Student Code of Conduct
NOVA is a learning community with specific expectations concerning the conduct of its students. The College’s approach to student learning and student conduct is to provide a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes teaching, learning and student success. When a student’s conduct adversely affects the College’s pursuit of its educational objectives, actions will be taken to remedy the situation. NOVA’s approach will be to resolve the problem and to help students learn to make better decisions. It is the College’s goal that when students experience the conduct process, they will leave that process as better educated students, better all-around members of the College community, and better global citizens. In accord with this general philosophy, efforts will be made to resolve discipline issues informally where possible.
By enrolling at NOVA, a student accepts its policies and procedures and acknowledges the right of NOVA to take action, up to and including suspension or expulsion in response to misconduct. It is a student’s responsibility to become familiar with the student code of conduct. Lack of awareness is no excuse for noncompliance with NOVA’s policies and procedures.
- Reporting Violations
- Administrative Responsibilities
- Interim Actions
- Violations and Sanctions
- The Conduct Process
- Academic Integrity Policy
- Sexual Misconduct
Any member of the NOVA community, guest, or visitor may submit a report about a student for alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct. Reports may be submitted at [NOVACares]. All reports should be submitted as soon as possible after the event takes place. Charges may be brought against an individual student or a College organization.
- Disciplinary procedures for students in all credit courses are administered by the Dean of Students or ELI Director of Student Services in consultation with the campus Dean of Students.
- Disciplinary procedures for Workforce Development students are administered by the Associate Vice President for Workforce Development, who may consult with the Dean of Students as necessary.
- Disciplinary procedures for charges occurring on multiple campuses are coordinated by the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management.
- Disciplinary procedures for minor and moderate instances of academic misconduct are administered by the appropriate Academic Dean. Major violations are addressed by the Dean of Students, ELI Director of Student Services, AVP for Workforce Development, or AVP for Student Services and Enrollment Management as appropriate. See the Code of Academic Integrity below.
- Students will be charged with violations of the Code of Conduct when the apparent infractions are observed on College property or other locations where the College provides services or when the off-campus behavior negatively affects the teaching and learning environment.
Infractions of federal, state or local laws occurring off campus may be considered a violation of the Student Code of Conduct when such actions:
- directly affect the health, safety or security of the College community
- affect an individual’s ability to fully participate in the College’s academic or co-curricular programs
- affect the College’s pursuit of its educational purposes, or
- occur as a direct result of a College connected disruption
Depending on the nature of the alleged misconduct, interim actions may be taken as deemed necessary for the safety of the College community. Examples include, but are not limited to, interim suspension, no-trespass orders, and administrative no-contact orders between individuals or groups. When possible, alternative arrangements will be made for the student to continue to meet academic requirements. The College may also withhold the award of a student’s degree or certificate until the completion of the conduct process.
An instructor or other College official may direct a student to leave a class or any other academic setting when the student has, in the instructor’s or official’s judgment, caused a disruption. An Academic Dean may bar a student from that class or setting for a longer period of time pending a meeting with the Dean of Students; in that instance, alternative arrangements will be made for the student to continue to meet academic requirements whenever possible.
Violations and Sanctions
When a student is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct, sanctions will be imposed. Disciplinary sanctions generally attempt to accomplish the following:
- provide fair and just consequences for misconduct
- provide protection for the safety and property of the college community
- enhance the academic environment
- discourage future violations of the Code of Conduct
- contribute to the growth and development of the student. Any sanction imposed applies to the entire College
There are two types of sanctions -- administrative and educational. Administrative sanctions are more formal actions and frequently relate to the status of the student at the College. Administrative sanctions may be assigned independent of or in conjunction with educational sanctions. Educational sanctions are designed to include developmental activities related to specific acts of misconduct. The goals of educational sanctions are to reduce the probability of repeat behavior, to give students the opportunity to demonstrate personal growth, and to appropriately challenge students. Educational sanctions may be assigned independent of or in conjunction with administrative sanctions.
Sanctions may include but are not limited to:
Disciplinary Warning: A warning to a student that his/her conduct was questionable and/or inappropriate and that further misconduct will result in more severe disciplinary action. Disciplinary warning may include a behavior agreement or contract.
Disciplinary Probation: Disciplinary probation is assigned for a specified period of time and is intended to foster reflection, responsibility, and improved decision making. During this period the student is not in good standing with the College. The terms of probation may include restrictions of student privileges and/or set specific behavioral expectations. Misconduct while on probation or failure to comply with any conditions or to complete any assignments related to the probation may lead to more severe disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion.
Suspension: Disciplinary suspension of the student from the College is assigned for a specified period of time that excludes the student from registration, class attendance, and use of College facilities. During the period of disciplinary suspension, the student will be prohibited from using or visiting College facilities unless special permission is obtained from the DOS or a designee.
Deferred Suspension: Deferred suspension is for a specified period of time. During the time of deferred suspension, involvement at the College is restricted to academic activities. A student under deferred suspension who is found responsible for further violations of the Student Code of Conduct will be immediately suspended or expelled.
Expulsion: Expulsion of a student from the College is permanent and requires administrative review and approval by the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management. A student who is expelled from the College is prohibited from using or visiting College facilities unless permission is obtained from the Associate Vice President.
Apology Letter: May be assigned to students whose behavior had a negative impact on a particular individual or business more so than the community at large (i.e. theft).
Community Service or Service Learning Experience: May be assigned to students whose behavior or pattern of behavior disrupted the community in some way.
Counseling: (substance abuse, anger management, etc). May be assigned to students whose behavior or pattern of behavior dictates a need for therapeutic rather than educational intervention.
Interview With Relevant Staff Member and Reflection Paper: May be assigned to students whose behavior indicated a need for education on a particular subject on which a College staff member is knowledgeable.
Reaction/Reflection/Research Paper: May be assigned to students who have engaged in a Code violation as a way of fostering reflection and explanation in a way that will benefit their future decision making.
Review Relevant Article, Book, Workshop, Program or Movie and Reflection Paper: May be assigned to students whose behavior violated the Code as a way of fostering exploration of a particular topic followed by reflection on the topic and how it relates to them.
Restitution: May be assigned to students whose behavior reflects damages to or misappropriation of property. Restitution may include, but is not limited to, reimbursements, compensation, and service.
1. Integrity – NOVA students exemplify honesty, integrity and a respect for truth in all their dealings.
Behavior that violates this value includes but is not limited to:
Behavioral Violations Charge Code Number Charge Code 1.01 Furnishing false information to any NOVA official, faculty member or office, including falsification of documents 1.02 Alteration or misuse of any NOVA document, record or instrument of identification 1.03 Violations of positions of trust or authority within the community 1.04 Misuse or unauthorized use of the NOVA name and/or graphic 1.05 Stealing or possessing stolen property 1.06 Selling or attempting to sell textbooks or other personal property without permission of the owner 1.07 Taking items belonging to NOVA or an auxiliary enterprise affiliated with NOVA 1.08 Violating NOVA’s online security policy Possible Administrative Sanctions Level of Violation Minimum Sanction Maximum Sanction Minor Disciplinary Warning Disciplinary Probation Moderate Disciplinary Probation/Deferred Suspension Suspension Major Suspension Expulsion
Possible Educational Sanctions:
Counseling, reflection paper, community service, ethics seminar, research paper, review relevant article, restitution, policy review paper, interview key staff, behavior contract/agreement
2. Community – NOVA students honor and value their community.
Behavioral Violations Charge Code Number Charge Code 2.01 Unruly, disrespectful, or disruptive behavior inside or outside the classroom 2.02 Obstructing the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on NOVA premises or at NOVA sponsored activities 2.03 Participating in or inciting a riot, disorderly assembly or demonstration 2.04 Unruly, disrespectful, or disruptive behavior outside of the classroom including at Student Life activities, College sponsored trips, etc 2.05 Damage to or littering NOVA grounds and/or properties owned or leased by the College 2.06 Violations against property such as graffiti or automobile defacement 2.07 Possession of firearms, explosives, other weapons (as defined by the weapons policy at www….) or dangerous chemicals while on campus unless properly authorized 2.08 Violations of College policy by smoking in any College facility or within 25 feet of any College building 2.09 Violation of College or classroom policy by unauthorized use of electronic devices in the academic setting 2.10 Unauthorized entry into or presence in or on any College building or facility Possible Administrative Sanctions Level of Violation Minimum Sanction Maximum Sanction Minor Disciplinary Warning Disciplinary Probation Moderate Disciplinary Probation/Deferred Suspension/Removal from class Suspension Major Suspension Expulsion
Possible Educational Sanctions:
Counseling, community service, reflection/research paper, review relevant article, restitution, alcohol/drug education program, letter of apology, policy review paper, interview key staff members, anti-hazing workshop, risk management education, ethical decision making program, student success programs.
3. Respect – NOVA students show respect for each other, for property and for all members of the College community.
Behavioral Violations Charge Code Number Charge Code 3.01 Speech or behavior which threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person 3.02 Verbal abuse or bullying 3.03 Creating or contributing to an intimidating or hostile environment for any member of the NOVA community 3.04 Discriminatory harassment, including speech, actions or conduct which has the intent or effect of depriving a member of the community of educational access benefits or opportunities. 3.05 Physical Stalking, or cyberstalking, defined as repetitive, menacing pursuit, following harassment and/or interference with the peace and/or safety of a member of the NOVA community 3.06 Hazing as defined as the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group 3.07 Sexual misconduct, including but not limited to sexual harassment, non consensual sexual conduct, or sexual exploitation. 3.08 Lewd or obscene conduct including but not limited to public urination, sexual acts performed in public, surreptitiously taking pictures of another person in a locker room or restroom or other location where privacy is expected, possession or distribution of child pornography, possession or distribution of any obscene materials, excessive use of profanity 3.09 Dating or domestic violence Possible Administrative Sanctions Level of Violation Minimum Sanction Maximum Sanction Minor Disciplinary Warning Disciplinary Probation Moderate Disciplinary Probation/Deferred Suspension Suspension Major Suspension Expulsion
Possible Educational Sanctions:
Counseling, community service, coordinate/attend multicultural program, reflection/research paper, review relevant article, restitution, policy review, interview staff member, letter of apology, attend sexual assault program, anti-hazing workshop, alcohol/drug education program, present to peers on selected topics
Students who have been suspended, permanently dismissed, or have withdrawn from a college while under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence under the college's sexual misconduct policy will have a notation stating either "Suspended/Dismissed for a violation of, or withdrew while under investigation for a violation of [the name of the College's] sexual misconduct policy" placed on their permanent records. Colleges may place a statement on the transcript, which shall state “Misconduct Dismissal.” Students under investigation for sexual violence will have an XIT Service Indicator placed on their SIS record.
4. Accountability – NOVA students are given and accept a high level of responsibility as role models.
Behavior that violates this value includes but is not limited to:
Behavioral Violations Charge Code Number Charge Code 4.01 Violations of campus and College emergency regulations, i.e. failure to comply with emergency evacuation procedures, tampering with fire protection apparatus, etc. 4.02 Failure to comply with the directions of NOVA officials, including campus police officers and others acting in the performance of their duties and/or failure to identify oneself to these persons when requested to do so 4.03 Use of alcoholic beverages including the purchase, serving, consumption, possession, or sale of such items on College property or any College sponsored event or activity; being under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances on College property or any College sponsored event or activity (See complete alcohol and drug policy) 4.04 Gambling or holding a raffle or lottery on the campus or at any College function without proper approval 4.05 Possessing, using, selling or distributing controlled substances (as defined by the College) 4.06 Violation of federal , state or local laws Possible Administrative Sanctions Level of Violation Minimum Sanction Maximum Sanction Minor Disciplinary Warning Disciplinary Probation Moderate Disciplinary Probation/Deferred Suspension Suspension Major Suspension Expulsion
Possible Educational Sanctions:
Counseling, community service, reflection/research paper, review relevant article, restitution, policy review, police ride along, alcohol/drug education program,
5. Academic Integrity – NOVA students exemplify honesty and integrity in all their academic work.
Behavior that violates this value includes but is not limited to:Cheating, plagiarism, facilitating academic dishonesty
Behavioral Violations Charge Code Number Charge Code 5.01 Plagiarism – the intentional or unintentional presentation as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source without properly citing the source of the material 5.02 Facilitating academic dishonesty – the intentional or knowing help or attempt to help another to commit an act of academic dishonesty 5.03 Cheating – the intentional use or attempted use of unauthorized materials, information, or study aids in any academic exercise Possible Administrative Sanctions Level of Violation Minimum Sanction Maximum Sanction Minor Instructor talks with the student about infraction. Instructor gives a U or F on the assignment. Moderate Instructor gives a U or F on the assignment. Instructor gives a U or F for the course. Major Instructor gives a U or F for the course. Instructor gives a U or F for the course.
The Conduct Process
Step 1: Informal Resolution Meeting
Students with a documented disability who need accommodations at any stage in the conduct process must notify the Dean of Students in writing at least three days prior to the hearing or meeting. The Dean of Students will have an initial meeting with the student in order to determine whether disciplinary charges should be initiated. The Dean will advise the student of the allegation(s) and explain the student conduct process and clarify the student’s rights and responsibilities. Every effort will be made to resolve the matter by mutual agreement. Following the preliminary meeting the Dean will take one of the following actions:
- If the student fails to appear, the Dean may find the student responsible and impose sanctions.
- If there is no basis for the allegation or if it does not warrant disciplinary action, the Dean will dismiss the allegation.
- If the student accepts responsibility, the Dean will impose sanctions and no further hearing is required.
- If the student does not accept responsibility, the Dean will initiate formal disciplinary charges.
Step 2: Formal Hearing
If formal charges are filed, the student with the agreement of the Dean may choose one of two hearing options:
- A formal administrative hearing by the Dean of Students; or
- A formal hearing by a Student Conduct Panel.
At the hearing, the Dean of Students or chair of the panel will ask the student to respond to the charges. If the student admits responsibility for the charges, the student will be given an opportunity to explain any mitigating circumstances. If the student denies the charges, the hearing will proceed. The burden of proof rests with the complainant. The Dean of Students or the panel will determine responsibility by the preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). The hearing will be held whether or not the student attends.
The Dean of Students will impose sanctions on a student found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct following the hearing. Prior to sanctions, a student found responsible may present no more than two written statements of mitigating factors or character references. Complainants may present a written impact statement.
Written notification of the sanction will be sent to the students via the student’s VCCS email account within 10 business days following the hearing. Any sanction imposed at the campus level applies to the entire college.
The College may extend deadlines at its discretion.
The student must receive notice at least five business days before the scheduled hearing. Notice of the charge(s) and of the time and place of the hearing will be sent to the student and all involved parties. Upon request, the student will be allowed access to any and all known materials to be introduced by the College as evidence against him/her.
Hearings will be closed to the public and press. All proceedings and decisions will be confidential except as permitted or required by law. All decisions of the proceedings will be provided to the complainant and accused student and to College officials on a need-to-know basis. Hearings will be recorded.
Related information including names, contact information, and relevance of witnesses must be submitted to the Dean of Students in writing at least three business days prior to the hearing.
The complainant and the accused student have the following rights:
- To present an account of their involvement with the incident leading to the charge(s). If the student chooses to present an account of the incident in writing, it needs to be submitted to the Dean of Students at least three days prior to the hearing. The account may include any information or facts they wish to be considered in the review of the case, whether or not the student chooses to appear for the hearing.
- To present information, witnesses, and evidence on their behalf. Witness statements and evidence must directly relate to the incident in question.
- To question any witnesses or rebut any evidence presented at the hearing. The Dean or the chair of the panel may require that questions be submitted in writing.
- To remain silent without assumption of responsibility.
- To have an advisor at the hearing.
- A student who intends to have an advisor present at the hearing must notify the Dean of Students in writing at least three days prior to the hearing. The notice must contain the advisor’s name, contact information, and relationship to the student.
- The advisor’s role is not to represent the complainant or accused student. The advisor may not speak for the individual or ask questions of witnesses or complainants.
- The advisor must agree to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Student Conduct Panel
Before the beginning of the Fall semester, the Provost at each campus will appoint a pool of faculty, staff and (when possible) students to serve on student conduct panels. For each individual hearing, the Provost will appoint three members from the pool to serve on the hearing panel; a panel may include no more than one student. The Provost will designate one panel member to serve as the chair. The Provost has the option of appointing panel members from any campus.
All prospective panel members will be trained in the hearing processes; training will be coordinated by the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management with support from Human Resources. Members will serve for two years with the option to serve multiple terms with the Provost’s approval.
The role of the conduct panel is to listen to the incident details, ask questions, determine the facts, and review the evidence presented. The panel is tasked with rendering a determination of responsibility based on a preponderance of the evidence. In the event that the student is found responsible for the charge(s), the panel will recommend sanctions to the Dean of Students, who will make a final determination of sanctions up to, but not including, expulsion, and will formally inform the student and the panel members of the decision. Recommendations for expulsion will be forwarded by the Dean to the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management for final approval.
Step 3: Appeal (if applicable)
Appeals are not intended to be re-hearings of the complaint. In most cases, appeals are confined to a review of the written documentation or record of the original hearing, and pertinent documentation regarding the grounds for appeal.
Appeals must be made to the appropriate Administrative Council member:
- Appeals for campus processes coordinated by the Dean of Students must be made to the Provost of that campus.
- Appeals for ELI processes coordinated by the ELI Director of Student Services must be made to the Vice President for Instructional and Information Technology.
- Appeals for Workforce Development processes coordinated by the Associate Vice President for Workforce Development must be made to the Vice President for Workforce Development.
- Appeals for multi-campus processes coordinated by the Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management and for expulsions must be made to the Executive Vice President.
- Sanctions imposed will be in effect while the appeal process takes place. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis when necessary for the integrity of academic programs.
- Requests for appeal must be submitted in writing and received within five business days of the written notice of the decision. Appeals submitted by email must be sent from the student’s VCCS email address and have “Student Conduct Appeal” as the subject line. Failure to submit a complete appeal packet within the allotted time will render the original decision final.
- The party requesting appeal must show error, as the original finding and sanction are presumed to have been decided reasonably and appropriately. The only grounds for appeal are as follows:
- A procedural or substantive error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing.
- To consider new evidence, unavailable during the original hearing or investigation, that could substantially impact the original finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact must be included.
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
- The Administrative Council member reviews the request to see if it meets the limited grounds and is timely. The Administrative Council member may:
- Find that the appeal is not timely or substantive and dismiss it. The decision is final.
- Affirm the finding and sanction imposed in the original decision. The decision is final.
- Affirm the finding and reduce, but not eliminate, the sanction. The decision is final.
- Remand the case to the Dean of Students or the original panel for consideration of new evidence. The decision of the Dean of Students or panel is final. In rare cases where the procedural error cannot be resolved by the Dean or original panel, such as in cases of bias, the Administrative Council member may appoint a new panel to rehear the case. The results of the panel are final.
- A student who has exhausted the appeal process has no right to file a grievance related to the case.
All records of an alleged violation and materials pertaining to and resulting from the hearing of a case are retained by the College.
A recording of the hearing becomes the property of the College. The student may review the recording at a NOVA location upon request for up to 30 days after the hearing. The student may request a copy of the recording. The College charges a fee for the copy.
Records are retained for seven years except in the case of suspension or expulsion, which become a permanent part of a student’s record. When a student is deemed to present a significant threat to the College community, a notation will be placed in the Student Information System to prevent the student from registering at any VCCS college.
Academic Integrity Policy
When College officials award credit, degrees, and certificates, they must assume the absolute integrity of the work students have done; therefore, it is important that students maintain the highest standard of honor in their scholastic work.
The College does not tolerate academic dishonesty. Along with any grade penalty the instructor imposes if the student is found responsible for violating the Academic Integrity Policy, the student may also face disciplinary action for violating the Student Code of Conduct.
Students suspected of violating this policy shall be addressed in accordance with the provisions of the Academic Integrity Policy.
An academic grievance is an appeal of a final course grade or dismissal from an academic program. An academic grievance must be based on at least one of the following: arbitrary and/or capricious action on the part of the faculty member, including assignment of a grade or dismissal from a program on some basis other than performance in the course or program; application of standards different from those that were applied to other students in the same course or program; the assignment of a grade not in accord with the grading protocol on the course syllabus; or dismissal from a program not in accord with the program standards.
An academic grievance should not be confused with due process for academic misconduct. Any student who believes that a final course grade or dismissal from an academic program was based on the actions described above, should file an academic grievance rather than following the academic misconduct due process/appeal process. See the Student Grievance Process at the Polices page.
- Sexual Misconduct