Academic institutions exist, among other reasons, to discover, advance and transmit knowledge and to develop in their students, faculty and staff the capacity for creative and critical thought. At Virginia Commonwealth University, members of the community should strive to exemplify the following specific ideals in addition to other worthy ideals:
Students are encouraged to engage in responsible social conduct that reflects credit upon the University community and to model good citizenship in any community. Students should not remain passively in the presence of violations. Students are encouraged to notify the proper authorities if they observe or have knowledge of other students violating the Student Code of Conduct.
Noncompliance with this policy by staff may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. Noncompliance with this policy by students may result in sanctions as provided in this policy. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any staff who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.
University students, employees (includes faculty), and Student Organizations are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.
The term “adviser” is a person who has been asked by the respondent or student complainant to attend any part of the student conduct process to provide support and assistance directly to the student but not to participate in the process on the student’s behalf.
The term “Complainant” means any person or entity that submits a charge alleging that a student violated the Student Code of Conduct.
The term “Conduct Appeal Board” means any person or persons authorized by the Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee to consider an appeal from a Student Conduct Board’s determination.
The term “Instructional Faculty” means any person hired by the University to conduct classroom or teaching activities or activities involving research, administration or clinical responsibilities or who is otherwise considered by the University to be a member of its faculty.
The term “may” is used in the permissive sense.
The term “Member of the University Community” includes any person who is a student, faculty, staff, or any other person employed by the University. A person’s status in a particular situation shall be determined by the Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee.
The term “Off-campus” applies to any location not on university property.
For the purpose of this policy, the term “Policy” means any written standards of student conduct as found in, but not limited to, the Student Code of Conduct, Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination, the Residential Life and Housing Contract, VCU Alcohol and Other Drugs, the Faculty Guide to Student Conduct in Instructional Settings, Student Conduct in Instructional Settings, Procedures for Registering Student Organizations, the University Computer and Network Resources Use Policy, the Undergraduate/Graduate Bulletins as found on the University web page, or other University publications or resources.
The term “Preponderance of Evidence” is the standard of proof that applies to student conduct proceedings or determinations. It means that the evidence supports a conclusion that it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred.
The term “respondent” means any student or student organization charged with violating this Student Code of Conduct.
The term “Sanction Review Board” means any person or persons authorized by the Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee to determine appropriate sanctions.
Any person with a direct employment relationship with VCU, including those who work on a part-time or adjunct basis. An individual can hold a status as both a student and staff.
The term “Student” includes all persons taking courses through VCU, either full-time or part-time, on- line or in-person, single or dual enrolled, pursuing undergraduate, graduate or professional studies. “Student” also includes all persons who withdraw after allegedly violating the Student Code of Conduct, persons who are not enrolled officially for a particular term but who have not officially withdrawn from the university, persons who have been notified of their acceptance for admissions, and persons living in VCU residence halls regardless of course enrollment.
The term “Student Conduct Administrator” means the Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or other University administrator official designated on a case-by-case basis to administer the adjudication process under this policy, including investigating reported misconduct, determining responsibility for misconduct, and assigning appropriate sanctions.
The term “Student Conduct Board” means any person or persons authorized by the Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee to determine whether a student has violated the Student Code of Conduct and to recommend sanctions that may be imposed when a violation has been committed.
The term “Student Organization” means any student group registered with the University.
The term “University Property” means any property owned, leased, or controlled by Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity officially interprets this policy. The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to The Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. Comments can be directed to the director of the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All complaints of alleged sexual misconduct committed by University students, as defined in the University’s Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination policy, are governed exclusively by the rules and procedures in the Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination policy. All those seeking information regarding the adjudication of sexual misconduct complaints against University students shall refer to the Sexual Misconduct/Violence and Sex/Gender Discrimination policy.
The University Student Code of Conduct shall apply to all conduct by students on University property, at VCU-sponsored activities, and off-campus. The Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee shall decide at their sole discretion on a case-by-case basis whether the Student Code of Conduct shall be applied to conduct occurring off campus. The Student Code of Conduct governs students at all campuses; however, students are advised to consult local campus (i.e. VCUarts Qatar) publications for additional information or rules pertaining specifically to those campuses that may establish hearing boards or processes, consistent with the Student Code of Conduct.
Each student shall be responsible for their conduct from the time of application for admission through the actual awarding of the degree. The Student Code of Conduct shall apply to a student’s conduct even if the student withdraws from school while a disciplinary matter is pending or if conduct is discovered after a degree is awarded.
The following conduct, committed or attempted, is prohibited for all students and student organizations, and is subject to disciplinary sanctions:
Refer to the Honor System for academic expectations, rights, responsibilities, violations, hearing processes, sanctions, and records related to charges of academic misconduct, including plagiarism, cheating, lying, stealing, and facilitation of academic misconduct.
Examples of such regulations include, but are not limited to, University computing policies, Residential Life and Housing policies, and recreational sports facility policies.
Any violation of local, state or federal law, which affects a substantial university interest, such as a violation committed in the municipality where the University is located; when the violation is detrimental to the educational interests of the University; or when the violation presents a danger to the student or others.
University disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a student or student organization charged with conduct that potentially violates criminal or civil law and the Student Code of Conduct (that is, if both possible violations result from the same factual situation). Proceedings under the Student Code of Conduct may be initiated and carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings at the sole discretion of the Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity (OSCAI) or designee. Determinations made or sanctions imposed under this Student Code of Conduct shall not be subject to change because of the criminal or civil outcomes.
The Director of the OSCAI or designee shall determine the composition of the Student Conduct Board (SCB), Sanction Review Board (SRB) and the Conduct Appeal Board (CAB) and will determine which administrator or board shall be authorized to hear each matter. The Director of the OSCAI or designee shall develop procedures for the administration of the student conduct system and procedural rules for the conduct of SCB Hearings that are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Student Code of Conduct. Decisions made by the SCB, SRB and/or Student Conduct Administrator shall be final, pending the appeal process provided in this policy.
All student complainants and respondents are provided the following rights and responsibilities throughout the University student conduct process:
Any member or entity of the University community, including the OSCAI based on information provided to the university, or others outside of the University may file charges against a student respondent or student organization for violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Any charge should be submitted as soon as possible after discovery of the alleged violation. Absent extraordinary circumstances, the written charge must be filed within six months of discovery of the offense. A charge shall be prepared in writing and directed to the OSCAI or other designated office. Once the charge has been submitted, the Director of OSCAI or designee will review the charge and appoint a Student Conduct Administrator to complete an investigation.
OSCAI will send a Notification Letter to the VCU email address of the respondent citing the specific charges and instructions to contact the Student Conduct Administrator to schedule a meeting to discuss the charges. The respondent will have five business days from the date of the Notification Letter to contact the Student Conduct Administrator. If the student fails to respond to the Notification Letter or does not attend the scheduled meeting, the University may proceed with adjudication of the charges without the student’s input.
The Student Conduct Administrator will complete an investigation of the charges in the Notification Letter. The Student Conduct Administrator will offer to meet with the respondent to discuss the charges. The Student Conduct Administrator may meet with the complainant as well as with any witnesses and examine additional information. Based upon all of the examined information and witness statements, the Student Conduct Administrator will make a determination of responsibility using the preponderance of the evidence standard. The student will have the following options based upon the Student Conduct Administrator’s determination:
Temporary measure to remove a student reasonably believed to pose a threat to the University Community. For more detail refer to the Dean of Students resource page regarding Interim Suspension.
Revocation of Admission entails rescinding the offer of University admission that had been awarded under circumstances of fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of University standards in the student’s matriculation to the University.
Revocation of Degree entails rescinding a University degree that had been awarded under circumstances of fraud, misrepresentation, or other violation of University standards. For more detail refer to the VCU Procedures for Degree Revocation policy.
Upon any final finding of responsibility of a Student Code of Conduct violation, one or more sanctions may be imposed for each violation. Failure to complete any assigned sanction is a separate violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Violations involving impairment from the voluntary use of alcohol and/or other drugs, (other than medically prescribed) shall be considered an aggravating, and not a mitigating, factor in sanctioning. All sanctions become part of a student respondent’s permanent University disciplinary record. The University may withhold a degree, or any other academic achievement, otherwise earned, until the completion of the process set forth in this Student Code of Conduct, including appeals and the completion of any and all sanctions.
The following sanctions are not recorded on a student’s transcript. These sanctions are not reported to external agencies as a University disciplinary action, unless required by law.
Censure is a written notice warning to the respondent to avoid a recurrence of any conduct that violates the Student Code of Conduct and/or any University policy. Subsequent violations of the Student Code of Conduct or any University policy may result in more severe disciplinary action.
Disciplinary probation is a specified period of time, a minimum of one semester, requiring the respondent to avoid a recurrence of any conduct that violates the Student Code of Conduct and/or any University policy that may result in additional University sanctions including but not limited to suspension or expulsion.
Educational experiences are learning opportunities, including but not limited to, community service, drug and alcohol education, and written papers, designated to be completed by the student. In addition, an alcohol and drug assessment and/or behavioral health assessment may be completed by a qualified medical or mental health professional and released to an appropriate University official.
Loss of privileges is a denial of services, privileges, and benefits which may impact participation in extracurricular activities, residence in University housing, University employment, Honors College, leadership within student organizations, academic activities, and study abroad, for a designated period of time.
Previously established and published fines may be imposed.
Bans, deactivations and holds are restriction of access to University services, activities, facilities or registration.
Restitution is monetary reimbursement to the University and/or a member of the University community or others to cover the cost of damage, injury, or loss of community or personal property as a result of a violation.
The respondent is instructed to avoid direct and indirect contact with an identified individual or group. This includes but is not limited to contact in person, through electronic means, or through a third party.
University Policy Sanctions are any sanctions not specified in the Student Code of Conduct, but which are applied to a respondent as a result of prohibited behavior of another University policy.
Deferred suspension is a designated period of time during which a student is given the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to abide by the Student Code of Conduct. Subsequent violations of the Student Code of Conduct during the term of a deferred suspension will result in a full suspension.
The following sanctions are recorded on a student’s transcript. These sanctions are reported to external agencies as a University disciplinary action and as required by law.
Suspension is removal of a respondent for a defined period of time, for a maximum of six consecutive semesters, during which a student loses all University privileges, which generally includes access to facilities, programs, classes, and premises. Consistent with the University’s continuous enrollment policy, all students who do not attend VCU for three or more successive semesters, excluding summer sessions, must submit an application for readmission.
Expulsion is permanent dismissal from the University, administrative withdrawal from classes and loss of all University privileges.
Sanctions and other records related to student conduct processes are part of the educational record of the respondent and are protected from release under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law. However, the University observes the legal exceptions to FERPA, which permit the university to release publicly the student’s name, violation committed, and any sanction imposed if the violation is a “crime of violence” (arson, burglary, robbery, criminal homicide, assault, destruction/damage/vandalism of property, and kidnapping/abduction).
The University shall release to the complainant the respondent student’s name and the nature of the policy violation that is final results described above related to a crime of violence as described above regardless of the outcome.
When students under the age of 21 are found responsible for violating alcoholic beverage and/or controlled substance laws or policies, VCU will notify their parent or guardian of such violations if the student is under the age of 21 at the time of the notification, in accordance with FERPA.
Any question of interpretation or application of the Student Code of Conduct shall be referred to the director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity or designee for final determination. The Student Code of Conduct shall be reviewed every three years under the direction of the director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.
There are no forms associated with this policy.
This policy supersedes the following archived policies:
Q: What is the policy regarding alcohol and other drugs?
A: Students under the age of 21 may not procure, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages. Additionally, students may not manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess or use illegal or illicit drugs. Please see the university’s Alcohol and Other Drugs policy.
Q: If I did not commit the violation of which I am being accused, why do I need to respond?
A: All allegations of misconduct will be investigated. The investigation process affords the respondent the right to respond to and refute the allegation. If it is determined that a respondent is not responsible for the alleged misconduct, the matter will then be closed with no formal action taken against the respondent.
Q: What does a hold on my registration mean?
A: Your registration may be blocked for failure to schedule or attend a meeting regarding an alleged violation or failure to comply with a sanction. In such circumstances, the hold is removed once you schedule and attend your conduct meeting, or upon completion of the sanction.
Additionally, students classified as seniors or nearing the end of their graduate/professional program shall have a degree hold imposed pending the adjudication of the alleged misconduct, including all appeal options.
Q: What if I am off campus at the time of the alleged violation?
A: The University Student Code of Conduct may apply to any conduct by a student whether on University property, at VCU-sponsored activities, or at off-campus locations.
Q: Can my case go through the courts and the university conduct process?
A: Yes. They are entirely independent and separate process. University disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that may violate criminal or civil law and the Student Code of Conduct (that is, if both possible violations result from the same factual situation). Proceedings under the Student Code of Conduct may be initiated and carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings. Determinations made or sanctions imposed under the Student Code of Conduct shall not be subject to change because of the criminal or civil outcomes. The concept of 'double jeopardy' applied in criminal settings is not applicable to a University proceeding.
Q: What is FERPA?
A: The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 1974) affords students the right to consent to disclose their educational records. A student can authorize in writing to have a designated person access confidential academic information. Additional resources can be found here: https://rar.vcu.edu/records/family-educational-rights-and-privacy-act/
Q: Will my parents or guardians be notified of a violation?
A: When a student under the age of 21 is found responsible for violating alcohol, drugs, and/or controlled substance laws or policies, the student’s parents or guardians may be notified. The notification will include information concerning the violation, the university sanctions, and reiterate the University’s expectations for future behavior.
NOTE: Residential Life and Housing or the Dean of Students may notify parents, guardians, or others in connection with a health or safety emergency.
Q: Will my records be released for a background check?
A: A student may need to provide a disciplinary history to a third party for a study abroad program, graduate school, employment, etc. With a signed release by the student, the University may release to the external agency disciplinary records as requested by the student and generally related to suspension or expulsion.
Q: What conduct records are maintained and for how long?
A: All student conduct records are maintained in an electronic database for a minimum of seven (7) years, in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. If an individual receives additional sanctions during the seven-year period, records of all violations will be retained until there is a period of seven years following the most recent incident. If an individual is suspended or expelled, complete records of the proceedings and all pertinent documents, including records of previous lesser sanctions, shall be maintained permanently.
Q: What sanctions are recorded on a student’s transcript?
A: Suspensions and expulsions are noted on a student’s transcript.
Q: If a respondent is found responsible for arson, assault, battery, or endangering health and safety, and an identified party is the victim of such behavior, will the identified party be notified of the outcome of the respondent’s student conduct process?
A: Yes. The University will consider the interest of an individual victim of arson, assault, battery, or endangering health or safety and may notify them of the outcome of the respondent’s student conduct process.