Parental Notifications / Parents' Role

Parents are important partners with the university regarding their student.  However, parents do not have a direct role in the university’s disciplinary process.  GW students are adults, and the university treats them as such.  Students are responsible for their behavior while enrolled at the university, and they are expected to discuss their actions and be held accountable for any misconduct.

Parents are useful allies in the university's mission to educate students outside the classroom.  The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities and the Office of Academic Integrity strive to show students that certain behaviors are unacceptable in the GW community and discuss with them how to avoid future negative situations.  Parents are most helpful to their student when emphasizing their student's responsibility to live up to the minimum expectations of the university community and the law.  

The Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities and the Office of Academic Integrity staff members will answer parents' questions, to the extent permitted by federal privacy laws and university policies, regarding their student’s disciplinary process, but the student must be responsible for his or her behavior.

The following are questions frequently asked by parents regarding disciplinary matters:  

 1. My student called upset that he/she was documented by the GW Police Department. What happens next?
2. My student is charged with a disciplinary violation. Does he/she have the opportunity to defend him/herself?
3. I pay the bills; I want to know what is going on. Why can't the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities tell me the details of my student's case?
4. So if my student's records are confidential, why did I get a phone call/letter from the university about an alcohol/drug violation?
5. My student is involved in a disciplinary case. Are there other considerations made by the university regarding the imposition of a sanction? Are there any refunds?
 

1.  My student called upset that he/she was documented by the GW Police Department. What happens next?

All issues of non-academic student misconduct are evaluated by the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities to determine whether a student should be charged with a violation of the "Code of Student Conduct."  Not all students are charged with a disciplinary violation in all circumstances; sometimes an administrative action is appropriate.  Decisions whether to charge a student and with what type of violation are made on a case by case basis.  For a list of prohibited conduct, please see the "Code of Student Conduct."
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2. My student is charged with a disciplinary violation. Does he/she have the opportunity to defend him/herself?

Yes.  Every student charged with a disciplinary violation is afforded the opportunity to explain what happened during the incident in question and to present additional relevant information through witnesses or other means - regarding his or her involvement.

Students faced with potential sanctions that include cancellation of his or her Housing License Agreement, suspension, or expulsion from GW will have their case(s) heard by the University Hearing Board.  

All other cases are heard through Disciplinary Conferences. Disciplinary Conferences are heard by a member of the SRR staff or their designee, depending on the circumstances of the case.  

Decisions regarding the method of adjudication of student cases are made by the Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities or designee.
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3.  I pay the bills; I want to know what is going on.  Why can't the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities tell me the details of my student's case?

The  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of student education records and prohibits educational institutions from disclosing information from a student's education record to any third party including parents without the student's consent.  This federal privacy law, which permitted parents to have full access to their children’s education record in high school, significantly limits the access that parents may have to the education records of their children after they turn 18 or enroll in a post secondary institution.

The university’s policy on the privacy of student records, which is consistent with FERPA, sets out the requirements  and exceptions the university must follow when providing information to parents about a student’s disciplinary record.  However, the best way to ensure that the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities staff members can fully address a parent’s concerns or request for information about the student’s education record is to have the student sign and submit an Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities - Consent to Release Confidential Information form (available on this website).  After the student signs a FERPA waiver, our staff members, may discuss the student's case with anyone identified on the waiver, to the extent authorized by the student.
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4. So if my student's records are confidential, why did I get a phone call/letter from the university about an alcohol/drug violation?

An exception to FERPA's permits the university to notify parents of students in disciplinary cases involving drugs and alcohol. The university's parental notification policy provides for different types of contact depending on the type of violation:

  • The parents of students who are transported to the hospital for drug or alcohol use are contacted via letter by a staff member of the Division of Student Affairs.  This notification will occur provided the student is under the age of 21 at the time of notification.
     
  • The parents of students found in violation of an alcohol or drug violation are contacted via letter by a staff member of the Division of Student Affairs, provided that the student is under the age of 21 at the time of notification.
     
  • The parents of students involved in other alcohol-related incidents may be contacted via letter by a staff member of the Division of Student Affairs, provided that the student is under the age of 21 at the time of notification.

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5.  My student is involved in a disciplinary case.  Are there other considerations made by the university regarding the imposition of a sanction?  Are there any refunds?

The university's student disciplinary system is intended to encourage students to take responsibility for their behavior.  Letting the student know that a disciplinary violation is not the end of the world is very important.  Parents should encourage their student to continue to be an active member of the university community while any disciplinary case is pending.  In these conversations between parents and students, the university encourages parents to strike a balance between supporting the student and challenging his or her decision-making process regarding the incident(s) in which the student was involved.

Factors that do not relate to the student's behavior at the time of the incident(s) (e.g. financial situation, health conditions, character statements, grade point average, involvement in student organizations, etc.) are not considered by the University Hearing Board or the Disciplinary Conference Officer in determining the facts of the case and recommending sanctions, when necessary.

In accordance with the “Code of Student Conduct,” a student who is sanctioned with the cancellation of his or her Housing License Agreement, suspension, or expulsion by the university is not entitled to receive a refund of any applicable fees or tuition. 
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Further Clarification:

If you have questions regarding the university’s disciplinary process that are not addressed on this website, please contact the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities at (202) 994-6757 or via e-mail at [email protected].