If you are a college student in North Carolina, your school probably has a set of rules concerning your behavior. To be a student and able to work toward a degree, you have to follow these rules in addition to studying for your classes.
As you don't want anything to interfere with your academic and future career pursuits, you should know what your university's behavior standards are—and what happens when you supposedly don't follow them. Your North Carolina school most likely has a code of conduct that spells out behavior that is prohibited for students and what happens when a student allegedly commits one of these actions. The code of conduct should be freely available for you to access at all times; most schools post their student code of conduct on their websites.
In addition to listing your responsibilities as a student, the code of conduct also typically presents your rights as a student. Your university asks you to follow certain rules in order to attend classes as a student, but it also guarantees you fair treatment if you have to go through a disciplinary procedure. The final thing that a student code of conduct typically contains that you should be concerned with is a list of sanctions, or punishments, for violating the code.
As a student attending or planning to attend a North Carolina college, you should read and understand your school's code of conduct. If you don't, you could suffer major consequences and damage to your future and reputation for a simple misunderstanding. Unfortunately, most schools don't accept not being aware of the code of conduct as a defense for having violated it.
North Carolina Code of Conduct Issues
Most code of conduct infractions at North Carolina colleges fall under one of three categories:
- Academic misconduct
- Sexual misconduct
- General code of conduct infractions
Academic dishonesty occurs when a student tries to gain an unfair advantage over other students. Common examples include cheating, plagiarism, fabrication of data, unauthorized collaboration, and destruction of school library resources. Some schools allow instructors to handle instances of academic dishonesty directly by lowering a student's grade, requiring extra work, or even failing the student in the course. Severe or repeated instances of academic misconduct can lead to harsher sanctions, such as academic probation, suspension, or expulsion.
Many schools in North Carolina and across the country take sexual misconduct very seriously. Sexual misconduct is usually defined as sexual activity that one or more of the participants did not consent to. It covers sexual harassment, rape, incest, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Schools that want to be eligible for federal funding must adhere to Title IX rules, which also deal with sexual misconduct. As a result, many colleges and universities create a Title IX policy that is separate from the code of conduct. Some schools even have two policies concerning sexual misconduct alone, one for Title IX offenses and one for offenses that fall outside the scope of Title IX.
General Code of Conduct Infractions
Other infractions that don't fall under academic or sexual misconduct are considered general code of conduct violations. Although these violations are “general,” it does not make them less severe, nor do they warrant lesser sanctions than academic or sexual misconduct infractions. The following section provides some examples of general code of conduct violations.
General Code of Conduct Issues
Issues that fall outside academic dishonesty and sexual misconduct vary between schools. Behavior allowed at one university may be prohibited at another. In general, however, North Carolina universities tend to frown upon some universal behaviors.
Almost all North Carolina schools have a policy about the consumption and possession of alcohol on campus. Since no one under 21 years of age may consume or possess alcohol in North Carolina, schools strictly prohibit underage drinking. Some schools may even prohibit alcohol consumption on campus or in residence halls for underage students and those over 21. The penalties for breaking alcohol rules can be stiff on college campuses.
Many universities prohibit the use, sale, distribution, and possession of controlled substances on campus. Some also include limits on the sale and distribution of prescription drugs.
Student organizations such as fraternities and sororities may ask prospective members to complete some sort of introductory ritual that causes pain or embarrassment in order to become a full member. These rituals are known as hazing, and many North Carolina colleges do not allow it. Some incidents of hazing have led to injury or even death, and so many codes of conduct explicitly prohibit it.
Misconduct in Residential Life
Many students who attend universities in North Carolina choose to live in shared housing provided by the school. Living in residences managed by the university means following university rules, however. To keep everyone safe and promote an amiable living and learning environment for all residents, most colleges have a set of rules for living in campus housing. These rules may prohibit fighting, making too much noise, respecting common spaces, and more. Typically, the penalty for failing to uphold the rules in residence halls is being kicked out of university housing.
A hate crime is considered a crime or offense committed by a student who holds a certain belief about another's gender, color, race, religion, age, or sexual orientation. If your school believes you have committed a hate crime against another student, the administration will not hesitate to launch disciplinary procedures and impose sanctions if you are found responsible.
The above are just a few examples of behavior that many North Carolina schools prohibit. It's possible that your school lists several more behaviors in the code of conduct that could result in disciplinary action. As a student, it's vital for you to know what is not allowed and how your school will go about handling your case if you are accused of such behavior.
The following section goes into more detail about what to expect if your school accuses you of a code of conduct violation.
How North Carolina Colleges and Universities Handle Misconduct
Your school likely has specific procedures for handling alleged code of conduct infractions, and you should familiarize yourself with them if you haven't already.
Typically, the process includes an investigation, formal hearing or meeting, and sanctions if you are found responsible for the violation. You will know when your school starts a disciplinary procedure because you will usually receive official notification from the administration via letter or email.
After sending you notice that you have been accused of a code of conduct violation, your university will likely start an investigation to determine if there is evidence to support the allegation. Once you know that you have been accused, do not speak about the matter to anyone except your parents and student defense advisor. If you talk about the issue to anyone related to your university, your statements can be used against you later.
Your school will probably assign an investigator to look into your accusation. This person may be able to speak to your friends or professors and can seek out any potential witnesses to your alleged behavior. They may also be able to look at your academic records and social media accounts.
If you want the investigation to go smoothly, you must work strategically. It's much easier to develop a strategy when you have a student defense attorney-advisor to help. They can ensure all of your meetings with the investigators go well, help you gather evidence, and assist with producing witnesses.
The Disciplinary Hearing
The hearing will have a big impact on the resolution of your case. It usually ends with recommendations for sanctions if you are found responsible for a code of conduct violation.
Hearings typically take place in front of a disciplinary board or panel. This board may include members of the university community, such as faculty, staff, or even other students. During your hearing, you have a chance to present an argument in your favor by providing a statement, answering the board's questions, introducing evidence, or calling on witnesses.
Once the hearing is over, the board will discuss the case privately and come to a decision. If it decides you are not responsible for misconduct, the matter ends, and you do not face any punishments. If the board decides you are responsible for a misconduct violation, it will recommend sanctions.
Some universities in North Carolina allow you to have an advisor present at the hearing with you, who can even speak on your behalf. Other schools do not allow advisors. Either way, consulting with an expert in student defense throughout the disciplinary process will help strengthen your defense. Even if the advisor cannot join you during the hearing, they can coach you on how to present yourself and help you write questions to ask witnesses.
You may be accused of wrongdoing, but you still have rights, both under the university rules and the law. Your school may try to neglect those rights if you go it alone. If you have a student defense attorney to help you, however, you can stand up to your university to ensure they uphold your rights.
The Sanctions You Could Face
The hearing board will recommend sanctions if it finds you responsible for a code of conduct violation. Either these sanctions take effect immediately, or another administrator must approve them. Also, if you file an appeal, most schools prevent the sanctions from taking effect right away while the appeal is ongoing.
Typical sanctions for code of conduct infractions at North Carolina schools include:
- Ban on participation in extracurricular activities such as student organizations or sports teams
- Losing a scholarship
- Getting kicked out of university housing
- Academic probation
- Disciplinary probation
Some sanctions don't seem quite as severe as others, and you may think it's not worth going to the trouble of mounting a defense if you are accused of misconduct. However, it's important to note that suspension is one of the most common sanctions for misconduct at North Carolina colleges and universities.
Although the suspension is temporary, it can have lasting effects. Having to take one or two semesters off will slow your progress toward your degree, taking more time and costing more tuition money than you planned. It will also leave a gap on your transcript, which you will have to explain to potential employers or graduate schools. If they ask why you have a blank semester during your undergraduate studies, you may have to inform them of your disciplinary history.
By working with a student defense advisor, you decrease the chance of receiving a suspension, as the advisor will know how to negotiate for a lesser sanction.
Best Practices for North Carolina Students Accused of Code of Conduct Violations
Conducting yourself properly during the investigation, hearing, and remaining phases of the disciplinary process will help put your mind at ease. Below are some tips for what to do during each phase.
Immediately Following the Accusation
As soon as you receive the official notification from your school regarding the allegation, don't tell anyone. You can speak about the accusation to your parents or to an advisor who will help you with the case, but do not talk to anyone from your university about the matter, even friends or trusted professors. Representatives from the student affairs office may try to speak to you about it as well. Don't set up any meetings with them until you have had the chance to speak with a student defense advisor.
Code of conduct matters can spiral out of control quickly, making you feel overwhelmed and leading you to make rushed decisions. Speak to a professional as soon as possible so you can maintain control over the situation. The sooner you seek expertise for your defense, the more smoothly the process will go.
During the Hearing
Prior to the hearing, work with your defense advisor to develop your defense strategy so that you feel prepared. It's especially important to go over your talking points and questions if your school doesn't allow your advisor to be at the hearing with you.
Once the hearing is over, you will learn which sanctions are applied, if any. If you wish to appeal the hearing board's decision, you must do so after it recommends sanctions.
Filing an Appeal
Most schools allow students to appeal the decision of a disciplinary hearing board or the recommended sanctions. Filing an appeal differs by school, but most universities allow up to five days to submit an appeal after receiving the hearing board's decision. You will probably have to complete some paperwork and write a statement arguing why you should have an appeal.
Your university may have an appeal board or a representative who reviews appeals and makes a decision. This person may have the authority to deny an appeal, modify the sanction, or even remand the case to the original hearing board. Typically, the decision on the appeal is final.
Even if your appeal is unsuccessful, however, you still have a few options:
- Submit a complaint to the higher education authority in North Carolina
- Have your attorney consult with your school's legal team to find a resolution
- Sue your college or university
To pursue action beyond an appeal, you will need the assistance of an attorney.
Rely on the Expertise at the Lento Law Firm for a Successful Outcome
Are you dealing with a code of conduct violation at your North Carolina school and feeling overwhelmed?
Understanding your university's code of conduct and behavior policies isn't always intuitive. Your school has high standards for behavior, and if you fail to meet them, you could face severe sanctions. It can be even tougher navigating your school's rules once the disciplinary procedures begin.
At the Lento Law Firm, we want you to know that you don't have to go through this process alone. If you feel overwhelmed, an experienced student defense attorney-advisor can help put your mind at ease. Rely on an advisor who has helped hundreds of students in the same situation as you. By working with an expert, not only will you feel more confident going through the disciplinary process, but your school will also take you more seriously.
Your future shouldn't be at risk because of a code of conduct accusation at your university. A simple mistake or misunderstanding should not derail all your internship or career plans or damage your reputation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped students in North Carolina and across the country with code of conduct charges and has the expertise to negotiate with your school, prepare your defense, and help you stand up for your rights. From the investigation to the appeal, Joseph D. Lento will stand by your side and guide you through the process. To protect your future, contact the Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686.
North Carolina colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's disciplinary violation advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alamance Community College
- Apex School of Theology
- Appalachian State University
- Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College
- Barton College
- Beaufort County Community College
- Belmont Abbey College
- Bennett College for Women
- Bladen Community College
- Blue Ridge Community College
- Brevard College
- Brunswick Community College
- Cabarrus College of Health Sciences
- Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
- Campbell University
- Cape Fear Community College
- Carolina Bible College
- Carolina Christian College
- Carteret Community College
- Catawba College
- Catawba Valley Community College
- Central Carolina Community College
- Central Piedmont Community College
- Chowan University
- Cleveland Community College
- Coastal Carolina Community College
- College of the Albemarle
- Craven Community College
- Davidson College
- Davidson County Community College
- DeVry University North Carolina
- Duke University
- Durham Technical Community College
- East Carolina University
- Edgecombe Community College
- Elizabeth City State University
- Elon University
- Fayetteville State University
- Fayetteville Technical Community College
- Forsyth Technical Community College
- Gardner Webb University
- Gaston College
- Grace College of Divinity
- Greensboro College
- Guilford College
- Guilford Technical Community College
- Halifax Community College
- Harrison College
- Haywood Community College
- Heritage Bible College
- Isothermal Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Cary
- ITT Technical Institute Charlotte North
- ITT Technical Institute Charlotte South
- ITT Technical Institute Durham
- ITT Technical Institute High Point
- James Sprunt Community College
- Johnson & Wales University Charlotte
- Johnson C Smith University
- Johnston Community College
- King's College
- Laurel University
- Lees McRae College
- Lenoir Community College
- Lenoir Rhyne University
- Living Arts College
- Livingstone College
- Louisburg College
- Mars Hill University
- Martin Community College
- Mayland Community College
- McDowell Technical Community College
- Meredith College
- Methodist University
- Mid Atlantic Christian University
- Miller Motte College
- Miller Motte College Cary
- Miller Motte College Fayetteville
- Miller Motte College Greenville
- Miller Motte College Raleigh
- Miller Motte College Wilmington
- Mitchell Community College
- Montgomery Community College
- Montreat College
- Mount Olive College
- Nash Community College
- New Life Theological Seminary
- North Carolina A & T State University
- North Carolina Central University
- North Carolina State University at Raleigh
- North Carolina Wesleyan College
- Pamlico Community College
- Pfeiffer University
- Piedmont Community College
- Piedmont International University
- Pitt Community College
- Queens University of Charlotte
- Randolph Community College
- Richmond Community College
- Roanoke Chowan Community College
- Robeson Community College
- Rockingham Community College
- Rowan Cabarrus Community College
- Saint Augustines College
- Salem College
- Sampson Community College
- Sandhills Community College
- Shaw University
- Shepherds Theological Seminary
- South College Asheville
- South Piedmont Community College
- Southeastern Community College
- Southwestern Community College
- St. Andrews University
- Stanly Community College
- Surry Community College
- The Art Institute of Charlotte
- The Art Institute of Raleigh Durham
- Tri County Community College
- University of North Carolina at Asheville
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke
- University of North Carolina at Wilmington
- University of North Carolina School of the Arts
- University of Phoenix Charlotte Campus
- University of Phoenix Raleigh Campus
- Vance Granville Community College
- Wake Forest University
- Wake Technical Community College
- Warren Wilson College
- Wayne Community College
- Western Carolina University
- Western Piedmont Community College
- Wilkes Community College
- William Peace University
- Wilson Community College
- Wingate University
- Winston Salem State University