Did you know that Princeton University is the fourth-oldest in the country? Originally chartered in 1746, the institution has more than 8,000 students enrolled. University leaders promote “equity, inclusion, and mutual respect” for others. The Committee on Discipline investigates “academic integrity matters and serious non-academic misconduct.”
How Can a Student Rights Attorney Help?
Students and their parents might question whether they should consider retaining an attorney for college and university disciplinary matters. Those who are pursuing a college education and their families are often making large sacrifices of time and financial resources. Overworked campus administrators may hastily move through the investigation process without affording the accused their proper rights.
In today's collegiate educational environment, violations of misconduct are taken very seriously. Students could potentially have their future hopes and dreams suddenly shattered. Most institutions allow parties the option of selecting an advisor for assistance and support. It is critical to retain an attorney with familiarity in these student disciplinary matters to serve in this role.
Legal representation is critical to properly interpret the school's unique policies and rules. Your attorney represents your best interests and protects your rights. They may challenge the existing evidence and introduce new documentation or testimony. Your attorney may accompany you to events such as hearings and interviews.
Your attorney may consider entering negotiations on your behalf. These discussions may involve administrators from a disciplinary office, an office of academic integrity, a Title IX Coordinator, and others. It is best to promptly secure legal counsel, as doing so further along in the process places you at a disadvantage.
Student Rights Lawyer
Disciplinary matters are typically grouped into three key categories. There are “general” disciplinary matters, those related to academic misconduct, and those involving federal Title IX guidelines.
Title IX Matters
In 1972, the U.S. Department of Educations implemented Title IX. This is a measure that seeks to prevent sexual discrimination in all educational institutions. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcement and offers ongoing guidance to schools. The primary intent of Title IX is that no person will be “excluded from participation in, be denied benefits, or be subjected to discrimination.”
Institutions that fail to comply with Title IX may lose eligibility for critical federal educational funding. Title IX guidelines have been evolving in recent years. This is one reason that students who face allegations should retain an attorney that works regularly in this area of practice.
Various potential acts are prohibited according to Title IX including some of the following:
- Sexual harassment: May include acts that create a harsh educational environment for a victim. Examples may include unwelcome sexual advances or appeals for sexual favors.
- Sexual violence: May include physical acts of a sexual nature that are made against the will of the victim. Sexual assault or coercion may involve a victim who has not granted consent to participate in sexual activity. It may also involve victims that are considered to be incapable of consenting to this activity. Examples include minors or others unable to consent due to intoxication or mental incapacitation.
- Gender-based harassment: Acts that violate Title IX may be verbal or nonverbal. These forms of harassment may create hostility such as inappropriate stereotypes or slurs “based on a student's actual or perceived sex.”
Princeton University has a Sexual Misconduct and Title IX program for protecting members of the community from types of discrimination. This applies to discrimination based on sex or gender and acts of sexual misconduct such as sexual harassment and sexual assault.
General Disciplinary Issues
At the University, student disciplinary matters that do not involve Title IX are handled by the Residential College Disciplinary Board (RCDB). What may be considered to be a “general” disciplinary offense? Many of these are violations that involve drugs or alcohol. Examples include underage alcohol consumption or possession of illegal drugs.
Incidents of hazing are taken very seriously in today's educational environment. Hazing may involve acts that intentionally cause the victim to be embarrassed, harassed or ridiculed. It commonly victimizes new members or prospective members of fraternities and athletic teams.
Students that reside in college or university housing have certain rules to adhere to. This applies to residents who create excessive noise that suggests a lack of respect for others. Campus housing rules typically also prohibit underage alcohol possession, smoking, and tampering with fire safety devices or systems. Students found to have committed severe violations may have their housing privileges terminated.
The Dean of Students addresses the expectations for academic integrity in their Rules, Rights, and Responsibilities guide. Students that fail to adhere to the standards of the institution can expect swift disciplinary action.
Acts that violate academic integrity are typically those involving cheating or plagiarism. Examples may include:
- Unauthorized communications with another individual during an examination
- Presenting someone else's work for credit as if it were your own
- Failing to cite or reference sources of information
- Conspiring to obtain unauthorized access to copies of examinations
Schools have disciplinary processes that are unique; however, the outcome will involve making a ruling or decision and possibly imposing sanctions. These typically include suspension or dismissal from the academic institution. Most schools have an appeals process in place. It is strongly encouraged to seek legal assistance if considering an appeal.
One collateral consequence of disciplinary matters is that negative information regarding the disciplinary matter may be retained in student records and transcripts. This can create long-term problems when applying for admission to a graduate program or another school.
Potential Criminal Charges
In many cases, campus disciplinary matters may coincide with an arrest on criminal charges such as from a campus police department or other local agencies of law enforcement. Joseph D. Lento is a very experienced criminal defense attorney. He will aggressively represent you both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Experienced Attorney for Students in Disciplinary Matters in New Jersey
College students that are faced with allegations of disciplinary misconduct should seek experienced legal counsel. The Lento Law Firm aggressively defends clients facing these and many other challenges. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.