A. Authority
Section 4.1.1 of the BOR policies, authorizes Valdosta State University to develop appropriate policies and procedures to discipline students and organizations for the violation of University policies or the student code of conduct. In accordance with this responsibility, disciplinary sanctions shall be applied only after due process, fairness, and reasonableness have been met. The aim of any disciplinary action is to redirect student behavior toward the achievement of academic goals.

The application of student discipline is delegated to the Assistant Dean of Students, who addresses the day-to-day disciplinary process with the aid of various disciplinary committees. The use of the "peer-review" process in student disciplinary matters is consistent with Valdosta State University's educational goals, as well as its practice of student participation in institutional governance.

B. Jurisdiction

The University will take necessary and appropriate action to protect the safety and well-being of its community. Accordingly, student misconduct will be addressed when such acts occur on University property or at University-sponsored or affiliated events, or otherwise violate the VSU Student Code of Conduct at non-University sponsored events.

Students accused of violations of local, state, or federal laws may also be subject to the appropriate Valdosta State University disciplinary process for these violations. Pending civil or criminal matters shall not prevent Valdosta State University at its discretion from initiating appropriate disciplinary action.

Each student shall be responsible for his/her conduct from the time of application for admission through the actual awarding of a degree, even though misconduct may occur before classes begin or after classes end, as well as during the academic year and during periods between terms of actual enrollment. Should a student withdraw from the University with disciplinary charges pending, the student’s academic record and/or the ability to register for classes may be encumbered.

Graduate or professional programs within the University may initiate charges against students for alleged violations of professional standards or ethics as a separate issue or as an extension of alleged acts of academic dishonesty or other violations of this Code of Conduct.

C. Access to Advisors
The respondent and alleged victim (where applicable), as parties to these proceedings, shall have the right to have an advisor (who may or may not be an attorney) of his or her choosing, and at his or her own expense, for the express purpose of providing advice and counsel. The advisor may be present during meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process at which his or her advisee is present. The advisor may advise his or her advisee in any manner, including providing questions, suggestions, and guidance on responses to any questions posed to the advisee, but shall not participate directly during the investigation or hearing process. The institution shall not prohibit family members of a party from attending the hearing if the party requests such attendance, but may limit each participant to having two family members present.

D. Initial Review of Student Misconduct Reports
Regardless of how the University becomes aware of student misconduct, it shall ensure a prompt, fair, and impartial review and resolution of alleged student misconduct. When a report of student misconduct is received by the Student Conduct Office, the report will be reviewed to determine whether the allegation(s) describes conduct in violation of VSU policies and/or code of conduct. If the reported conduct would not be a violation of VSU policies and/or code of conduct then the report will be dismissed. Otherwise, a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and review will be conducted into each report received to determine whether charges against the student should be brought.

Where a report of student misconduct alleges sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment and/or discrimination, the report will be referred to and the investigation will be conducted through or as directed by the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Social Equity.

Any report that involves allegation(s) of conduct that could lead to the suspension or expulsion of the respondent(s) in an initial violation must be promptly reported to the System Director by the institution. The System Director will work with the institution to determine whether any interim measure(s) are necessary, to assign an investigator and will collaboratively supervise the investigation with the appropriate institution professional (e.g., the Title IX Coordinator, Student Conduct). If an allegation is not initially identified as one that could lead to suspension or expulsion of the respondent(s), but facts arise during the course of the investigation that would require oversight from the System Director, then the institution shall report that case to the System Director or her designee prior to proceeding.

E. Interim Measures

Interim measures, including interim suspension, may be imposed when a student and/or organization is accused of a serious violation of a Valdosta State University regulation or of a local, state, or federal law or regulation, when it is necessary to maintain safety, and when the accused student poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property.

Interim suspensions, that is, suspensions while the investigation and adjudication process are proceeding, should only occur when necessary to maintain safety and should be limited to those situations where the respondent poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property. In making such an assessment, the institution will consider the existence of a significant risk to the health or safety of the campus community; the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability of potential injury; and whether less restrictive means can be used to significantly mitigate the risk.

To the extent interim measures are imposed, they should minimize the burden on both the alleged victim and the respondent, where feasible. Interim measures may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Change of housing assignment;
  2. Issuance of a “no contact” directive; 
  3. Restrictions or bars to entering certain institution property;
  4. Changes to academic or employment arrangements, schedules, or supervision;
  5. Interim suspension; and
  6. Other measures designed to promote the safety and well-being of the parties and the institution's community.

Before an interim suspension is issued, all reasonable efforts to give the accused student the opportunity to be heard on whether his or her presence on campus poses a danger. If an interim suspension is issued, the terms of the suspension shall take effect immediately. Upon request, the respondent will have an opportunity to be heard by the respective conduct officer, Title IX Coordinator, or System Director, as appropriate, within three business days in order to determine whether the interim suspension should continue.

F. Investigations of Student Misconduct

Throughout any investigation and resolution proceedings, a party shall receive written notice of the alleged misconduct, shall be provided an opportunity to respond, and shall be allowed to remain silent or otherwise not participate in or during the investigation and resolution process without an adverse inference resulting. If a party chooses to remain silent or otherwise not participate in an investigation, the investigation may still proceed and policy charges may still result and be resolved. Additionally, in any investigation involving allegations of sexual misconduct, timely notice of meetings shall be provided to each party of any meeting at which the complainant, respondent or alleged victim may be present. Timely and equal access to information that will be used during the investigation will be provided to the complainant, respondent and alleged victim where applicable.

Where the potential sanctions for the alleged misconduct may involve a suspension or expulsion (even if such sanctions were to be held “in abeyance,” such as probationary suspension or expulsion) the institution’s investigation and resolution procedures must provide the additional minimal safeguards outlined below.

  1. The alleged respondent shall be provided with written notice of the complaint/allegations, pending investigation, possible charges, potential sanctions, and available support services. The notice will also include the identity of any investigator(s) involved. Notice will be provided via VSU email to the address on file. Where applicable, a copy shall also be provided to the alleged victim via the same means.
  2. Upon receipt of the written notice, the respondent shall have at least three (3) business days to respond in writing. In that response, the respondent shall have the right to admit or to deny the allegations, and to set forth a defense with facts, witnesses, and supporting materials. A non-response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct. Any alleged victim shall also be provided three (3) business days to respond to or to supplement the notice.
  3. If the respondent admits responsibility, the process may proceed to the sanctioning phase or may be informally resolved, if appropriate.
  4. If at any point the investigator determines there is insufficient evidence to support a charge or to warrant further consideration of discipline, then the complaint should be dismissed.
  5. An investigator shall conduct a thorough investigation and should retain written notes and/or obtain written or recorded statements from each interview. The investigator shall also keep a record of any party’s proffered witnesses not interviewed, along with a brief, written explanation of why the witnesses were not interviewed.
  6. The initial investigation report shall be provided to the respondent and the alleged victim (where applicable). This report should clearly indicate any resulting charges (or alternatively, a determination of no charges), as well as the facts and evidence in support thereof, witness statements, and possible sanctions. For purposes of this Policy, a charge is not a finding of responsibility, but indicates that there is sufficient evidence to warrant further consideration and adjudication.
  7. The final investigation report should be provided to the misconduct panel or hearing officer for consideration in adjudicating the charges brought against the respondent. A copy shall also be provided to the respondent and alleged victim (where applicable) before any hearing. The investigator may testify as a witness regarding the investigation and findings, but shall otherwise have no part in the hearing process and shall not attempt to otherwise influence the proceedings outside of providing testimony during the hearing.

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