Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) was founded in 1942 and has campuses in Teaneck and Madison, New Jersey. FDU has more than 11,000 students, making it the largest private university in the state. The student disciplinary program is for the “protection of the campus community from disruption or harm” and appropriate sanctions may be imposed.
How Legal Representation Can Protect Student Rights
Students at colleges and universities (and their families) are devoting significant time and financial resources to pursue post-secondary education. Student disciplinary matters may ultimately result in sanctions that can disrupt these goals.
In some instances, students and parents may not initially realize the long-term consequences that can result from disciplinary violations. You should retain an attorney that is familiar with this realm of practice shortly after becoming aware of the allegations. This is important to ensure there is sufficient time for preparation.
The majority of institutions permit all parties to disciplinary actions to choose an advisor to support and accompany them. It is critical to have an attorney serve in this role. He or she will be able to accurately interpret the institutional guidelines and policies. Your attorney may work with you to ensure you are prepared to make effective statements and responses to questions.
Your attorney may potentially engage in discussions to negotiate a favorable resolution to the matter. Your rights must be properly acknowledged. Busy administrators may hastily move through the proceedings without affording you due process.
Colleges and universities today are increasingly focused on their reputation. They seek to maintain high standards of academic integrity and campus safety. Institutional administrators may be under pressure to hold students accountable for any violations. This may result in imposing disproportionately harsh sanctions and penalties.
Student Rights Attorney
Disciplinary violations are typically grouped into three distinct categories. These include “general” disciplinary violations, violations of academic integrity, and violations that pertain to Title IX federal guidelines.
Understanding Title IX
The Educational Amendments of 1972 contained Title IX, a measure prohibiting sexual discrimination in U.S. educational institutions. It applies to all schools for maintaining eligibility for federal funding. Various actions may constitute a violation. The federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides enforcement and ongoing guidance.
Acts of sexual violence including rape or battery may be committed against the will of a victim. These physical actions involve victims that have either not granted consent or are incapable of granting consent. Those who may be deemed incapable include minors, individuals that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and those with a mental impairment.
Acts of sexual harassment may be committed verbally or nonverbally. The victim may be subjected to a hostile environment that results from slurs or stereotypes. Some of the most common victims include students that self-identify as being gay, lesbian, bisexual or another nontraditional orientation.
Discrimination may occur when anyone is held to a different standard or denied entry to participate based on their gender or sexual orientation. Other violations include making inappropriate sexual advances or unwelcomed appeals for sexual favors.
General Disciplinary Matters
The Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct at FDU outline “general” disciplinary guidelines. These relate to various types of misconduct. Often they involve underage alcohol possession or consumption, possession of illegal drugs or paraphernalia, and presenting false identification to obtain alcohol.
Hazing is another strictly prohibited activity. It often involves abusive, intimidating or demeaning actions committed against those seeking to join a fraternity or sorority. It also may occur among those on athletic teams.
Students who reside in campus or university housing must adhere to a code of proper conduct. Common violations include exceeding the occupancy limits of a housing unit, tampering with fire safety equipment, smoking, and more.
- Cheating: Having unauthorized communication with others or using materials during an examination
- Plagiarism: Using someone else's work as your own without properly citing the source
- Falsification: Creating false information or citations
- Duplicate submission: Submitting the same work for credit more than once without approval
- Complicity: Conspiring with others to dishonestly obtain credit
- Interference: Obstructing or otherwise hindering the performance of another student
Standard of Evidence
At FDU, the designated administrator will review the evidence and allow for the accused to be heard. The evidentiary standard employed is by a preponderance of the evidence. Recent federal guidelines specific to Title IX stated that institutions may also evaluate these matters using a clear and convincing evidence standard.
Sanctions and Penalties
If the allegations against a student are found to be true, your education may be abruptly halted. The administration may impose a suspension or even expulsion from the college and university. There is too much at stake in these instances to enter the proceedings without seasoned legal representation.
Potential Appeals Process
As with most institutions, FDU does allow for parties to appeal unfavorable rulings. The Campus Standards Committee will hear appeals following the results of a hearing. Those seeking an appeal have only two business days to file a written intent to appeal at FDU. There are three potential grounds for an appeal:
- The emergence of new evidence that is applicable
- A party believes that the sanctions imposed are excessive based on the violation
- The administration did not adhere to proper procedure during the process
Potential Criminal Charges
Are the allegations of student misconduct associated with criminal charges? Often the campus or local agencies of law enforcement may have involvement. Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience defending clients in criminal matters in courts across New Jersey.
Attorney Represents Students in Disciplinary Matters in New Jersey
Students or parents of a student at a college or university should be aware of the harsh consequences that can result from student disciplinary misconduct. The Lento Law Firm 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.