When a conduct referral is received, the involved student(s)/organization is/are contacted for a meeting with a conduct officer to discuss the incident in question. The purpose of the meeting is to review the contents of the referral and discuss options for resolving the allegation and/or discuss conduct procedures.

Possible outcomes of this meeting include:

  1. The student/organization is not in violation of a student code of conduct policy and the case is closed.
  2. The student/organization may be found in violation of a student code of conduct policy and the case can be resolved in one of two ways:
    • The student/organization chooses to resolve the case immediately through an agreed resolution.
    • The case is referred for a formal hearing and the student/organization is notified of disciplinary charges and the hearing date.

Agreed Resolution

The student/organization will meet with a conduct officer to discuss the specific incident in question. The conduct officer will provide a copy of the conduct referral and ask the student/organization to make a statement regarding his/her involvement in the reported incident. If the student/organization accepts responsibility for the violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct, he/she has the option of resolving his/her case through an agreed resolution. By resolving the case through an agreed resolution, the student/organization accepts responsibility for the alleged violation(s) and agrees to fulfill any sanctions or educational assignments that are developed during the meeting. By entering into an agreed resolution, the student/organization waives his/her right to a formal hearing and the outcome is final. If the student/organization rejects the agreed resolution, he/she will be referred to a formal hearing. The director of student conduct, or his/her designee, reserves the right to refer cases to a formal hearing without the opportunity to handle the case through an agreed resolution.

Formal Hearings

A student/organization may indicate their preference of an administrator or student conduct committee hearing, absent special circumstances. Not receiving the preferred hearing body is not a basis for a formal appeal. The student/organization will be notified in advance of the conduct charges he/she has allegedly violated, and the time, date, and location of the hearing. During the formal hearing, the conduct officer(s)/committee will determine responsibility for the alleged violations, including sanctions, if necessary. The outcome of that formal hearing will be final unless the hearing results in certain outcomes (see Student Conduct Formal Hearing Appeals).

Gender-Based Violence Hearings

Hearings involving alleged gender-based violence will be adjudicated by a mixed gender team of university student conduct officers. These incidents will be investigated by the university's Deputy Title IX coordinator (or his/her designee) and the information gathered by the Deputy Title IX coordinator will be the basis of the complaint. The Deputy Title IX coordinator is Frank Shushok, Jr., Ph.D. and can be reached at 540-231-8069 or fshushok@vt.edu.

Both students will be advised of their procedural guarantees(see The University Student Conduct System for more information) in a pre-hearing meeting with a representative from Student Conduct. A formal hearing will occur within 30 calendar days of receipt of information from the Deputy Title IX coordinator. For incidents that occur at the end of the fall or spring semester or during breaks, the 30 calendar day timeframe for a hearing may be adjusted at the discretion of the director of student conduct. The student conduct officers will request witnesses that they believe are necessary to the hearing. Both students will have the option to bring any additional witnesses. For gender-based violence cases both the complainant and the charged student can file an appeal (see Student Conduct Formal Hearing Appeals).

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. Additional information can be found in the Student Conduct FAQ

If you have a problem making your scheduled formal hearing due to an emergency, contact your hearing officer or Student Conduct as soon as possible. It is extremely difficult to reschedule formal hearings, but arrangements can be made in some instances when sufficient time allows. You should be aware that formal hearings may proceed without you. It is your responsibility to make the best effort to attend your scheduled appointment. If the formal hearing is conducted in your absence, you are still responsible for complying with any decisions made.

Student Conduct reserves the right to place a block on student schedules in several situations. For example, if you fail to attend your scheduled meeting or formal hearing, we will attempt to reschedule with you once before a block is placed on your enrollment. The block is removed once you schedule and attend your meeting or hearing. Student Conduct does not schedule appointments during final exams. If there is a pending discipline matter that needs to be resolved, a block will be placed on your enrollment until you Contact Student Conduct and attend. A block does not mean that you are not allowed to return to the university, it means that you will not have access to update or change your schedule until the block is removed.

  • To receive advance notice of the charges in writing.
  • To have an advisor of their choice present during the hearing. (An advisor’s participation is limited to conferring with the student. He or she may not participate in the hearing.)
  • To refute any evidence or statements presented during the hearing.
  • To bring witnesses.
  • To not participate or answer any questions.
  • To challenge the objectivity of the hearing officer if there are grounds to show that the individual is biased or has a conflict of interest.
  • To appeal the outcome of the hearing.
  • To notify any witnesses and advisors of the date and time of the formal hearing.
  • To prepare for their case by gathering all information or witnesses needed to adequately respond to the conduct referral. It is the charged student’s responsibility to bring witnesses (if needed) and gather materials that are relevant to the case. A copy of the C.R. will be provided in advance of the formal hearing so the student is aware of all information which has been provided to the hearing officer or committee.
  • To ask questions and clarify confusion before and during the formal hearing.

There are two different hearing formats in Virginia Tech’s conduct system: the administrative hearing and the committee hearing. Administrative and committee hearings are both formal hearings where referral agents and witnesses may be required to attend. The agenda is more structured because it is assumed that the nature of the case is more complex. In an administrative hearing, the charged student’s case is heard by a hearing officer who is a student affairs professional faculty member. In committee hearings, the case is heard by a panel of students, known as the Student Conduct Committee. The outcome of the hearing does not vary according to the type of hearing selected. The major difference is whether the case is determined by an administrator or by peer review. Students can indicate their preference for an administrative or committee hearing. However, there is no guarantee that the student will be granted their preferred choice. The director of Student Conduct reserves the right to make that determination when appropriate.

A charge letter is sent to the student(s) or student organization(s) involved in the incident when a formal hearing is requested or required. The charge letter indicates which policies the student(s) or student organization may have violated, and the time and date of the conduct hearing. There is also an overview of the rights which will be afforded to every participant in the conduct process. Attached to this letter are copies of the referral which indicates the names of the referral agent(s) and provides a narrative description of the alleged activities which substantiate the charges. It is important that the student thoroughly reviews the policies and incident description. Decisions made regarding any potential policy violations will solely be based on what takes place at the hearing.

  • The charged students or organizational representatives and referral agent and advisors (if they are present) are invited into the room and introduced.
  • The hearing officer explains the order of events and reviews the student(see The University Student Conduct System for more information) for those present. Witnesses are then asked to remain outside the meeting room until called by the hearing officer.
  • The hearing officer reads the referral and clarifies the charges for the referred students or organizational representatives.
  • The hearing officer states the available pleas and asks for a plea from each student to each charge.
  • The referral agent is asked to comment on the incident. The referred student or organizational representatives may ask questions.
  • The referred students or organizational representatives are asked to comment on the incident. Then the referral agent may ask questions.
  • Witnesses for the referral agent are invited into the meeting individually and asked to make statements. They may be questioned as previously described.
  • Witnesses for the referred students are invited into the meeting individually and asked to make statements. They may be questioned as previously described.
  • Referral agents may make a final comment.
  • Referred students or organizational representatives may make a final comment.
  • Once the hearing officer/committee has sufficient information to make a decision, he or she may end the hearing and ask the charged student to leave the room. At this point the hearing officer or members of the student conduct committee will determine responsibility. Decisions regarding responsibility are made in private. Sometimes a decision may not be determined immediately in order to further review evidence. If the accused is found responsible, an appropriate sanction will be determined. Charged students are notified in writing of the outcome of their case, and in some cases may be asked to schedule a post-hearing conference to discuss the outcome and sanctions with the hearing officer.
  • The hearing officer discusses the outcome and the appeal process with the student or organizational representative.

During the conduct hearing, the hearing officer will ask for a plea to the alleged violation. There are three plea options:

  • Accept Responsibility - you are responsible for violating Virginia Tech policy
  • Deny Responsibility - you are not responsible for violating Virginia Tech policy
  • No Plea - you wish not to state responsibility either way, but to defer to the hearing officer to determine responsibility for the violation

This is the standard of proof used in conduct meetings and formal hearings. For a student to be found responsible for a violation, the evidence must indicate that it is more likely than not that the violation occurred. This is very different from the criminal court system.

The hearing officer is a Student Conduct professional staff member or student affairs faculty member who has been appointed as a university conduct officer. These individuals are specially trained in Student Conduct practice and have a good working knowledge of university policy and current case precedent. If you feel that the staff member is not in a position to render a "fair and impartial" judgment, you may ask that the case be assigned to someone else. In doing so, you must demonstrate grounds for requesting your case be re-assigned, and the decision will ultimately rest with the director of student conduct. This request must be made in writing within reasonable time for the case to be assigned to a different hearing officer at the already determined time and date. Please make your request using our contact form.

Undergraduate and graduate students serve as committee members. These students are at least second-semester freshmen. All committee members are interviewed, selected, and trained by Student Conduct. Committees generally meet during the regular work week and are advised by a Student Conduct professional staff member.

There is a misconception that student conduct committees will be "easier" on a student than a professional staff member. The student conduct committee utilizes the same burden of proof as administrative hearing officers and is charged with determining if the conduct is consistent with community expectations. Their decisions are made based on the preponderance of evidence and community standards. While they may identify with you, as a fellow student, their decisions will reflect the values of the Virginia Tech community.

Both referral agents and charged students may elect to have a single advisor accompany them to the formal hearing. Advisors are the student’s choice and can be faculty/staff members, peers, parents, or lawyers. If you have chosen to bring an advisor, you must remember that this individual is there to assist you. An advisor may not participate in the formal hearing directly or speak on your behalf. He or she may not question any witness or referral agent. The role of the advisor is limited to conferring with his or her advisee. If you need to request a break in the formal hearing so that you can confer with your advisor privately, you may do so.

Student Conduct renders decisions regarding the violation of university policy, and not local, state, or federal laws. In some incidents there may be an overlap of policy and laws, but the priority for Student Conduct is to determine if your conduct is at odds with the University Polices for Student Life. It is a personal decision to seek legal assistance in handling criminal/civil matters, and we would recommend that you speak with Student Legal Services. Should you ultimately choose to have an attorney present, they would attend as your advisor, and would not have a speaking role other than to converse with you.

Student Conduct renders decisions regarding the violation of university policy, and not local, state, or federal laws. In some incidents there may be an overlap of policy and laws, but the priority for Student Conduct is to determine if your conduct is at odds with the University Polices for Student Life. It is a personal decision to seek legal assistance in handling criminal/civil matters, and we would recommend that you speak with Student Legal Services. Should you ultimately choose to have an attorney present, they would attend as your advisor, and would not have a speaking role other than to converse with you.

Yes! We have student volunteers who work a few hours each week as peer advisors to assist students in case preparation. These students are both undergraduate and graduate members of the community who have previously participated on our student conduct committees or been administrative hearing officers. They are well versed in university policy and case precedent. Additionally, they can provide helpful hints for organizing your thoughts prior to the formal hearing.