Duquesne University in Pittsburgh was founded back in 1878. The total enrollment today exceeds 9,300 students. The University's administration is committed to holding students accountable for misconduct. A Hearing Panel may evaluate the evidence and issue rulings in disciplinary matters.
Should a Student Retain Legal Representation for Disciplinary Matters?
Students and their parents should consult with an experienced student rights attorney concerning disciplinary matters at colleges and universities. Those who are pursuing a college education are often making tremendous sacrifices such as with time and financial resources.
In today's collegiate environment, violations related to misconduct can have significant consequences. Students may have their hopes and long-term goals abruptly shattered. Most schools allow parties to disciplinary actions to choose an advisor for support. It is critical to retain an attorney that is well-versed in student disciplinary matters.
Your attorney will properly interpret the school's unique policies and rules. He or she will represent your best interests and defend your rights. As allowable, your attorney will also accompany you to hearings, interviews, and other related events. Often the evidence presented lacks credibility and should be challenged.
Student Rights Lawyer
An attorney may enter negotiations on your behalf. This may involve administrators from an academic integrity office, a Title IX Coordinator, and other faculty members. Students facing allegations should retain legal counsel promptly, as delaying the process puts you at a disadvantage.
In today's ultra-competitive educational environment, college and university leaders are very cognizant of the institution's image and reputation. They are likely to encourage their administrators to quickly and aggressively resolve these matters. An overzealous administrator may proceed quickly through the process without properly recognizing your rights. Having a student rights attorney can help prevent these situations.
Three Categories of Disciplinary Actions
The primary types of disciplinary activity are classified as follows:
- Potential violations of Title IX provisions
- “General” disciplinary matters
- Those involving a lack of academic integrity or acts of academic misconduct
Title IX Matters
The U.S. Department of Education established the Title IX amendment in 1972 to address concerns involving sexually-based discrimination in educational environments. Violations may include sexual harassment, sexual assault or gender-based discrimination. Colleges and universities must also allow for everyone to have equal access to programs, benefits, and other activities regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.
Written provisions that outline the institution's program of Title IX compliance must be established and maintained. Failing to do so could result in losing eligibility for federal education funds. Complaints must be quickly investigated and managed equitably and free from any conflicts of interest.
At Duquesne University, the Title IX Coordinator resides in the Office of University Compliance. Their mission involves maintaining “respect for the dignity of each person” and to promptly investigate any complaints of sexual misconduct. The administration recognizes that acts of sexually-based discrimination and harassment are contrary to the fundamental mission of the University.
General Disciplinary Violations
The Duquesne University Student Handbook outlines the behavioral expectations of the administration. Violations considered to be “general” are often related to drugs and/or alcohol. Examples include underage consumption of alcohol, illegal drug possession, or using false identification to purchase alcohol. Institutions also prohibit any forms of hazing. These are commonly abusive or demeaning acts that victimize potential members of fraternities or those joining athletic teams.
The Office of Residence Life has detailed rules and policies for those who reside in campus housing. Some common examples of violations include underage drinking, property damage, noise violations, and smoking. Students that commit a severe violation or accumulate multiple minor violations may be dismissed from the housing agreement.
Upon dismissal, the student is to remove all their belongings. The room key should be returned and there is no eligibility for a refund on any remaining lease period.
Violations of Academic Integrity
The Duquesne University Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures address concerns regarding academic dishonesty. The provisions prohibit cheating on tests, examinations, and other assignments. This includes “giving, receiving, or using unauthorized assistance or material.” The rules encompass the use of “wireless communication devices, calculators, formulas, and computers.”
Acts of plagiarism are not tolerated at Duquesne University. Some of the common types of assignments that could involve plagiarism include “essays, research papers, theses, dissertations, presentations, class projects, or work for publication.” All sources of information should be properly cited and acknowledged.
The administration also prohibits “deceit in academic matters.” This is summarized as being acts that intentionally furnish incorrect information or misconduct that withholds “relevant information.” Another violation involves the “misuse of documents.” These may involve acts of forgery or unauthorized alteration of documents or records that are either on paper or in some electronic format.
Standards of Evidence
The majority of schools will evaluate violations based on whether the allegations satisfy a preponderance of the evidence standard. This may also be seen as to whether the evidence suggests that the violation “more than likely” was committed. In Title IX actions, schools may also consider using a clear and convincing evidentiary standard
Sanctions and Penalties
The University may impose sanctions that are appropriate for violations. These typically include suspension or expulsion from the institution. The University may send written notification to the parents of students who commit disciplinary misconduct.
Student Conduct Records
The Office of Student Conduct maintains a student's record of conduct violations in compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). When sanctions are imposed, they are retained in the student's records for seven years. Details of expulsion will remain on the student record permanently.
Possible Criminal Charges
In some cases, these disciplinary allegations may coincide with criminal charges from a campus police department or agency of local law enforcement. Joseph D. Lento is a very experienced criminal defense attorney. He can deliver superior legal representation inside and outside of the courtroom.
Seasoned Legal Representation for Students in Disciplinary Matters in Pennsylvania
Are you a student or a parent of a student that has been accused of disciplinary misconduct at a college or university? The Lento Law Firm effectively defends clients facing these and many other difficulties. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.