The Grand Canyon State offers college students unique opportunities that other states don't. Between stunning natural landscapes, ever-present sun, lively social scenes, and a variety of academic offerings, Arizona can be an ideal host for your collegiate tenure.
Violating your college's student code of conduct, though, may compromise your degree and professional future. False allegations of wrongdoing may have a similarly troubling effect.
Student codes of conduct are unique to each university in Arizona. These codes may generally hold students to many of the same academic and behavioral guidelines, though. If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, academic impropriety, or another violation of your school's code of conduct, it's time to get to work. Hiring an Arizona student code of conduct defense advisor should be your first response to pending allegations.
Your attorney-advisor will explain everything you need to know about the adjudication process. Your attorney-advisor can also expand on the following topics, which are pertinent to anyone facing code of conduct procedures at an Arizona college.
The Student Code of Conduct for College Students in Arizona
Several schools in Arizona have developed a reputation as “party schools.” These distinctions are not generally points of pride for administrators, who may even take them as a slight. While a student may believe that certain Arizona colleges are lax on code of conduct issues, they may find the opposite to be true.
It's in your interest to be aware of, and remain within the lines of, your school's code of conduct. Arizona law tasks the Arizona Board of Regents with “the control and supervision of the state universities and their properties and activities.” The Board of Regents sets the student code of conduct for certain universities, including but not limited to the University of Arizona.
The Arizona Board of Regents’ Student Code of Conduct explains that:
- While the Board of Regents sets the Student Code of Conduct, individual university presidents oversee enforcement of the Code
- Colleges in Arizona can sanction violations of the student code of conduct, even if legal courts find a student not guilty
- “Sanctions may be imposed for acts of misconduct that occur on university property or at any university-sponsored activity”
- Off-campus conduct can also expose you to discipline from your university
Though the Board of Regents' Student Code of Conduct serves as a foundation, individual colleges may add to, deviate from, or interpret the Board of Regents' Code of Conduct as they see fit. An attorney-advisor can explain the intricacies of your school's code of conduct.
General Prohibitions Outlined in Student Codes of Conduct in Arizona
Most universities in Arizona will sanction a broad range of prohibited acts and failures. College students in Arizona are generally prohibited from:
- Any form of academic misconduct
- Endangering other students, staff, or faculty members
- Committing criminal offenses (including but not limited to hate crimes)
- Violating a university's residential policies
- Violating their university's sexual misconduct policies
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Withholding knowledge of another student's misconduct (academic or otherwise)
- Engaging in any other act that violates their university's student code of conduct
Universities generally have expansive policies on certain types of misconduct—like sexual impropriety. Your attorney-advisor will review all relevant policies for the offense you're accused of committing.
College Sexual Code of Conduct Violations
Sexual misconduct is a polarizing concern for universities nationwide. Though it is critical to recognize those who accuse others of sexual misconduct, it's just as vital to ensure due process in these cases.
Universities in Arizona must generally follow the tenets of Title IX. These protocols are part of a federal law passed in 1972 and updated several times since. Universities generally employ a Title IX Coordinator who serves as a facilitator for allegations of sexual misconduct. A Title IX Coordinator and other designated faculty may:
- Receive complaints of sexual misconduct
- Interview the accuser, accused, and any purported witnesses
- Ask the accuser whether they'd like to proceed with a formal investigation
- Seek an informal resolution between accuser and accused
- Determine whether a formal investigation should proceed
- Coordinate a Title IX Hearing, after which a disciplinary body will determine the accused's degree of responsibility
Each university in Arizona may have more specific protocols for cases of alleged sexual misconduct. The standard of guilt in Title IX sexual misconduct cases has changed more than once.
If your program uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, then you may be deemed responsible if your perceived guilt is “more likely than not.” This is a low standard of proof that presents a great risk to those accused of sexual misconduct. A capable defense is essential.
You may face sexual misconduct sanctions for a wide variety of offenses, including:
- Unwanted touching
- Rape and other forms of sexual violence
- Statutory rape
- Publication of pornography without a party's consent
- Unauthorized viewing of a person's private dwelling
- Any other offense of a sexual nature that violates your school's student conduct policy, or Title IX
Alleged sexual misconduct is among the most stigmatizing accusations one can face. You will face near-certain dismissal if you're found guilty of a serious sexual offense. Expulsion from your college in Arizona may be only the start of your problems if you're branded guilty of sexual wrongdoing. Get an attorney-advisor experienced in sexual misconduct cases now.
Academic Code of Conduct Violations
Academics are, at least in name, the reason why you're in school in Arizona. Even at the most laissez-faire universities, you can expect punishment for unethical academic conduct.
Arizona State University identifies several acts that violate its academic code of conduct, including:
- Fabricating or falsifying data or information, also known as “academic deceit”
- Collaborating on an individual assignment
- Helping others commit academic misconduct
- Falsifying academic transcripts or records
Using electronic devices during testing is a common form of academic misconduct among today's tech-dependent students. There are many ways to break a school's academic misconduct policies, and many students do so unwittingly.
Your school likely has specific procedures for handling alleged academic wrongdoing. The nature of that process, and the severity of possible sanctions, may depend on the nature of your alleged offense.
Possible Sanctions for Code of Conduct Violations in Arizona
Universities in Arizona can punish students who violate their codes of conduct. The range of sanctions generally runs from some type of warning (the least severe) to expulsion (the most severe).
The range of sanctions at your school may include:
- Verbal warning
- Written reprimand
- Academic sanctions, including but not limited to failing grades
- Loss of financial aid
Most sanctions may remain in your permanent student file. Even if you abide by the terms of your probation, for example, a record of your probation may remain even once you're returned to your school's good graces.
Any sanction warrants a strong defense on your part. Even without any blemishes on your student record, you'll face significant competition for jobs when you graduate. A sanction on your record—especially a serious one—may do serious harm to your candidacy for jobs or graduate school.
Long-Term Effects of Sanctions by a College in Arizona
Any punishment you receive while in college will extend beyond the academic realm. The degree to which sanctions upend your life may depend on the severity of the sanctions themselves. While every student responds to adversity differently, the potential harm of serious punishments—like suspension or dismissal—is significant.
Even if you aren't expelled from your college in Arizona, sanctions for a code of conduct violation may:
- Delay your graduation date
- Require you to pay additional fees or even take out additional student loans
- Stigmatize you amongst your peers and professors
- Have negative emotional and psychological consequences
- Hurt your chances of obtaining certain jobs or entry to graduate programs
- Place you one step closer to expulsion
The stakes are even greater if you're facing dismissal from your college. Being dismissed from university may:
- Cause you to abandon your pursuit of a degree—finances or logistics may make re-enrollment impractical or impossible for you
- Require you to continue your education at a less respected university
- Require you to take out additional student loans
- Wipe out some or all of your academic progress
- End your dreams of pursuing a certain career
- Burden you with significant student debt, which may be more difficult to repay if you lack a degree
- Cause you to take a lower-paying job than you had hoped for
- Have a devastating effect on your psyche, personality, and outlook on life
Dismissal can inspire deep feelings of shame and disappointment. There is no way to calculate the sum cost of a dismissal—we know that it is steep, though.
Too many students in Arizona fail to take code of conduct proceedings as seriously as they should. If you don't acknowledge the severity of sanctions with your eyes wide open, you might fail to mount a proper defense. Once you recognize the potential cost of sanctions, you'll hire a qualified attorney-advisor to defend you.
How Do Arizona Colleges Adjudicate Code of Conduct Violations?
Universities in Arizona may have common adjudication processes. Title IX, for example, may require universities to take certain adjudicative measures. For many code of conduct offenses, though, your university may adhere to its own specific policies and procedures.
Your program may have different procedures for certain violations. Academic infractions and alleged sexual misconduct may be handled by different disciplinary bodies, as one example.
Northern Arizona University (NAU) serves as a representative example of how colleges in Arizona handle code of conduct cases. NAU’s Student Code of Conduct Procedures dictate that, when a student faces allegations of wrongdoing, then:
- Disciplinary action may proceed at a pace that the university deems appropriate
- The student has a right to an attorney-advisor throughout the duration of the investigative and disciplinary proceedings
- The university has the right to issue administrative, educational, and disciplinary sanctions
NAU literature details the sequence for adjudicating alleged code of conduct violations. That sequence includes:
- Receipt of an allegation that the student has violated the code of conduct
- Evaluation of the allegation by NAU's Dean of Students, who will determine “the appropriate course of action”
- Issuance of notice of the allegation to the accused student, who will have the chance to respond to the notice of alleged misconduct
At this time, a Title IX Coordinator will take over any case involving alleged sexual misconduct, harassment, or discrimination. In non-Title IX cases, the Dean of Students may issue interim actions based on any evidence they have access to. Interim action may include suspension or removal of the accused student from university facilities.
If the Dean of Students sees fit, they may then initiate:
The Dean of Students directly investigates non-Title IX claims of misconduct at NAU. Your college may appoint a different type of faculty member to investigate a code of conduct violation.
An investigator will generally:
- Speak with both the accuser and accused (and perhaps mediate a conversation between both parties)
- Interview any witnesses with knowledge of the alleged code of conduct violation
- Obtain any evidence related to the alleged misconduct
- Issue a report of their findings, which may include a determination of culpability and recommended sanctions
Both accuser and accused may have the opportunity to review the investigative report. They may request changes to any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of fact. The accused student may typically accept responsibility and sanctions at this point, should they so choose. If they accept responsibility and sanctions, they'll typically end the adjudication process.
If the accused student does not accept responsibility or proposed sanctions, a code of conduct case may generally proceed to the hearing phase.
Code of Conduct Hearings
At NAU, the Dean of Students makes a unilateral decision based on the facts and evidence in their possession. Many universities in Arizona will instead conduct a hearing to determine an accused student's guilt or innocence.
An accused student can generally have their attorney-advisor represent them. During the hearing, the advisor may:
- Question their client's accuser
- Present and question witnesses
- Present evidence
- Critique any purported evidence of their client's culpability
- Present an oral case for their client's innocence
- Request leniency from the disciplinary board
The scope and procedures of disciplinary hearings may vary from university to university. The disciplinary body—which often consists of both faculty and students—may have the final say over hearing procedures.
The designated disciplinary body will generally deliberate after the hearing. They may provide the accused student notice of their ruling within a rigid timeframe.
Can You Appeal a Code of Conduct Ruling by an Arizona College?
You can generally appeal an adverse ruling. Your university's policy will determine which rulings you can appeal. Those policies may also dictate appropriate grounds for appeal and how long you have to file an appeal request.
You can almost always appeal a ruling of suspension or dismissal. Because of the significance of these rulings, it's vital that you receive full due process—including the opportunity to appeal, should you have sufficient grounds to do so.
You should not wait to prepare an appeal until you've received a ruling. Windows to file appeals are generally tight. Your attorney may prepare to file an appeal even before you receive an adverse ruling—even if their preparation is only mental in nature.
Seasoned attorney-advisors will not stop with the appeals process. They may negotiate directly with your university's Office of the General Counsel (OGC). This office generally serves as legal counsel for the university. The OGC may have the leeway to negotiate resolutions with students' advisors. The OGC may provide a more favorable resolution than you would receive through a disciplinary or appeals board.
Should You Hire an Attorney-Advisor for a Code of Conduct Violation Case?
You should absolutely hire an attorney-advisor if you're accused of violating your school's code of conduct. No matter what your field of study is, or how far along you are in your education, sanctions from your university can be massively detrimental.
An experienced and capable attorney-advisor can:
- Delve into your school's procedures and policies, no matter how dense or confusing the literature is
- Gain an understanding of the allegations and evidence against you
- Determine the sanctions you could face if you're found responsible of wrongdoing
- Determine the target outcome for your case, which may be a complete dismissal of the allegations against you
- Initiate negotiations with a Dean, Office of the General Counsel, or others with the power to resolve your case
- Provide a passionate defense in all aspects of your case
College discipline issues are serious. Employers, graduate school entrance boards, and accreditation boards will look disapprovingly upon any sanctions that you receive. It's critical that you avoid sanctions if at all possible. If punishment is unavoidable, your attorney-advisor will seek leniency for you.
Call the Lento Law Firm Today
Few law firms specialize in student defense issues the way that the Lento Law Firm does. Lead attorney Joseph D. Lento has made it a mission to help college students who find themselves facing allegations of wrongdoing—including code of conduct violations.
Our team will guide you through every step of your case. We're very familiar with universities in Arizona and have handled disciplinary cases at your college before.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online. You're not alone. Let our experienced, compassionate team come to your defense today.