or the dean of students.
Stealing and/or possessing unauthorized material – Taking property belonging to another person(s) without authorization or through unlawful appropriation or possession is prohibited. No student shall steal, attempt to steal, or assist in the theft of any service, money, property, or item of value not belonging to him or her. No student will illegally use or appropriate any property not belonging to him or her. Possession of the property of another, of the university, or of any organization or institution without proper authorization is a violation of this policy.
Student I.D. (failure to carry) – Failing to carry a valid Shenandoah University I.D. card at all times when on university property is unacceptable. Transferring and or duplicating a university I.D. card is prohibited. Additionally, an I.D. card must be provided upon request to any individual acting on behalf of the university in the performance of his/her official duties.(See failure to comply.)
Trespassing – Refusing to leave an area as directed by an authorized university official is considered trespassing. Any unauthorized individual entering a university-operated building which has been closed or locked shall be guilty of trespassing. No student shall enter or remain in a private room, office, or restricted area under the control of another student, faculty member, or university official, except by permission or invitation of the resident student or the appropriate Shenandoah official or faculty member.
Vandalism – Graffiti, cutting, defacing or otherwise damaging personal or university property is prohibited.
Vehicles (inappropriate use of) – Motorized vehicles are restricted to roads and parking lots on campus. Exception may be made by the Department of Public Safety and Physical Plant. Keeping an unregistered motor vehicle on campus is prohibited.
Verbal abuse – Directing obscene, profane language or abusive verbal conduct toward another person or group of people is prohibited. (See also harassment.)
Violating other university regulations – Violating the rules or regulations of any Shenandoah University department or program – including but not limited to athletic events, computer technology, conservatory events and residence life – is prohibited.
Weapons – The use, possession, carrying or storage of any firearm, dangerous weapon, explosive or other dangerous article is prohibited on any property, building, land, parking lot or vehicle owned, leased, rented or operated by Shenandoah University. This policy also applies to a concealed weapon for which the carrier has a legal permit, as well as weapons in any facility or within a vehicle on university property. Only certified and sworn law enforcement officers are exempt from this policy. Weapon is defined as any object or substance designed or used to inflict a wound or with the potential to cause injury or incapacitate another person. Mace and pepper spray are prohibited.
Although most alleged violations are documented by the members of the Department of Public Safety and/or members of the Office of Residence Life and the Dean of Students Office, any individual who is aware of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct may submit a report to the Office of the Vice President for Student Life, the Office of Residence Life, the Dean of Students Office and/or the Department of Public Safety. Reports should be submitted as soon as possible, but preferably within five (5) days of the incident.
Reports should contain a complete description of the incident with the names of all parties involved as participants or witnesses. The university may pursue a complaint when a violation of the Student Code of Conduct harms employees, university guests or neighbors or if witnesses are unwilling to pursue the matter.
The Student Code of Conduct applies to student organizations as well as to individual students. Whenever a complaint is filed, the dean of student (or designee) will review the complaint to determine the degree to which a group or individual may be responsible for the actions leading to the complaint. If it is determined an organization is responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the dean of students (or designee) will take appropriate actions with respect to the organization as well as the individuals involved.
If a student’s continued presence in class or on campus endangers university property, the physical safety or well-being of other members of the campus community, affects his/her physical or emotional safety or well-being or disrupts the educational process of the community, the vice president for student life (or designee) may invoke an interim suspension. An interim suspension is an immediate temporary suspension from the university pending a hearing.
The dean of students or designee issues no-contact orders. A no-contact order prohibits a student from having any direct or indirect contact or contact via a third party with a particular person. No-contact orders may be enacted prior to, during and/or after an investigation of violations of the code of conduct. Once issued, no-contact orders are in place indefinitely unless the dean of students or designee issues a notification of removal.
Notification of Charges
A student will receive written notification of alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct in the form of a charge letter. The student must respond to the notice of charges within the time frame outlined in the notification. Note: The university’s primary means of communication with students is through Shenandoah University email accounts. Students are responsible for reading and responding to email from university officials. Failure to respond, and/or attend the scheduled meeting may result in an additional charge of noncompliance. The hearing may also proceed without the student present if he/she fails to appear. Three or more non-compliance charges may result in suspension (the definition section of this document explains non-compliance).
Methods of Resolution
The dean of students (or designee) will review cases submitted for the conduct resolution process. If the dean of students (or designee) determines charges are appropriate, the student will be notified of the alleged violation and the appropriate resolution procedure. There are several resolution procedures:
- Conduct Conversation
A Conduct Conversation may be offered for first-time minor offenses for which a mediation or discussion is feasible. The alleged violations will be referred to the appropriate conduct official, who will contact the accused student(s) and attempt to resolve the case via a Conduct Conversation. During the Conduct Conversation, the accused student(s) and the conduct official will discuss the incident and alleged violations. If a student accepts responsibility, a verbal warning is the typical outcome. In addition, the conduct official may determine the student is not responsible for a violation during the conversation.
If, during the course of the Conduct Conversation, the conduct official determines the nature of the violation(s) is more serious than anticipated, the conduct official may either hear the case – with the permission of the accused student – or refer the case to the associate director of student conduct (or designee) for a Conduct Hearing.
- Conduct Hearing
A Conduct Hearing is the basic method of resolution for all offenses that warrant sanctions. Typical sanctions include educational tasks, written warnings, conduct probation, fines, community service, community restitution, referral for resources, suspension or dismissal from the university.
Students have the right to appeal decisions made during a Conduct Hearing via the dean of students (or designee), who will serve as the appellate officer. In some instances, the case may still be referred to the Community Conduct Council by appellate officer. (See the Appeal Process for more details.)
- Community Conduct Council
In some cases, the dean of students (or designee) may determine the most appropriate process is a Community Conduct Council, which consists of three students, one staff member, and the Dean of Students or Associate Director of Student Conduct serves as the chair. A full range of sanctions is available in this procedure, including recommendations for suspension and/or dismissal from the university. (See the Community Conduct Council Process for more details.)
Students have the right to appeal decisions made by the Community Conduct Council. (See the Appeal Process for more details.)
- Expedited Hearing
If a student’s continued presence on campus endangers university property, the physical safety or well-being of other members of the campus community, affects his/her physical or emotional safety or well-being or disrupts the educational process of the community, the dean of students (or designee) may initiate an expedited hearing. An expedited hearing may convene immediately and may void a student’s 48-hour notice of hearing.
- Alternative Resolution
Students may be given the option of entering into an alternative dispute resolution process. The dean of students typically utilizes Alternative Resolution when the case is well suited for rich educational outcomes and/or when parties have vested interest or need to restore the relationship. Information on the process, how it works, what it can and cannot do and how to initiate mediation is available through the dean of students.
Community Conduct Council Procedures
- All parties involved in a hearing may review available written evidence in the case file with personally identifiable information redacted at a pre-hearing meeting with the presiding conduct official.
- The Community Conduct Council chair will conduct the hearing according to the following procedures:
- The chair will inform the accused student(s) of the alleged violation(s).
- The accused student(s) may acknowledge whether they are responsible or not responsible for the violation(s).
- The person(s) reporting the violation(s) and witnesses (if any) may have an opportunity to make opening statements and offer their account of the incident.
- The accused student(s) and their witnesses (if any) will have the opportunity to make opening statements and offer their account of the incident.
- The reporting person(s) and the accused student(s) may question each other and any witnesses.
- The chair and Community Conduct Council members may question the reporting person(s), the accused student(s) and/or any witnesses.
- The reporting person(s) and the accused student(s) may make closing statements. In cases in which the reporting person(s) or accused student(s) fail to appear, the chair may modify these procedures.
- All Community Conduct Councils shall be conducted in accordance with the standards of fair process. Specifically, the accused student(s) should be informed of the nature of the charge(s) against him/her, be given a fair opportunity to refute the charges and have the opportunity to appeal the decision. Any conduct official who feels he/she cannot be impartial in a given case shall recuse himself/herself and shall be replaced by another Community Conduct Council member.
- The dean of students (or designee) may require the cooperation of any member of the university community in furnishing testimony or evidence directly related to the resolution of a case. However, no member of the university staff with whom an accused student has a confidential relationship can be required to give information arising from that relationship without the permission of the accused student. Furthermore, the conduct official shall excuse a witness if the conduct official concludes that by giving testimony the witness may be endangered.
- Audio recordings will be made of full hearings. Written summaries of findings will be maintained with the case file. Recordings of the hearing are to be used by the council during deliberations and/or an appellate review. Recordings will be destroyed after the appeal process is complete.
Additional Information for Each Method of Conduct Resolution
- Student conduct records are confidential and are available only to persons who have permission from the students. Limited conduct information may be shared with other Shenandoah University administrators and faculty members who have a legitimate need to know.
- All hearings are closed to the general public.
- If an accused student fails to appear for a scheduled hearing, the hearing may be decided in his/her absence. The dean of students (or designee) will hear the case based on the available information. The university will not necessarily drop charges of misconduct if an accused student leaves Shenandoah University for any reason (e.g., voluntary withdrawal, required resignation, separation or dismissal from the university).
- An accused student may bring an adviser to a hearing. The adviser must be a member of the university community and can be a student, faculty or staff member. During the hearing, the adviser may only advise during recesses granted by the conduct official and may clarify procedural questions before, during or after the hearing.
- The conduct official makes decisions about responsibility and sanction(s). These decisions shall be based on the evidentiary standard of “preponderance of evidence,” meaning the conduct official determines if it is more likely than not the alleged violation occurred.
- The university requires the conduct official(s), Community Conduct Council members and administrative staff to maintain confidentiality regarding conduct matters. Individual(s) who report the alleged violation(s) may be informed of the conduct official’s decision. Information about assigned sanctions may be shared with reporting parties as deemed appropriate by the dean of students (or designee). The vice president for student life (or designee) may share information about conduct charges, findings and sanctions with university personnel who, at the discretion of the dean of students or vice president for student life, have a legitimate need to know.
A student found responsible for a violation of university policy during a Student Conduct Hearing or through a Community Conduct Council may request an appeal based on one of the following:
- insufficient information that a policy was violated or the availability of new evidence;
- a serious procedural error in resolving the case; and/or
- a sanction inappropriate for the violation.
A request for an appeal to the dean of students (or designee) must be made in writing within 72 hours of receipt of the original written decision. Typically, an appeal decision will be rendered within 10 business days, unless the sanction includes suspension or dismissal. After review, the vice president for student life, dean of students (or designee) may:
- affirm the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
- reverse the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
- alter the sanction(s) of the original hearing authority (and, if altered, sanctions may be made more or less severe); or
- refer the case to an appeal hearing.
A subsequent appeal, which is permitted only in cases in which suspension or dismissal are assigned, must be submitted in writing to the vice president for student life (or designee) within 48 hours of receipt of the appeal decision. The vice president for student life, dean of students (or designee) may:
- affirm the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
- reverse the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
- alter the sanction(s) of the original hearing authority (and, if altered, sanctions may be made more or less severe); or
- uphold the appeal decision made by the dean of students (or designee).
The decision of the vice president for student life (or designee) on all hearing appeals resulting in suspension or dismissal is the final decision for Shenandoah University. The decision of the dean of students (or designee) on all other appeals is the final decision for Shenandoah University.
- Found Responsible: The accused student is responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct as charged.
- Found Not Responsible: The accused student is not responsible for a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
Reasons for Sanctioning
A sanction is a consequence placed upon a student for violating the Student Code of Conduct. The purposes of imposing sanctions are twofold: to protect the university community from behavior that is detrimental to its health, safety and educational mission; and to assist students in understanding what it means to be accountable for their actions and/or what the consequences may be for future behavior.
All students who are sanctioned will be treated with fair consideration, and all circumstances involved in an incident will be considered in sanctioning as each individual case is unique. A student charged as an accessory may be subject to the same sanction(s) as the primary violator.
Shenandoah University employs a progressive discipline system in which succeeding violations entail more serious consequences, including suspension and dismissal from the university.
Sanctions Related to Group Behavior
In addition to recommending other sanctions such as educational assignments, community restitution, fines, etc., the vice president for student life, dean of students (or designee) may recommend the imposition of one or more of the following:
- a written disciplinary warning with a copy maintained in the conduct file. The warning may specify corrective measures that can help the group avoid similar issues in the future;
- disciplinary probation for a time period established by the conduct official, implying the group’s standing within the university is in jeopardy and further negligent or willful violations may result in suspension of university recognition. Disciplinary probation may include restrictions on the group’s functions during the probationary period. The group is informed of corrective measures that must be undertaken during the probationary period and maintained after its conclusion; and/or
- suspension of university recognition. A group that wants to reestablish a relationship with Shenandoah University must re-apply for recognition by the university through the vice president for student life.
Sanctions Related to Individual Behavior
A student may be sanctioned to one or more of the following depending on the seriousness of the violation. Sanctions are determined by a conduct official or Community Conduct Council.
Additional stipulations: additional sanctions a student must complete and/or follow.
Campus ban: student is banned from being present on either the entire campus or specified areas of the campus.
Community restitution project: work projects on or off campus.
Conduct probation: period of self-reflection during which a student is on official warning that subsequent violations of university rules, regulations or policies are likely to result in more severe sanctions, including suspension or dismissal from the university. In most cases, when a student is placed on conduct probation, parental notification will be part of the process to discuss a student’s success plan.
Conduct suspension: a temporary cancellation of a student’s enrollment at Shenandoah University with approval from the vice president for student life (or designee). Once assigned this sanction, a student is immediately removed from classes and banned from university property. A student cannot enter university property during his/her term of suspension without prior permission from the vice president for student life (or designee) nor graduate. Any classes taken at another institution while suspended cannot be transferred to Shenandoah University. If a student lives in campus housing, he/she has 24 hours to vacate his/her campus residence.
Dismissal from the university: a permanent cancellation of a student’s enrollment at Shenandoah University with approval from the vice president for student life (or designee). Once assigned this sanction, students are immediately removed from classes and banned from university property. A student cannot enter university property once dismissed without prior permission from the vice president for student life (or designee) nor re-enroll or graduate from Shenandoah University.
Educational task: student must complete an assignment that benefits self, campus or community.
Fines: monetary sanctions.
No-contact order: student is prohibited from having any direct or indirect contact or contact via a third-party with a particular person. Violation may result in suspension.
Other appropriate alternative sanction(s): determined by dean of students.
Referral: requires the student seek appropriate guidance or resources for his/her success.
Relegation to final room selection: student loses the opportunity to participate in the annual room selection (lottery) process.
Removal from university housing: required removal from university housing with final approval from the dean of students (or designee) and without the refund of room fees. Once assigned this sanction, a student must move within a designated time frame (usually 48 hours unless otherwise permitted by the dean of students or designee), after which the removed student cannot enter university housing without permission from the dean of students (or designee).
Removal of property: required removal of property.
Restitution: reimbursement by the student to cover the cost of repair or replacement of damaged or misappropriated property.
Restriction of activities or privileges: participation in any and/or all organized university activities other than required academic endeavors are restricted for a designated period of time.
University housing relocation: requires the student to move to another room, hall or quad with approval from the dean of students (or designee) Student must relocate within 24 hours, after which he/she cannot enter the building from which he/she was removed throughout the term of the sanction without permission from the dean of students (or designee).
Written warning: official record that a student has been warned about behavior.
Student Conduct Records
A record of conduct sanctions may affect a student’s ability to be elected to or participate in university leadership roles. A conduct probation status will prohibit a student from participating in international study programs at least during the term of probation. Student records must be reported on most law school applications, state bar examiner reports, medical school applications, some graduate school forms, some university transfer forms and, in some instances, job applications, particularly those for federal or state positions.
Conduct records will be kept on file for 10 years from the date of the last case resolution or two years post-graduation, whichever comes later. Any student record with an outstanding sanction, suspension or dismissal will be kept indefinitely.
Release of Records
External release of records will occur in accordance with federal law.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, pertains to student educational records maintained by Shenandoah University. The Act allows students and parents of dependent students access to their educational records while also protecting their right to privacy by limiting the transferability of records without the students’ consent. The following guidelines are meant to assist all members of the Shenandoah community in understanding the provisions of the Act as they apply to Shenandoah University. FERPA rules are covered in greater depth under Academic Policies.
Release of Confidential Records
The university will not release educational records of current or former students unless a written statement authorizing such a release is received from the student. Exceptions to this policy include the following:
- faculty and staff members with legitimate educational interests in the record;
- authorized federal and state officials who are in the process of administering educational programs;
- requirements of the administration of the Financial Aid Program;
- accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions;
- parents of a dependent student (Each student is considered financially dependent upon his/her parents if claimed as a dependent for federal income tax purposes. A certified copy of the parents’ most recent federal income tax return verifying the student’s dependency status must be provided to the Registrar’s Office annually);
- directory information (see Academic Policies section);
- organizations that are conducting studies on educational programs, provided the identity of the student is not revealed;
- an emergency situation involving the health or safety of the student or other persons;
- the university is complying with the Patriot Act; and
- in cases of a search warrant or subpoena from law enforcement or the court system, the university is required to comply with requests for students’ records.
Under FERPA, students control access to their academic records and grant access to those records to their parents and other third parties through written permission. Many students grant this access with general permission; others sign individual forms or written documents on a case-by-case basis. Under Virginia Law (Code of Virginia §23-9.2:3, amended July 2008), parents of students who are defined as “dependent” under U.S. Tax Code may be granted access to certain records by providing evidence of tax dependency and making a specific written request.
Should a parent need to view some part of his/her student’s academic record, the best approach is to talk with the student first. In most cases, he/she can show parents what they need to know. Another option is to ask the student to file blanket permission with the Registrar’s Office. This allows the university to talk with a parent about their student’s academic, financial and/or student conduct records.
As a last resort, a parent may use a Request for Release of Student Education Record to Parent form to request access to specific records with proof of tax dependency.
In case of a health and/or safety emergency, parents should contact the vice president for student life at (540) 665-4862 for immediate assistance, as different protocols apply to the release of student information in emergency situations.For more detailed information concerning FERPA, please refer to “Protecting Student’s Privacy Rights” in the Academic Policies section.