Student Arrest Self-Disclosure Form

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Each year, new and returning students are asked as part of their Annual Student Update Form whether or not they have been arrested or convicted of a crime. Students must report this information if they have not previously provided it to the University. The Annual Student Update Form prompts new and returning students to disclose relevant criminal arrests or convictions and reminds them of their continuing duty to do so within 72 hours of any future such incident. There is a perception that some students simply may be unaware of this self-disclosure policy, and the Annual Student Update Form is designed to both inform students and obtain the necessary responsive information from them each year. 

The following FAQs provides some answers to the most common questions associated with the student arrest disclosure process and the use of information obtained via self-disclosure:

1. What is the reason for this policy?

The purpose of this policy is to help us maintain a safe community. However, it is among many policies published online in the non-academic regulations of the University and thus may not be fully known to students who do not read all of the relevant policies applicable to them. For this reason, our system prompts students to provide this information and reminds them of their continuing duty to make these disclosures. Critically, the system is based on the concept of self-disclosure in our community of trust.

2. What types of criminal infractions need to be disclosed by students?

Pursuant to policy, a student must disclose any arrests or convictions regardless of whether they occur inside or outside the Commonwealth of Virginia and regardless of whether the University is in session at the time. excluding minor traffic violations that do not result in injury to others. Students should err on the side of disclosure if they believe an arrest or conviction may be covered by this policy. A DUI is not considered a minor traffic violation.

3. What time period is covered by the duty to self-disclose?

The self-disclosure policy covers arrests and convictions not previously reported to the University through the Annual Student Update Form. Students also do not need to re-disclose matters that they have already disclosed to Student Affairs in prior years.

4. What about juvenile records, including those that have been sealed?

Given that the University does not enroll many students under age 18, there should be very few cases in which a juvenile record is at issue. In the highly unusual case where a minor student has an underlying juvenile arrest or conviction that occurs after admission to the University and is otherwise under seal, he or she should seek the advice of counsel regarding the disclosure obligation in light of the relevant law of the state in which the arrest or conviction occurred.

5. What about the distinction between arrests and convictions?

We recognize that arrests do not represent an adjudicated conviction or an admission of guilt. Disclosure of an arrest is understood as that - simply an arrest - and may result in follow-up questions by staff in Student Affairs - Policy, Accountability, and Critical Events (PACE). Our focus at all times is on the underlying behavior. For those arrests that are referred to the University Judiciary Committee (and only where the underlying offense falls within the UJC’s jurisdiction), a UJC hearing is generally delayed until the underlying criminal matter is fully resolved in court. However, we believe it is important to know in a timely fashion when a student has been charged with a crime. What ultimately occurs in a criminal proceeding may certainly inform any action the University considers taking, but it does not dictate the University’s response.

6. What about criminal charges that have been dismissed or expunged?

Students should disclose arrests that were later dismissed, although there will be an opportunity after answering “yes” to explain the subsequent dismissal. Arrests or convictions that have been expunged by court action should not be disclosed (see the specific provisions of Virginia Code Section 19.2-392.4(A)). Note that “expunged” and “dismissed” are not the same thing. Students should consult with legal counsel if they believe a prior arrest or charge has been expunged as that term is defined under applicable law.

7. Who reviews the information that is disclosed by students?

Staff in Policy, Accountability, and Critical Events (PACE) will review each response to determine if follow-up is needed. This is to ensure that one uniform source is making this review, helping to provide consistency and fairness in its ultimate application.

8. What action will be taken based on the information that is disclosed?

For most disclosures, there may be a follow-up e-mail or conversation to fill in any necessary facts and context. For arrests and convictions occurring in Virginia, staff in Policy, Accountability, and Critical Events (PACE) will also access the court records database of the relevant city or county to check the specific charges and status of each. For more serious infractions, there may be a meeting with PACE staff to discuss what the student is doing to prevent a repeat offense or similar harmful behavior and also an offer of information regarding University resources such as counseling, or alcohol or substance abuse resources to assist the student in future decision-making. Certain cases may require referral to the University Judiciary Committee for a hearing, consistent with the system of student self-governance at UVA. For a small number of cases that indicate a significant risk of violence, referral to the University’s Threat Assessment Team for evaluation may also be warranted.

9. Will the information disclosed by students be reflected on a student’s academic or permanent record at UVA?

All disclosures are documented in a confidential, password protected database maintained by the University for the purpose of noting and tracking any follow-up actions taken and to provide possible context for any future infractions. Generally, only matters that ultimately result in UJC adjudication will be subject to future disclosure by PACE in response to student-authorized inquiries by graduate programs and employers regarding a student’s conduct or disciplinary record at the University. Arrest or conviction information may also be shared with appropriate student services staff in the student’s relevant school of the University (e.g., Engineering, Law, etc.) and may be subject to disclosure by that school if covered by a subsequently authorized disclosure by the student (for example, as part of a broad background check required under certain professional licensure requirements).

10. Is there a “two strikes” or “three strikes” policy that mandates particular disciplinary action by UVA based upon offenses disclosed through this process?

While many colleges and universities do employ a strict “two strikes” or “three strikes” policy or otherwise require immediate suspension for particular offenses, UVA does not. Instead, we utilize a case-by-case approach in evaluating conduct-related incidents. Each case will be evaluated on its facts to determine what follow-up, if any, is appropriate. Although a University official may impose an interim suspension of a student (which generally remains in place until a UJC hearing may occur), that interim sanction is used only in the most serious cases that are determined to present a present risk to safety.

11. What about graduate or professional school students? Do the same procedures apply to them?

Yes. Graduate and professional school students should respond in the same manner as undergraduate students. The review and follow-up procedure that PACE will follow is the same regardless of school of enrollment. Information may be shared by PACE with the student services professional in the school of enrollment, as those staff members may have more regular opportunities to interact with their graduate or professional school students.

12. What about a student’s privacy?

Most arrests and convictions are a matter of public record in the court files of each jurisdiction. In addition, a student agrees to be governed by the policies of the University when he or she enrolls, and as noted, this policy requiring self-disclosure of criminal arrests or convictions is not new. The University will maintain the information disclosed by students pursuant to this policy in a confidential fashion. It will be accessible to, and reviewed by and with, only those staff with a need to know such information.

13. What role do the Honor system and the University Judiciary Committee play in this procedure?

As with many other things at UVA, a student is being asked to give a truthful response regarding prior or intervening arrests and convictions “on their Honor.” Thus, a knowingly false response that is significant in nature (as defined by the Honor system) would be subject to being referred to the Honor Committee for investigation and further action. In addition, a failure to comply with the self-disclosure procedure could be referred to the University Judiciary Committee for a hearing based upon an allegation that such failure represents a violation of the University’s Standards of Conduct (in particular, Standards of Conduct 6 and 12). Under UVA’s system of student self-governance, the ultimate adjudication of any matter referred to the Honor Committee or University Judiciary Committee rests with our students.