Drew University was established in 1867 in Madison, New Jersey and boasts an enrollment of more than 2,000 students. They have clearly defined policies that explain their expectations for student conduct. The administration is prepared to “impose appropriate sanctions” for acts of misconduct. The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is committed to ensuring that all students are afforded their rights to an educational environment that is “equitable and inclusive.”
How Legal Representation Can Protect Student Rights
College or university students and their families are often making considerable sacrifices to pursue a college education. This is a multi-year commitment of time and financial resources toward a better future. When allegations of disciplinary misconduct are made against a student, the potential sanctions and penalties may disrupt this goal.
Retaining an experienced student disciplinary attorney should be a priority once a respondent is made aware of the allegations. Why is this timing so critical? The administration may look to conclude any proceedings before the end of an upcoming term or semester. The student respondent may also wish to keep the process moving forward in hopes of relieving anxiety associated with the impending outcome.
A key aspect of your defense is preparation. To ensure thorough preparation, it is best to get started quickly. Your attorney will assist with clearly interpreting the school's specific policies and guidelines. All evidence should be reviewed and subjected to scrutiny. You should be primed to confidently respond to questions and to deliver effective statements.
Your attorney may also possibly engage the administration in negotiations that may result in a mutually acceptable resolution. The administration may be receptive to such discussions if they are also motivated to conclude the matter.
Student Rights Attorney
The majority of institutions afford all parties to disciplinary actions the right to choose and be accompanied by an advisor. Having a lawyer assume this role is critical to the potential outcome. He or she will ensure that your rights to due process are protected.
There are three general categories of disciplinary violations that exist in college and university settings. These include “general” disciplinary violations, acts of academic misconduct, and those involving federal Title IX guidelines.
Understanding Title IX
The U.S. Department of Education established several Educational Amendments back in 1972. Title IX is one of these measures intended to ensure that acts of sexually-based discrimination are properly handled in educational environments. Current enforcement efforts are the responsibility of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Failing to adhere to these federal requirements can result in an institution losing its eligibility for critical funding. Federal guidance on Title IX has continued to evolve. This is one reason why those facing allegations should see assistance from an attorney that regularly works in this realm of practice.
Various actions that are prohibited according to Title IX including the following:
- Sexual harassment: These are actions that create a hostile educational environment for the victim. Examples may include inappropriate sexual advances or appeals for favors.
- Sexual violence: These are physical acts of a sexual nature that are made against the will of the victim. Acts of sexual assault or coercion may involve a victim who has not consented to participate in sexual activity. It also applies to victims that are incapable of consenting to such activity. This may be based on the age of the victim or their inability to consent due to intoxication or mental incapacitation.
- Gender-based harassment: There may be verbal abuse that is hostile or intimidating. It may involve stereotypes or slurs that are “based on a student's actual or perceived sex.”
At Drew University, the institution's processes and procedures related to Title IX are addressed in its Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy. The Title IX Coordinator is from the office of the Vice President of Campus Life and Student Affairs. The Deputy Title IX Coordinator is from the office for Student Engagement and Director of Residence Life.
General Disciplinary Matters
Drew University outlines actions that may be classified as “general” disciplinary violations in the guidelines of the University Student Conduct Policy and Procedures. Violations are often drug or alcohol-related. Examples include underage consumption of alcohol, possession of controlled substances, and using false identification to obtain alcohol.
Hazing is also strictly prohibited. This is a type of misconduct in campus settings is often committed among athletic teams, fraternities, and sororities. Students that reside in college or university housing are also subject to residential disciplinary actions for certain violations. Common examples include extreme noise, disorderly behavior, smoking, and more.
At Drew University, the Academic Integrity Policy states that the administration is firmly committed to maintaining the highest standards. Potential violations of academic conduct are referred to the Academic Integrity Committee that may investigate. These may include acts of dishonesty such as cheating on an examination or plagiarism.
Rulings, Sanctions, and Penalties
The standard of evidence that applies in these actions is generally by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lesser evidentiary standard than beyond a reasonable doubt that applies in criminal matters. A preponderance standard can be translated to mean that “there is a greater than 50% chance” that a claim has merit.
An adverse ruling may result in a student being suspended or expelled from the institution. This can devastate a student's educational plans and future goals. Consult with your attorney concerning the potential for appealing an unfavorable ruling.
Potential Criminal Charges
In some cases, these disciplinary violations may coincide with criminal charges from a local or campus police department. Fortunately, the Lento Law Firm is very experienced in defending against criminal charges. This provides you with highly-effective representation inside and outside the confines of the courtroom.
Experienced Legal Representation for Students in Disciplinary Matters in New Jersey
Are you a student or a parent of a student at a college or university that is facing allegations of misconduct? Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that provides aggressive defense on behalf of students accused of academic misconduct, violations of Title IX, and more. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.