General Handbook Information



General Handbook Information

Definitions

Advisor 

A staff member assigned by OSARP who serves as the primary point of contact in OSARP for a Responding or Reporting Party and helps them understand their rights and the procedures in the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process. An Advisor does not advocate for a Responding Party or Reporting Party nor help them prepare their statements, gather evidence, or provide guidance on what a Responding Party or Reporting Party should do in order to achieve a specific outcome in the case. 

Board Chair 

The Board Chair is a faculty or staff member that serves as the presiding member of an Accountability Board Case Review or Appeal Review.  In a Sexual Misconduct Case Review, this role is served by an OSARP staff member.  

Board Member 

A University faculty member, staff member, or student who has been trained by OSARP to adjudicate cases at an Accountability Board Case Review and/or Accountability Board Appeal Review.  For a Sexual Misconduct Case Review and/or a Sexual Misconduct Appeal Review, this is a University faculty or staff member who has been additionally trained to adjudicate sexual misconduct cases.  

Case Administrator 

In the Accountability Process, a staff member in OSARP who acts as the original decision-making body for cases in which a student has minor, major, or flexible alleged policy violation(s) as classified by OSARP. Case Administrators use a preponderance of evidence standard to determine if the Responding Party is responsible for the alleged policy violation(s) at an Administrative Case Review. 

Handbook 

The abbreviated term used to represent “JMU Student Accountability Process and Standards of Conduct Handbook”.  

JMU 

The abbreviated term used to represent “James Madison University”. 

OSARP 

The abbreviated term used to represent “the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices” at James Madison University. 

Preponderance of the Evidence 

Preponderance of the evidence will be the standard of proof used to make determinations for all alleged policy violation(s) in the Handbook. Preponderance of the evidence means that there is greater than a fifty percent likelihood that the Responding Party violated policy.

Student 

For the purposes of the JMU Student Handbook, the term “student” includes all persons who enroll or take courses at the university, either full-time, part-time, dual-enrolled, and/or non-degree seeking.  “Student” status will begin at the payment or waiver of the deposit for admission, matriculation into a graduate or doctoral program, or at the payment or waiver of the application fee for admission to classes or programs through Professional and Continuing Education. “Student” status will continue through the verification of the completion of all academic requirements for a declared degree program(s) or the completion of classes or programs through Professional and Continuing Education, and will also continue through the completion of any pending conduct process.

Support Person 

Generally, a person who provides support to students participating in the Accountability Process and/or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process. A Support Person may be an attorney who is adhering to the role given in the Handbook for a Support Person. For more information on this role, including the restrictions for those participating as a Support Person, see the Accountability Process and Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process sections of the Handbook.  

University 

Another term for James Madison University.  

University Case Administrator  

A University Case Administrator is an experienced faculty or staff member of the Accountability Board appointed as such by OSARP to individually adjudicate Case and Appeal Reviews or conduct Interim Suspension or Sexual Misconduct Interim Suspension Appeal Reviews as outlined in the Student Handbook.  

University Official  

A University Official includes but is not limited to members of the faculty, administrative staff, classified staff, residence hall staff, JMU police, or event/program staff. 

[Back to top]

OSARP Mission

We facilitate student development and restoration through a fair process that holds students accountable to community and university standards in order to support student and community success.

[Back to top]

OSARP Philosophy

OSARP approaches student conduct from an educational, developmental and restorative perspective.  We strive to engage students in a fair and equitable process in order to foster a safe learning environment for the entire university community.  Our primary concerns are the safety of the university community and the development of students.  However, there are some times when the safety of the community or an individual student must take precedence over their needs or developmental approach.

We believe that individual behaviors do not represent an individual as a whole.  We believe that behaviors can have positive and negative impacts on multiple parties and communities.  We also believe that while individuals must take responsibility for these behaviors, it is possible to change behavior and to learn from mistakes.  In dialogue with students, we strive to illuminate and explore the nature of any harms that have been caused to create a better understanding of the impact behavior can have on one’s self or the community. We strive to motivate students to change their behavior to have more positive impacts and fewer negative impacts. 

When determining possible sanctions a student may have as a result of their behavior we consider not only the particular incident for which the alleged policy violation(s) was placed, but also the overall needs of the individual student. A student’s need for the benefit provided by a particular sanction is not necessarily dependent on their behavior in a particular instance but on the totality of their experience. Although we place a high value on the importance of consistency in our process, we also recognize that every situation and every person is different and sometimes reflect that through our sanctioning. Our sanctions are designed to be educational in nature and based on current theory, best practices, and relevant assessment. Ultimately, we hope to engage in a relationship with students in order to turn negative incidents into opportunities for positive growth.

In addition, OSARP applies the university’s Non-Discrimination Statement, as is listed here, in its processes and procedures.  James Madison University does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, race or color, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation or belief, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, veteran status, parental status (including pregnancy), marital status, family medical or genetic information, in its employment, educational programs,  activities, and admissions. JMU complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination, affirmative action, and anti-harassment. The responsibility for overall coordination, monitoring and information dissemination about JMU’s program of equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and affirmative action is assigned to the Office of Equal Opportunity.  Inquiries or complaints may be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity: (540)568-6991, OEO homepage, oeo@jmu.edu. JMU prohibits sexual and gender-based harassment including sexual assault and other forms of inter-personal violence. The responsibility for overall coordination, monitoring and information dissemination about JMU’s Title IX program is assigned to the Title IX Coordinator.  Inquiries or complaints may be directed to the Title IX Coordinator: Amy Sirocky-Meck (540)568-5219, Title IX homepage, titleix@jmu.edu.

[Back to top]

University Accountability System Structure

JMU has both a right and an obligation to set reasonable standards of conduct for students who voluntarily and willingly choose to become members of the university community. In conjunction with its right to determine reasonable standards, the university has established a system of procedures for use when university policies are violated. In turn, the university recognizes the need to ensure that students have the right to fair and equitable procedures in the event they receive an alleged policy violation(s). 

Whereas criminal courts most often seek to punish or deter unlawful behavior, it is generally accepted that conduct proceedings at educational institutions are intended to impress upon individuals their responsibilities and are an extension of the educational process. In the most severe cases educational processes may require the removal by suspension or expulsion of those who should not remain in the university community. The federal courts have called discipline a part of the educational process. The authority and purpose of university conduct systems have been recognized and affirmed by the courts and are authorized by the President of the University. This authority, which JMU exercises in notifying of alleged policy violation(s) and sanctioning students for violations of its policies, differs in many ways from the power exercised by civil authorities in prosecuting cases of general law. 

In adopting an accountability system that depends largely on the participation of students, faculty and staff, JMU recognizes that errors in procedures and rulings may occur. Therefore, when appeals of decisions are made on a basis of technical, procedural or interpretive errors, they will be acted upon within the bounds of two principles. First, the Accountability Process and Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process adopted by the university is administrative and not judicial in spirit; considerable latitude must be permitted in order to avoid excessive legalisms. Second, only errors that may reasonably have prejudiced, in a significant way, the interests of a Responding and/or Reporting Party are to be grounds for reversal; it is not intended that technicalities should avert a decision that is substantially valid. Additionally, the right of appeal will typically be extended to the Responding Party and not to the Reporting Party. However, in cases alleging sexual misconduct, the Reporting Party is also extended the right to appeal. 

The decision to postpone any aspect of the Accountability Process or the Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process for any reason is at the discretion of the Director of OSARP or designee. Anticipated timelines, deadlines, restrictions, or procedures listed within the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process will not be altered except in necessary or extreme circumstances in order to uphold the intent of the process, as determined by the Director of OSARP or designee. Any requests for alterations must be communicated to the Director of OSARP or designee as soon as practicable. 

Any scheduled meetings in OSARP will be postponed, delayed, or rescheduled when they conflict with days in which the university is closed, including but not limited to university holidays, weekends, or closings due to inclement weather. Timelines stated for the submission of documents to be submitted electronically will not be altered for university closures due to inclement weather, university breaks, university holidays, and weekends. When relevant, students will be informed of the date of any deadlines for submission in their cases by a staff member in OSARP. Further, when stated throughout the JMU Student Handbook, references to the term “day” indicates a calendar day unless otherwise stated. 

In most circumstances, the university will not proceed with the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process when the Responding Party is not actively enrolled in classes. The decision to proceed or not proceed with either process when the Responding Party is not enrolled in classes is at the discretion of the Director of OSARP or designee and will be based on the severity of the case and the availability and/or preference of relevant persons to the case, including but not limited to the Responding Party, the Reporting Party, Administrative Witnesses, and OSARP staff members. If the Responding Party is enrolled in classes and relevant persons to the case are available, OSARP will generally proceed with the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process. 

The Accountability Process, Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, and Title IX Sexual Harassment Adjudication Process will follow the procedures and policies as outlined in the JMU Student Handbook for the academic year in which the case is being adjudicated. 

[Back to top]

Changes and Amendments

The Vice President for Student Affairs has the authority to enact changes to the policies and procedures defined in the JMU Student Handbook at any time. During the yearly revision process of the JMU Student Handbook, OSARP drafts proposed changes based on the needs and feedback from the community. These proposed changes are distributed to the members of the Accountability Control Board, serving as the voice of the community in the review of any proposed changes. OSARP provides the proposed rationale and any feedback from the Accountability Control Board to the Vice President of Student Affairs who authorizes any changes to the JMU Student Handbook for the upcoming Academic year. The campus community shall be informed of any policy or procedural changes enacted.

The Accountability Control Board is convened by OSARP. The Accountability Control Board consists of the Student Government Association President, two faculty or staff members, and one student appointed by the SGA President. The Associate Vice President for Student Life, the Director of OSARP, and two Student Case Administrators serve as ex officio members.

The university reserves the right at its discretion to change or amend the handbook at any time. OSARP reserves the right to make grammatical, typographical, or other non-substantive changes to the handbook at any time without the approval of the Vice President of Student Affairs or feedback from the Accountability Control Board. Students will not be notified of grammatical, typographical, or other non-substantive changes. If any substantive changes need to be made to the handbook during the current academic year, the changes and rationale for those changes will be sent to the Vice President of Student Affairs for review; if the Vice President of Student Affairs approves these substantive changes during the current academic year, they will be enacted by OSARP and students will be notified.

[Back to top]

Jurisdiction

Adjudicative jurisdiction for all cases shall be assigned by OSARP. Jurisdiction includes any alleged violations occurring on campus, on university leased or controlled properties, on Study Abroad programs, on service programs, at any university sponsored or endorsed program or event, or reported by JMU Police Officers. Jurisdiction also includes any substance violations (alcohol or drug, criminal or civil) or any felony violations that occur off campus in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County or are adjudicated in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County courts. Further, jurisdiction includes student behavior that is against the mission of the institution regardless of the location in which it occurred.  

OSARP may initiate an adjudication process prior to the outcome of a court or other adjudicative decision. If the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process for an alleged violation(s) in OSARP stems from a current criminal case, civil case, honor council case, or case being adjudicated by another conduct process on JMU’s campus, the case may be heard concurrently by OSARP. If the case was heard concurrently and the Accountability Process or Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process concludes prior to the resolution of the criminal process, civil case, honor council process, or other adjudicative process on campus, the case in OSARP will not be revisited at the conclusion of the other adjudicative process.  

The university may proceed with notice of alleged policy violation(s), the Accountability Process, or the Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process regardless of enrollment status if the Responding Party meets the definition of student as listed in the JMU Student Handbook, or have alleged violation(s) and/or sanctions remain pending until a Responding Party’s request to re-enroll, which will trigger the case to be heard at that time. In addition, OSARP reserves the right to retain information regarding alleged behavior that occurred while a person met the definition of a student, send notice of the alleged policy violation(s) to the student, and adjudicate the case should the person return to the university as a student. In the case of former students who return to the university and again meet the definition of a student, OSARP reserves the right to use previous OSARP cases retained under OSARP’s defined records retention policies as disciplinary history for any new alleged violation(s) that occur during the student’s current period as a student.

OSARP may address behavior that occurs at any point while a person is considered a student, as defined in the Handbook. Accordingly, this may result in the student’s diploma and/or official transcripts being withheld pendingthe conclusion of the Accountability Process and/or the completion of any outstanding sanctions as determined by the Director of OSARP or designee.For any student who receives an immediate suspension or expulsion, regardless of academic year, the immediate suspension or expulsion will be deemed effective for the most recent semester the student attended, which may mean a loss of academic credits for that semester. Further, after a final decision in the case has been rendered, the effective date of an immediate suspension or expulsion will be the date of the initial Case Review. The campus ban associated with a decision of immediate suspension or expulsion does not go into effect until the decision in the case is final, unless the Responding Party is under an Interim Suspension Status that provides for this ban until the final decision in the case. 

[Back to top]

Records and Transcript Notations

As a part of the Accountability ProcessInterim Suspension Process,Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, and Title IX Sexual Harassment Adjudication Process OSARP creates case files to be used by OSARP staff members, University Case Administrators, and/or members of the Accountability Board, including Sexual Misconduct Case Review, Title IX Sexual Harassment Case Review, and Appeal Boards, in the adjudication of the case. For record retention purposes, these case files may include, but not be limited to, student directory information, information regarding the alleged violation(s), incident documentation or other statements and/or evidence and information gathered during follow-up conversations, correspondence between OSARP and the student, notes and/or audio or video recordings submitted to the case, audio and/or video recording made during Accountability Board Case Reviews, Appeal Reviews, Sexual Misconduct Case ReviewsSexual Misconduct Appeal Reviews, Title IX Sexual Harassment Case Reviews, and Title IX Sexual Harassment Appeal Reviews and record of the decisions made in the case including any sanctions imposed. 

If a student withdraws after being properly notified of alleged violation(s) but prior to a decision being made in the case, OSARP will retain the case file and include a notation that the student has a pending case to be heard if the student chooses to return to JMU. 

If OSARP receives information regarding an alleged policy violation while someone meets the definition of a student, as defined in the handbook, and notifies them of the alleged violation(s), OSARP reserves the right to retain the information regarding the alleged behavior as a pending case in accordance with its records retention policy listed later in this section.

After August 2012 and aside from the exceptions noted in this section, after being found responsible for any violation in OSARP students are considered to have a university disciplinary record and their case file(s) is retained in accordance with the procedures outlined in this section. Students who were found not responsible for a violation, had a policy violation(s) Held in Abeyance, had alleged policy violation(s) Dropped, and/or had an alleged policy violation(s) Dropped-Amnesty are not considered to have a university disciplinary record for these circumstances; however, OSARP does retain the case file in accordance with the procedures outlined in this section. In some circumstances, students may need to disclose the status of their university disciplinary record or violation(s) (e.g. on applications to other universities, job applications, background checks, or some positions and programs at JMU); students who are unsure of what their response should be or who need verification of their violation(s) should contact OSARP. Students must provide permission for OSARP to release retained records; OSARP will provide the information requested by the entity upon receiving permission from the student so it is important that the student review both the questions asked by the entity and any release statements they agree to when they provide permission for a release of their records. If the release statement provides permission to release a conduct record, pending cases will be included in the information provided to the entity. In addition, a university disciplinary record and corresponding case files may be subject to disclosure through court orders or subpoenas. 

OSARP may disclose information contained in a university disciplinary record to all eligible persons as outlined in the exceptions listed in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Specifically, OSARP will disclose to Reporting Parties the decision regarding responsibility and associated sanctions, if applicable, for policy violations that meet the definition of “crimes of violence” under FERPA. Crimes of violence include arson, assault offenses, burglary, homicide (manslaughter, murder), destruction / damage / vandalism of property, kidnapping / abduction, robbery, forcible sex offenses. Typically, crimes of violence would be addressed as an alleged violation of Damage, Attempted Damage, or Vandalism of Property; Physical Force or Attempted Physical Force; or Sexual Misconduct. Reporting Parties will be notified of outcomes relating to Damage, Attempted Damage, or Vandalism of Property if the behavior was deemed to be willful and malicious.  

Aside from the exceptions noted, OSARP generally destroys case files, including records of violation(s) and/or findings in a case (i.e. the “university disciplinary record”), after eight academic years from when the adjudication of the case occurs (e.g. all information regarding cases occurring during the 2011-2012 Academic Year will be destroyed at the conclusion of the 2019-20 Academic Year). June 30 marks the conclusion of an academic year in OSARP. Upon destruction, OSARP will not be able to confirm, deny, or reference any university disciplinary record or case files that have been destroyed. However, the case files for cases that resulted in suspensions, expulsions, and in those that involve allegations of sexual misconduct are retained indefinitely along with any case files pertaining to the student’s disciplinary history prior to the suspension, expulsion, or finding of responsible in a sexual misconduct case and can be accessed if a university disciplinary record is requested and/or approved by the student. Case files for cases that are pending are retained indefinitely along with any case files pertaining to the student’s disciplinary history prior to the pending case. Further, if a student has a case that is indefinitely retained, the case files for any other case that student has in OSARP will also be retained indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of those cases or the academic year in which they were heard and can be accessed if a university disciplinary record is requested and/or approved by the student. If a student with a pending case returns to JMU, OSARP will hear the case prior to, or upon, the student’s return and retain the case files for the student’s cases for eight academic years from when the adjudication of the case occurs or according to OSARPs’ guidelines for indefinite retention as applicable. A student may also choose to request that a pending case be adjudicated without the student returning to JMU; in this circumstance, OSARP will hear the case and retain the case files for the student’s cases for eight academic years from when the adjudication of the case occurs or according to OSARPs’ guidelines for indefinite retention as applicable. 

Case files in OSARP are considered educational records under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and are handled in accordance with any restrictions or rights students are granted regarding their disclosure or review. For the purposes of access to the educational record, the current or former student themselves must schedule a date and time with OSARP to view the documentation within the office during normal office hours. OSARP does not provide a process for a student to request the expungement of their university disciplinary record. 

Except for certain circumstances in cases alleging sexual misconduct or Title IX sexual harassment, OSARP does not make notations on a student’s transcript of suspensions, expulsions, decisions, sanctions, or cases. Transcripts will reflect withdrawal from the university in accordance with the dates, deadlines, and procedures set by the Office of the Registrar for cases resulting in suspension or expulsion. 

In cases where a Responding Party/Respondent is found responsible for and suspended or expelled for sexual violence, defined as physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or against a person incapable of giving consent, a notation will be placed on the Responding Party’s transcript for the duration of the suspension or expulsion. If a Responding Party withdraws while under investigation for an allegation of sexual violence, a notation will be placed on the Responding Party’s transcript until a final decision in the case is rendered. Such notations will read, as applicable:

  • Expelled for violation of Student Standards of Conduct

  • Suspended for violation of Student Standards of Conduct

  • Withdrew while under investigation for violation of Student Standards of Conduct

Students receiving a transcript notation for a suspension will have it automatically removed by the Office of the Registrar once the suspension period has ended. After a period of three years, students may contact OSARP to request removal of a notation for good cause shown.

[Back to top]

General Procedural Statements

General Process Statements for the Accountability Process and Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process

  1. OSARP will structure and execute the Accountability Process and Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process in a manner that presumes the Responding Party not responsible for violating policy, provides fairness to the parties involved, and facilitates a determination based on a preponderance of the evidence standard concerning the allegations presented.

  2. OSARP will make public the range of possible sanctions for violations of university policies, as well as clearly formulate and communicate the adequate cause for separation from the university.

  3. OSARP can address behavior that occurs on and off campus, in accordance with the stipulations addressed in the “Jurisdiction” section of the Handbook.

  4. OSARP will not represent reporting faculty, staff or students, but will provide a process for fact-finding and fair decision-making.

  5. In evaluating evidence and information presented in the Accountability Process and Sexual Misconduct Accountability Process, the technical rules of evidence applicable in civil and criminal cases shall not apply.

University Rights and Responsibilities

  1. The university has the right and obligation to provide an open forum to present and debate public issues.

  2. The university has the right to prohibit individuals and groups who are not members of the university community from using its name, finances, and physical operating facilities for commercial or political activities.

  3. The university has the right to prohibit students from using its name, finances, and physical operating facilities for commercial activities or political activities.

  4. The university has the right and obligation to provide students with the use of meeting rooms under the rules of the campus, including the use of space for political purposes such as political clubs; to prohibit the use of its rooms by individual members or groups of members on a regular or a prolonged basis as free headquarters for political campaigns; and to prohibit the use of its name, finances and office equipment and supplies for any political purpose at any time.

  5. The university has neither the right nor the obligation to take a position in party politics and public issues, except on those issues that directly affect its autonomy, academic functions, financial support and the freedom of its members.

  6. The university has a right to require students to identify themselves by name and address. Additionally, visitors to the campus may be required to state what connection, if any, they have with the university.

  7. The university has the right to set reasonable standards of conduct in order to safeguard the educational process and provide for the protection of university property and the safety of students and the community.

Students’ Rights

Students’ rights as described here are not definitive; rather, they are indicative of the direction of a growing and changing educational environment. Students enjoy the same basic rights and are bound by the same responsibilities to respect the rights of others, as are all citizens. 

  1. The student, as a citizen, has the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of political beliefs and freedom from personal force and violence, threats of violence and personal abuse. In keeping with the right to freedom of speech, the University has adopted policy 1121 that fully describes this right and how to file complaints if the student feels freedom of speech rights have been violated.

  2. The student, as a citizen, has a right to be considered equally for admission to, employment by and promotion within the campus in accordance with the provisions against discrimination in the general law. 

  3. James Madison University is not a sanctuary from the general law; furthermore, the campus is a community of growth and fulfillment for all rather than a setting described in the concept of in loco parentis 

[Back to top]

Back to Top