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.

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.

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. 

Scheduled meetings with OSARP Staff, Administrative Case Reviews, Accountability Board Reviews, Sexual Misconduct Case Reviews, Appeal Reviews, Sexual Misconduct Appeal Reviews, or Interim Appeals 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 and Sexual Misconduct Accountability 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. 

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