Frequently Asked Questions


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, and your response can help the investigator determine whether you are responsible for the alleged violation. 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: Why is there a hold on my registration or degree?

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: This policy may apply to conduct by a student whether on university property, at VCU 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 processes. University disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that may violate criminal or civil law and this policy (that is when both possible violations result from the same factual situation). Proceedings under this policy may be initiated and carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings. Determinations made or sanctions imposed under this policy 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 of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student records. It affords students the right to consent to the university’s disclosure of their educational records. Additional resources can be found here:

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, and 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 individual conduct records are maintained and for how long?

A: All student conduct records for individual respondents 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 an individual student respondent’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 other “crimes of violence” under FERPA and may notify them of the outcome of the respondent’s student conduct process.

Q: How is individual student conduct distinguished from RSO conduct?

A: In determining whether an entire RSO, rather than or in addition to individual members of that RSO, are to be held accountable for misconduct, we consider the following questions:

1. The conduct is endorsed by the RSO or any of its officers (“endorsed by” includes, but is not limited to, the following: active or passive consent or support, having prior knowledge that the conduct was likely to occur, and not acting to stop or report it to appropriate authorities, or helping to plan, advertise, or promote the conduct);

2. The conduct is committed during the course of an activity paid for by the RSO, or paid for as a result of one or more members of the RSO contributing personal funds in lieu of organizational funds to support the activity or conduct in question;

3. The conduct occurred on property owned, controlled, rented, leased, or used by the RSO or any of its members for an organizational event;

4. The purpose of the activity was related to initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in the RSO;

5. Non‐members of the RSO learned of the activity through members, advertisements, or communications by the student organization, or otherwise formed a reasonable belief that the conduct or activity organized, planned, supported, or endorsed by the RSO;

6. Members of the RSO attempted to conceal the activity or protect other members who were involved.

7. Is there a pattern of individual violations that have occurred without proper remedial action by the RSO?

8. How many members of the RSO were present when the misconduct occurred or had specific knowledge of the misconduct before it occurred or while it was occurring?

9. What knowledge did the appropriate RSO officers and/or advisors have of the misconduct?

10. What action(s) did the appropriate RSO officers and/or advisors take in addressing/preventing the misconduct from occurring?

11. Were members of the RSO acting in concert, or did their membership in the RSO serve as an impetus for the misconduct?

12. Did the violation arise out of an event that was sponsored, financed, planned, or otherwise endorsed by members of the RSO?