Felician University was founded back in 1942 in Rutherford, New Jersey, and now has an enrollment of approximately 2,300. The University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct states that misconduct may result in penalties “as the circumstances justify, including suspension or expulsion.”
How Can an Attorney Protect Student Rights?
In today's highly competitive college and university environment, institutions are very conscious of sustaining an excellent reputation. Institutional leadership recognizes the importance of preserving an image that embraces diversity and demonstrates academic integrity and campus safety. Recent polling data indicated that 70% of students are “very concerned” with campus safety.
Administrators at these institutions are emphasizing that students will be held accountable in instances where student conduct is inconsistent with the school's values and expectations. As a result, students that violate the codes of conduct, academic standards or infringe on the rights of others may face harsh consequences. Those who are responsible for student disciplinary matters may be inclined to impose excessive sanctions on violators.
At the same time, institutions are faced with budgetary constraints. Existing staff is often required to assume additional responsibilities. One example is that the U.S. Department of Education guidelines require that each school designate a Title IX Coordinator. In more than 60% of institutions, this individual assumes this role in addition to their existing job functions.
This combination of pressure to strictly enforce the rules and being overworked can result in difficult consequences for those accused. Students may be suspended or expelled from the institution amid a hastily managed disciplinary process that does not fully consider the rights of the accused.
Students named as the subject of a disciplinary investigation should retain legal representation that is well-versed in this realm of practice. Your attorney will be of assistance in interpreting your school's policies and guidelines. He or she may also accompany you to interviews, hearings, and other proceedings.
Student Rights Lawyer
Students must consult with legal representation shortly after becoming aware that they are the subject of allegations. Most schools allow all parties involved in disciplinary matters to choose an advisor that can assist and support them. An experienced student disciplinary defense attorney must be retained to serve in this role.
Your attorney will interpret the school's policies and guidelines and make sure that the process is conducted fairly and equitably. Students facing allegations are entitled to full disclosure of any evidence. Your attorney may challenge the viability of the evidence.
Your attorney may consider opportunities to negotiate and reach an amicable resolution with the appropriate administrators on your behalf. Another critical benefit of having representation is to be sufficiently prepared. Excellent preparation will allow you to effectively respond to questions and deliver clear statements.
Types of Disciplinary Actions
There are three primary categories of disciplinary activity at the majority of colleges and universities as follows:
- “General” disciplinary matters
- Those involving academic misconduct
- Potential violations of Title IX provisions
Title IX Matters
The Title IX amendment was established in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education to address concerns related to sexually-based discrimination in educational environments. Acts that may violate Title IX include sexual harassment, sexual assault or gender-based discrimination. Colleges and universities must ensure that everyone has equal access to programs, benefits, and activities regardless of their gender or sexual identity.
Institutions are required to develop written provisions that outline their program of Title IX compliance. Failing to do so may result in losing eligibility for federal funding to education. Complaints must be promptly investigated and handled in an equitable manner that is free from any conflicts of interest.
The Title IX guidelines at Felician University are contained in their Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment.
General Disciplinary Issues
The University maintains a Campus Code of Conduct that addresses the expectations for student behavior. General violations are often related to drugs and/or alcohol. For example, underage alcohol consumption, possession of illegal drugs or using false identification to purchase alcohol. Institutions also strictly prohibit all forms of hazing. These are often abusive or degrading acts that victimize prospective members of fraternities or those joining athletic teams.
Students that live in college or university housing also must adhere to a set of rules. Common examples of violations may include excessive noise, smoking or tampering with fire-safety devices and equipment. Serious violations may result in the termination of any lease agreement for campus residency.
At Felician University, one of their Core Values is integrity and they take potential acts of academic dishonesty very seriously. These violations are usually associated with dishonesty such as cheating and plagiarism. Examples may include:
- Having unauthorized communication with others during a test or examination
- Submitting work completed by someone else for credit as if it were your own
- Participation in schemes to obtain copies of examinations
Sanctions and Penalties
These academic institutions have some flexibility in how they conduct their disciplinary proceedings. The common goal is to decide whether the allegations were proven. When proven, the institution is likely to suspend or expel the student. The majority of schools do have some type of appeals process that you may consider in discussions with your attorney.
Another possible longer-term consequence is that information relating to disciplinary action may be retained on a student's records or transcripts. That can create potential difficulties for those seeking admission to another school or entry into a graduate-level program.
It is possible that student disciplinary violations also involve criminal charges from campus police or other local agencies of law enforcement. The Lento Law Firm can handle these matters regardless of whether they are defended inside or outside of the courtroom.
Lawyer Represents Students in Disciplinary Actions at New Jersey Colleges and Universities
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience effective advocating for the rights of students faced with disciplinary or criminal allegations. He is well-versed in navigating these proceedings and developing a comprehensive defense strategy to protect your future. Take action today by contacting the office at (888) 535-3686 for assistance.