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Campus Student Conduct System

Introduction

The Shepherd University Office of Student Conduct addresses all violations of the Student Code of Conduct by holding each individual appropriately accountable. Student Conduct works closely with the University Police, Residence Life, and Campus Security Authorities to maintain student safety. However, the campus student conduct system process exists apart from and in addition to the West Virginia criminal justice system. Institutional discipline for any criminal offense is not dependent on prosecution or conviction in the state or federal courts. In addition to upholding the laws of the nation, state, and locality, students must uphold the Code of Conduct, fully outlined in the Student Handbook.

The campus student conduct system is designed to maintain safety, order, and due process on campus.  Students charged with an alleged violation are informed of their due process rights on Shepherd University’s campus.  Students charged may choose an administrative sanction or a campus student conduct board hearing, where three impartial individuals will hear and decide the case.

The procedures and appeals process are outlined in the Student Handbook.  The maximum penalty assessed in the campus student conduct system is expulsion from Shepherd University.   Other outcomes include warnings, community restitution, mandated substance use or anger management education programs, campus or building restrictions, disciplinary probation, and/or other outcomes appropriate to the violation.

Mission Statement

The Office of Student Conduct at Shepherd University maintains and reinforces a safe and equitable community where the rights of all students are protected by upholding institutional policies and procedures.  In circumstances where the behaviors or actions of individual students, student groups, or student organizations do not meet the guidelines set by the Student Code of Conduct, the Office of Student Conduct pursues the resolution of policy violations in an equitable, timely, and unbiased manner through due process. Within this process, the Office of Student Conduct promotes opportunities for appropriate educational and developmental learning using a restorative justice model.

Restorative Justice in Student Conduct

Shepherd University utilizes a developmental, restorative justice model in addressing Code of Conduct violations and student behaviors.  Using a restorative model allows for behaviors to be addressed in an appropriate manner, individualizing processes so each individual is treated with respect and equity.

What is restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a method which utilizes mediation, educational, and developmental outcomes to address Code of Conduct violations and individual behavior.  It focuses on addressing and reducing negative behaviors while reinforcing positive behaviors.  Restorative justice encourages outcomes to address harm caused to the community, individuals, and self as a result of violations. Outcomes include reflection processes, educational models, community restitution, assessments and more designed to increase individual learning and development.

Developmental and restorative Justice Practices in Student Conduct

Shepherd University Student Conduct uses developmental and restorative justice practices to support a positive and engaging educational community.  While some punitive outcomes such as suspension or expulsion may still be utilized, most violation outcomes will not result in this manner since they are reserved for violations  which impact the campus community in a more serious manner.  A majority of processes and outcomes result in sanctions which are appropriate to the violation, increasing based on the severity of the violation.  The goal of Student Conduct processes is not to remove an individual from the educational community, but to remove a behavior which creates negative impact on the educational community.  The outcomes in the form of sanctions addresses the needs of the community as well as the developmental needs of the individual.

The developmental learning which takes place in outcomes is often summarized in reflections discussed by the individual who violated policy.  This way, individuals can demonstrate what they have learned and gain an increased sense of self-understanding.

The Student Conduct System

The university student conduct procedures are separate from legal proceedings, and not all legal principles apply. All student conduct proceedings are private in accordance with pertinent federal legislation (including the Family Education Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA), Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, and state laws). To honor their due process rights, students can expect the following:

University Jurisdiction

Enrollment at Shepherd University is a voluntary decision, which includes a student’s acceptance of the responsibility to meet academic requirements and to behave consistently with the university’s policies, purposes and objectives at all times, on campus, off campus and in cyberspace. The university reserves the right to notify law enforcement to problems on or off campus. Shepherd University’s jurisdiction includes university-owned or operated property, as well as university-sponsored functions that occur on or off campus.

Students should demonstrate respect and concern for all members of both on-campus and off-campus communities and behave as responsible citizens. Students should understand that conduct investigation and charges will be initiated when the university’s interest, safety, and/or capacity to function as an academic community is involved. The university jurisdiction includes any misrepresentation or fraud related to a student’s application for admission or readmission. The student conduct process applies to any individual who is enrolled in or auditing courses at Shepherd University on a full-time or part-time basis, including between terms, during vacation periods, advisement and registration sessions, orientation, summer break, or a period of suspension or withdrawal. The student conduct process applies to individual students, student groups, student clubs, and student organizations recognized by or affiliated with Shepherd University. As such, sanctions may apply to individuals, groups and/or organizations.

 Inherent Authority

The university reserves the right to take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community.

Interim Administrative Action

Serving as the student conduct administrator, the Student Affairs designee, may defer procedural due process and enforce an interim action if necessary to maintain safety or order. If, in the judgment of the student conduct administrator or designee, there is probable cause to believe the continued presence of an accused student on campus might constitute an unreasonable risk to university students, faculty, staff, or property, the student conduct administrator, or designee, may take interim actions to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community. Within two business days, the student conduct administrator or designee will convene a committee consisting of three faculty or staff members to review information to determine whether a temporary suspension or restriction is warranted and should be continued. The student will have an opportunity to address the committee. The committee has the authority to restrict or suspend the student on an interim basis, pending the outcome of the student conduct process. The results of the committee meeting will be announced to the student and will not be considered to be a part of the student conduct process nor an indication of a student’s responsibility for an alleged policy violation.

Modifying the Student Code of Conduct

The university reserves the right to amend the Student Code of Conduct and student conduct process at any time. Communication of any changes will be made to the university community in a timely fashion.

Policy Interpretation

The Student Affairs designee has the responsibility in defining and interpreting the Student Code of Conduct and conduct procedures.

Filing A Complaint

Any member of the university community may file (and is responsible for filing) a complaint against an individual who allegedly violates the rights of another person or a Shepherd University regulation or policy.

Shepherd University strongly supports the vigorous prosecution in the state courts of any person who commits a crime within the jurisdiction of the university. Students who experience crimes are strongly encouraged to file such complaints with the Shepherd University Police, or with the following: West Virginia State Police, Shepherdstown Police Department, or the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department who all hold concurrent jurisdiction. Whenever a complaint is presented to a Shepherd University police officer or Student Affairs staff that occurred outside the jurisdiction of the university, the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction will be notified of any alleged crime, if they have not been previously notified. Notification will include the offense alleged and the name of the alleged perpetrator but disclosure of the respondent’s identity will be at the election of the student complainant, unless disclosure by a university official is legally compelled.

Student Conduct Processes

After a violation of a campus policy is alleged, a written incident report is submitted to Student Conduct. A student conduct officer reviews the report and takes one of the following actions:

Preliminary Student Conduct Hearing Process

  1. The student conduct officer may offer a respondent a preliminary hearing. During a preliminary hearing, the student conduct officer will meet with the respondent to review the charges and the options they have available to them to resolve their questions. The respondent has up to two business days from the time the preliminary hearing meeting concludes (or by 8 a.m. on the next university business day if the deadline occurs when the university is closed) to decide which option the respondent would like to utilize to resolve the charges. Possible ways a preliminary hearing can be resolved include:
    • The respondent accepts responsibility for the Student Code of Conduct violation charges and sanctions are determined.
    • The respondent does not accept responsibility for Student Code of Conduct violation charges and the violation process moves forward to an Administrative or Formal Student Conduct Hearing.
    • Student Code of Conduct violation charges are dropped based on information present.
  2. If a respondent does not accept responsibility or does not attend the preliminary hearing, sanctions will be convened at the discretion of the Student Affairs designee, Director of Residence Life, or other designee. Students are not required to participate in the student conduct process; however, the student conduct process will continue based on the information that is presented and available at the time of the preliminary hearing.
  3. At the discretion of the university, the student conduct process may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following legal proceedings.
  4. The university reserves the right to resolve the matter through a formal administrative hearing or Student Conduct Hearing Board should the student conduct officer deems it to be necessary based on the type and severity of the alleged violation. In this case, a respondent may not be offered a preliminary hearing option.

Formal Student Conduct Hearing Process

  1. A respondent will attend a pre-hearing conference prior to the formal conduct hearing. In this conference, the respondent will be able to view all documents which will be presented during the Formal Student Conduct Hearing and have an opportunity to submit additional documentation. A complainant will have this same opportunity.
  2. Formal hearings may be conducted by the Student Affairs designee who serves as a facilitator of the process.
    • Student Conduct Hearing Board is comprised of three board members and a chair member who are faculty and staff at Shepherd University. These members will review documentation, ask clarifying questions of all parties in the hearing, and determine responsibility and sanctions for the violation.
    • An Administrative Hearing has one administrative hearing officer may be used for cases except those concerning sexual misconduct where physical contact has occurred. An administrative hearing may occur through the Student Affairs Office or the Residence Life Office. The Administrative Hearing officer will review documents, ask clarifying questions, and determine responsibility and sanctions for the violation.
  3. No recordings of the proceedings shall be made by any person other than the student conduct administrator or the administrative hearing officer. All formal hearing recordings will be maintained by the Student Affairs designee.
  4. The student conduct officer will notify the student at least five days in advance of the date, time, and place of the formal hearing in writing.
    • The student(s) reserve the right to not participate in the formal hearing process. However, the formal hearing will be held as scheduled and a decision will be based on the documentation available.
  5. In hearings involving more than one respondent, the student conduct administrator or the administrative hearing officer, may use professional judgment to permit the hearings concerning each student to be conducted separately or jointly.
  6. Students have the right to have an advisor, including legal counsel, present at formal hearings and pre-hearing conferences. An advisor will be designated for all respondents if they do not select one for themselves.
    • An advisor may consult and advise the student but may not speak on the behalf of the student, ask questions of the participants, address the student conduct officer or Student Conduct Board members publicly during formal proceedings, serve as a witness, or otherwise participate directly in the proceedings in Student Conduct hearings. However, advisors may conduct cross examination during hearings falling under Title IX rule.
  7. If the respondent is found responsible, the student will be informed of sanctions via campus email within two business days and will has the right to appeal the decision.
  8. If the respondent is found not responsible, the respondent will be excused, all charges will be dropped.
  9. The respondent will be notified in writing of the findings of the formal hearing and sanctions, if appropriate. The complainant will be notified simultaneously in writing of the findings of the formal hearing and sanctions in cases related to interpersonal violence as allowed by federal law.
  1. The complainant will also have the opportunity to file an appeal in cases related to interpersonal violence, and as allowed by federal guidelines.
  2. Please refer to the Title IX web site for detailed information about interpersonal violence and incidents related to alleged policy violations related to sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.

Appeal Process for Formal Administrative Hearings

University Appeals for Student Conduct Hearing Boards

  1. An appeal may be made on the following grounds:
    • The student conduct process was not conducted in a fair or impartial manner
    • New, relevant information became available after the hearing was completed
    • The hearing was not conducted according to established procedures.
  2. A respondent has up to two business days (or by 8 a.m. on the next university business day if the deadline occurs when university offices are closed) from the date of the decision notification to submit an appeal in writing to the Student Affairs designee. This notification must clearly identify which of the reason(s) for the appeal and give clear support for this reason.
  3. Appeals based on the outcomes of Student Conduct Hearings Boards through the Student Affairs Office, will be heard through the Student Conduct Appeal Board which will consist of three faculty or staff members and one chairperson
  4. The appeals process will be limited to the content of the appeal request, a review of hearing recordings (if any), supporting documents, and related information. The respondent, and the complainant may not be required to attend the Appeals Hearing Board unless needed to explain the basis of new information.
  5. The decision of the Student Conduct Appeal Board will be considered to be final in all cases and cannot be appealed. Decisions of the Student Conduct Appeal Board may take one of the following three forms:
    1. Affirm the original decision and sanctions
    2. Change the original decision and/or sanctions
    3. Void the original decision and order a new formal hearing.
  6. The Student Conduct Appeal Board will make their decision promptly and communicate the findings to the respondent in in cases of interpersonal violence, other violence, and as allowed by law, the findings will also be communicated to the complainant in writing in a timely manner.

Sanctions imposed during the student conduct process may be suspended during the time in which an appeal is reviewed. If a respondent is suspended or expelled from the institution after the conclusion of the appeals process, all academic work completed during the time of the appeal is forfeited and the sanction will be placed into effect immediately. Depending on the timing of the final decision, the sanction may be extended to the next regular semester. A student may not graduate during the appeal process.

Sanctions:

The sanctions listed below shall be imposed upon students when the circumstances clearly indicate that a campus regulation has been violated. The sanction for a violation may be one or a combination of those set forth below:

During a period of expulsion, no credits earned at another institution will be accepted at Shepherd University.

Medical Amnesty–Special Note About Enforcement

Student health and safety are of primary concern at Shepherd University. As such, in cases of intoxication and /or alcohol poisoning, the university encourages individuals to seek medical assistance for themselves or others. Those students who seek medical attention for themselves or other individuals who are intoxicated will not receive conduct sanctions for violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Medical amnesty does not preclude student conduct sanctions due to any other violations of the code of conduct (not related to the alcohol policy). Likewise, Medical amnesty does not prevent action by law enforcement personnel.

Definitions