Are you a student at an Arkansas college or university? Whether you or your son or daughter is studying down in the Land of Opportunity, it's a good idea to get on the same page regarding your goals. It could seem pretty clear that a college student's mission is to graduate on time with the degree of their choice.
Unfortunately, getting there can be significantly harder than many people expect.
Your Arkansas student is attending school with hundreds of hormonal peers and plenty of confusing codes and policies. Even a student dedicated to staying on the straight and narrow could wind up having a hard time in their classes academically — or receiving an allegation of misconduct based on a miscommunication or some type of misunderstanding.
Your college will often be less than forgiving if it believes that you're falling behind academically. Academic concerns aside, if school representatives learn that you may have broken the school's code of conduct, they could recommend harsh disciplinary treatment. The results of these types of processes can do far more than ruin any one specific day: They can follow a student for years after college. Your seemingly small misconduct matter sophomore year could be the reason you don't get a job several years after the fact.
This is sobering news. However, we do have good information to share. You (or your student) should feel empowered to ensure that they're able to achieve their degree, regardless of any infractions that may occur along the way. Whether you're being accused of a failure to progress or you're facing academic misconduct charges, you can work towards a favorable outcome. You just have to know how.
On this handy page, we'll discuss what Arkansas students need to know to take charge of their future. We'll start by listing out the most popular schools in this Southern state, then discuss the most common forms of misconduct and other concerns.
What Schools Are in Arkansas?
Arkansas is home to many top-tier schools, including the following public and private universities:
Public schools in Arkansas
- University of Arkansas
- Arkansas State University
- University of Central Arkansas
- Arkansas Tech University
- Henderson State University
The University of Arkansas is easily the largest school system in the state, with several satellite campuses and tens of thousands of students. Since it's the largest (and likely has set the behavioral standards for the state's students in many ways), we'll reference its procedures in this guide whenever we feel an example would improve a point. Next, we'll provide a brief list of the private colleges and universities that call Arkansas home.
Private schools in Arkansas
- Hendrix College
- Ouachita Baptist University
- Harding University
- John Brown University
- Lyon College
- University of the Ozarks
- Central Baptist College
- Williams Baptist University
- Philander Smith College
All of these schools (and many more) represent great academic institutions in the beautiful state of Arkansas.
All of these schools also have to act in specific ways in order to retain their funding and their accreditation in the state. There's a general misconception that private schools don't have to follow the same rules as public schools. While private schools may enjoy a little more latitude in some respects, the overwhelming majority comply with state and federal regulations (e.g., Title IX) the same way that public schools do.
That said, let's take a moment to examine some of the legislation and regulatory bodies governing the way schools can operate in Arkansas.
Statewide Higher Education Laws and Government Bodies in Arkansas
- The Arkansas Code of Higher Education hosts a wide array of regulations governing postsecondary institutions. These govern the way that they admit students, distribute financial aid, and more.
- The Arkansas Division of Higher Education oversees the operations of various colleges and universities in the state, publishing news about school events and deadlines, and helping connect students to financial aid. They also provide summaries of all of the recent educational legislation that affects the way schools in Arkansas can run. For example, one law established in 2019 established the right of student journalists to engage in free speech in school-run media. Another recent piece of legislation defined which populations of relocated students are eligible for in-state tuition at Arkansas universities. If you attend a school in Arkansas, you'll likely want to peruse this document from time to time (e.g., as it gets updated). It may be relevant to your school's specific procedures, and it's best to stay informed.
- In addition, Arkansas is in the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. From time to time, this court will make an opinion that may influence how your college is able to operate. Keeping an eye on the workings of the Court is a good idea, just in case they make a decision that impacts you and your college experience.
What Does it Mean to Academically Fail to Progress?
Let's pivot to talking about the various ways you could attract undesired attention from your school.
One of the most heartbreaking and frustrating claims or concerns you could receive from your school is a so-called failure to progress. Depending on your school's documentation, this could be a very well-defined state. It could also be extremely vague—or, worse, something that your school leaves up to your teachers to identify and report.
As this is often the case, failure to progress investigations or claims can come as a shock. One day, your educator might send you a notification or call you into their office to inform you that your academic performance simply doesn't measure up. This can be devastating.
It can be even worse to find that your school may not exactly have your back in this situation. Many schools profess to have options available for students who may be struggling. These options may include tutoring, exam accommodations, flexibility on course requirements or deadlines, or even various types of mental health support.
When you actually find yourself in a concerning academic situation, you may find that your school fails to offer this support. Instead, you may find yourself facing a sudden expulsion or suspension, with few options at your fingertips to make your situation better.
Here are a few examples of failure to progress scenarios:
- The repeated failure to complete background activities (such as required reading) for your courses
- The failure to complete course requirements, as determined by your educators or stated in your course curriculum
- The failure to take on a minimum accepted number of credits for your student status
- The repeated failure to prepare materials for coursework or for lab experiences
- Repeated incompletes, withdrawals, or attempted withdrawals for your courses
- Repeated or allegedly unimproved grades on a series of course exams
If your educator or school expresses these types of academic concerns, you should start by realizing that this is a bigger deal than you may want to think. It can be tempting to shrug this off or to think that your teacher's just being difficult.
Here's the truth: A suspension or dismissal resulting from an academic concern can make years of your life more difficult than it needs to be. We'll discuss this further in a later section when we discuss the potential sanctions your school might recommend. For now, realize that this is not something you can ignore. If your school deems your academic issues worthy of disciplinary action, you could find that you're no longer eligible for scholarships, team memberships, campus privileges, and more.
While academic failure to progress is significant, it's not the only way that you could receive a suspension, dismissal, or disciplinary action from your school. There are a few types of code of conduct infractions that could have a similar effect. We'll discuss these infractions in the next section.
Are There Other Types of Code of Conduct Infractions at My Arkansas School?
Yes! There are two primary types of code of conduct infractions: Academic misconduct and sexual misconduct. The specific way your school defines each of these categories of conduct can be unique to your school, but there are overarching trends that you'll probably see reflected in your school's policies. We'll discuss those likely commonalities here.
What will my Arkansas school define as sexual misconduct?
Schools across America are taking a very firm stance on sexual misconduct. Between consistent updates to the way schools need to implement Title IX and an increasing focus on the safety of United States schools, it can be difficult to know what is okay and what (in the eyes of your school) isn't.
This can vary significantly from school to school. Depending on the environment at your school, even a lewd joke could potentially serve as the basis for a sexual misconduct allegation. And, as we've mentioned in other places, if your school investigates you and decides to suspend you even on the strength of an erroneous allegation, you'll suffer the consequences.
The first step towards making sure that this doesn't happen is to educate yourself on the specifically prohibited actions at your university. You'll need to check your own school's code of conduct for this, so head to your school's website and do some research to learn about the specific behavioral regulations that could apply to you. (Codes of conduct are typically lengthy documents located on the Dean of Students page or in a similar location. It will be difficult to read!)
That said, there are common prohibited actions that your school's code of conduct will likely feature. These include:
- Sexual exploitation
- Domestic violence
- Dating violence
This list is non-exhaustive. As a general rule of thumb, any sexual activity that occurs without the express consent of all involved will probably be considered as sexual misconduct. (All it takes is one participant or even a bystander or friend of a victim to speak up and file an allegation!)
Sexual misconduct is significant in that there's a federal regulation — Title IX first established as an Educational Amendment in 1972 — that drives a school's need to respond quickly to any allegation. Under Title IX, failing to respond in a timely manner could affect a school's ability to qualify for federal funding. As the vast majority of schools in the nation (including many public schools) rely on at least some level of federal funding, Title IX is a pervasive and compelling regulation governing the disciplinary response for these types of cases.
Unfortunately, Title IX can also be confusing for schools and students alike to navigate. Each recent presidential administration has issued a distinct interpretation of Title IX, causing schools to update their processes every few years. To accommodate these shifting tides, many schools have chosen to adopt a sexual misconduct policy and a Title IX policy, so they can stay updated but also give their students a consistent academic experience. Depending on the policy your case falls under, you could have a very different experience as the center of a sexual misconduct investigation.
In order to navigate these complex situations, it will be vital that you speak with a national student defense attorney. They will be up to date on both recent Title IX regulations as well as the intricate policies at your university. At a time that's undeniably stressful (even traumatic) for you, you won't need to be dealing with legalese and footnotes in tiny font. The second you realize that you'll be involved in a sexual misconduct investigation, you need to give a student defense attorney a call. (Remember — your reputation is on the line!)
What about academic misconduct at my Arkansas school?
Above, we spoke briefly about academic failure to progress. Academic integrity issues may sound similar, but they are distinct. In a failure to progress situation, typically, a student won't have broken any university rules; rather, they'll just be slipping behind and delivering an unsatisfactory performance (according to their educators).
Academic dishonesty issues involve situations where students break clearly stated university codes. For example, common types of academic misconduct include:
- Unauthorized Collaboration
- Destruction of School Materials
- Fabrication of Data
- Illicit Access of Materials
However, much like sexual misconduct, the general categories of this type of offense can be relatively vague. Any situation that causes either your educator or a fellow student to be suspicious of your behavior could result in an allegation of misconduct (and subsequent investigation and potential sanctions).
It's key to note that your school may consider group offenses equally punishable for all involved students. If another student copies your work without you knowing, you could still be at risk for sanctions.
Are there any other types of code of conduct infractions at my Arkansas school?
Yes! While sexual misconduct and academic misconduct often account for the bulk of defined infractions, there are other behaviors that many schools consider punishable.
While these, too, may differ from school to school, several common inclusions in a more general group of code of conduct infractions might be:
- Residential misconduct: Theft or violence that occur in the dormitories on campus
- Hazing: Any type of initiation ritual for a social club, sporting team, or fraternity or sorority that may turn dangerous or prohibitively embarrassing for anyone involved
- Drug or alcohol use: Your school will likely mirror local laws concerning drug use and alcohol use, particularly for those underage. We'll briefly mention these laws in a later section.
- Hate crimes: Any negative action (prank, violence, insult, etc.) that could be tied to an alleged victim's culture, race, religion, or identity may be labeled as a hate crime. These actions also tend to follow the alleged perpetrator around for years after college, even if they were innocently meant.
Depending on the severity of the alleged infraction, these too could result in steep punitive measures. It's a good idea to keep yourself apprised of your school's standards, just so you don't get surprised that a specific action is punishable that seems innocuous to you.
What Happens After My School Gets an Allegation of Misconduct (Against Me?)?
What happens after your school receives word of your unwanted behavior may differ slightly depending on the allegations. Let's discuss what may happen in a failure to progress scenario first, then talk about your school's due processes in the event of a code of conduct disciplinary charge.
Failure to Progress: Punishments and Procedures
In a failure to progress scenario, the difficult news will probably come first from your professor. They may tell you verbally through a one-on-one meeting or simply send you a written notification after you've turned in an allegedly subpar assignment or scored low on an exam.
They will likely notify you, at the very least, that they're escalating your case to the administration. You may then meet with either your educator, the head of your department, or your academic advisor to discuss the next steps. These next steps may not feel particularly actionable: They tend to include either a ‘voluntary' step back from your chosen program or disciplinary sanctions (e.g., dismissal or suspension).
This entire process may feel bewildering. You may feel as if your school has betrayed you. At the Lento Law Firm, we seek to empower you as you take the next steps. Before you take any failure to progress or academic probation meetings, call a student defense attorney to make sure that the punitive process will go as well for you as is possible. We'll discuss your options in a little more detail in a later section.
Code of Conduct Infractions: Punishments and Procedures
The processes that follow an allegation of misconduct may be a little more straightforward. While your school may have a more unique mode of action, typically, you'll be able to expect some version of the following sequence of events:
- Your school will send you a notification. This notification should be written, and it should contain details about the specific allegations against you. It should also reference the part of your school's code of conduct that you have ostensibly broken. Now is a good time to do some research to figure out exactly what you're being accused of. It's also an ideal time to reach out to a student defense attorney.
- Your school will conduct an investigation. It will take the time to speak with your educators and fellow classmates, examine your student records, even look at social media and past assignments. This will likely feel intrusive. Your student defense attorney will help you manage this process as strategically as you can.
- In either a formal hearing or a one-on-one, you'll meet with one or more representatives from your school. During this meeting, you'll get a chance to hear the allegations against you, review your school's evidence, and tell your side of the story.
- At the end of this meeting, your school will issue a decision regarding your apparent responsibility for the alleged infraction.
- At this time, your school will determine the sanctions you'll need to carry out to resolve the disciplinary process.
You're likely very interested in what those potential sanctions may be! In the following section, we'll touch on what your school may have in store for you.
What Sanctions Am I Likely To Receive From My Arkansas School?
Here's the thing: While your school may have a lengthy list of potential sanctions referenced in your code of conduct, in reality, most of them aren't actually going to happen.
For example, here's a representative list of common sanctions:
- Written warnings
- Monetary fines
- Housing changes
- Course changes
- Loss of privileges
- Loss of scholarship
- Behavioral contracts
This may look like a daunting list. (It is.) By far, the most likely outcome of your disciplinary processes is either a suspension or an expulsion. (Expulsions tend to occur more frequently for severe or repeated offenses.)
Now, that may not sound like a big deal—particularly if you're “just” weathering a suspension. Unfortunately, it's still a very big deal. If your school suspends you, by definition, you won't be in school for a period of time. That will result in a gap on your transcript.
Later in life, when you're applying to a brand-new internship or job, you're going to need to justify that gap in your transcript. That will not be a fun conversation. Ultimately, the people in charge of awarding you the opportunity will likely pass you by because of your association with disciplinary action.
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't think that's acceptable. Let's discuss how you can work to ensure that this doesn't happen to you.
How Do I File an Appeal at My Arkansas School?
Depending on your school's specific processes, you'll follow an appeal by completing the following steps:
- Compiling your evidence and formulating an argument quickly after your hearing
- Filing all of the paperwork necessary for an appeal by the deadline (typically 3-5 business days after the hearing)
- 3. Waiting for your school to reply
- Pursuing negotiations if your school is open to them.
As you have a pretty tight timeframe to work in, and you only have one shot at a successful appeal, we recommend working with a student defense attorney before this point, so they have the background to help you succeed in a timely manner.
If your school indicates that it isn't open to negotiations, it may be time to consider further action.
What if It's Time to Sue My School in Arkansas?
While pursuing litigation against your school can be effective, it's an undeniably dramatic step. After you sue your school, you won't be able to be a student there anymore. It can be strategic to see if you can achieve the end you want through alternative means.
For example, we strongly recommend working with your student defense attorney to speak directly with your school's general counsel. These types of lawyer-to-lawyer conversations very often produce desired results without huge expenses or drastic consequences.
You can also consider filing a complaint with the Arkansas Division of Higher Education. This external authority may be able to help you exert some pressure on your school. Additionally, ensure that you've done everything possible at the school level—filing an appeal and following up with your school. This will show that you tried and can help provide the basis for a lawsuit if one is in your future.
Are There Other Arkansas Laws I Should Know About as a College Student?
Yes! While most of your actions will fall under the regulation of campus codes, any time you're off-campus, you'll need to follow local laws. The laws most relevant to your experience are:
- Arkansas Laws about Underage Drinking: According to Arkansas law, if you're under 21, you should neither possess nor consume alcohol.
- Arkansas Laws about Drinking and Driving: Arkansas has strict laws about driving under the influence. You'll earn steep penalties if you get caught doing so.
- Arkansas Tenant Responsibilities: If you're living off-campus, you need to follow all of the stipulations laid out in your tenant agreement.
- Arkansas False Identification Laws: In Arkansas, you can't show a fake ID to an officer of the law.
In addition, it's a good idea to keep your state statute of limitations laws in mind. These define the time after an event that any involved person can initiate a related lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Arkansas
- Injury to Person: Three years
- Libel: Three years
- Slander: Three years
- Injury to Personal Property: Three years
- Trespassing: Three years
- Contracts: Five years
- Judgments: Ten years
Does this seem like a lot of information? It is! We'd recommend bookmarking this page for later reference after giving it an initial read. Trust us, when you're in the midst of a student misconduct investigation, you won't have the bandwidth to be doing research for resources then. Save this page - your future self will thank you!
Call Joseph D. Lento Today for the Strategic Defense Your Arkansas Student Needs
Whether you're facing sexual misconduct investigations or dismissal due to a failure to progress, there's a lot going on. You might be facing a lot of uncertainty.
In the midst of everything, you should know one thing for certain: You don't want to be tackling these troubling, stressful issues alone. It's certainly not strategic to do so. College codes of conduct can be bewilderingly complex. Your school likely didn't write them with clarity and ease of access in mind. Add that to the stress of being the center of an investigation on top of an already-full life and workload, and it's very clear that you'll need support if you're going to weather your disciplinary procedures successfully.
That's where attorney Joseph D. Lento comes in. For years, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have served students across the nation with logical, persuasive arguments and effective, empathetic coaching. If you or your student requires deft treatment of a tricky misconduct situation, Joseph D. Lento's the one to call — in Arkansas or anywhere else in the nation. For these types of scenarios, it's far better to work with a specialist than a local lawyer who claims to be able to handle anything. School matters and code of conduct issues require careful management and a detailed knowledge base.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience managing code of conduct, failure to progress, and various other school issues and concerns. Attorney Lento is ready to help your family, too. Give Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation or complete our online contact form to learn more.