Drexel University in Philadelphia originated in 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry. The current enrollment now exceeds 24,000 students. The University has a Conduct Creed that explains the institution's “code of high standards of behavior” that seeks to maintain a positive educational environment.
Attorney Represents Student Rights
Students know that their quest for a college education is a vital step in their long-term goals and aspirations. Students and their families are often devoting a vast amount of time and economic resources toward the achievement of this goal. In today's competitive educational landscape, colleges and universities are well-aware of the importance of maintaining a positive image and reputation.
College and university administrators now have high expectations regarding student behavior, inclusiveness, and academic integrity. Drexel University is no exception, as students must “accept responsibility when their choices or actions have negatively impacted themselves, others, or the community at large.”
Students that are alleged of wrongdoing may be the subject of an investigation conducted by very busy administrators. These individuals are often motivated to promptly resolve the matter and might place less emphasis on the rights of the parties involved. Having seasoned legal representation is critical for those involved in these disciplinary matters to ensure their best interests are considered.
Your attorney will closely review and interpret the school's unique policies and guidelines. He or she will ensure that the process is handled reasonably and fairly. All evidence presented will be subjected to scrutiny and challenged when it appears to lack validity. Your attorney will function in the role of an advisor and accompany you to formal proceedings in the process when allowable.
Your attorney may approach the designated administrator(s) to negotiate on your behalf. The discussions may involve staff from the academic integrity office, the Title IX Coordinator or another party. Students are encouraged to seek legal counsel promptly after becoming aware of the allegations.
Student Rights Lawyer
Students and/or their parents mustn't underestimate the potential ramifications that may occur. Sanctions may be imposed including suspension or expulsion from the institution. An experienced student rights attorney understands what is at stake and will work toward a positive outcome.
What is Title IX?
Implemented in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX is an amendment that addresses sexually-based discrimination. Acts including sexual assault or sexual harassment are both common examples of violations. All educational institutions are responsible for maintaining an environment that is free from discrimination and allows for equal access to activities, programs, and benefits.
Schools must implement and maintain a written policy that complies with Title IX or they may place their eligibility for federal education funds at risk. Some of the following types of concerns are subject to Title IX disciplinary measures:
- Sexual harassment: Examples are requests for sexual favors, unwanted advances, etc.
- Sexual violence: These are physical acts of harassment that are committed against an unwilling victim. Examples may include rape, coercion, and more.
- Gender-based harassment: These acts may involve slurs or stereotypes “based on a student's actual or perceived sex.” Often these forms of harassment target those whose sexual identity does not follow societal norms.
Violating Rules of Academic Integrity
At Drexel University, the Office of the Provost is responsible for the provisions of Academic Integrity. They have four categories of allegations that include plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and academic misconduct. Plagiarism is committed by wrongly using someone's “previously documented words, ideas, or data in one's own new and original work.” All sources used must be properly cited or referenced.
The institution considers cheating to be attempts or acts “of deception” or another misrepresentation. These acts are dishonest and are likely to involve an examination or test. Fabrication may involve using “invented information or the falsification of research.”
The remaining violations are considered as types of academic misconduct. Examples include unauthorized access or distribution of exams, taking an exam for another student, and more.
General Disciplinary Matters
All other forms of misconduct may be considered as being “general.” The Code of Conduct at Drexel University clearly outlines what constitutes a violation. Some examples include misrepresenting your identity, lewd or disorderly conduct, possession of illegal drugs, and others.
Hazing is another strictly forbidden activity. It often involves abuse, intimidation or demeaning acts committed against new prospective members of a fraternity or sorority. It also may occur among teams that participate in collegiate athletics.
The conduct process at the school begins with an initial investigation. When sufficient evidence exists, the respondent and complainant are formally notified. A Pre-Hearing Conference may be conducted before an Administrative or University Hearing. Sanctions and penalties may be imposed that include suspension or expulsion.
The General Provisions of Residency are the rules and expectations that apply to students living on campus or in university-affiliated housing. Common examples of violations include underage alcohol consumption, intentionally damaging property, tampering with fire safety equipment, and much more. Students may have their eligibility for student housing revoked and are subject to the sanctions in the Code of Conduct.
Potential violations must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Federal guidelines were recently expanded as it relates to Title IX. In these matters, a clear and convincing evidence standard may be employed. Both of these are a lesser burden of proof compared to beyond a reasonable doubt standard used in criminal actions.
The Appeals Process
At Drexel University, some of the following are potential grounds for appealing an unfavorable ruling:
- The sanctions are believed to be “unduly harsh”
- New previously unavailable information has surfaced
- That the disciplinary process was conducted improperly
Potential Criminal Charges
Student disciplinary matters may coincide with criminal charges brought by the local or campus police. In these situations, Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that is well-prepared to defend you inside or outside of the courtroom.
Philadelphia-Area Attorney for Students at Colleges and Universities
For many years now, the Lento Law Firm has defended the rights of students involved in forms of disciplinary action. We understand the potential long-term consequences that are possible and will seek to protect your rights and best interests. Contact the office today at (215) 535-5353.