Resources for Parents

Parents and guardians can serve as crucial partners in the development of our students. As parents, you can support your son or daughter by understanding our community's values, policies, and procedures. Our student conduct policies are developed to assist students in their growth and development. To that end, we hold students accountable for behavior that violates our educational standards and community values.

The Association of Student Conduct Administration offers an excellent publication, The Student Conduct Process: A Guide for Parents (pdf),FN1 to help parents understand the philosophy of student conduct systems and anticipate the needs and challenges their sons or daughters may face while at the university.

Honor Code Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
What is the Honor Code?

The Honor Code is our behavioral expectations regarding students' ethical behavior both inside and outside of the university. The Honor Code is an affirmation that students will not lie, cheat or steal. For more information, please refer to the Honor Code.

How will I know if my student has been referred for an Honor violation?

We encourage, but do not require, students to inform their parents of any incidents, as we believe parents can be effective allies in helping their children learn from their behavior and develop into fully-mature adults. The university's practice is to treat its students as adults, and as such, we allow the student to decide if and how to inform his or her parents. Students may elect to sign a Release of Information form to indicate that they wish for their parents to be notified of the final results of any Honor Code matter; if the student has chosen to release this information to parents, we will send a letter home to let you know about a particular incident and its resolution.

How can I help my student avoid an Honor violation?

Speak with your son or daughter about the challenges ahead. Honor is a cherished concept at William and Mary, and violations have serious consequences; suspension as a typical sanction. The Honor Code is present to establish a "level playing field" so that all students are judged by the merits of their efforts and ability. The university is an academically-rigorous institution, and your son or daughter is likely to be faced with the challenge of a heavy workload. Explore with your son or daughter how he or she plans to address this challenge proactively and the resources available should he or she encounter difficulty. It is always better to submit work, even if incomplete, that represents an honest effort rather than to succumb to the temptation to cheat and suffer the consequences.

The Dean of Students Office offers academic support programs on study skills, time management, and other skills to assist students. In addition, should your child encounter personal difficulty, encourage him or her to contact the Dean of Students Office to request an appointment with a staff member.

What is my role in the Honor process? How can I help my student?

You can help your son or daughter by learning about the Honor process, procedures, and goals. As our process is developmental in nature, we believe it important for the student to take responsibility for the process and attend required meetings and fulfill sanction requirements, if any. By assuming responsibility for the process, the student is encouraged to develop a sense of confidence and competence in managing his or her affairs in the future. It usually is not helpful to the educational development of the student if the parent attempts to overtake the process on his or her behalf.

Can I be present during the Honor meetings and/or hearing?

The first step of the Honor process is a meeting with the student assigned to investigate the report. This initial meeting involves only the student and the investigating committee. If the matter progresses to a hearing, the student is permitted to bring one silent observer to the hearing--the student may elect to have a parent observe the hearing.

What happens if my son or daughter is found to have violated the Honor Code?

If your son or daughter is found guilty of a violation, he or she will receive one or more sanctions. Because Honor violations are considered serious breaches of conduct, the typical outcome involves a suspension of at least one semester. In addition, if the violation is an academic violation, the Council will recommend either a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. The Council may also issue secondary sanctions. For more information, please read the Student Handbook's section on the Honor Code.

Does my son or daughter need a lawyer?

The Honor Code reflects the unique values of the William and Mary community. Because of this, our process is separate and distinct from the criminal or civil court systems. While a student may, on his or her own, seek the assistance of an attorney, attorneys are not permitted to take an active role in the Honor process. Students are provided with the right to student counsel, and in the case of an allegation of serious misconduct, the student may request an administrative counsel to assist him or her.

Are disciplinary decisions appealable?

The student may request an appeal of a decision based on grounds specified in the Handbook. Appeals must be received by the appropriate party within five business days of the date the student received written notice of the outcome of his or her case.

With whom may I speak if I have additional questions?

Please feel free to contact the Dean of Students Office.

Conduct Code Frequently Asked Questions For Parents
What are the standards for conduct?

Our behavioral expectations are provided in the Student Handbook in the Code of Conduct and the Honor Code.

How will I know if my student has been referred for discipline?

We encourage, but do not require, students to inform their parents of any incidents, as we believe parents can be effective allies in helping their children learn from their behavior and develop into fully-mature adults. The university's practice is to treat its students as adults, and as such, we allow the student to decide if and how to inform his or her parents. Students may elect to sign a Release of Information form to indicate that they wish for their parents to be notified of the final results of any student conduct matter. If the student has chosen to release this information to parents, we will send a letter home to let you know about a particular incident and its resolution.

How can I help my student avoid becoming involved in the conduct process?

Speak with your son or daughter about the challenges ahead, particularly during his or her first year of college. It is helpful to understand basic student development theory in order to anticipate these challenges and help your son or daughter make positive choices regarding behavior. It is probably not surprising to learn that the vast majority of conduct violations involve alcohol as a factor, so we recommend you discuss the issue of alcohol with your child as well.

What is my role in the student conduct process? How can I help my student?

You can help your son or daughter by learning about our conduct policies, procedures, and goals. As our process is developmental in nature, we believe it important for the student to take responsibility for the process and attend required meetings and sanction requirements, if any. By assuming responsibility for the process, the student is encouraged to develop a sense of confidence and competence in managing his or her affairs in the future. It usually is not helpful to the educational development of the student if the parent attempts to overtake the process on his or her behalf.

Can I be present during the informal conference or discipline/Honor hearing?

The first step of the student conduct process is a meeting with the Case Administrator when the student is informed of the nature of the report and the student's options for resolving the report of possible misconduct. This initial meeting involves only the student and the Case Administrator. If the matter progresses to a hearing, the student is permitted to bring one silent observer to the hearing--the student may elect to have a parent observe the hearing

What happens if my son or daughter is found responsible for misconduct?

If your student is found responsible, he or she will receive one or more sanctions. Sanctions are usually designed to be educational; however, when the violation involves significant or potential harm to the community, or when the student has a history of violations, the sanctions may become protective of the interests of the community.

Does my son or daughter need a lawyer?

The University's Codes reflect the unique values of the William and Mary community. Because of this, our conduct process is separate and distinct from the criminal or civil court systems. While a student may, on his or her own, seek the assistance of an attorney, attorneys are not permitted to take an active role in our processes. Students are provided with the right to student counsel, and in the case of an allegation of serious misconduct, the student may request an administrative counsel to assist him or her.

Are disciplinary and Honor decisions appealable?

The student may request an appeal of a decision based on grounds specified in the Handbook. Appeals must be received by the appropriate party within five business days of the date the student received written notice of the outcome of his or her case.

Please also reference the Student Handbook or contact the Office of Student Conduct staff.

FN1 Note that the ASCA guide is a generic guide to assist parents in understanding the basic concepts of student conduct administration.  The Student Handbook is the definitive source for information on the university's specific Code of Conduct and procedures for addressing possible violations.  We encourage you to contact us if you have specific questions about the university's code  and procedures.