George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:

General Policies

Statement on Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

George Mason University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action institution committed to the principle that access to study or employment opportunities afforded by the university, including all benefits and privileges, be accorded to each person--student, faculty, or staff member--on the basis of individual merit and without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, sex, or age (except where sex or age is a bona fide occupational qualification).

George Mason shall maintain a continuing affirmative program to promote equal opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices in every phase of university operations. Furthermore, affirmative action will be taken to ensure that opportunities afforded by the university are fully available to persons with disabilities, women, disabled and Vietnam veterans, and minorities. The university will make every reasonable accommodation to enable students or employees with disabilities to undertake work or study for which they qualify.

As required by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the university is committed to the broad application of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the American Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.

Students and employees should bring problems or questions regarding EO/AA/Sexual Harassment policies to the attention of the supervisor, department chair, the dean of Student Services, an academic dean, the director of Human Resources, the university ombudsman, a trusted faculty or staff member, the Women's Studies Research and Resource Center, or the vice president and university equity officer, Mason Hall, Suite D105, (703) 993-8730. Students with disabilities can contact Disability Support Services in SUB I, Room 234, (703) 993-2474.


The university respects and protects the individual dignity, integrity, and reputation of its students. Students must comply with the conventions and regulations of university life that are necessary to maintain order, protect individuals and property, and fulfill the purposes and responsibilities of a university.

Students enrolling in the university assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the university's function as an educational institution. The Code of Virginia (Section 23-9.2:3) confers upon the university the responsibility for maintaining order within the university and the right to exclude those who are disruptive.

The Office of the Judicial Administrator is administratively responsible for supervising student conduct on campus. A system of courts administers nonacademic discipline. In addition to these courts, the student Honor Committee, described under Academic Policies, is responsible for adjudicating violations of the Honor Code that relate to academic matters. Questions regarding student conduct should be directed to the Judicial Affairs office, Student Union I, Room 302, (703) 993-2884.

Privacy of Student Records

Annually, George Mason University informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974. This act, with which the institution intends to comply fully, protects the privacy of education records, establishes the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and provides guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings. Students also have the right to file complaints with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act office concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the act.

Local policy explains in detail the procedures to be used by the institution for compliance with the provisions of the act. The Office of the Registrar keeps a copy of the policy and also maintains a Directory of Records listing all education records maintained on students by this institution.

George Mason may exchange personally identifiable information on its students for educational purposes with institutions in which students have previously enrolled or seek to enroll. Typically, this agreement assists applicants in the orderly transfer of credit from one institution to another. Students who wish to withhold personally identifiable information under this arrangement should contact the registrar at their institution.

George Mason routinely complies with requests from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) for personally identifiable information on enrolled students. This information is for research purposes, and as a condition of accepting the data, SCHEV has agreed to protect it from further disclosure, except as aggregate data.

Questions concerning the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act may be referred to the Office of the Registrar.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy

(Adopted by the Board of Visitors, May 1990)

The abuse of drugs and alcohol by members of the George Mason University community is incompatible with the goals of the university. By defining standards of behavior and by providing educational programs to create an awareness of drug and alcohol-related problems, the university attempts to prepare individuals to act responsibly. Those in need of assistance in dealing with such problems are encouraged to seek the confidential help of the university's Counseling Services, Student Health Services, or Drug Education Services.

The university prohibits the possession and use of illegal drugs. Possession, sale, use, or distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana, is a violation of both federal and state laws and university regulations.

The use of alcoholic beverages on campus is at the discretion of the university and subject to state alcoholic beverage regulations. Unless the university has specifically sanctioned the location and condition of alcohol use, the possession and consumption of alcohol on campus is prohibited.

Individuals involved in the sale, use, or distribution of controlled substances (drugs and alcohol) are subject to arrest and university disciplinary action. The university imposes a variety of sanctions, which may include eviction from university housing and suspension or dismissal from the university.

The regulations outlined in this policy also apply to officially sponsored university activities held off campus.

Notice to All State Employees
The federal Drug-Free Workplace Act requires that we inform you that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the workplace. The workplace consists of any state-owned, controlled, or leased property, or the site where state work is performed. Any employee who violates this prohibition will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge and/or will be required to satisfactorily participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program at the discretion of management. As a condition of employment, each employee must abide by the terms of this prohibition and notify his/her supervisor of any criminal drug statute conviction occurring in the workplace no later than five days after such conviction.

  1. General Laws and Regulations
    1. Those who choose to purchase, possess, and consume alcoholic beverages on campus must do so responsibly and be of legal age (21). All members of the university community, to include students, faculty, staff, alumni, and their guests, are expected to comply with federal and state laws regarding the use of alcohol and university-related regulations contained in this policy. This compliance also extends to university-sponsored activities held off campus. Students and employees are expected to take personal responsibility for their own conduct when making decisions regarding the use of alcohol.

    2. Virginia state law prohibits the purchase, possession, or consumption of beer, 3.2 beverages, wine, or distilled spirits by persons under the age of 21. It is also prohibited to purchase for, or to serve such beverages to, a person under 21. Underaged persons who use or attempt to use a driver's license that has been altered, forged, borrowed from another, or is in any way deceptive in an attempt to obtain beverages prohibited to them shall have their driver's license revoked for not less than 30 days but not more than one year. Consuming alcohol in nonlicensed public places or offering a drink to another in a nonlicensed public place is also a violation of Virginia law. The sale of alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person is prohibited. It is also unlawful for an intoxicated person to purchase or possess alcoholic beverages. While this purchase or possession is a misdemeanor, violators are also subject to having their driver's license revoked for one year. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle--including mopeds--while a person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. For drivers under 21 who drive with a BAC of more than .02 percent, but less than .08 percent, the driver's license is suspended for six months and a fine of up to $500 is imposed. For those arrested for driving with a license revoked or suspended under a prior DUI conviction, the offender's car is immediately impounded for 30 days. The court can impound the vehicle for an additional 90 days following conviction. If the car does not belong to the offender, the car owner may petition the court for release of the vehicle.

    Your driver's license will automatically be revoked for seven days if you refuse a breath test or if your BAC is .08 percent or higher. You no longer have the option of requesting a blood test instead of a breath test for an alcohol-related offense. Sobriety spot-checks to detect drunken drivers are legal. It is illegal to serve alcohol from an unregistered keg (common container holding four gallons or more). Only University Dining Services or authorized entity may serve alcohol from kegs.

    1. Possession, use, sale, or distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana, is a violation of both federal and state laws and university regulations. The 1988 federal Drug-Free Workplace Act also prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession, or use of a controlled substance in the workplace.

    2. Students, faculty, staff, and sponsoring organizations found in violation of state and/or university regulations may be subject to disciplinary action, civil action, and/or loss of the privilege to reserve or use university facilities. Disciplinary action for students or student organizations will be conducted in accordance with the George Mason University Judicial System for Student Conduct; civil proceedings may occur in certain situations. University sanctions are intended not to punish individuals but to provide education and rehabilitation services.

    Sanctions vary with severity of violation and range from written warnings to expulsion from the university. Included in most sanctions for students is an evaluation by the director of Drug Education Services to ascertain severity of alcohol and other drug problems and a referral to arrange community service hours. Employees found in violation may be subject to action by their appropriate administrative office.

  2. Health Risks
    For many people in our society, the use of chemicals is a daily reality. These chemicals include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and LSD. They also include legal chemicals such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Many chemicals have the potential to improve our health and enrich our lives. Yet, many of these chemicals also have the potential to cause serious health problems.

    Alcohol is a depressant that slows down brain activity. Like any drug that affects the mind, alcohol has the potential to be abused. Decision-making abilities can be impaired by alcohol use, which can cause negative consequences such as risky sexual behavior. It is expected that all students and employees respect those who choose not to drink. Drinking alcohol should be avoided particularly by pregnant women and anyone taking prescribed medications or operating a motor vehicle. Long term or heavy use of alcohol is linked to cancer, heart and liver damage, and other serious illnesses. Tolerance and physical and psychological dependence can develop. The potential for health problems can also develop from the use of nicotine or caffeine products.

    Illicit drugs have more than legal consequences; they have specific health and ethical risks that can cause dangerous consequences and/or unhealthy dependent behavior. Use of alcohol or any other drug in a manner that leads to impairment or intoxication is unhealthy, risky, and should be avoided and discouraged.

    Those in need of assistance in dealing with alcohol and other drug problems are encouraged to seek the confidential services of campus departments listed in Section IV.

  3. General Regulations for Individuals and Organizations Serving Alcoholic Beverages
    1. University regulations prohibit the possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage on university grounds unless the university has sanctioned the location and/or conditions for possession or consumption (e.g., Bistro). For further information regarding service of alcohol at public and private events, as well as at the Patriot Center, Arlington Campus, and Prince William Institute, please review the comprehensive guidelines for alcohol service available in Drug Education Services.

  4. Campus and Community Resources

    Drug Education Services--Nancy Schulte, LCSW, (703) 993-3686

    1. Individual assessments and training programs

    2. Educational materials--print and video

    3. GMU Alcohol and other Drug Policy handouts

    4. CAMPUS NETWORKS--peer educator program

    5. Community resource liaison/referral

    Counseling Services--Charlotte Stannard, M.Ed., LPC, (703) 993-2380

    1. Personal and group counseling

    2. ACOA and recovery support groups

    Human Resources, (703) 993-2600

    1. Information and referral services for employees

    The State Employee Assistance Service (SEAS) (804) 786-6741 or 1-800-338-4180.

    1. Call to make an appointment

    Alcoholics Anonymous--for campus meetings, call (703) 993-3686; or in Virginia, (703) 824-0071; in Maryland and Washington, D.C., (202) 966-9155

    Narcotics Anonymous--in Virginia, call (703) 532-1255; in Maryland, (301) 731-7221

    Northern Virginia Hotline (703) 527-4077

    1. 24-hour information help-line

    Fairfax County - Falls Church Programs (703) 359-7040

    1. Programs funded by the county and based on a sliding fee scale.

The Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, composed of these four sections, outlines subject matter pertaining to university regulations on substance use and abuse. This policy is annually distributed to all employees and students as a means of informing the campus community of alcohol and other drug laws, health risks, and campus and community resources. University regulations regarding the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy have been developed by a committee of faculty, staff, and students. This policy statement is available in Drug Education Services in Student Union I, Room 252D. This policy is also distributed through the university catalogs, student and faculty/staff handbooks, and the university's two newspapers: Broadside and The Mason Gazette.

Responsible Use of Computing Policy

This policy applies to all George Mason University faculty, staff, students, visitors, and university contractors as well as all academic and operational departments and offices at all university locations, owned and leased.

George Mason University provides and maintains computing and telecommunications technologies to support the education, research, and work of its faculty, staff, and students. The university's computing and telecommunications technologies are collectively referred to as Masonet. By connecting thousands of computers at George Mason with each other and with national and international computer networks, Masonet provides many educational benefits.

The purpose of this policy is to define responsible and ethical behavior of Masonet users to preserve the health, availability, and integrity of Masonet resources. This policy also allows for the support of investigations of complaints under other policies such as sexual harassment, the Honor Code, and state and federal laws on privacy and computer abuse.

The priorities for use of Masonet resources are as follows:

Because it is impossible to anticipate all the ways in which persons can harm or misuse Masonet facilities, this policy focuses on a few simple rules. These rules generally indicate actions that should be avoided.

If you observe someone violating this policy, or another George Mason policy, using Masonet resources, you can report it by e-mail to Many local computing systems also have a "stopit" account to which you can send mail.

George Mason University treats access to Masonet resources as a privilege that is granted on a presumption that every member of the university community will exercise it responsibly. The following rules are not complete; just because an action is not explicitly proscribed does not necessarily mean that it is acceptable. You should read these rules for the principles behind them and follow the principles.

  1. Use Masonet Consistently with the Stated Priorities
    The low-priority uses of Masonet should be avoided during the times of peak demand, typically the mid-afternoon to late evening hours. During peak periods, other users may be prevented from doing their high-priority work if you are doing something of low priority. Those users are likely to complain to you or e-mail if they observe you interfering with their work.

    Certain activities, such as broadcasting e-mail to very large distributions, consume large amounts of resources; avoid them.

  2. Don't Allow Anyone to Use Your Account for Illegitimate Purposes
    Your Masonet username identifies you to the entire international Internet-user community. Another person using your account, whether or not you have given permission, will be acting in your name. You may be held responsible for that person's actions in your account. If that person violates any policies, his or her actions will be traced back to your username and you may be held responsible. The easiest way to protect yourself is to protect your password. If you have a legitimate reason to give someone access, keep it strictly temporary and change your password after that person finishes using your account. You should definitely not give your password to anyone you do not trust.

    If someone else offers you use of an account other than your own, decline. If you discover someone's password, don't use it; report the access of the password to the owner or to University Computing and Information Services (UCIS).

  3. Honor the Privacy of Other Users
    George Mason University respects the desire for privacy, and voluntarily chooses to refrain from inspecting users' files, except in certain well-defined cases (described in the discussion on privacy). Many aspects of privacy of files and communications are also protected by federal and state laws. Examples are as follows:

  4. Don't Impersonate Any Other Person
    Using Masonet resources to impersonate someone else is improper. If you use someone else's account, you may be committing acts of fraud because the account owner's name will be attached to the transactions you have performed. If, while using someone else's account without permission, you communicate with others, you should clearly identify yourself.

    If you send anonymous mail or postings, you should realize that it is normal etiquette to identify that your message is anonymous or is signed with a pseudonym. You should be aware that most people give less credence to anonymous communication than to signed communication.

  5. Don't Use Masonet to Violate Other Policies or Laws
    Computer networks can be used to commit actions that violate laws or policies covered elsewhere. Here are reminders of typical other policies:

Organizational units on the campus operate computers and networks to support their missions. The principles of this policy apply to all George Mason organizational units and any computers owned or operated by the university. Units may set additional local policies and expectations that are consistent with this policy. For example, local units may stipulate that material displayed for public access from their sites should be consistent with their public image and mission. They may set guidelines for format and content of material in home pages, gophers, ftp directories, listservs, netlibs, info servers, and the like, and may appoint an editor or moderator for such material.

All users of Masonet enjoy an expectation of privacy. No other user, system administrator, or official may read e-mail, files, or communications without the consent of their owners, except in extreme situations. Occasionally, to ensure the integrity of the computer system when a severe threat is present and there is no alternative to ameliorating the threat, the Security Review Panel (SRP) may authorize a system administrator to read a user's files or communications without his or her consent. No system administrator or official may do this without the authorization of the panel, unless a system administrator observes someone engaging in activities that would seriously compromise the health or integrity of a system or network (e.g., someone launching a virus attack or attempting to gain root access). In such cases, the system administrator may take immediate action to stop the threat or minimize the damage. That action may include termination of processes, disconnection from a network, or temporary suspension of an account. Account suspensions must be reported immediately to the SRP. Users whose files have been read will be notified within 48 hours.

The system administrators of various computers around campus have special responsibilities. They exercise their extraordinary powers to override or alter access controls, accounts, configurations, and passwords with great care and integrity. System administrators manage computers and administer policies, but they do not create policies. Their actions are constrained by this policy and by the policies of local administrative units. In particular, local units should set policies concerning accounts on their machines, and system administrators must follow these policies.

A set of guidelines and standards for all system administrators is created and maintained by the SRP. These guidelines address job descriptions and integrity issues. Managers of George Mason University units who employ system administrators are responsible for ensuring that the system administrators comply with and enforce the requirements of this policy and local policy in the systems for which they are responsible. System administrators who violate this policy or any local policy, or who misuse their powers, are subject to disciplinary action.

This policy establishes that the SRP is responsible for reviewing system administrators' decisions regarding abuses, responding to e-mail, and periodically reviewing this policy. The SRP consists of three faculty members, two student members, one non-UCIS system administrator, and one UCIS staff member, appointed by the provost for two terms. Its chair is one of the faculty members and is appointed by the provost. System administrators report all violations and their responses to this panel immediately. Also, any member of the community can report a violation to the panel via the mechanism. On receipt of a complaint from a user or a system administrator, the panel chair will assign one of the members as the panel's "case worker" for that complaint. The five-step "stopit process," within which the panel operates, is described in a companion document.

If a user's account is disabled as a result of a suspected violation, the user has a right to a resolution and reactivation of the account in the case of a mistake within two working days. To facilitate speedy resolution, the SRP is authorized to create subgroups, such as a campus emergency response team, which coordinates responses to abuses, provides technical assistance on security matters to system administrators, and issues security advisories.

The panel is also responsible for periodically reviewing these policies and recommending improvements and clarifications as needed. All modifications to the policies are made with full public disclosure and reasonable periods for public comment.

A complete copy of the Responsible Use of Computing policy, along with its companion document, The Stopit Process, can be found on Masonlink at

Parking Policy

All faculty, staff, and students who park in lots owned or operated by George Mason University must display a valid decal or day pass, or must park in the Parking Deck on Mason Drive off Patriot Circle and pay an hourly or day rate. Visitors and guests must park in the Parking Deck or at a meter, unless special arrangements have been made through Parking Services. Decal and day pass enforcement runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and until 2 p.m. on Saturday. To avoid receiving a substantial fine, please purchase a decal as soon as you drive onto the campus. Metered areas are enforced from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Restricted areas such as yellow curbs, crosswalks, sidewalks, landscaped/barricaded areas, loading zones, handicapped spaces, and fire/emergency lanes are monitored 24 hours, seven days a week. To avoid receiving a substantial fine, please purchase decal as soon as you drive onto the campus.

Three types of parking decals are available: yearly, semester, and summer. Day passes are available for faculty, staff, and students with a valid ID from an accredited university. Decals and multiple-day passes may be purchased at the Parking Services Sales Office located in Room 201 off the main lobby of Student Union Building I. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 5 p.m. on Friday when classes are in session.

Single-day passes may be purchased at the parking information booths located in front of the Finley Building and in Lot K off Roanoke Lane. The information booths are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. Finley Booth is also open on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Summer hours of operation can be obtained by calling the Parking Services Office.

Handicapped parking is available at a number of convenient locations at George Mason University facilities. A DMV handicapped permit must be presented to obtain a permanent George Mason handicapped permit. Temporarily handicapped persons must display a decal or day pass along with a valid George Mason handicapped permit to avoid citation. Parking in or blocking access to a handicapped space carries a fine at the prevailing rate.

Some parking lots have designated spaces that are reserved for special permit holders, or for service and repair vehicles. Please read all signs posted at all entrances to the parking lots. For additional parking information, call the Parking Services Office at (703) 993-2710.

Motorist Assistance Program
A Motorist Assistance Program exists for helping with flat tires, jump starts, and lock outs. Call (703) 993-2715 to access this service.

Sexual Assault Policy

The following policy applies to all members of the George Mason University community: students, faculty, administrators, staff, contract employees, and visitors.

The university is committed to providing an institutional environment where all persons may pursue their studies, careers, duties, and activities in an atmosphere free of the threat of unwelcome and unwanted sexual actions. It strongly condemns sexual offenses and will not tolerate sexual offenders.

Sexual assaults are serious violations of the university's student judicial code, faculty standards, and university employee policies. They are crimes under state law and are punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. In addition, these actions are subject to civil suit for damages.

The university will respond promptly, fairly, and decisively to all reports of sexual assault. Members of the university community accused of these actions will be subject to university disciplinary procedures when the alleged incident has occurred on campus or when the action has occurred off campus and materially affects the learning environment or operations of the university.

Sexual assault includes the attempt or act of rape (sexual intercourse without consent, both by a stranger and acquaintance), forced sodomy (oral or anal sex), or forced penetration by a foreign object including a finger. Nonpenetration sexual assault includes the act of touching an unwilling person's intimate parts such as genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks or the clothing covering these parts, or forcing an unwilling person to touch another's intimate parts.

The above acts constitute sexual assault when they are committed against a person's will as evidenced by refusal of consent or through the use of force, threat, or intimidation, or against a person who, by virtue of mental incapacity or physical helplessness, is unable to give or withhold consent. This includes, but is not limited to, incapacity or helplessness caused by alcohol or other drugs. Intoxication of the assailant shall not diminish the assailant's responsibility for sexual assault.

Other Regulations

The unauthorized possession, storage, display, or use of any kind of ammunition, firearms, fireworks, explosives, air rifles, air pistols, or other lethal instruments are prohibited on university property. Any questions regarding this regulation should be directed to the University Police, (703) 993-2810.

Smoking is not permitted in classrooms, lecture halls, theaters, or in the university libraries. Areas in the student union buildings and other university buildings have been set aside for this purpose.

Bike racks are provided at various on-campus locations for the convenience of students who bike to and from the university. For resident students, there are bike racks in the residential complexes. Bikes and skateboards are not permitted on sidewalks, ramps, footpaths, or grassy areas of the campus or inside university buildings.

No pets are permitted in university buildings at any time. In addition, pets that are on campus grounds must be on a leash and under supervision at all times.

Solicitors and Salespeople
Solicitors and salespeople, except on official business with the university, are not permitted on the campus without prior approval of the Auxiliary Enterprises office.

Return to Catalog Index