2023-2024 Catalog and Handbook 
    
    Feb 29, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog and Handbook

Student Conduct


Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Virginia Community College System guarantees to students the privilege of exercising their rights of citizenship under the Constitution of the United States without fear of prejudice. Special care is taken to ensure due process and to spell out defined routes of appeal when students feel their rights have been violated.

Each student is considered a responsible adult, and it is assumed that students shall maintain standards of conduct appropriate to membership in the college community. Emphasis is placed on standards of student conduct rather than on limits or restrictions of students. Students should be aware of the Colleges’ guidelines and regulations governing student conduct that are contained herein. The College reserves the right to take disciplinary action compatible with its own best interests when it is clearly necessary.

The State Board for Community College’s Statements Regarding Student Conduct

The State Board for Community Colleges has issued the following statements regarding student conduct for all students in the Virginia Community College System:

  • Each individual is considered a responsible adult, and it is assumed that men and women of college age will maintain standards of conduct appropriate to membership in the College community.
  • Emphasis is placed on standards of conduct rather than on limits or restrictions of students. Guidelines and regulations governing student conduct usually are developed by representatives of the students, faculty, counseling staff, and administration. The College refrains from imposing a rigid code of discipline but reserves the right to take disciplinary action compatible with its own best interest when necessary.
  • Failure to meet standards of conduct acceptable to the College may result in one of the following sanctions: admonition, warning, censure, disciplinary probation, restitution, suspension or expulsion. A disciplinary probation period, unless otherwise specified, is the duration of one (1) semester. A student who is dismissed must reapply to the College and will normally be required to appear before the Student Affairs Committee before admission can be granted.
  • The Virginia Community College System guarantees to each student the privilege of exercising his/her rights of citizenship under the Constitution of the United States without fear of prejudice. Special care is taken to assure due process and spell out defined routes of appeal when a student feels his/her rights have been violated.
  • Basically, students of the community colleges are expected to conduct themselves as ladies and gentlemen, both within the College and elsewhere. For student conduct which tends to discredit or injure the College, the Chancellor is authorized by the State Board of Community Colleges to impose such penalty as he/she may deem appropriate, including expulsion from the College. This authority has been delegated by the Chancellor to the administration of each community college.

MECC Statements Regarding Student Conduct

Generally, institutional discipline shall be limited to conduct which adversely affects the College community’s pursuit of its educational objectives. While all forms of misconduct cannot possibly be enumerated here, the following misconduct is subject to disciplinary action:

  • All forms of dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, knowingly furnishing false information to the institution, forgery and alteration or use of institutional documents or items of identification with intent to defraud. • Disruption or obstruction of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary proceedings, educational processes, or other College activities.
  • Any of the following actions to individuals on College premises or College-sponsored or supervised functions:
    • Violent acts
    • Bullying
    •  Abuse or threat of abuse - including, but not limited to, physical, psychological, and/or verbal
  • Use of alcoholic beverages on campus or at any College function, including the purchase, consumption, possession, or sale of such items except where specifically authorized within the regulations of the College.
  • Theft, vandalism, destruction, or unauthorized use or movement of College property or personal property of other students, employees, or visitors.
  • Failure to comply with directions of College officials acting in the performance of their duties.
  • Possession, selling, using, manufacturing, or otherwise distributing illegal substances, including drugs or alcohol while on campus, attending a College sponsored off campus event, or while serving as a representative of the College at off campus meetings.
  • Littering, defacing, destroying, or damaging property of the College or property under its jurisdiction or removing or using such property without proper authorization.
  • Prohibited Conduct as defined by the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy, including but not limited to: sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. (Title IX Coordinator oversees cases involving Prohibited Conduct; full policy available at mecc.edu/title-IX.
  • Violation of published institutional regulations, including those relating to entry and use of institutional facilities, and any other regulations that may be enacted.
  • Conduct that is unbecoming, disorderly, or that reflects negatively on the College community, including but not limited to acts that are lewd, indecent, or obscene.
  • Violations of Federal, State, and local laws.

In developing responsible student behavior, student conduct proceedings play a role secondary to personal example, guidance, and admonition. Educational institutions, however, have a responsibility to protect their educational purpose through the enactment of standards of student scholarship and conduct and through the regulation of the use of institutional facilities. In exceptional circumstances, where preferred means fail to resolve problems of student conduct, designated procedural safeguards will be observed to protect the student from unfair disciplinary procedures involving serious penalties.

Sanctions

When violations of the policies regulating student conduct occur, the following sanctions may be imposed upon students:

  • Admonition: A written statement to a student that he/she is violating or has violated College policy(s).
  • Warning: Notice, in writing, that continuation or repetition of conduct found wrongful may result in more severe sanctioning.
  • Censure: A written reprimand for violation of specified regulations, informing the violator of the possibility of more severe conduct sanctions in the event of the discovery of further violations of any institutional regulation within a stated period of time.
  • Conduct Probation: Exclusion from participation in privileged or extracurricular College activities, as set forth in the notice, for a period of time not to exceed one school year.
  • Restitution: Reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of property. This reimbursement may be in service or monetary compensation.
  • Suspension: Exclusion from classes and other privileges or activities as set forth in the notice for a definite period of time not to exceed two years.
  • Expulsion: Termination of student status for an indefinite period of time. The conditions for readmission if any shall be stated in the order of expulsion.

Conduct Resolution and Appeal Procedures

Level I: Administrative Hearing for Alleged Violations of Student Conduct Policies

Instances in which students are accused of violating conduct policies, students are referred to the Dean of Student Services, or designee, for formal resolution. The Dean of Student Services, or designee, shall then conduct a careful and thorough investigation of the alleged violation. In the event the investigation shows that there is no substantial information to support the allegations of wrongdoing, the Dean of Student Services, or designee, shall drop the charges.

If the investigation indicates sufficient information of a policy violation, the Dean of Student Services, or designee, shall set a date to meet with the student to discuss the charges. Within five (5) business days of the conference with the student, the Dean of Student Services, or designee, shall render a written decision to dismiss the charges or to impose one of the sanctions outlined above. The student may, within five business days of receipt of the notice from the Dean of Student Services, or designee, submit a written request for an appeal to the Student Affairs Committee (Level II). An appeal to SAC is the only appeal available through the conduct resolution procedures unless the sanction results in suspension or dismissal from the College.

Level II: Student Affairs Committee Appeal Hearing

Hearing Appeal Procedures:

A student found responsible for a violation of College policy may request an appeal for one of the following reasons:

  • Insufficient information that a policy was violated;
  • A serious procedural error in resolving the case;
  • Sanction inappropriate for the circumstances for the violation.

A written appeal to the Student Affairs Committee must be made in writing within 72 hours of receipt of the original written decision, or by 9 a.m. on the next College business day if the deadline falls on a weekend or after 5 p.m. on a weekday. Typically, a decision will be rendered within ten (10) College business days.

The Student Affairs Committee chairperson will schedule an appeal hearing to be conducted no later than ten (10) business days following the student’s request for appeal. The Student Affairs Committee chairperson will be responsible for notifying the student and the Dean of Student Services of the date, time, and place of the hearing. The Student Affairs Committee shall make its decision by simple majority vote and communicate its findings in writing to the Dean of Student Services and the student within five (5) business days after the hearing is completed.

After review, the Student Affairs Committee may:

  • Affirm the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
  • Reverse finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
  • Reduce the sanction(s) of the original hearing authority;

Level III: Vice President for Academic Affairs and Workforce Solutions Appeal

A subsequent appeal, which is permitted only in cases where suspension or dismissal is assigned by the original hearing authority, must be submitted to the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Workforce Solutions within 48 hours of the student receiving the previous appeal decision in writing, or by 9 a.m. on the next College business day if the deadline falls on a weekend or after 5 p.m. on a weekday. The Vice President of Academic Affairs and Workforce Solutions may either:

  • Affirm the finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
  • Reverse finding(s) of the original hearing authority;
  • Reduce the sanction(s) of the original hearing authority;
  • Uphold the appeal decision made by the Student Affairs Committee.

The decision of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Workforce Solutions on all hearing appeals resulting in suspension or dismissal is the final decision for the College. The decision of the Student Affairs Committee on all other appeals is the final decision for the College.

Faculty Sanctioned Individual Grade Appeal Policy

The Faculty Sanctioned Individual Grade Appeal Policy provides due process for students who wish to formally appeal an individual grade received during a semester.  This appeal process is not for the overall grade for the course, but for an individual grade. As a rule, instructors do not assign arbitrary or unreasonable course grades.

Students who wish to appeal a faculty decision should appeal, in writing, to the Dean of Student Services, or designee, within five (5) business days of the sanction given by the faculty member. The Dean of Student Services, or designee, shall carefully review the documentation, and render a decision in writing to the student and faculty member within ten (10) business days from the time the appeal was submitted.

Students who wish to appeal the Dean of Student Services, or designees, the decision should appeal, in writing, to the Student Affairs Committee within five (5) business days of the Dean of Student Services, or designees, decision. The Student Affairs Committee chairperson will schedule an appeal hearing to be conducted no later than ten (10) business days following the student’s request for appeal. The Student Affairs Committee chairperson will be responsible for notifying the student and the Dean of Student Services of the date, time, and place of the hearing. The Student Affairs Committee shall make its decision by simple majority vote and communicate its findings in writing to the Dean of Student Services and the student within five (5) business days after the hearing is completed.

The decision of the Student Affairs Committee is the final decision for the Faculty Sanctioned Grade Appeal Policy.

Time Limitation/Disciplinary Proceedings

Every effort will be made by all parties to expedite the disciplinary process. The time limitations specified for either party may be extended by written mutual agreement. If there is no written mutual agreement to extend the time limits set herein, the decision reached at the previous level shall be determined to be final.

General Provisions/ Disciplinary Proceedings

• Identification - All written notifications and appeals shall include the name of the accused student and the nature of the alleged offense.

• Avoiding Interruptions - In the implementation of this procedure every effort shall be made to avoid interruptions of classroom activities.

• Public Statements - Except for such simple announcements as may be required covering the time of hearings and similar matters, public statements and publicity about a case shall be avoided by all parties so far as possible until all proceedings have been completed.

• Immediate Suspension - Nothing in the procedures described herein shall prevent the Dean of Student Services from suspending the student immediately if the continued presence of the student is deemed to be a substantial threat to others or to the welfare of the institution.

• Delivery of Notices - When giving notice of actions or requesting an appeal, the notice of appeal should be delivered directly to the person designated to receive it or sent to such person by certified mail, return receipt requested.

• Academic Freedom - This disciplinary procedure shall not be used to restrain students in their exercise of constitutional rights or academic freedom as set forth in the Statement of Academic Freedom and Responsibility adopted by the State Board for Community Colleges on January 29, 1969. 58

• Rights of Students - The student shall have the right to counsel at his/her own expense, the right to present and cross-examine witnesses, the right to present evidence, the right to examine all documents and demonstrative evidence introduced during the proceedings furnished at his/her own expense.

• Record of Proceedings - The following items will constitute a record of the proceedings: a written summary of the results of the investigation conducted by the Dean of Student Services, a written summary of each meeting between the accused and any official of the College relative to the proceedings.

Enforcement and Amendment of Disciplinary Policies and Procedures

The Student Affairs Committee, in which students, faculty and administration are represented shall be responsible for continuing joint interpretation of the policies and procedures. The same committee shall investigate alleged violations of these guarantees. The committee (less student representatives and the Dean of Student Services) will serve as the hearing panel to review cases of academic and disciplinary dismissal and decide grade and readmission appeals. These policies and procedures may be amended on the recommendation of the Student Affairs Committee subject to the approval of the Vice President of Academic and Student Services and the President of the College.