Procedures

David Robinson- Chair           David Thomas- Secretary

The disciplinary power of the University is independent of prosecutorial or judicial action; its exercise is neither demanded by pendency of state action nor precluded the absence or failure of state action.

The SJC investigates and acts upon complaints of alleged student misconduct, except for dishonorable acts that involve the general categories of lying, cheating, stealing, or other breaches of trust (which are under the jurisdiction of the Executive Committee); or acts that involve discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual misconduct, or hazing by students or by individual or student organizations not under the jurisdiction of the IFC or NPC (which are under the jurisdiction of the Student-Faculty Hearing Board); or hazing, retaliation associated with hazing, or other violations of University policy by a fraternity or sorority (which are under the jurisdiction of Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Council). The Student Judicial Council's jurisdiction extends to all conduct committed while a member of the Washington and Lee community, including but not limited to study abroad programs, pre-orientation, pre-season athletic practices, campus summer programs and camps, and summer research programs. Students who return to Lexington or Rockbridge County for the purpose of enrolling in classes, even if they do not reside in University housing, are under the jurisdiction of the SJC as well as the other University conduct systems. The SJC is designed to affirm the student's obligation to individual responsibility and to see that obligation fulfilled.

The SJC believes that honorable behavior is a University Community Standard (“Standard”) that must be upheld. Students are bound to this Standard just as they are bound to the Honor System. Any person who believes a student has deviated from this Standard may bring a complaint  to the SJC. Violations of the Standard include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any conduct disruptive to the life of the University, other universities and colleges or the surrounding community
  • Violations of residence hall regulations or other University policies or regulations
  • Vandalism or destruction of property
  • Actions which endanger person or property
  • Violations of the University Policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs for Individuals
  • Conduct unbecoming of a Washington and Lee student

NOTE: Voluntary intoxication shall not excuse any misconduct. Intoxication means impairment by alcohol or other substances. Addiction shall not excuse possessing, possessing with intent to distribute, or distributing any drug.

Student Judicial Council Procedures 

Composition

The SJC shall be comprised of ten elected justices--one from each undergraduate class (four), one from each law class (three), one elected at-large from the School of Law, and the SJC Chair and SJC Secretary, both elected by the student body.   Alternate justices will be appointed by the SJC Chair at the beginning of the academic year in consultation with the Administrative Advisor[1], by first trying to draw from students who have served on judicial committees, and if no students are available from that pool, from students in the community who the chair believes can serve as an objective and fair justice.  If the SJC cannot meet quorum for a case, which is seven members, the SJC Chair shall appoint student Alternates.  Alternates may also be appointed by the Chair in cases where the Chair determines that a panel greater than seven (7) justices is desired.

 Reports of  Violation, Forms of Resolution

A person wishing to report an alleged violation of the Standard against a student may submit  relevant information to any SJC Justice or the Advisor who will then submit the information to the Chair of the SJC and the Advisor.   The Chair and Advisor will determine initially whether the alleged misconduct falls within the jurisdiction of the SJC.  If so, they (or designee) will conduct a preliminary investigation, if deemed necessary by the Chair, to determine whether sufficient evidence exists that the respondent may have violated the Standard. If there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations, the matter will be closed with no further action.  If there is sufficient evidence to believe the respondent violated the Standard, the respondent will be notified of a pending charge and investigation and how the complaint will be resolved – whether administratively or through a SJC hearing.  A respondent who proceeds to a SJC hearing will be notified of the right to have the assistance of an honor advocate. 

Administrative Resolution: For those cases where the respondent admits to the misconduct  and/or there is a record or information provided to the Advisor that confirms the misconduct, the respondent may accept responsibility and accept a sanction that falls within the parameters set forth in these procedures.  Administrative resolution is typically utilized for first time violations that are less egregious in nature.  If a student rejects proceeding with an administrative resolution, the case will be referred to the SJC for a hearing.

Hearings

In cases that proceed to a SJC  hearing, the SJC Chair and Advisor will gather relevant information and documentation for distribution to the SJC members hearing the case.   The respondent will receive copies of documents that are provided to the SJC.   The SJC Secretary shall notify the respondent of the charge(s) and hearing date in writing, which will be held no earlier than 72 hours from the notice, and refers respondent to the SJC policy and procedures that are set forth in the Student Handbook [insert link].  The SJC Secretary shall also notify the respondent and complainant, if applicable, of the confidential nature of the proceeding and the obligation to observe confidentiality as set forth further below.   If the respondent, after receiving proper notification of the hearing, fails to attend, the hearing may  be conducted in the student's absence.

The SJC will conduct hearings according to the following guidelines:

1.            The SJC Chair shall, as presiding officer, regulate and determine the order of the proceedings, the relevancy of witnesses and evidence, and the nature of questioning.  The Chair shall exercise reasonable discretion in dealing with all matters not formally covered in these procedures and all procedural questions are subject to the final decision of the Chair. 

2.            The respondent and complainant, if applicable, may choose to be advised by an Honor Advocate.  The responsibilities of the Advocates are to advise the respondent and complainant on SJC procedures, to assist the respondent and complainant in developing an opening and closing statement, and to advise the respondent and complainant on the specifics of a written appeal, if necessary. Advocates are also available to provide information about resources that the parties   may wish to contact to obtain support until resolution.

3.            When the respondent is one of two or more allegedly involved in a joint misconduct, the hearing may be held jointly or separately, as determined by the SJC.  In the case of a joint hearing, the verdicts will be presented separately.

4.            The SJC and parties have the right to request  witnesses bearing relevant information to testify. Witnesses may not be present in the hearing other than to provide testimony and shall not discuss the case with other witnesses. It is the SJC’s expectation that any students with relevant information cooperate with the SJC, including appearing to testify, if requested.

5.            Requests by parties to interview witnesses before a hearing should be directed to the Advisor who will arrange for the appropriate persons to meet. 

6.            The parties shall provide the Advisor a list of witnesses whom they intend to call to provide testimony prior to the hearing w. The respondent and complainant, if there is one, may be present at the hearing while witnesses testify and to question them. The Advocate has the same rights as the respondent to be present at the hearing and to question witnesses. The respondent, Advocate and complainant may remain present throughout the hearing except during SJC deliberations. 

7.            The SJC hearing will begin with the Chair reading the charges to the respondent after which the respondent may make an opening statement, as may the complainant, if applicable.  The SJC Justices may then question the respondent and complainant.

8.            Witnesses will be called to testify in the order determined by the SJC Chair and may be questioned by the parties, the Honor Advocates, and members of the SJC.

9.            Pertinent records, exhibits, and written statements may be accepted as information for consideration by the panel.  Formal rules of evidence do not apply. 

10.          If during the hearing, a majority of the SJC determines that they need more information or want to call a material witness(es) as a result of the testimony received, they may suspend the hearing for no more than 48 hours in an attempt to gather that information or call said witness(es). The SJC shall then re-convene the hearing within 48 hours from the recess. Any such information or witnesses will be disclosed to the respondent prior to the convened hearing.

11.          After the respondent and complainant, if applicable, has had an opportunity to present his/her case, including a closing statement, and after all testimony has been heard, the SJC shall adjourn into executive session and begin deliberations. Deliberations are closed to the respondent, the Advocate, and the complainant.

12.          After deliberations, the panel will determine by two-thirds vote of the SJC justices present whether it is more likely than not (greater weight of the evidence) that the respondent has violated the Standard.  If a student is found responsible, the SJC shall impose appropriate sanctions by a vote of at least two-thirds of the SJC justices present. The SJC Chair shall inform the respondent, the complainant, and the Honor Advocate of the SJC decision.

13.          The SJC Secretary shall prepare a written hearing report that summarizes the results of the hearing, including the finding and sanction and the basis for both, if applicable

Retaliation

Any student, who retaliates against, harasses or attempts to influence a person with respect to that person's participation in an investigation or hearing will be subject to conduct charges by the SJC.  Retaliation includes intentional acts (by respondent, complainant, allied third party) that harm an individual as reprisal for bringing forth a complaint or being involved in the SJC process.

Confidentiality

SJC hearings are confidential. The facts about individual cases and their dispositions are to remain confidential to the extent possible, except for notification of the results to the community. In order to protect privacy and the effectiveness of the process, no one involved in a complaint process should discuss any information regarding the case except with those with a need to know, with the respondent, with the complainant, with their families, or with those to whom they need to disclose information necessary to obtain support until resolution.

Sanctions

 The sanctions the SJC may impose include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A monetary fine
  • The payment of restitution for property damage
  • Specific task(s) related to the nature of the misconduct
  • Community service on or off campus
  • Removal from University housing
  • Conduct Probation—A formal  warning that additional misconduct may result in more severe penalties
  • Suspension—Period determined by SJC. Suspension length can be for the remainder of a term, a full term, or multiple terms. Suspension results in separation from the University roles and if a respondent desires to return, the respondent must apply for and be readmitted or reinstated consistent with University procedures. 
  • Dismissal from the University

The SJC may not impose a sanction that requires action by a third-party or entity. In addition to the sanction, education and counseling may be recommended.

Violation

Suggested Sanction for Finding of Responsibility

Driving under the Influence of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs

Suspension

Physical Assault

Suspension

Activity that Endangers a Person

Suspension

Sale of Illegal Drugs/Controlled Substances

Suspension

Possession/Use of  Illegal Drugs/Controlled Substances

Suspension

  • Felonious (Cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD, GHB)

Suspension

  • Non-Felonious (Marijuana)

Conduct Probation; Possible suspension if multiple offenses

Tampering with or activating a fire alarm

Immediate $250 Fine, Suspension, and Conduct Probation

Vandalism

Restitution for Damage and Conduct Probation

Violation of SJC Sanctions

Suspension

*Failure to complete or fulfill any SJC sanction in the allotted time frame or otherwise may result in the finding and sanction becoming part of the respondent’s disciplinary record. 

Appeal

Student Judicial Council decisions that would create a disciplinary record may be appealed  to the University Board of Appeals consistent with University policy.

Notification

As soon as possible in the event of a finding of responsibility, the SJC Secretary will issue a notice to the University community outlining the results of the case. The notice may include basic facts about a case and the basis for the SJC’s finding.