If you attend college in Ohio, you've probably worked hard to get there. Working toward a degree while living independently for the first time, participating in extracurricular activities, or even holding a part-time job can make the college experience challenging for anyone. When you add the fact that your Ohio university expects you to follow a strict set of rules as a student, it can be downright overwhelming.
Understanding the behavior expectations of your school isn't always intuitive. You may land in serious trouble with your university over a simple mistake or misunderstanding. Fortunately, your school provides you with access to a document that states all the rules you must follow as well as sanctions for when you violate those rules. This document is your school's code of conduct, and it should be freely available to you read, most likely on the university website.
The code of conduct lists all the rights and responsibilities of each student, including rules they must follow and the rights afforded to them by the administration. This policy should list all prohibited behaviors at your university, as well as what happens when you allegedly commit one of these behaviors.
As a student attending or planning to attend an Ohio school, it's vital that you find and read your college's code of conduct. Simply being ignorant of the rules is not a sufficient defense if you are accused of a code of conduct violation.
Ohio Code of Conduct Issues: Academic and Sexual Misconduct
Misconduct infractions fall into one of several categories, including academic dishonesty, sexual misconduct, and generalized code of conduct violations. No matter which type of misconduct you are accused of your school will treat the matter seriously.
In this section, we'll cover academic and sexual misconduct.
Also known as academic integrity infractions or academic dishonesty, academic misconduct is any behavior to give one student an unfair advantage over the others. Common examples of academic misconduct include cheating, plagiarism, destroying or hiding library materials, classroom disruption, fabricating data, and unauthorized collaboration. Some schools allow instructors to punish academic dishonesty with a lowered or failing grade on an assignment or even a failing grade in the course. For more severe or repeated incidents of academic dishonesty, sanctions could include probation, suspension, or dismissal.
Sexual misconduct violations have severe consequences as well. Any sexual activity that occurs without the direct, freely-given consent of all involved is sexual misconduct. Some examples of behavior that fall under this definition include stalking, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, rape, incest, and sexual exploitation.
Educational institutions in the United States that want to be eligible for federal funding must follow Title IX rules, which prohibit sexual misconduct on college campuses. It's possible your school has a Title IX policy in addition to the code of conduct. Some schools even have two policies related solely to sexual misconduct: One to address Title IX and one to cover any behavior not included in Title IX definitions. If your school chooses to adjudicate a sexual misconduct claim against you using a non-Title IX policy, you may not have the increased protections that the federal Title IX rules afford.
Examples of Code of Conduct Issues
In addition to academic and sexual misconduct, there is also general misconduct or code of conduct violations. These behaviors may vary between schools, but there are some universal behaviors that most Ohio universities frown upon.
Possession of Alcohol
In Ohio, anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol—including on college campuses. Ohio laws are strict about underage drinking, so colleges and universities also make strict alcohol policies to address them. Some schools may even prohibit drinking on campus for all students, including those 21 and older.
Possession of Drugs
Most Ohio schools prohibit the use, distribution, and possession of controlled substances. There may be limits on prescription drugs, narcotics, steroids, and more.
Hazing is when members of a student organization such as a fraternity, sorority, or sports team, require prospective new members to perform introductory rituals that could cause embarrassment or pain. Schools across North America are taking a hard stance against hazing, as it has resulted in injury and even death in some cases. Your Ohio school most likely has a prohibition on hazing in the code of conduct.
For many students, a college campus is more than a learning environment. It's also home for those who choose to live in university-provided housing. Living in shared accommodations with fellow students can be an enriching experience, but it does require following some rules to ensure everyone is safe and feels comfortable. Ohio schools that provide residential housing to students typically have rules those students must follow, such as not making too much noise at certain hours, no fighting, or curfews. Failing to follow residential housing rules can put the safety of other students at risk, so the penalties for such a violation can be steep.
A hate crime is when a student commits an offense connected with some type of belief about a victim's gender, color, religion, race, age, or sexual orientation. Most schools do not tolerate hate crimes and will pursue disciplinary action if they believe one of their students has committed a hate crime. Students associated with a hate offense are likely to suffer permanent reputational damage in addition to any sanctions the university imposes.
Note that these examples don't comprise all prohibited behaviors in a typical code of conduct. Your school's code may have several more behaviors that could lead to disciplinary action. Take the time to become familiar with your school's code of conduct, as well as the disciplinary procedures associated with alleged violations.
The next section discusses what you can expect from a university disciplinary procedure.
How Ohio Universities Handle Code of Conduct Issues
Your school has its own set of rules for dealing with code of conduct violations, but it likely resembles the procedure at most schools: An investigation, followed by a hearing, then sanctions.
You will learn about an allegation of misconduct against you via formal notice from your university, either by letter or email. This formal notice should outline the disciplinary procedures you can expect and cite the relevant portions of the code of conduct that you have supposedly violated.
The Investigation Phase
After you receive notice about a possible code of conduct violation, your university will likely start an investigation to gather information about the charge. During this phase, it's important that you do not speak to anyone about your accusation, except your parents and student defense attorney. The school's investigator may want to speak with you as well, but you should only do so with your advisor present.
The investigator may try to speak with you, your friends, your instructors, or any potential witnesses to the misconduct. They may also have access to your academic records and could try to go through your social media accounts to learn more about you. When you work with an attorney-advisor, you can ensure all meetings with the investigator go smoothly and that you can gather as much of your own evidence as possible.
The investigation can be a deciding factor in your case, so it's important to hire a student defense advisor early in the process. This way, you approach your case strategically from the start, rather than making a mistake that could hurt you later on.
The Disciplinary Hearing Phase
Once the investigation ends, your school will likely invite you to a disciplinary hearing. At this hearing, you will have a chance to present your argument in front of a hearing panel. The university may also appoint a representative to argue on its behalf. The hearing panel may consist of faculty, staff, or even other students at your school.
During the hearing, the panel will review the evidence from the investigation and pose questions to you and any witnesses. After the hearing is over, the panel decides if you are responsible for committing a code of conduct violation or not. If it determines you are responsible, the panel may also recommend sanctions.
Not every school allows students to have an external advisor present with them during their hearing. Even so, you should still work with a student defense attorney. Why? Your attorney-advisor can help you prepare for the hearing and coach you on how best to present your argument.
During your hearing, you have rights outlined by law and by your school's code of conduct. When you go through the disciplinary process alone, it's all too easy for your school to trample on those rights. By hiring an attorney, you can more easily know what your rights are and stand up for them.
The Sanctions Phase
If the hearing panel determines that you are responsible for a code of conduct violation, it will most likely recommend one of the following sanctions:
- A ban from extracurricular activities such as playing on a sports team
- A loss of scholarship
- A loss of student housing
- Academic or disciplinary probation
Some sanctions seem less severe than others, and you may wonder what the big deal is if you receive one. Keep in mind that all sanctions have both immediate and long-term consequences. A suspension, for example, seems like just a temporary leave from classes. But a one-semester suspension can stay with you for years afterward. A suspension leaves a gap on your transcript, which you may have to explain to potential employers or graduate programs. You would have to divulge your disciplinary history, which could prevent you from landing the job or getting into the program.
By working with an attorney-advisor, you can build a strong defense and negotiate reduced sanctions if necessary.
Best Practices for Ohio College Students Going Through a Code of Conduct Process
Going through your school's disciplinary process can seem overwhelming, but it's vital that you conduct yourself properly. Making the wrong move at any stage in the process can seriously hurt your chances of a favorable outcome later on. Stick to the following guidelines as you move through the disciplinary process.
Immediately Following the Accusation
The first thing to remember after receiving notice of a code of conduct accusation is not to speak to anyone at your university about it. It may seem tempting to confide in friends or a trusted professor because you feel stressed out and want to defend your name. However, anything you say to anyone associated with your school can later be used against you during your hearing. The first people you should speak to should be your student defense attorney and your parents.
As soon as you know you are accused of a code of conduct violation, get in touch with a student defense attorney-advisor. It's not a good idea to handle this accusation on your own, especially when the stakes are so high. Disciplinary matters at universities can quickly spiral out of control if you don't work strategically. You don't want to do anything you'll regret later in the process, so contact a professional as soon as possible to get proactive.
Prior to and During the Hearing
Before your hearing takes place, you should work with your attorney-advisor to prepare your defense. Your advisor can coach you on how to present your arguments so that you feel comfortable addressing the panel during your hearing. Especially if your school does not allow your advisor to be present or speak during the hearing, you should take the time you have prior to the hearing to prepare with your advisor.
During the hearing, be respectful and civil. Don't let emotions overcome you, and stick to what you and your attorney went over together.
Filing an Appeal
If the hearing panel finds you responsible for a code of conduct violation, you may have the chance to file an appeal. Most Ohio schools have specific appeal procedures, so it's important you are familiar with them.
Typically, you will have between five and ten days to submit an appeal after the panel makes a decision. You will most likely have to submit some paperwork and craft a statement for the appeals board to review. An appeals board or decision-maker will review your appeal and come to a decision. Keep in mind that an appeal is not a second hearing. You probably will not have the chance to appear before the appeals board in person, so you must rely on your written statement.
Since you typically only have one chance to appeal, you must make it strategic. Working with a specialist can help ensure your appeal is solid.
What to Do If an Appeal Fails
If your appeal is not successful, you have three options remaining:
- File a complaint with the Ohio board of education.
- Have your lawyer consult with the school's legal team to find a resolution.
- Consider litigation against your school.
To pursue one of these three options, you will need the assistance of an attorney.
Rely on the Student Defense Expertise at the Lento Law Firm
Are you facing a code of conduct infraction process at your school and feeling overwhelmed?
Your Ohio college or university undoubtedly has high standards of behavior for its students. Understanding these expectations and knowing what constitutes a violation isn't always easy—codes of conduct can be highly nuanced or complex. It gets even more confusing when you are accused of a violation and don't fully comprehend the disciplinary process.
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't want you to feel like you're going through this situation alone. You shouldn't have to handle your school's complicated disciplinary procedures on your own. Instead, you can have a specialized student defense attorney by your side. Rely on an expert who's helped countless students in your same situation. Not only will having an attorney in your corner make you feel more at ease and confident in handling the process, but it will also signal to your school that you are taking the matter seriously.
When you are first accused of a code of conduct infraction, it may feel like your whole future is at risk. But it doesn't have to be. One mistake or misunderstanding shouldn't derail your progress toward your degree or your future after college. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has worked on student conduct cases for years in Ohio and across the United States, giving him the knowledge and experience needed to help you deal with your school. From the investigative procedure through to the appeal submission, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will provide the support and assistance you need.
Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation and start taking steps to protect your future.
Ohio colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's code of conduct advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Allegheny Wesleyan College
- American Institute of Alternative Medicine
- Antonelli College Cincinnati
- Art Academy of Cincinnati
- Ashland University
- ATS Institute of Technology
- Aultman College of Nursing and Health Sciences
- Baldwin Wallace College
- Beckfield College Tri County
- Belmont Technical College
- Bluffton University
- Bowling Green State University Firelands
- Bowling Green State University Main Campus
- Bradford School
- Brown Mackie College Akron
- Brown Mackie College Cincinnati
- Brown Mackie College Findlay
- Brown Mackie College North Canton
- Bryant & Stratton College Cleveland
- Bryant and Stratton College Eastlake
- Bryant and Stratton College Parma
- Capital University
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cedarville University
- Central Ohio Technical College
- Central State University
- Chamberlain College of Nursing Ohio
- Chancellor University
- Chatfield College
- Cincinnati Christian University
- Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science
- Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
- Clark State Community College
- Cleveland Institute of Art
- Cleveland Institute of Music
- Cleveland State University
- College of Mount St. Joseph
- Columbus College of Art and Design
- Columbus State Community College
- Cuyahoga Community College District
- Davis College
- Daymar College Chillicothe
- Daymar College Jackson
- Daymar College Lancaster
- Daymar College New Boston
- Defiance College
- Denison University
- DeVry University Ohio
- Eastern Gateway Community College
- Edison State Community College
- ETI Technical College
- Fortis College Centeville
- Fortis College Cincinnati
- Fortis College Columbus
- Fortis College Cuyahoga Falls
- Fortis College Ravenna
- Franciscan University of Steubenville
- Franklin University
- Gallipolis Career College
- Gods Bible School and College
- Good Samaritan College of Nursing & Health Science
- Harrison College Grove City
- Heidelberg University
- Herzing University Akron Campus
- Herzing University Toledo
- Hiram College
- Hocking College
- Hondros College
- International College of Broadcasting
- ITT Technical Institute Akron
- ITT Technical Institute Columbus
- ITT Technical Institute Dayton
- ITT Technical Institute Hilliard
- ITT Technical Institute Maumee
- ITT Technical Institute Norwood
- ITT Technical Institute Strongsville
- ITT Technical Institute Warrensville Heights
- ITT Technical Institute Youngstown
- James A Rhodes State College
- John Carroll University
- Kent State University at Ashtabula
- Kent State University at East Liverpool
- Kent State University at Geauga
- Kent State University at Kent
- Kent State University at Salem
- Kent State University at Stark
- Kent State University at Trumbull
- Kent State University at Tuscarawas
- Kenyon College
- Kettering College of Medical Arts
- Lake Erie College
- Lakeland Community College
- Lincoln College of Technology Cleveland
- Lincoln College of Technology Columbus
- Lincoln College of Technology Dayton
- Lincoln College of Technology Franklin LCT
- Lincoln College of Technology Toledo
- Lincoln College of Technology Tri County
- Lincoln College of Technology Vine Street
- Lorain County Community College
- Lourdes University
- Malone University
- Marietta College
- Marion Technical College
- Mercy College of Ohio
- Miami University
- Miami University Hamilton
- Miami University Middletown
- Miami Jacobs Career College
- Miami Jacobs Career College Columbus
- Miami Jacobs Career College Dayton
- Miami Jacobs Career College Sharonville
- Miami Jacobs Career College Springboro
- Miami Jacobs Career College Troy
- Mount Carmel College of Nursing
- Mount Vernon Nazarene University
- Muskingum University
- National College Cincinnati
- National College Columbus
- National College Dayton
- National College Stow
- National College Willoughby Hills
- National College Youngstown
- North Central State College
- Northwest State Community College
- Notre Dame College
- Oberlin College
- Ohio Business College Columbus
- Ohio Business College Sandusky
- Ohio Business College Sheffield
- Ohio Christian University
- Ohio College of Massotherapy Inc
- Ohio Dominican University
- Ohio Mid Western College
- Ohio Northern University
- Ohio State University
- Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute
- Ohio State University Lima Campus
- Ohio State University Mansfield Campus
- Ohio State University Marion Campus
- Ohio State University Newark Campus
- Ohio University Chillicothe Campus
- Ohio University Eastern Campus
- Ohio University Lancaster Campus
- Ohio University Main Campus
- Ohio University Southern Campus
- Ohio University Zanesville Campus
- Ohio Valley College of Technology
- Ohio Wesleyan University
- Otterbein University
- Owens Community College
- Pontifical College Josephinum
- Professional Skills Institute
- Rabbinical College Telshe
- Remington College Cleveland Campus
- Remington College Cleveland West Campus
- Rosedale Bible College
- Sanford Brown College Middleburg Heights,
- School of Advertising Art Inc.
- Shawnee State University
- Sinclair Community College
- Southern State Community College
- Stark State College
- Stautzenberger College Brecksville
- Stautzenberger College Maumee
- Terra State Community College
- The Art Institute of Cincinnati
- The Art Institute of Ohio Cincinnati
- The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences
- The College of Wooster
- The University of Findlay
- Tiffin University
- Tri State Bible College
- Trumbull Business College
- Union Institute & University
- University of Akron Main Campus
- University of Akron Wayne College
- University of Cincinnati Clermont College
- University of Cincinnati Main Campus
- University of Cincinnati Raymond Walters College
- University of Dayton
- University of Mount Union
- University of Northwestern Ohio
- University of Phoenix Cincinnati Campus
- University of Phoenix Cleveland Campus
- University of Phoenix Columbus Ohio Campus
- University of Rio Grande
- University of Toledo
- Urbana University
- Ursuline College
- Vatterott College Cleveland
- Virginia Marti College of Art and Design
- Walsh University
- Washington State Community College
- Wilberforce University
- Wilmington College
- Wittenberg University
- Wright State University Lake Campus
- Wright State University Main Campus
- Xavier University
- Youngstown State University
- Zane State College