The Judicial System at U.Va.
To maintain and promote a community of respect, safety, and freedom
Students take responsibility for establishing the codes of conduct we desire in our academic community. By entering the University, we, as students, accept the responsibility: to respect the physical welfare of all persons in the University community, to keep from misuse or harm property which belongs to the University or members of this community, to maintain an atmosphere conducive to education and scholarship, to contribute to the pursuit of the University’s goals, and to further the ideals of Honor and Freedom.
The Judicial System
Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia is an institution committed to the ideals of honor, integrity, and academic excellence. In keeping with this tradition, the student-run judicial system strives to uphold the rights and freedoms of those within the University community. In 1955, an agreement between the Board of Visitors and the Student Council was approved by the student body, which empowered the Judicial Committee to have jurisdiction over violations of University policy. In 1970, the Board of Visitors adopted the original Standards of Conduct which were revised in the spring of 2001, and again in the fall of 2011. The Judiciary Committee promotes the ideals of responsibility in the University community.
The University Judicial System depends on the awareness and participation of the community it serves. This website has been prepared to explain the function of the Judicial System to all community members.
University Judiciary Committee
The University Judiciary Committee (UJC) is the central governing and operating body of the University Judicial System, and is authorized to investigate and adjudicate alleged violations of the University’s Standards of Conduct. The UJC consists of twenty-five Representatives elected from the eleven undergraduate and graduate schools of the University for one-year terms beginning April 1. Each school elects two Representatives, except for the College of Arts and Sciences which elects three. Representatives serve as judges during UJC trials and are responsible for the committee policy and procedure.
The UJC Representatives elect from their number a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson for First-Years, a Vice-Chairperson for Trials, and a Vice-Chairperson for Sanctions. These four officers comprise the voting members of the UJC Executive Committee.
In addition to the voting members, the executive committee is composed of seven non-voting members consisting of the UJC’s two Senior Counselors, Senior Investigator, Senior Educator, Senior Data Manager, First-Year Chairperson, and First-Year Vice-Chairperson.
The UJC hears cases of alleged misconduct by a student or a student group brought to its attention by any member of the academic or civic community. Anyone can file a case. The committee has no jurisdiction over cases under consideration by the Department of Student Health or cases involving allegations of sexual assault, violations of University motor vehicle regulations or contractual disputes between students and the University. The UJC does not have jurisdiction over Student Council or The Honor Committee.
It is important to note that the Judiciary Committee and the Honor Committee are separate entities. The Honor Committee deals strictly with cases of lying, cheating, and stealing and has the single sanction of expulsion. The Judiciary Committee hears all cases involving violations of the Standards of Conduct, and can impose any sanction ranging from oral admonition to expulsion. In some cases, Honor Code violations do fall under the Standards of Conduct.
While the Judiciary Committee is a student run, all decisions of the UJC are subject to review by the Vice President for Student Affairs. If s/he believes that any decision is so inappropriate that it is not in the best interest of the University, s/he may consult with the Committee for a possible revision or refer it to the Judicial Review Board.
A case is finalized when either the Vice President for Student Affairs approves the decision or when the Judicial Review Board of the Board of Visitors has rendered a decision in cases of appeal.
Standards of Conduct
The University of Virginia is a community of scholars in which the ideals of freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of the individual are sustained. It is committed to preserving the exercise of the rights and responsibilities in the Constitution. The exercise and preservation of these freedoms and rights require a respect for the rights of all in the community to enjoy them to the same extent. It is clear that in a community of learning, willful disruption of the educational process, destruction of property, and interference with the orderly process of the University or with the rights of other members of the University cannot be tolerated. Students enrolling in the University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the University’s function as an educational institution. To fulfill its functions of imparting and gaining knowledge, the University has the responsibility to maintain an atmosphere conducive to its educational purpose. The current Standards can be accessed from the “Standards of Conduct” link in the side menu.
Filing a Case
Details on how to file a case can be found on the “File a Complaint” link in the side menu.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Accused
Details on the rights and responsibilities of accused students can be found on the “For Accused Students” link in the menu at the top of the page.
To ensure the fair and thorough investigation an adjudication of the alleged student misconduct, and to promote a greater awareness of the committee procedures and the University’s Standards of Conduct, the UJC selects, through a process of tests and interviews, students to serve as UJC Support Officers. There are three support officer positions: Counselor, Investigator, and Educator.
A counselor is assigned to both the complainant and the accused in each case, and it is the duty of the counselor to give their party a better understanding of the judicial process and to represent their party during a trial, if requested by the party. Counselors are well-versed in UJC policy and trial procedure.
One of the investigator’s duties is to question all parties involved in a case and college from them the relevant facts. These facts are compiled in a written report and presented at the time of the trial to a panel of judges so that they may acquaint themselves with the substance of the case.
Education is a high priority of the Judiciary Committee. Students who are selected to be educators lead the Committee’s educational efforts to the University community. In addition, educators also work with guilty students sanctioned by the Judiciary Committee to obtain feedback regarding their experience with the judicial system.
The University Judiciary Committee’s trials are separated into two components, a trial for guilt and, if necessary, a trial for sanction. While the trial for guilt focuses purely on the facts of the alleged violation, the trial for sanction incorporates both the motives behind the incident as well as the character of those involved.
The UJC’s trial panel consists of five judges including a voting member of the executive committee serving as chairperson of the trial.
A trial begins with opening remarks from the Chairperson highlighting the purpose and summary of the proceedings and is followed by opening statements by the complainant and accused counsels. Following this, the complainant is given the opportunity to present his/her case of the alleged offense. The accused then has the opportunity to offer evidence on his/her behalf (if the accused is not present at the trial, the committee may try him/her in absentia). Both parties may cross-examine each other’s witness(es), and the panel may ask questions at any time.
After all evidence has been presented and closing statements by the complainant and accused counsels have been made, the trial panel renders its decision. In determining both the question of guilt and, if guilty, the severity of the sanction, there must be agreement of two-thirds of the trial panel.
The UJC attempts to correct student violations by assigning sanctions which are rehabilitative and educational in nature.
Sanctions available to the UJC include, but are not limited to:
- Oral Admonition: A Reprimand read by the trial chair to the student at the end of the trial.
- Written Warning: Notification that continuation or repetition of specific misconduct will be cause for more severe disciplinary action.
- Academic Reprimand: Written censure for violation of Standards of Conduct placed in the guilty student’s academic file and the Dean of Student’s file. The notification may be removed after a specified period of time.
- Probation: Exclusion from participation in University activities of privileges for a stated period of time.
- Restitution: Reimbursement for damage to or misappropriation of property.
- Fine: A monetary punishment for actions or damages beyond the evaluation of any restitution. The fine shall be no lower than $10 and no higher than $100.
- Work Sanctions: Service performed for the benefit of the University community.
- Suspension Held in Abeyance: Exclusion from classes and activities for a stated period of time to be enforced automatically should another conviction of like nature occur.
- Suspension: Exclusion from classes and activities for a stated period of time.
- Expulsion: Termination of student status for an indefinite period of time. Terms of readmission, if any, will be stated in the order of expulsion.
A student or student group found guilty in any trial within the University of Virginia Judicial System may request (in writing) an appellate hearing within two weeks after the original decision has been handed down. Motions for appeal will only be granted on the following grounds:
- Because of a procedural error during the trial/hearing, the party requesting the appeal, hereafter “the appellant,” was not afforded basic procedural protections guaranteed by Article IV of the UJC Constitution or relevant provision of the Procedures for Cases of Sexual Assault, and such an error has a substantial prejudicial impact on the outcome of the trial/hearing.
- Evidence not discovered before the conclusion of the appellant’s trial/hearing and not reasonably capable of discovery before the conclusion of the appellant’s trial/hearing would show that the decision reached by the subordinate body was erroneous.
- The sanction imposed by the subordinate body was unduly harsh, clearly excessive, or grossly inappropriate to the offense.
If the student has received a sanction of Interim Suspension from a University official, s/he may file an appeal with the UJC within seventy-two hours of being suspended. To the extent possible, the University Judiciary Committee or its designated subcommittee shall endeavor to hold the hearing within twenty-four hours of the request and in any event no later than five (5) academic days from the making of the request.
University Judicial Review Board
A vital branch of the Judicial System is the University Judicial Review Board (JRB), which hears appeals from the UJC and the University Sexual Misconduct Board, as well as cases referred to it by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The chair of the JRB is appointed by the President. There are ten committee members, five who are faculty or staff and five who are students unaffiliated with the UJC. The faculty and staff members are appointed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The Procedures of the JRB are available on the “Process and Procedures” link on the side menu.
First-Year Judiciary Committee
An autonomous subcommittee of the UJC, the First-Year Judiciary Committee (FYJC) hears all cases of alleged offenses by first-year students in the first-year living areas. Its procedures and jurisdiction closely mirror that of its parent body, the UJC.
The FYJC consists of twelve judges chosen from among the first-year class. The committee is an excellent way for first-year students to become involved in the University community, to take an active role in the Judicial System, and to experience student self-governance first-hand.
The Issues Subcommittee has no set agenda. This subcommittee will focus on the aspects of the Committee that need attention at the present time. This can include the following: changes to the Constitution and By-Laws, changes to the statute of limitations, and possible reallocation of the number of representatives from each school.