Originally chartered in 1766, this institution was renamed as Rutgers in 1825. The school has three primary campus locations in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden, New Jersey. The total enrollment now exceeds 70,000 students. The University leadership is committed to enforcing policies related to standards of behavior, addressing any conflict, and maintaining a safe and “inclusive community.”
How Does Representation from a Student Rights Attorney Help?
Officials in colleges and universities create policies for investigating, evaluating evidence, and reaching conclusions in student disciplinary matters. These actions are not intended to mimic the judicial processes that exist in a court of law and generally lack the safeguards that protect the rights of accused parties.
Students and their families are sacrificing significant financial resources when pursuing higher education. If a student is the subject of a disciplinary investigation, these future goals may be jeopardized by harsh sanctions and penalties. It is important not to underestimate the potential adverse impact that could result.
The majority of schools encourage all parties involved to choose an advisor that will provide assistance and support. It is critical that a lawyer that is well-versed in this realm of practice be chosen to serve in this capacity. Students are strongly encouraged to seek legal representation promptly after being notified of the allegations. This is necessary to ensure you are sufficiently prepared.
An experienced attorney will closely review your school's unique policies and guidelines. He or she will assist you in preparing to deliver effective statements and confidently responding to questions. It is also possible that your attorney will engage in negotiations on your behalf that could result in an amicable resolution.
In today's competitive environment, academic institutions are well aware of the importance of sustaining an excellent reputation. Administrators chosen to investigate and manage the disciplinary process are pressured to hold students accountable for misconduct. Meanwhile, most schools are minimizing their staff in response to financial burdens. This combination of factors may indirectly hurt students accused of disciplinary violations.
Overworked administrators may hurriedly move through the disciplinary process without properly acknowledging your rights of due process. The sanctions and penalties imposed may be disproportionate to the violation. Having an attorney that regularly works in this realm of practice is important to protect your rights.
Student Rights Attorney
Disciplinary violations are typically categorized into one of three categories. These include “general” disciplinary violations, those involving academic integrity and acts that violate Title IX guidelines.
Title IX Matters
Title IX was an initiative implemented in 1972 by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal is to ensure that acts of sexually-based discrimination are properly handled in educational environments. Current enforcement efforts are the responsibility of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Failing to abide by these federal requirements may result in a school having its eligibility for critical funding revoked. Federal guidance on Title IX has continued to develop. This is one reason why those facing allegations should see assistance from a student rights attorney that is abreast of the current guidelines.
Various actions that are prohibited according to Title IX such as the following:
- Sexual harassment: These are actions that may create a hostile learning environment for the victim. Examples may include inappropriate sexual advances or appeals for favors.
- Sexual violence: These are physical sexual acts made against an unwilling victim. Victims of sexual assault or coercion may not have consented to participate in sexual activity. It also applies to victims that are incapable of consenting. This inability may be based on the victim's age, impairment from drugs or alcohol, or an intellectual disability.
- Gender-based harassment: Verbal abuse that is hostile or intimidating violates Title IX rules. Harassment may involve false stereotypes or slurs that are “based on a student's actual or perceived sex.”
The Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for the Student Policy Prohibiting Sexual Harassment, Sexual Violence, Relationship Violence, Stalking, and Related Misconduct. This is a policy that contains all the provisions that relate to Title IX. The policy allows all parties to “consult with or retain an attorney of their choice.”
The Title IX Coordinator seeks to resolve the actions within 60 days after receiving a complaint. The University has an option to consider an informal process for resolution; otherwise, the matter will proceed to a hearing. The hearing begins with a summary or report of the investigative findings. Witness testimony is facilitated by the Hearing Officer. The Complainant and Respondent both may make an opening and closing statement.
What are General Disciplinary Issues?
At Rutgers University, the Office of Student Conduct manages the student disciplinary process. Disciplinary actions that are classified as “general” are addressed in the University Code of Student Conduct. Common types of offenses include the following:
- Underage possession or consumption of alcohol
- Misusing University property or technology
- Participation in hazing
Students who reside in University housing are subject to policies created by the Office of Residence Life. Some of the common potential violations that are included relate to drugs, alcohol, fire safety, gambling, smoking, and excessive noise.
The Office of Student Affairs maintains an Academic Integrity Policy. The administration expects all students to adhere to high ethical standards in all academic activities. Those who are found to be cheating, plagiarizing or otherwise demonstrating dishonesty are subject to significant sanctions.
Students that are found to have committed severe violations are likely to face suspension or dismissal from the University. The majority of schools have a process that allows parties to appeal an adverse ruling.
Often criminal charges will also be involved in disciplinary actions. Charges may be issued by a campus police department or other local enforcement agencies. The Lento Law Firm has many years of experience in criminal defense and will aggressively defend you on both fronts.
Attorney Represents College and University Students in Disciplinary Matters
Joseph D. Lento is an attorney who creates customized strategies for defending students in actions involving disciplinary misconduct. He does not hesitate to think “outside the box” when pursuing positive outcomes that are in your best interest. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686.