Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University has an enrollment of roughly 6,300 students. The University strives to foster an atmosphere that maintains “community responsibility and individual respect.” Students are expected to adhere to standards of conduct and the Office of Judicial Affairs will take appropriate disciplinary measures when necessary.
How Could an Attorney Protect the Rights of Students?
Students at colleges and universities and their families are often making substantial sacrifices when pursuing a college education. This goal requires a multi-year commitment of time and significant financial resources toward the future. Allegations of disciplinary misconduct can be serious and may result in sanctions that may adversely impact your plans.
Retaining an attorney with experience in these disciplinary matters should be prioritized once a respondent is made aware of the allegations. Why is this timing so important? Administrators may be seeking to conclude any proceedings before the end of an upcoming term or semester or may otherwise be in a rush to judgment. Time is also necessary for you to be adequately prepared.
Your attorney will guide you and interpret the school's specific policies and guidelines. Evidence should be closely reviewed and scrutinized. You should be prepared to confidently respond to questions and to deliver effective statements. Your attorney may have discussions with the administration to potentially negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution.
Student Rights Lawyer
Most institutions allow all parties to disciplinary actions a right to choose and be accompanied by an advisor. Choosing a lawyer to assume this role is critical to the potential results and to protect your rights.
Three general classifications for disciplinary violations typically exist in college and university settings. These include “general” disciplinary violations, acts of academic misconduct, and those involving federal Title IX guidelines.
Title IX Matters
U.S. educational institutions are responsible for compliance with federal Title IX guidelines. This civil rights amendment was established in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education. It prohibits sexually-based discrimination. Failing to comply may result in losing eligibility for federal funding. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides ongoing guidance and enforcement.
Institutions must designate a Title IX Coordinator who creates written procedures outlining how complaints are handled. Schools are afforded some latitude in creating their processes, with the primary focus of maintaining fairness for all parties.
Violations of Title IX may involve impeding or otherwise preventing anyone's right to participate in programs or activities based on their sex or sexual orientation. Title IX also prohibits acts of sexual harassment. These acts may encompass promoting stereotypes, making unwanted sexual advances, and more.
Physical acts of sexual violence such as assault are also forms of harassment. These are acts involving victims that have not given consent to participate in sexual activity. It also applies to victims that are incapacitated or are unable to legally consent.
The leadership at Monmouth University has a Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures. The topics addressed include “sexual assault, gender-based harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and stalking.” The school's Title IX Coordinator is based in the Office of Equity and Diversity.
The institution has a policy of resolving these matters within 60 days. Title IX complaints are investigated and all parties are summoned to a hearing. The hearings are brought before a panel that consists of one administrator, one member of the faculty, and one student from the Student Government Association.
General Disciplinary Issues
At Monmouth University, the Student Handbook explains the “general” type of violations. Some of the most common are as follows:
- Alcohol-related: Violations may include underage alcohol consumption or using false identification to purchase alcoholic beverages.
- Drug-related: May include any violations as stated in the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice regarding controlled substances
- Solicitation or canvassing: Using the campus as a venue to sell or distribute a “product, service, or information.” Those seeking to do so must obtain permission from the Office of Student Activities.
- Hazing: This is a serious violation of University rules and state laws.
- Smoking: There is no smoking permitted in University buildings, residential halls, etc.
Acts of academic misconduct are typically those involving dishonest acts such as cheating or plagiarism. These are acts that do not reflect the values or standards for integrity that are established by the University. The University Disciplinary Committee is generally responsible for hearing these matters.
The administration at Monmouth University has outlined the many ways that plagiarism may occur in their guidelines. Some of the examples include:
- Presenting written material such as ideas or thoughts from another source without properly referencing or citing that source.
- Citing or referencing material from a different source than where the information was obtained.
- Submitting information that was “altered or contrived” in an intentionally misleading manner.
The guidelines prohibit students from using computers and other University resources to conduct dishonest academic conduct. It is a violation to have communications with someone during an examination or using unauthorized materials. Another example includes submitting someone else's work as if it were your own.
Standards of Proof and Potential Sanctions
College and university disciplinary violations are generally evaluated using a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This may be translated to whether the allegations are “more likely than not.” In Title IX proceedings, the trier of fact may also choose a “clear and convincing evidence” standard. Both of these are lesser standards compared to “beyond a reasonable doubt” that is used in criminal cases.
When a student is found to have committed a serious violation, they are likely to be suspended or expelled from the institution. Those who reside in campus housing that violates residential provisions can expect to have their housing agreement terminated.
Students may be facing criminal charges in connection with other disciplinary matters. The Lento Law Firm has spent many years defending clients in the New Jersey courts. We closely review the evidence and circumstances and create an effective strategy of defense.
Attorney Represents College and University Students in Disciplinary Matters
In many cases, allegations such as those related to academic misconduct or sexual harassment can threaten your future goals. Joseph D. Lento is an attorney that is well-versed in representing students in these actions. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.