Community Accountability

Table of Contents

The Purpose

Community accountability provides a venue for students to experience responsibility, growth in self-discipline, and assistance in their journey.  The desired outcome is helping students learn and grow, as well as encouraging them through an intentional process designed to help them make better decisions.  At the core, it is intended to be redemptive and restorative with the care and development of each person in mind.

Student Life personnel including resident assistants, area coordinators, the director of residence life, the associate dean of students/director of commuter life, and the dean of students desire to journey with students by providing accountability while extending grace, care, love and forgiveness.

Being Truthful

Honesty and integrity are vital aspects of the community accountability process. When a student tells the truth it is honorable and highly valued, even if it means being honest about making a mistake. It is a community expectation that students are honest when asked questions about a situation where potential lifestyle or policy violations occurred. If a student lies to university personnel the severity of the circumstances may be escalated. Lying increases the seriousness of the situation and the degree of consequences that may be incurred by the student. Being truthful is imperative and expected.

Confronting One Another

Members of our community are responsible for their own behavior, as well as holding each other accountable. As a university committed to the integration of faith and learning, we believe in the model of accountability as outlined in Matthew 18:15-16: “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses” (NLT). Within our Christ-centered community, others should be restored through confrontation that is part of a loving and caring relationship.

If you know a student who is violating the community expectations, you are encouraged to go directly to that person and express your concern about the behavior and about the consequences it might have on the community and the individual. Ask the student if they are willing to change the offending behavior and live within the community expectations. If there is a positive response and the behavior changes, the problem may be resolved. If your confrontation does not solve the problem, the problem is serious (e.g., discrimination or harassment), or there is a continuing pattern of adverse behavior, encourage the student to seek assistance from a student life staff member or tell them you will go with them to get help.

If a student life staff member receives information about an incident or situation it can no longer be defined only as a personal problem. It may be considered a community issue and dealt with through the community accountability process. Ignoring problem behaviors give tacit and unspoken approval to the behaviors in question and does nothing to restore the individual's relationship with the community.

If a student is passively in the presence of other students who are violating lifestyle standards they may be considered an active participant in the situation. As stated previously, failure to address a violation provides unspoken approval of the behavior. Generally, all students involved in a situation such as this are held accountable. For example, if a student is with other community members who are drinking alcohol, the student may be held accountable for being present with the group even if they did not consume alcohol. In such a case, the university believes the student should have withdrawn from the group.

Help to Change and Grow

We trust that each member of the George Fox community is fully aware of their own behavior and the positive and negative effects that behavior can have upon the rest of the community. If you know your behavior is outside the limits established by the university and want assistance to change, you are encouraged to take the initiative and discuss your concern with a student life staff member without the threat of disciplinary action. In the case of such personal concerns, student life staff will help you toward growth and assistance to live within the community guidelines. Exceptions to this approach may be when behavior is repetitive, self-destructive, harmful or hazardous to others, violations of sexual misconduct/Title IX, or involves a significant legal issue in which the university is obligated to uphold the law.

Conditional Immunity

Additionally, the University wants to eliminate barriers for students who may be hesitant to seek medical or emergency help or report the incident to university officials because they fear being held accountable for policy violations (e.g., drinking alcoholic beverages). To encourage reporting, George Fox pursues a policy of offering students who are accessing help for themselves or others, conditional immunity from being charged with policy violations related to the particular incident.  While there may be no community accountability sanctions for these individuals, the University may provide elements of help, support, and education.

Community Accountability Procedures

Any student who violates the lifestyle statement or community policies is held accountable for their behavior through the community accountability process as outlined below. For occurrences of sexual harassment, sexual violence, or other forms of sex-based discrimination, please see the information outlined under Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence in this handbook. 

The Investigation Process

  1. Student Life personnel conduct an investigation and meet with the student(s) to discuss the incident report and collect further facts regarding the incident.
  2. If the student admits to the reported violation, they may request that the student life representative take whatever action seems appropriate. If the student denies the allegation the situation may be referred to student life personnel or to hearing officers.
  3. The student(s) may have a support person or attorney present for support in the investigation. However, these individuals may not speak at, participate in, or impede the investigation. Students may choose their own support person or ask the University to help identify a person to serve in this capacity. This is up to the discretion of the student and is designed to help the student through the process.
  4. Audio or video recordings are not permitted during the investigation.

In an investigation involving sexual misconduct or sexual violence (as defined in our policies), or discrimination, harassment, bias-related incidents or hate crimes, the investigation documentation may be forwarded to hearing officers for review and to determine the findings and outcome. In such cases, both the reporting party and responding party are informed of and may appeal the outcome.

The Hearing Process

A hearing is conducted when there are violations of the lifestyle standards and community policies. Student life personnel (and hearing officers as appropriate) make a determination in response to the findings of the investigation. When the course of action is a hearing, the following outlines the various aspects of this process.   

  1. One or more hearing officers will review all investigating materials, documentation and evidence. In addition, reporting and responding parties involved may provide a written statement before the hearing that will also be part of the material considered by the hearing officers.
  2. The hearing outcome is articulated in writing to the student(s). The student(s) may appear at separate meetings to hear the findings and outcomes presented by the hearing officer(s).
  3. The student(s) may have a support person or attorney present for support in the hearing. However, these individuals may not speak at, participate in, or impede the hearing. Students may bring their own support person or ask for the University’s help in identifying someone as noted in the investigation process.
  4. Audio or video recordings at a hearing are not permitted.

Hearing Findings and Outcomes

After hearing a case, the student life personnel or designated hearing officer(s) make a determination as to one of the following:

  1. Not responsible for a violation: No violation of the lifestyle statement or community policies has been verified.
  2. Responsible for a violation: A violation of policy or the lifestyle statement has been verified and the hearing officer(s) may impose appropriate sanctions.
  3. Insufficient information: There is insufficient information to determine whether or not a policy violation occurred.

Determining Responsibility in Specific Incidents

Decisions made to determine responsibility use the preponderance of the evidence standard (whether it is more likely than not that the student(s) violated community policies or lifestyle expectations). The University reserves the right to impose differing sanctions depending on the severity of the offense, up to and including dismissal for a student.

The student(s) have the opportunity to appeal the decision of the student life personnel or hearing officer(s) as outlined in the student’s official conduct letter. In cases involving sexual misconduct, sexual violence, discrimination, harassment, bias-related incidents or hate crimes, appeals are made to the Vice President for Student Life or their designee.

University Personnel Responsibilities

Rights of Reporting and Responding Parties

For additional rights within HB3415 or Title IX incidents, please see that section of the handbook.

Appeals Process

Students may appeal decisions that have been rendered in response to violations of the University lifestyle standards and values or the community policies. Appeals must be made in writing within five days of notification of the original decision. The appeal should be sent to the specific administrator or board outlined in the student’s letter. Appeals should include the following:

Upon receipt of the letter of appeal, the administrator has 3 days to prepare the appeal packet. After the appeal packet is complete the student life administrator or board generally has 7 days to conduct their process. If deemed necessary, student life administrators may choose to implement all or part of the sanctions while the appeal is in process.

Generally, an appeal is limited to review of the student’s written appeal request, university records, and/or summary statements provided by student life personnel. The administrator or board reviewing the appeal may, at their discretion, request appropriate interviews with the student or student life personnel. The appeal is not a rehearing of the original case and the role of the administrator or board is not to substitute their own judgment for the judgment of the original decision. The administrator or board hearing the appeal determines whether:

  1. The original case was conducted appropriately in light of the charges and evidence presented, and in conformity with prescribed procedures;
  2. The decision reached regarding the student was based on sufficient evidence, that is, whether it was more likely than not that a violation of the lifestyle standards and/or community expectations occurred;
  3. The consequence(s) and accountability imposed were appropriate for the violation of the lifestyle standards and/or community expectations which the student was found to have committed; or
  4. There is new evidence, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not brought out in the original case, because the person appealing did not know such evidence and/or facts at the time of the original investigation.

Appeals Decision

The administrator or board (as appropriate) will review the original findings and outcome and communicate a decision on the student’s appeal generally within 7 days following their receipt of the appeal packet. The decision will be communicated in writing to the appealing student. In cases where there is a reporting and responding party, both are notified of the decision. The decision will be in one of the two following forms:

  1. Original Decision Upheld: Where review of the original decision does not demonstrate that a different decision is warranted, the original decision will be upheld.
  2. Original Decision Modified: Where review of the original decision demonstrates support for the appeal and a different decision is warranted, the administrator or board will modify the original decision. This decision may include sanctions being decreased, modified, or revoked.

Generally, the administrator or board hearing the appeal makes the final decision regarding the accountability pieces for the student.

A copy of the Board of Student Appeals jurisdiction, membership, decisions and additional procedures is available upon request from the student life office.

Responding to Situations

It is difficult to codify how all incidents may be handled because each situation brings with it a unique set of circumstances. The response from student life personnel is designed to provide accountability and appropriate consequences for each student involved in a situation. The nature of the infraction, the severity of a violation, as well as the frequency of similar offenses, is considered in the community accountability process. The majority of situations result in specific consequences designed to help the student learn and grow in the following areas: character development, decision-making, understanding the importance of integrity, affirming their commitment to the community, being held responsible for their actions, receiving love and forgiveness, being honest and sincere, speaking the truth in love, and being fully restored to the community.

In serious circumstances students may receive a suspension warning and other appropriate consequences, accountability and support.  A suspension warning serves as a formal notice that a long-term suspension (either immediate or deferred termination of student status for one or more semesters) or dismissal (permanent termination of student status) may result if there are further violations of the lifestyle standards or community policies.

There are times when an individual may need to leave the community for personal restoration and reconciliation. This is not done punitively, but in love and respect for the student involved and for the good of the community at large. In egregious violations, consequences may include a long-term suspension or dismissal. Suspensions and dismissals are rare occurrences made with careful deliberation. 

Students serving a long-term suspension or who have been dismissed are not permitted to be on campus property, attend class, live in campus housing, participate in university-sponsored co-curricular activities, attend university-sponsored events, or represent the university in any official capacity for the duration of the suspension. The student’s academic advisor, instructors, and appropriate University personnel are informed of the suspension, but usually not of the circumstances leading to it. In the case of a suspension or dismissal, the student’s financial aid would be revoked. Even if the student successfully appeals their suspension or dismissal, or is readmitted, they still need to appeal their revoked financial aid status with the Financial Aid Office.

If a student chooses to withdraw before fulfilling the required community accountability sanctions, including suspension, these stipulations may need to be fulfilled before they are allowed to re-enroll. Graduating students who do not complete assigned consequences may have their diploma and/or transcript withheld until the sanctions are complete.

Academic and Student Life Conduct Incidents

When a student is involved in academic dishonesty or other academic misconduct, these infractions are responded to by the Office of Academic Affairs. When a student is involved in a lifestyle or community policies issue, as outlined in the student handbook, the incident is responded to by student life personnel within the community accountability process. While academic and student life incidents are generally handled separately, if a student has incidents in both areas, academic affairs and student life may work together in addressing the issues and assigning an appropriate response, which may include suspension or dismissal.

Safety of the Community

The University reserves the right to immediately respond with whatever measures it deems necessary in order to protect the personal safety of students, employees, or other people. This may include situations in which the University or its representatives believe that because of a student’s behavior, there exists a threat of imminent danger to the student or others; significant disruption of the work, academic, or student life environment; or significant damage to University property. Such measures include, but are not limited to: temporary removal of the student from their living situation on campus or from the campus as a whole, modification of living arrangements, temporary removal from classes, and/or interim suspension from campus pending a determination by University personnel or a hearing in certain instances.

Retaliation

Federal law and institutional policy prohibits retaliation. It is defined as any adverse or negative action against a person participating in any reporting, investigation or proceeding that is perceived as: intimidating, threatening, coercing, hostile, harassing, retribution, or violence that occurred in connection to the making and follow-up of the report.  This also includes actions against an individual who has: (1) complained about alleged discrimination, harassment or retaliation, (2) participated as a party or witness in an investigation relating to such allegations, or (3) participated as a party or witness in a court proceeding or administrative investigation relating to such allegations.

Federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, make it unlawful to retaliate against an individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by these laws. Intimidation means to make someone fearful or to put a person into fear. Generally, proof of actual fear is not required in order to establish intimidation. It may be inferred from conduct, words, or circumstances reasonably calculated to produce fear. Any person violating this policy may be subject to appropriate community accountability, up to and including suspension or dismissal if they are an undergraduate or graduate/George Fox Connect student.

Bystander Intervention & Conditional Immunity

George Fox is deeply committed to the health, safety, and well-being of its students.  Bystander intervention by students can be a critical aspect of enhancing the welfare of his/her peers.  Students are strongly encouraged to contact University personnel, call 911, or seek other professional or medical attention when the health or safety of themselves or others is threatened or appears to be at risk.

The University wants to eliminate barriers for students who may be hesitant to seek medical or emergency help or report the incident to university officials because they fear being held accountable for policy violations (e.g., drinking alcoholic beverages). To encourage reporting, George Fox pursues a policy of offering students who are accessing help for themselves or others, conditional immunity from being charged with policy violations related to the particular incident. While there may be no community accountability sanctions for these individuals, the University may provide elements of help, support, and education.

Good Standing Policy

It is a privilege for students to participate in curricular and co-curricular programs at George Fox University. The university expects these students to be leaders and role models in our community who will live with integrity. It is essential that students embrace the challenge to live as people of character and be held to a high standard of accountability. There are a myriad of departments and programs that require participating students to be in good standing with the University. These departments or programs include, but are not limited to: 

Students may lose good standing if they have violated:

Students may regain good standing when they have fulfilled:

The supervising university employee determines the consequences and means of accountability issued by each department or program. This process is separate from any sanctioning and accountability that happens in the community accountability process by student life.

In addition to the good standing policy, each department or program may have additional expectations for participation. Please check with the supervising university employee for these additional requirements.

False Reporting

Any student found to be falsely reporting and/or falsely accusing an individual of a policy violation may face appropriate aspects of community accountability, up to and including suspension or dismissal from the University.

General Student Complaint Procedures

Informal Complaint Procedures

It is the wish of the University to provide an education and services of high quality to its students and to provide equity and harmony in the application of policies and procedures. When a student has a complaint, the University encourages resolution to be sought through informal communication with the appropriate instructor, college dean, staff member, or administrative officer who may be able to help rectify or clarify the situation before a written complaint is initiated. 

Formal Complaint Procedures

This Complaint Policy does not supersede specific policies involving special cases such as grade appeals, sexual misconduct/harassment, appeal and due process, etc. that are further defined in the Student Handbook, Catalog, Graduate/George Fox Connect Policies or elsewhere.

It is the commitment of the University to provide education and services of high quality to its students and to provide equity and harmony in the application of policies and procedures. When a student has a complaint, the University encourages resolution to be sought through informal communication with the appropriate instructor, college dean, staff member, or administrative officer who may be able to help rectify or clarify the situation before a written complaint is initiated.

Similarly, it does not supersede our financial policies which include “Removal of Institutional Charges and Removal of Financial Aid Policies” and the financial appeals process. For more information see the procedures for submitting a “Medical Hardship Appeal.”

Submitting a Formal Student Complaint

A student who wishes to submit a formal complaint with the University must complete the formal complaint form, or if you need assistance in completing the form or have questions about the process, contact Jere Witherspoon:

studentlife@georgefox.edu
414 N. Meridian St. Box 6148, Newberg, OR. 97132
503-554-2316

Administrative Complaint Acknowledgment 

Formal student complaints will be forwarded to the administrator most immediately responsible for the area to which the complaint pertains.  Generally, the administrator will send a written acknowledgment to the student within seven days of receiving the complaint indicating that:

Copies of the written student complaint and the acknowledgement letter will be sent to the Director, Dean, Chair, Vice President, or Provost over that area.

Administrative Deliberation and Response 

If the administrator to whom the complaint is forwarded determines that the nature of the complaint is beyond his/her area of supervision or expertise, the next level administrator in the area should be consulted and may be requested to respond to the student. 

Administrative disposition of the complaint will generally consist of an investigation into the source of the complaint, previous efforts to resolve the issue, and any contingencies that will aid in the deliberation and disposition of the problem. The responding administrator will send to the student a written statement of attempted resolution of the problem. A copy of the deliberation will be sent to the appropriate Director, Dean, Chair, Vice President, or Provost.

All formal student complaints will be forwarded upon resolution to the Vice President for Student Life’s office where a log will be kept.

Formal Complaint Student Appeal Process

Upon receiving a deliberation response to the written complaint, the student has the right to appeal to successive levels of administrators within the area. 

This appeal must be made in writing within five days of receiving the Administrative response.

In each case the student will generally receive acknowledgement of the appeal within seven days, upon receipt of the complaint and a deliberation response within fifteen days from the date of the acknowledgement letter.

Note that the response time may take longer over the summer or holidays or when there are extenuating circumstances such as if the administrator is away on vacation or for some other reason.

If you do not receive a timely response, please contact Jere Witherspoon in the Student Life Office:  jwitherspoon@georgefox.edu

Administrative Levels for Student Complaints

The appropriate office for student complaints will be as follows: