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Hearing Policies and Procedures

The student conduct system is designed to be prompt and fair to each student accused of a violation, including an impartial investigation and resolution. The system is administered by the Dean of Students. A trained hearing officer shall conduct each hearing.

Report of Violation
Any member of the University community (students, staff, and faculty) parents, and/or community members, may report an alleged violation of the Standards of Conduct to Dean of Students, University Police, the Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, or any other University officer. All reports should be submitted in writing.

Reports may be filed individually or jointly with another representative of the University (for example: Pan-Hellenic Council, another student, a faculty or staff member). In addition, the University reserves the right to pursue violations on its own.

To report an incident, send an email to conduct@vuu.edu or use the reporting form https://www.vuu.edu/incident-reporting-form.

Investigation
The DOS and/or University Police will conduct an investigation to gather information about the alleged violation(s).  Following the investigation, the DOS will determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a hearing. The DOS and/or University Police may question and/or request written statements of the accused student, the complainant (if applicable) and/or witnesses or other individuals involved.

Notification
If DOS determines a report of misconduct merits judicial action, the accused student will receive a written statement of charges and information pertaining to the hearing (and mediation, if applicable) procedures. The accused student (and complainant, if necessary) will receive notice, via VUU email, and/or a hard copy delivered to the on-campus residence of the student at least 48 hours before proposed hearing date. Certain violations require an emergency hearing and notice time may be amended. VUU emails are the official mode of communication for the University.

  1. Students are expected to notify parents or guardians of the charges and these persons may request a conference with the college officials, pending FERPA consent.
  2. The decision reached at the hearing will be communicated in writing to the student. If the student is a minor, or is found responsible for an alcohol or drug violation, or if the student so requests; his/her parents or guardian will be also notified.
  3. The student will be notified in writing of the right to appeal the decision of the hearing body. A copy of the final decision will be mailed to the student and, if the student is a minor or if the student so requests, his/her parents or guardian will also be notified.

Request for Postponement
The accused student or the complainant may ask for one postponement of a hearing. To request a postponement, a written request must be submitted to the DOS office within 24 hours of the hearing date and time. Upon receipt of the written request, the DOS will inform the accused student as to whether his or her request has been granted.

Statements and Witnesses
The accused student must provide a list of his/her proposed witnesses, and any written statements, to the DOS at least 24 hours prior to the hearing in order for them to be allowed to testify at the hearing. The DOS will notify the accused student which of the proposed witnesses will be allowed to participate in the hearing.  Students requesting witnesses are responsible for notifying their witnesses about the date, time, and place of the hearing. Witnesses will be asked to affirm that the information provided is truthful and may be subject to charges of furnishing false information according to the Student Code of Conduct.  Students, who have been charged with a violation in the same case, may not serve as a witness. Only witnesses present at the time of the alleged incident are allowed to testify during the hearing. Character witnesses are not allowed during the hearing.

Presence of a Representative
The accused student is entitled to be accompanied to a hearing by one representative of his or her choice for silent support only. The role of the representative is to support the accused student throughout the hearing, but he or she may not represent or speak on behalf of the accused student, directly question witnesses, or address the hearing body for any reason. The accused student must notify the DOS prior to the hearing and in writing of the intent to bring a representative. A student may not have an attorney as her/his representative.

Standard of Proof
The University will use preponderance of the evidence standard in determining whether there has been a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. This standard requires a finding that based on the facts presented, it is more likely than not that the student is responsible for violating University policy.

Privacy and Disclosure
In order to comply with FERPA and to provide an orderly process for the presentation and consideration of relevant information without undue intimidation or pressure, the hearing and mediation processes are closed and not open to the general public. Accordingly, documents prepared in anticipation of a hearing or mediation and other information introduced at a hearing or mediation may not be disclosed outside of the hearing or mediation, except as may be required or authorized by law.

Jurisdiction of the University – Off-Campus Enforcement
The University’s jurisdiction for discipline includes conduct which occurs both on and off University premises and which adversely affects the University Community and/or the pursuit of its objectives. When conduct violates the Code of Conduct, disciplinary action may be taken by the University irrespective of, and separate from, action taken by law enforcement authorities. The University may proceed with disciplinary action before a trial or postpone action until after a trial, depending on the individual circumstances of a case.

Retaliation
VUU prohibits retaliation (intimidating, threatening, coercing, or in any way discriminating against) anyone filing an Incident Report, alleging a violation of the Code of Conduct, participating in the procedures described in the Code of Conduct Process, or opposing any practice in violation of the Student Code of Conduct or applicable federal, state, or local laws.

Other Important Information
The accused student is presumed not responsible until found responsible; however the VPEMSA, AVP or DOS may impose an interim suspension, while awaiting a hearing; if the alleged offense is such that the student’s presence on the campus is impeding on the health and safety of others, or is unwise or presents a clear and present danger to the members of the University community. If an interim suspension is put in place, the student shall be administratively withdrawn from classes and will subsequently be responsible for fees incurred up to and including the date of the administrative withdrawal.

The accused student has the right to hear all evidence against him or her and to challenge the credibility of any evidence.

A hearing may proceed without the accused student being present if the accused student has taken no steps to postpone his or her hearing or has not received approval for a deferred hearing.

Attorneys are not allowed to participate in or observe student hearings.

VUU reserves the right to suspend for an interim period any student, without a hearing, whose presence on the campus is, in the sole judgment of the University, is detrimental to the best interests of the University. Circumstances where this rule may apply include but is limited to: assault and or battery with a weapon, gross sexual misconduct, rape, hazing, possession of weapons, distribution of illegal substances, threats against University members, armed robbery, arson, possession or manufacturing of explosive devices; or other acts that might endanger themselves, others, or property. Please note that this list is not exhaustive or conclusive.

Student Conduct Hearing Process

Informal Hearings
Informal hearings are best suited for cases involving little need for fact finding and where the potential sanction is less severe. During initial contact with the DOS, an accused student can either accept responsibility or choose to have a formal judicial hearing. If the student chooses to accept responsibility, the case may be resolved informally and the DOS will determine the appropriate sanction. Sanctions imposed pursuant to an informal hearing cannot be appealed. If additional information becomes available after an informal resolution is reached, DOS reserves the right to refer case for formal hearing.
Chief Justice or AVP may also preside over Informal Hearings. 

Formal Hearings
Formal hearings are most appropriate for more serious violations of University policy.  If it is determined that the case warrants a formal hearing, the DOS shall notify the accused student in writing of the charges and the student's rights provided in the judicial process within 48 hours of proposed hearing date.

Community Standards Hearing Board
The CSHB which is comprised of students, faculty, and staff, will hear matters involving offenses that may result in separation from the University and/or a transcript notation.

Formal Administrative Hearing
An Administrative Hearing will be conducted by an administrative officer of the University for matters involving offenses that may result in possible separation from the University and/or a transcript notation. Formal Administrative Hearings are convened when the use of Formal CSHB is unavailable.

Formal Hearing Process
If DOS determines a report of violation merits judicial action, the accused student will receive notice of the charges for a formal hearing in writing and will include the date, time, and place that a student must attend the hearing within 48 hours of proposed hearing date.

If an accused student, with notice, does not appear for a formal conduct hearing, the hearing may proceed as scheduled and the information in support of the charges may be presented and considered even if the respondent is not present.

The accused student (s) will appear before the hearing body to discuss the case and answer questions. If several students are involved in a situation, each student will provide their own account of what occurred before the hearing body. 

In addition to the evidence presented, the hearing body will take into account the student’s prior conduct history and current academic record after deliberating , in order to best determine an appropriate sanction.

The hearing body will make a determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” for each alleged violation. If a decision of responsible is reached, the hearing body will craft a set of educational sanctions/outcomes for the student to complete in order to fulfill the conduct process. These outcomes will be detailed in the decision letter along with a deadline for completion. If the deadline is not met, a student conduct hold may be placed on the student’s University record.

Within 72 hours of the conclusion of the hearing, the DOS will notify the respondent(s), and the complainant(s) as permitted, of the outcome of the case. In cases that require additional review, the time period for notification of outcome may be extended.

Mediation
A student complainant or the DOS may propose mediation as a means to resolve some disciplinary cases. Mediation is possible; with the approval of the DOS when all parties involved voluntarily agree to engage in the mediation process and when students involved, have not previously engaged in mediation. If mediation fails, the case may be remanded to an informal or formal hearing.

Appeal Procedures
Only students who are rendered a sanction of suspension will have the right to appeal to the AVP or his or her designee within 48 hours of receiving a hearing outcome.  The appeal is not a “rehearing,” but rather a review of documents already generated in connection with the hearing of the matter and of any additional documentation the accused student wishes to submit.  The decision of the AVP or his or her designee is final.

Appeals may only be made on the following grounds: prejudicial error (i.e., a fair hearing was not received), new or newly discovered evidence, or excessive sanction (suspension).

Appeal submissions must include:

  • Either an introduction of any new evidence that could have potentially changed the initial decision, any ways in which you were treated differently from other individuals disciplined for similar incidents or why you think the outcome was overly punitive or unnecessarily harsh;
     
  •  State what you hope will happen as the result of your appeal. Clarify why the decision should be modified or completely overturned. If there are many possible solutions to the problem you are experiencing, indicate which resolution is most acceptable to you. Express gratitude for consideration of your appeal letter;
     
  • How you will make an impact on VUU and yourself as a member of the community. Please share engagement in leadership, education, community-service and how your involvement makes/made a difference in your life. Conclude with sharing your support systems and who will help you be accountable for your behavior. 

Instruction of the Community

The Dean of Students shall make provisions for educating students about the judicial process at Virginia Union University.

Amendment

The Dean of Students, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, and/or Vice President for Enrollment Management and Students Affairs may exercise emergency powers to make changes to these procedures.

Perjury

All members of the Virginia Union University are expected to be truthful in presenting testimony during any disciplinary inquiry and to cooperate fully in the investigation of infractions. The Chair shall remind participants in disciplinary hearings of this expectation, but failure to admonish does not remove the requirement. Perjury or obstruction of any inquiry shall itself be grounds for disciplinary action.