In May of 1783, the General Assembly of Virginia granted a corporate charter to “The President and Trustees of Hampden-Sydney College.” Since November of 1775 the College had operated as an unincorporated academy*. The charter, under which the College still operates, conferred upon the Trustees the power:
"from time to time, under their common seal, to make and establish such By-laws, rules and ordinances, not being contrary to the Act or laws of this Commonwealth, as by them may be thought necessary for the good order and government of the faculty, administration and students of the College."
By-laws adopted by the Trustees pursuant to the charter designate the President as the executive and presiding officer of the College and Chair of the Faculty. The President is directly responsible to the Trustees in all matters regarding the operation of the College.
The By-laws grant to the Faculty jurisdiction over all matters of student discipline that may result in a student's separation from the College. The Faculty is also given the authority, which it has exercised, to delegate to the Student Government, under rules and regulations approved by the Faculty, such disciplinary matters.
From this delegation of authority, tempered by two hundred years of tradition and experience, has evolved Hampden-Sydney’s system of student governance and justice. The delegation by the Faculty of responsibility and authority to Student Government does not represent abdication of authority by the Trustees, Administration, or the Faculty, but is a part of the process of developing “good men and good citizens.” The purpose of the rules contained herein is to define in advance the standards of conduct for Hampden-Sydney students. These rules do not presume to define every act which is punishable, as it is assumed that every student well knows what behavior is generally regarded as lawful, reasonable, and responsible conduct in our society. Every student is expected to conduct himself in good taste in accordance with commonly held values of society and as a responsible member of the Hampden-Sydney community. The development of self-discipline in socially acceptable conduct is as much a part of the process of education as is attendance in class and the performance of class assignments.
As the chief executive officer of the College, the President is authorized to act in any student disciplinary matter when, in his judgment, it is in the best interest of the College for him to do so. If the Student Government fails to act responsibly in any situation, the President is fully authorized to intervene in such manner as he deems appropriate. Such intervention should, in most cases, occur before a case is heard by the Appeals Committee. Inasmuch as the College fully supports responsible student governance, however, the President will intervene only in circumstances which, in the President's view, are extraordinary.
The Student Justice System is embodied in two sets of student-originated standards, the Honor Code and the Code of Student Conduct. The Honor Code deals with dishonorable conduct which falls into the broad categories of lying, cheating, or stealing. The Code of Student Conduct deals with conduct which infringes on the rights of others, is unlawful, or is violative of the peace and harmony of the College community. Ignorance of the two codes does not excuse infractions.
Any action of the Student Government shall be promptly reported to the President, who shall also advise the Faculty.