Who is an “Appropriate Disciplinary Authority” at UVa? Excellent Question, as it Turns Out

UVa President James Ryan. Courtesy of the University of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia, as required by state law, has a policy on Preventing and Addressing Threats of Acts of Violence.

It defines “unsanctioned possession of firearms, weapons, or other dangerous items.” as Violent or Threatening Behavior.

The policy currently states:

The (Threat Assessment Team) TAT does not serve as a disciplinary body; however, referrals will be made to the appropriate disciplinary authority regarding violent or threatening behavior per University policy.

We will find out who added that language and when, but it doesn’t matter to the outcome.  From the policy:

All University faculty, staff, students, and Medical Center employees are expected to cooperate fully with the TAT.

The shooter did not.

Some members of the TAT are appropriate disciplinary authorities.  They could have walked out of the meeting room and taken action immediately as it was their duty as security officials to do.

They did not.

They kicked it over to a student organization.

Three men died.

For the federal requirement under Clery laws for Campus Security Authorities (CSAs) we go to 34 CFR 668.46(a) –

Federal regulations provide that CSAs include: campus police or security department personnel; individuals or organizations identified in institutional security policies; and individuals with security-related responsibilities. The definition at § 668.46(a)(iv) states that a CSA also includes an official “who has significant responsibility for student and campus activities.”

The university’s policy defining Campus Security Authorities is SEC-035: Clery Act Compliance.  That policy defines them as “individuals”

It then quotes the federal regulation in the definition.  Except the UVa definition includes:

Officials having significant responsibility for student and campus activities, including but not limited to, student housing, student discipline, and campus judicial proceedings. [Emphasis added.]

But the Clery policy then goes on.

Common examples of CSAs include (but are not limited to):

  • Police and Security personnel
  • Athletic Directors
  • Athletic Coaches
  • Faculty advisors to student organizations
  • Housing & Residence Life Staff
  • Director of Emergency Management
  • Medical Center Risk Management
  • Directors of Women’s Center
  • Coordinators of Fraternity & Sorority Life
  • Title IX Coordinators
  • Medical Center Employee Relations

I will add, I think without controversy, to that list of “officials having significant responsibility for campus activities” the President of the University and his entire operations and legal staffs.  It would be useful to find out who in the legal department signed off on the clueless policy document in June.

No person in even vague touch with reality would consider the student members of the Judiciary Committee to be “security officials” or the Committee to be a security organization.  But the investigation will have to go back and determine when that provision was added, by whom and what was the intent.

So we look now at the list of the members of the Threat Assessment Team.  Let’s see who could, in their official capacity, have walked out of the October TAT meeting and taken action immediately to get the man who turned out to be the shooter off the Grounds and keep him away.

They include the following.  I highlight the ones who qualify as security officials under the UVa definition that I estimate had official responsibilities in this case.

  • Associate Vice President of Safety and Security – Tim Longo, Chief of Police
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
  • Director of Threat Assessment – Ed Markowski – leads the TAT
  • Faculty and Employee Assistance Program  (FEAP)
  • Faculty Representative
  • Medical Center Security
  • Student Affairs – as designated by Robyn S. Hadley, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights – as designated by Kevin McDonald, Vice President for DEI
  • Office of University Counsel – as designated by Clifton M. Iler, University Counsel
  • Patient Safety/Risk Management
  • University & Medical Center Employee Relations
  • University Police Department  – as designated by Chief Longo

The Associate Vice President of Safety and Security, Chief Longo, is responsible for the implementation of the policy for the University and the University Medical Center.

Kevin McDonald, Robyn Hadley and Cliff Iler are direct reports to President Ryan.

Chief Longo reports to Jennifer Wagner Davis, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.