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Understanding Amnesty

UAA is committed to supporting the health and holistic wellbeing of our students and campus community.

The University’s Amnesty Policy was established:

  • to encourage students to seek assistance for medical emergencies, safety concerns, issues with addiction; and
  • to promote a culture of reporting where students feel comfortable bringing forward serious policy violations without fear of being held responsible for minor policy violations which they themselves may have committed.

UAA strongly encourages students to seek help anytime they feel it is necessary, knowing that the institution places the health and safety of the community over addressing minor policy violations. There are many services and resources available to UAA students.

When Does Amnesty Apply?

Health and Safety Risks

The first type of case to which this policy generally applies involves instances of a student’s health or safety being at risk leading them or someone else to seek assistance despite the circumstances of the incident involving some other policy violation. 

Bringing Forward Serious Policy Violations 

The second type of case generally considered for amnesty encompasses instances when a more serious policy violation is being brought to the attention of University officials despite the reporting party potentially being involved in a lesser policy violation.

Jurisdiction

Amnesty can be granted to individuals involved inviolations of the Student Code of Conduct, the Alcohol Policy, the Residence Life Alcohol Policy, the Marijuana Policy, the Residence Life Community Living Standards or other rules, policies and procedures deemed eligible by University officials reviewing a case. Since violations of University policies may occur either on- or off-campus, amnesty can be applied to incidents that occur either on- or off-campus.

UAA offices typically involved in amnesty cases, including the Dean of Students Office, the Department of Residence Life, and the Office of Equity and Compliance, do NOT have the ability to prevent a student from being subject to criminal charges or other disciplinary processes, whether they be inside or outside of the University. The jurisdiction of these offices is generally limited to amnesty from an incident being addressed through the student conduct process. For example, law enforcement may still pursue charges related to an incident or a professional ethics board may proceed with an investigation despite amnesty being granted. A student’s conduct may still be addressed by the faculty of an academic department, or a student worker may still face disciplinary action from their employer.

Reporting Timeline

When determining if amnesty applies to a case where students are seeking help or assistance, student conduct administrators first look to establish how the institution came to learn about a policy issue. The amnesty policy encourages help-seeking behaviors, but cannot be applied if the help is requested AFTER a policy violation has been discovered. A student may be granted amnesty for reporting a more serious policy violation the University is already aware of as long as evidence does not exist that the student had knowledge of the University already receiving a report.

Examples of Instances Where Amnesty Is Likely To Apply

Amnesty applying in the examples listed below is also contingent on no other mitigating factors or unknown circumstances that may be discovered during the processing of the case that may influence the decision of whether or not to grant amnesty. These examples are provided to demonstrate the types of scenarios the amnesty policy was created to address.

CONTENT WARNING: Some individuals may be triggered by the content in the following examples.

Scenario 1: A student at a party in UAA’s residential community is unconscious and displaying signs of alcohol poisoning. The student is under 21, as are several guests at the party, but they called the Resident Advisor-on-Duty to ensure their friend is safe.

In this scenario, amnesty will likely apply to the student displaying signs of alcohol poisoning as well as the students who called a staff member.

Scenario 2: Several students decide to sneak onto the roof of a UAA building after discovering it had been left unlocked. One of the students suffers a panic attack after looking over the edge and is having trouble breathing. Two of the students run back into the building looking for help where they find a faculty member who assists them with calling for paramedics.

In this scenario, amnesty will likely apply to the student experiencing the panic attack as well as the students who approached a faculty member for assistance. Amnesty may also apply to any student who stayed with the student on the roof experiencing the panic attack as long as they were actively contributing to the help-seeking behavior.

Scenario 3: A first-year student goes to the on-campus apartment of a classmate to purchase a fake ID. While picking up the fake ID, the student notices that in addition to driver’s licenses, the seller is producing counterfeit $10 bills. The seller also has weapons in their apartment to protect their business. The first-year student is immediately uncomfortable with the situation and hurriedly purchases the fake ID and leaves. The student decides to report the incident to the University Police Department.

In this scenario, amnesty will likely apply to the student who purchased the fake driver’s license yet reported the incident because they reported more serious policy violations than purchasing a fake ID. However, the student may still face criminal charges or be subject to other disciplinary processes, since the University cannot grant amnesty to processes that lie outside of its jurisdiction.

Amnesty would not apply to the student who was allegedly making fake driver’s licenses, producing counterfeit currency, and was in possession of weapons in their on-campus apartment.

Scenario 4: A student in the process of joining a student organization at UAA attends the organization’s famous New Year’s Eve celebration. The organization decides to have the party in the woods behind the Student Union. Everyone brings fireworks, a bonfire is started and alcohol is present. It is an enjoyable party until the organization’s leadership guides prospective members through an initiation ritual that includes being yelled at, being asked to remove their shirts, drinking numerous shots of whiskey and engaging in a series of humiliating activities for the amusement of the current members. The student initially participates in the ritual but then quickly leaves at the first opportunity. The student is deeply disturbed by the experience and decides to speak to the organization’s advisor.

In this scenario, the reporter will likely be granted amnesty for the violations of underage consumption of alcohol as well as fires and fireworks being used on campus, but amnesty would not apply to the organization or any member who led the hazing behaviors.

Scenario 5: A student sets up a date with an individual they met on a popular online dating app. The student and their date go out to dinner and spend hours walking around campus talking and enjoying the process of getting to know each other. It is late at night when the student gets back to their residence hall, but they agree to let the date come inside for a while. Once inside, the date pulls a flask out of their jacket and pours them both an alcoholic beverage. The student consumes the drink despite not being a big drinker and being under the age of 21 because they did not want to offend their date. This was the student’s only alcoholic drink of the night, but soon after finishing it, the student feels dizzy and incapacitated. The last memory the student recalls is being led into the bedroom by the date and being put to bed still fully clothed.

The student woke up the next morning in bed, but their clothes had all been removed. The date was gone and unresponsive to texts or calls asking what had happened. The student decides to go to the Student Health and Counseling Center for an examination after finding evidence on their body that sexual activity occurred they could not remember. After finishing the examination, the student went to the Dean of Students Office to report the incident and decided it was important to share information about the drink the date gave them as the student suspected it was drugged.

In this scenario, amnesty would apply to the student reporting the potential sexual assault. In the event the perpetrator was a student and addressed through the University’s student conduct system, amnesty would not apply to their case.

How Does Amnesty Work?

When a student requests amnesty or a report is brought to the attention of the University involving scenarios in which a student or group of students may be eligible for amnesty, the report is forwarded to the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct & Ethical Development, the Director of Residence Life (in cases involving residential students) and the Title IX Coordinator (in cases involving sexual misconduct, harassment or discrimination).

University officials will review the record and may request more information be gathered through an investigation prior to determining whether a student is eligible for amnesty.

Eligibility Due to Past Amnesty Cases

The University does take into consideration past cases in which a student was granted amnesty when making determinations about the application of amnesty to a case. Evidence of abuse of the amnesty policy is grounds for amnesty not being granted.

Amnesty Determinations

  • If a student is granted amnesty, they will receive a follow-up letter notifying them of the decision. The case is then closed and filed for information purposes only with a notation that amnesty was granted.

    When granting amnesty, the University may also assign the student some educational activities as a condition of amnesty being applied. In the event the student does not complete the educational activities, amnesty may be revoked and the case referred to a student conduct administrator to be addressed through the student conduct process.

     

  • If amnesty is not granted, the case is referred back to the student conduct administrator to proceed with the student conduct process.

Appealing an Amnesty Determination

If a student is not granted amnesty, the case is referred back to a student conduct administrator who adjudicates the case as outlined in the Student Handbook. If the student is found responsible, they have the right to appeal the decision. This is the point in the process in which a student could challenge the decision to not grant amnesty. This means that while students cannot directly appeal decisions regarding amnesty, they do have the ability to appeal findings of responsibility related to student conduct processes that occur after a request for amnesty is denied.

Appeals of student conduct findings may be based on the following grounds:

  1. Procedural error was made during the process which significantly impacted the finding or sanction.
  2. The sanctions imposed are substantially outside the parameters of guidelines set by the university for this type of offense or the cumulative conduct record of the respondent.
  3. There is new information that was not available at the time of the decision that, if introduced and credible, would have significantly impacted the finding or sanction. Any party’s unwillingness to provide a statement or participate in the student conduct process will not satisfy this ground for appeal.
  4. The decision is not supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

Despite appeals being considered for student conduct findings as opposed to decisions related to amnesty, students can base their appeal wholly or partially on the request for amnesty and the corresponding decision. A common example of an appeal based on amnesty would be submitted under Category A: “[a] procedural error was made during the process which significantly impacted the finding or sanction.” In the grounds for the appeal, the student could then provide an argument for why they believe their request for amnesty was denied in error. Once complete, the appeal would be routed for consideration by the appeal reviewer.

The process for considering an appeal includes a review of the student conduct record and generally does not include an interview with the student and the appeal reviewer. The student will receive the decision regarding their appeal in writing. More information regarding the appeal process can be found in the Student Handbook.

 

Approved March 8, 2022