The Montclair State University was founded in 1908 and the school's enrollment now exceeds 21,000. The leadership of the institution seeks to enforce “responsible student behavior and conduct” following University guidelines. The administration has established clear policies that address “standards of behavior, regulations, procedures, sanctions and the appeal processes.”
Seeking the Assistance of a Student Rights Attorney
College and university officials may exercise power in student disciplinary proceedings. These actions are not designed to mimic those used in a court of law. The result is that often the process lacks proper safeguards that exist in the formal judicial system. Many of these apply specifically to the rights of the accused.
Students at post-secondary educational institutions (and their families) are committing a tremendous amount of time and financial resources. Violations of the disciplinary guidelines of a college or university can result in harsh penalties that may quickly disrupt educational goals. In many instances, accused students and their families may underestimate the harmful long-term consequences that can result from disciplinary violations.
The majority of schools permit all parties involved in disciplinary matters to choose an advisor to function in a support role and accompany them. It is important to retain an attorney that is familiar with this realm of practice shortly after being made aware of the allegations. This is important to ensure there is time for sufficient preparation.
Your attorney can accurately interpret your school's unique guidelines and policies. He or she may also work with you to ensure you are well-prepared to make clear statements and effectively respond to questions. Your attorney may potentially enter into discussions to negotiate a favorable resolution on your behalf.
Campus administrators may be facing pressure to hold students accountable for violations. Busy administrators may hurriedly move through the proceedings without affording you due process. The results could be disproportionately harsh sanctions and penalties. Your attorney will advocate for you to ensure your rights are protected.
Student Rights Attorney
Most disciplinary violations can be classified into one of three distinct categories. These include “general” disciplinary violations, violations of academic integrity, and those related to federal Title IX guidelines.
What is Title IX?
Title IX was implemented in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education. The provisions guide institutions in handling allegations of sexual discrimination. Tremendous emphasis is placed on treating all parties fairly and avoiding conflicts of interest when handling complaints. The principle of Title IX is that no person will be “excluded from participation in, be denied benefits, or be subjected to discrimination.”
Schools that fail to properly comply may have their eligibility for federal education funding rescinded. Discrimination can occur in university admissions, accessing benefits, and participation in athletics or other campus activities.
Some of the examples of acts that may constitute a violation of Title IX guidelines include:
- Sexual violence: May involve physical acts committed against an unwilling victim or someone incapable of granting consent. Those who are incapable may be minors, those who are heavily intoxicated or those with an intellectual impairment. Common examples are sexually-based assault or coercion.
- Gender harassment: Slurs or stereotypes may be made “based on a student's actual or perceived sex.” Often those who self-identify as having a non-traditional sexual orientation are targeted.
- Sexually-based harassment: Common examples are unwelcome sexual advances or inappropriate appeals for sexual favors.
At Montclair State University, they strictly adhere to the federal guidelines regarding Title IX.
General Disciplinary Issues
The Office of Student Development and Campus Life developed a detailed Code of Conduct that pertains to violations that may be deemed as “general”. What may constitute a general disciplinary offense? Many of these are infractions that involve drugs and/or alcohol. An underage student may be found to possess or have consumed alcohol.
Hazing is a serious offense in today's educational environment. The University has a Hazing Prevention program that defines it is as “action is taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.” It is most commonly victimizes new members or prospective members of fraternities and athletic teams.
The University's Office of Academic Affairs has compiled the guidelines related to academic misconduct. Academic dishonesty may involve submitting an assignment that was completed by someone else. Often these acts of academic dishonesty are considered to be collusion. This involves conspiring with someone else to cheat.
Cheating may be demonstrated by aiding a student in completing an assignment improperly. Students are prohibited from willingly receiving or giving assistance to one another during an examination. This also applies to the use of unauthorized notes, technology devices or other materials during an examination.
Acts of plagiarism are also grounds for serious disciplinary action. This may involve using someone else's thoughts or words in an assignment to obtain credit. All such sources of information should be properly cited. This applies to “word-for-word” information as well as that which is paraphrased.
Problems Related to Adverse Disciplinary Records
The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) explained that there has been some debate about sharing student transcripts. There are concerns regarding the student's privacy rights that are weighed against public safety concerns. For example, a student that was dismissed from one institution for assault applies to a new school.
The majority of schools do make transcript notations when infractions result in suspension or expulsion. Any disclosure to a non-educational party, such as a potential employer, does require the permission of the student.
Some disciplinary matters may involve criminal charges, such as from a campus police department. The possibility of having a criminal record may also create adverse long-term consequences. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney that can assist you both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Legal Representation for College and University Students
Students or parents of a student that is facing allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct at a local college or university should take prompt action. It is important to obtain aggressive representation that is familiar with these institutional proceedings. The Lento Law Firm will defend the rights of students in these situations. Please contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today.