On their journey toward higher education, university students will face rigorous academic loads, transition into adulthood, and put immense focus on their future careers. While young adults live the college experience and concentrate on their studies, mistakes can happen. Degree-seeking students may have to endure a stringent disciplinary process when an instance of misconduct arises. If you attend a Kansas college or university, you may want to understand what can happen if you're accused of violating your school's code of conduct and how a student defense advisor can preserve your chances of receiving your diploma and future job opportunities.
Every institution of higher education in Kansas will have a code of conduct that governs the mechanics of student life, academic progress, and how a school remedies misconduct. Usually, students are instructed on locating their school's code of conduct information during matriculation.
Understanding the expectations a code of conduct details is a significant part of a student's university experience. Therefore, ignorance will not be a defense if you're accused of misconduct.
Kansas Code of Conduct Issues: What Types of Misconduct Are There?
Although your institution's code of conduct may categorize misconduct differently, there are three general types:
- Academic misconduct
- Non-academic misconduct
- Title IX and sexual misconduct
Academic Misconduct: Kansas colleges and universities have specific guidelines and policies that supervise a student's academic progress in their ability to qualify and remain eligible for financial aid. Typically defined as satisfactory academic progress (SAP), it will detail specific thresholds—like minimum grade point average (GPA)—that students must meet during enrollment. When students fail to meet these requirements, a school will place them on academic probation.
Kansas State University requires students on academic probation to complete the following:
- The creation of an "academic plan" in conjunction with an academic advisor
- Completion of a set number of credits for one or more academic terms
- Attainment of a specific percentage of attempted vs. completed credit hours or classes
- Maintaining a specific GPA
- Evaluation of student progress at the end of the term of probation
Further instances of academic misconduct can lead to a student losing their eligibility for financial aid or risk a disciplinary hearing. Repeated violations of a school's code of conduct concerning academics will leave students separated from their studies through a suspension or expulsion.
Academic code of conduct violations also includes plagiarism and cheating. Students may believe plagiarism is simply duplicating someone's work without proper attribution. However, utilizing writing support programs and other online writing tools can be grounds for a code of conduct violation. Students must also be aware that some professors may prohibit group studying in their classes, also known as unauthorized collaboration or consultation at Wichita State University.
Non-academic misconduct: Student campus life involves much more than its academic requirements. One of the most common code of conduct violations on college and university grounds is underage alcohol possession. Most institutions of higher education have specific rules regarding alcohol possession, whether you are of legal drinking age or not. The code of conduct will also list all prohibited items on campus like drugs, firearms, and others.
It's essential to know how the code of conduct applies to student residences. For example, Kansas University's code of conduct includes housing guidelines that detail rules and regulations regarding things like:
- Campus housing guidelines and care
- Visiting hours
- Resident conflict
- Misleading representation of school brands
- Parking and transportation
- Pets and service animals
Sexual Misconduct and Title IX violations: Title IX is a federal law that guarantees equal access to higher education for people of different genders and sexual orientations without discrimination or harassment. Correspondingly, federal funding guidelines require schools to act swiftly and harshly when a student is alleged to have committed a Title IX violation. All Kansas colleges and universities have very similar Title IX policies as they are federal guidelines.
Hazing and other acts and rituals that involve embarrassment, harm, or exclusion for entrance into a group or club can fall under Title IX purview as they are discriminatory, as does bullying. Nevertheless, Title IX generally revolves around sexual misconduct and, according to guidelines from the Emporia State University, includes:
- Dating violence
- Discrimination based on a student's race, sex, or gender identification
- Retaliation against protected-status students
- Sexual harassment or violence
Violations of this nature are likely seen in news headlines in Kansas and nationwide due to their severity. Even a Title IX allegation can follow a student long past their college years and affect their career prospects.
How Kansas Colleges and Universities Handle Code of Conduct Allegations
If you're a Kansas student alleged to have violated your school's code of conduct, it will precipitate the grievance process to investigate and, if necessary, provide appropriate sanctions to redress the situation. Most Kansas schools have an official approach for handling allegations of misconduct involving an investigation, hearing, and disciplinary period.
The school will first ascertain whether it is necessary to initiate an investigation. The student will receive a notice of violation, a formal letter from the school administration that the student will receive either in their student mailbox or email inbox. The notice will explain the allegation, the time and date of a disciplinary hearing, and if an outside advisor may accompany the student at the hearing.
At this point, a student may believe they can handle the process themselves, or they may even think that not responding to the notice means everything will go away. However, if a student doesn't respond, the college or university will likely assume the student has accepted the terms and proceed.
If you haven't already, once you receive that notification, it will be an excellent time to:
- Locate your school's code of conduct
- Research the specific type of code of conduct violation and subsequent grievance procedures
- Gather any evidence (papers, emails, texts) and as much information about the alleged instance
- Call student defense advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or schedule a confidential consultation online
It may seem like a hurried decision to hire a student defense advisor so early in the process, but any misconduct violation can quickly take a turn for the worse. While students may believe that schools are there to protect students in code of conduct cases, it's vital to recognize that college administrations aren't there to safeguard you or even the accusing party in a disciplinary hearing—their mission is to protect the institution. The outcomes of issues like these are typically realized during the investigative stage of the process. Therefore, you need a professional on your side.
Your Kansas School's Disciplinary Hearing: What to Expect
Apart from your parents and student defense advisor, you shouldn't discuss the allegations with anyone while proceeding through the adjudicative processes. The hearing guidelines will be strict and complex. Depending on the allegations, different procedures may be used. Yet, all information on periods for response to investigators, appeals, and possible sanctions will be in the school's code of conduct handbook.
For example, at Washburn University, a disciplinary hearing proceeds in the following manner:
- The grievance hearing will be called to order by the Chair of the Grievance Hearing Committee, who states the formal charge considered, the roles of the participants, and the due process guidelines.
- The accuser (complainant) will give an opening statement specifying the grounds and available evidence upon which the charge is based.
- The accused (respondent) will cross-examine witnesses and evidence supporting the charges.
- The respondent will give a statement, and present evidence, testimony, or witnesses supporting their position in the matter.
- Members of the Grievance Hearing Committee will cross-examine the respondent and the witnesses after their testimony.
- The complainant and respondent may provide a summary or closing statement.
- The Grievance Hearing Committee will meet in a closed session to deliberate the findings of the hearing and the determination of responsibility regarding the allegations.
- The committee's decision, including its reasoning, determining responsibility, and recommendations for punitive measures, will be given to the school's complainant, respondent, and committee.
Depending on the misconduct the hearing will address, you may or may not be permitted to have your student defense advisor in the hearing with you. If not, retaining professional assistance will still strengthen your defense for these important reasons:
- A student defense advisor can coach you toward providing the committee with a cohesive and coherent argument
- A student defense advisor understands any precedents or loopholes in the institution's code of conduct
- A student defense advisor will ensure that your school's disciplinary body respects your rights
Consequently, school administration officials will likely take you more seriously if you have hired a professional to assist you. If your school decides to hand down harsh sanctions, your advisor will already be there to help you negotiate a reduced punishment to get you back to your studies.
Sanctions Kansas Students Can Face
- Academic or disciplinary probation
- Loss of group or club memberships
- Removal from student employee positions
- Degree or award withholding
Although some of these sanctions seem less unnerving, punishments are detailed on a student's official transcript. Admissions personnel at some graduate schools and the applications for certain professional licenses may require you to explain previous disciplinary action, including any investigated allegations against you. A separation from studies will produce a gap on your transcript, which you must explain to future employers, internship providers, and graduate school admissions boards. A prospective employer may also have a cause for concern, possibly preventing you from landing your dream job after graduation.
Therefore, you must build a strong defense as early as you can. A student defense advisor may be able to negotiate a reduced punishment to keep your clean record intact.
Best Practices for Responding to Kansas College Code of Conduct Charges
If you're facing student disciplinary charges, there are some things you can do to ensure you protect your rights throughout the process.
After the Accusation
It can be tempting to want to provide a defense all on your own in code of conduct cases. It's imperative that you remember:
- Don't disregard any correspondence from your college or university
- Don't discuss the allegations with friends
- Don't contact your accuser
- Don't post anything on social media
- Don't go into the situation without professional help
The only people you should discuss the matter with are supportive family members and your student defense advisor. Resist the urge to hire a local attorney that claims they know the players in the case. You need a proven student defense advisor who knows how to proceed and protect your rights from the very beginning.
Before and During Your Hearing
When allegations are made, your Kansas school should inform you through a letter in your student mailbox or an email in your student inbox. You will also receive specifics of the evidence gathered against you and any anticipated witnesses. After receiving this information, you and your student defense advisor can develop a robust strategy, preparing you for your arguments during the hearing and questioning witnesses.
The disciplinary board will discuss the matter and issue a written decision after the deliberation period, including recommended sanctions. If you are found not responsible for the allegations, they will also give a report explaining their decision.
Filing an Appeal
The appeals process at each Kansas institution of higher education will vary. You and your student defense advisor will review your school's specific rights and procedures to ensure you don't waive your right to appeal. Typically, you will only have a few days from the date the school serves you with their decision to file an appeal. According to guidelines from Kansas State University, a student can file an appeal if:
- New evidence that arises after the hearing that may have had a bearing on the recommended sanctions
- Sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation
- Procedural errors (substantiated bias, deviation from procedures, false testimony) occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the hearing
After your college authority reviews your appeal, the designated official will decide the outcome of your request. They may affirm or overturn the disciplinary board's decision, grant you a new hearing, or affirm the board's decision but modify or overturn the recommended sanctions. This decision is final, with no additional chance to appeal further to the school.
Hire a Proven Student Defense Advisor for Your Appeal
You only have one chance to appeal the disciplinary board's decision, so you need to make your best possible argument. A student defense advisor can help develop the most effective appeal, and they will know:
- How to prove procedural errors occurred during the hearing process
- What constitutes novel evidence that was not available during the grievance process
- If the sanctions levied against you are disproportionately severe
If the school denies your appeal, your options include:
- Filing a complaint with the Kansas Board of Regents
- A student defense advisor can negotiate with your school's Office of General Counsel (OGC)
- You and your attorney can consider litigation against your school
A lawsuit should be your last resort. However, it will get your university's attention. It may force them to the bargaining table so the situation doesn't become more widespread than it already is, and the school can protect its reputation.
You Need the Expertise of Student Defense Advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm
If you face a code of conduct violation, you need skilled legal guidance. Your Kansas college or university will have a complex set of procedures and policies that will govern your rights, due process, hearings, and appeals in the student discipline process. Navigating this system can be intimidating. Don't attempt to handle the situation on your own. The risk to your academic career is too significant.
Student defense advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have handled student discipline matters, negotiations with administrators, and court litigation involving hundreds of colleges and universities in Kansas and across the U.S. They believe that one code of conduct infraction shouldn't derail your academic and professional future.
Lento and his team have formed valuable relationships with many representatives in Kansas schools' internal OGC and those representing the school retained from outside law firms. He and his team know how to help college and university officials see positive options that serve both the student and the institution far better than suspension, expulsion, or other severe punitive measures.
For expert advice from a proven national academic attorney defending students in Kansas and throughout the U.S., call 888-535-3686 to discuss how Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can protect you or use the online consultation form. Your reputation depends on it.