At George Mason University, the conduct process is initiated when an incident is referred to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). Anyone can refer an alleged incident of behavioral misconduct. Upon receipt of a referral, the OSC will make a determination of whether or not the alleged incident is within its scope of operation. For those incidents falling under the scope of the OSC, the student(s) will receive an email notification from the OSC providing information on the case resolution process. The OSC reserves the right to investigate any incidents reported to the office.
It is important to know that when working with students who have found themselves as participants in the conduct process, we approach each incident as unique. Cases are heard, and decided, on an individual basis taking each situation’s circumstances into account. Our goal is to educate students about choices and to help them learn from past choices. (For referrals that allege violations of sexual misconduct, please see the footnote at the bottom of this page.)
Before moving forward to a hearing, students are first afforded an opportunity to schedule a meeting with a professional staff member in the OSC (or Residential Life). This pre-hearing meeting is intended to ensure an understanding of the pending charges, the conduct process, and to provide the student the opportunity to choose their next step in the process. As it is the most commonly selected case resolution option, the initial notice sent to students will provide details for the pre-scheduled administrative hearing.
Students alleged of misconduct may resolve the incident in one of two ways. The student may meet with a professional staff member for an Administrative Hearing or they can request a hearing with the student-run Community Adjudication Board (C.A.B.), based on board availability. Both processes will determine the student’s involvement in an incident. Actively participating in this process is beneficial, as the hearing process is a student’s opportunity to respond to the pending charge(s).
Students who wish to obtain information on the referral that was sent to the Office of Student Conduct or the alleged conduct that initiated the conduct process may email their hearing officer directly for this information.
Though both hearing options are designed to determine the student’s involvement in the alleged incident and both evaluate information similarly, the process followed to reach a decision differs.
Community Adjudication Board hearing
A CAB hearing is a student’s opportunity to share, from their perspective, details from the alleged incident from their individual, first-hand experience. This presentation is before a board comprised of three undergraduate students who have applied, were selected, and have trained to serve on the CAB.
The procedure observed by the CAB closely resembles the following:
Each party will have an opportunity to present a narrative statement, beginning with the complainant. The complainant will be represented by the university and will present pertinent information, including any relevant documentation. The respondent, followed by the board, will then have an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. The responding party will represent him/herself and present pertinent information, including any relevant documentation. The complainant, followed by the board, will then have an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. Following this, each party will have an opportunity to present relevant witnesses to supplement the narrative account. Questioning of witnesses will follow.
When both parties have presented their case, each will be allowed a closing statement, beginning with the responding student. All parties will then be dismissed while the board deliberates. If the student is found responsible for the violation(s), the board will solicit a sanction recommendation from each party before offering a sanction recommendation to the OSC.
An administrative hearing is a student’s opportunity to share, from their perspective, details from the alleged incident from their individual, first-hand experience. The hearing officer will first begin by ensuring an understanding of the pending charges, the rights afforded to the student respondent, and the general case resolution process. Both the hearing officer and student are afforded an additional opportunity for questioning prior to concluding the hearing.
Following the hearing, the student will receive an email (to their GMU email account) decision letter indicating whether or not they have been found responsible or not responsible. If the student has been found “not responsible,” the charges will be dismissed. When a student has been found “responsible,” the decision letter will detail any sanctions the student is then responsible for completing, as well as the date by which completion is required.
Upon receipt of the decision letter, students are afforded the opportunity to appeal the original decision. It is important to note that a responding student may request an appeal only if one or more of the following conditions is present: new and substantial information not available at the hearing which, had it been available, would likely result in a different finding; substantial procedural irregularity; hearing officer bias and; severity of sanction(s). Appeals will be reviewed by an appropriate professional staff member in Student Conduct or Residence Life.
Per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 USC § 1232g, students have the right of privacy of their educational records. These records include, but are not limited to, records maintained by the Office of Student Conduct. Only with proper signed release are these records available to those other than the student, or as allowed by amendments to FERPA. A copy of the release can be found here: Privacy Waiver.
*** Please note that referrals that allege acts of sexual misconduct will be adjudicated by a separate process. This information can be found here.