Getting ready to attend college or university in New York?
Between selecting a major, wrapping up your previous studies, purchasing everything you may need for a dorm room, and reaching out to prospective classmates, there's likely a lot on your to-do list.
One thing that might not be on your mind is checking out your school's code of conduct. Your school may have sent you this document as part of an onboarding package; it's a long, confusing document that may exist as part of your school's student handbook. Alternatively, it may be available on your school's website.
Why do you need to review this document? One of your goals in attending your New York school is to achieve your degree. In order to graduate, you'll need to complete a wide array of academic choices. This probably does not come as a surprise.
You will also need to follow your school's regulations for the duration of your college career. If you don't, you may render yourself at risk of discipline for a code of conduct infraction. Depending on the discipline you experience, your college timeline could be disrupted. You may even find that your degree itself is in jeopardy.
Fortunately, the situation may not be as dire as it seems. You do have to make sure that you're informed to make sure that you don't accidentally break your school's code of conduct. In the event that you find yourself in an adversarial position with your school or on the receiving end of harsh discipline, it's also key that you have a plan. New York school disciplinary hearings can be bewildering. Negotiating with your school may not be in your wheelhouse.
At the Lento Law Firm, it's our goal to make sure that you have all of the information you need to achieve your degree with minimal hiccups. In this guide, we'll present all of the information that New York college students need to know about code of conduct infractions. We'll begin with an overview of the types of behaviors that college codes of conduct tend to prohibit.
New York Code of Conduct Infractions: Academic Dishonesty, Sexual Misconduct, and General Disciplinary Issues
What is academic dishonesty? Is sexual misconduct covered in your school's regular student handbook or under another policy? What about code of conduct infractions that don't fit into either one of those categories?
In this section, we'll discuss the answers to these questions and more.
What types of actions will my New York school define as academic misconduct?
As opposed to academic struggles and concerns, academic misconduct connotes specific actions that break the rules your school has in place to ensure a fair academic experience for anyone. For example, if you cheat or plagiarize (and don't get caught), you may enjoy an unfair advantage over your peers in the academic arena.
For this reason, many schools consider illicit access of testing materials, unauthorized collaboration, destruction of school property, tampering with another student's academic materials, and data fabrication (as well as cheating and plagiarism) to be academic dishonesty worthy of sanctions.
It's also key to note that your school may not discriminate or consider specific responsibility when adjudicating academic misconduct. For example, if you are caught helping another student cheat (or if another student uses your materials to cheat), your school may consider you just as responsible.
Sanctions for academic integrity infractions can vary widely. Your instructor may simply flunk you (for an assignment or for an entire course). They may also recommend you to the administration for more in-depth investigation and steeper sanctions.
What will my school consider punishable sexual misconduct?
It's always a good idea to check with your specific NY school's code of conduct, as the definitions of specific actions can vary.
A good starting list of actions that most schools will prohibit as sexual misconduct includes:
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sexual exploitation
Your school's code of conduct may provide a lot of information about sexual misconduct, or it may defer to a distinct Title IX policy. Title IX is a federal rights law that helps schools as they oversee sexual discrimination and misconduct. However, its interpretation is constantly in flux. Your school may decide to adjudicate your case under its code of conduct policy instead. While this may be more convenient for some, there are some benefits (such as increased protections) that the accused may enjoy under an official Title IX case.
Speak with your student defense attorney-advisor as soon as you receive an allegation of sexual misconduct to learn more about the specific regulations at your school.
What about prohibited behaviors that aren't expressly sexual or academic?
Although academic dishonesty and sexual misconduct tend to represent a large fraction of code of conduct issues, there are other general behaviors that just don't seem to fit in those categories. A sampling of these other prohibited behaviors could include:
- Possession, consumption, or distribution of alcohol. New York law is very strict about underage consumption; as a result, most New York codes of conduct will expressly prohibit it.
- Possession, consumption, or distribution of controlled substances. Likewise, your code of conduct may include an explicit list of prohibited drugs on campus, including recreational prescription medications, narcotics, and steroids.
- Hazing: If your school's social groups (ranging from sports teams to Greek life) tend to perform elaborate introductory rituals for new members, you may want to check your school's policies. In recent years, many schools across the nation have begun to prohibit embarrassing, painful, or hateful hazing activities.
- Residential misconduct: Living in a campus dormitory is many students' first experience living on their own, away from home. To help get ahead of any dangerous situations that could occur, your school should have an extensive list of prohibited activities and behaviors in your dorms, with the general intention of keeping everyone safe. For example, your New York college or university could have a ban on assault, fighting, and the destruction of any personal property within the dorm environment.
- Hate crimes. If you commit an offense that could be connected to the victim's race, color, religion, sexual orientation, age, or gender, that offense could easily be interpreted as a hate crime. Hate crimes are typically perceived as far worse than the specific offense themselves and can do a lot of permanent damage to the reputations of all involved.
This list of more general code of conduct infractions is not exhaustive, and your school may have unique prohibited behaviors listed in its documentation.
Your school's processes for investigating and adjudicating all code of conduct infractions will likely begin once the administration hears of your alleged actions.
How Will My New York School Handle My Code of Conduct Adjudication?
After someone—anyone from an alleged victim to an instructor to an apparently uninvolved bystander—makes an allegation of misconduct against you to your school's administration, your school will launch its due process systems.
One extremely important thing to note is that your action upfront is vital. Even before it seems like you're in much trouble, it's in your best interest to find and hire an aggressive student defense attorney. Your school will go through investigative, adjudicative, and disciplinary phases of due process. Cases are often lost and won in that initial investigative phase. Once you realize that you may be involved in a code of conduct situation with your school, call an attorney. You won't regret this quick-thinking action.
The specific investigative and adjudicative events you experience may vary slightly from school to school, but largely speaking, you can likely expect some version of the following:
- A notification from your school. Your school will send you a note to inform you of the allegations against you and invite you to any investigative activities (like a meeting with an investigator) or any adjudicative activities (like a disciplinary hearing). If you haven't already, now's a good time to reach out to a student defense advisor. Additionally, it's a good time to stay quiet. You may feel like reaching out to a trusted advisor or your group of friends. Unfortunately, by doing so, you may accidentally say something that could hurt you later. It's much better to keep to yourself during this time.
- Your school's investigation. Your school will take some time to learn about the alleged infraction. During the investigation, you and your advisor can have meetings with the investigators, gather evidence, and make sure you have solid witness statements.
- A disciplinary hearing. During this hearing, you'll have a chance to present your side of the story. A board of school officials will hear it, review evidence, interview witnesses, and ultimately determine responsibility. At the end of this hearing, your school will also issue recommendations for a sanction. Your school may not allow an advisor to be in the hearing with you, but your advisor can prepare you, coach you, and make sure you're comfortable delivering needed information. Additionally, your school will take you far more seriously if they know you have an attorney working on your side.
You'll receive sanctions at the end of this process, which can, in theory, range from a verbal warning to dismissal from your school. In practice, the most common sanction is suspension. However, this is still a very big deal.
Why? If you receive a suspension, then, by definition, you won't be attending school for some time. As a result, there will be a gap in your transcript. Later, when you go to apply to another school, a prized internship, or even the job of your dreams, the committee considering your application will notice that gap and require an explanation. That conversation will not go well. You probably won't be awarded that opportunity, however fair or otherwise that may seem.
In order to make sure that you have every opportunity later in life, you need to work now to make sure that your reputation (and your transcript) is clear.
One of the first actions you may be able to take after the hearing to move towards a favorable outcome is the filing of an appeal.
How to file an appeal at your New York school
If you're filing an appeal, the first thing you need to do is figure out the strongest rationale possible for doing so. Your student defense advisor can help you with this decision. For example, in your appeal, you may demonstrate that your school did not follow its own stated due process regulations during your adjudicative experience. If there is more relevant information that has come to light since the investigation, you may be able to rely on that to open your negotiations with your school.
While your school's processes may differ, typically, you'll write up an argument and file it with a representative official at your school. This is often the Dean of Students. You will likely need to do this in a very short period of time after your school issues its preliminary decisions at your disciplinary hearing. You'll also only have one short at an appeal: After you make your appeal, your school's decision to stay with the initial sanctions or consider new ones will be final. Since you don't have much time to work, it's imperative that you already have an advisor working with you at the time of your disciplinary hearing.
If your school decides that it doesn't want to reconsider your sanctions or otherwise doesn't seem willing to help you, your advisor may be able to help you discern alternative options.
For example, if you've already exhausted all apparent avenues toward relief at your school, you may be able to consider:
- Filing a complaint with the New York State education department. This governmental entity oversees all of the colleges and universities in your state. As a result, they might be able to exert some external pressure on your school to help convince your school that it's time to reconsider your sanctions. If that doesn't work, it'll still help you build a convincing case that you did as much as you could.
- Asking your lawyer to reach out to your school's office of general counsel. Often, your advisor will be able to help smooth things over simply by negotiating directly with your school's attorneys. You may find that this is the most effective step to get you where you want to be!
- If neither of these previous options has worked, it may be time to consider filing a lawsuit against your school. This strategy may feel dramatic, and it is. It will also get you results. Speak with your student defense attorney to assess whether you have the basis for a lawsuit. They will be able to help you determine the next best steps.
Experiencing a NY School Code of Conduct Adjudication Process? Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help
Whether you're just beginning your school's disciplinary procedures or you're wondering precisely how best to manage a strategic appeal, you may be feeling very overwhelmed at this point in time.
This makes sense. Your college probably has high expectations of you. Your school's code of conduct may clearly delineate what those expectations are. Unfortunately, codes of conduct can also be less clear and more confusing. This can make you feel that you have no idea what's going on, what could happen to you and your college career, and what you can do to influence the outcome.
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't believe that anyone should be floundering, especially when their future is on the line. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a practiced student defense professional who is ready to help you make sure that you have the best possible chance of a successful outcome. As a national code of conduct attorney, Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students in your exact situation. Now, he can help you, too, as you go through your school's investigative, adjudicative, and disciplinary processes.
Need help interpreting your school's code of conduct? Looking for assistance with delicate negotiations, reducing sanctions, or even just figuring out what to do next? That's where Joseph D. Lento can provide strategic support.
Reach out to attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or contact us online for timely assistance.
New York 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:
State University of New York (SUNY):
SUNY University Centers
- State University of New York at Buffalo
- Binghamton University
- Stony Brook University
- University at Albany, State University of New York
SUNY Technology College
- Alfred State College
- State University of New York at Canton
- State University of New York at Cobleskill
- State University of New York at Delhi
- State University of New York at Farmingdale
- State University of New York at Morrisville
- State University of New York Polytechnic Institute
- State University of New York Maritime College
SUNY Comprehensive Colleges
- Buffalo State College
- Empire State College, Saratoga Springs
- State University of New York at Brockport
- State University of New York at Cortland
- State University of New York at Fredonia
- State University of New York at Geneseo
- State University of New York at New Paltz
- State University of New York at Old Westbury
- State University of New York at Oswego
- State University of New York at Plattsburgh
- State University of New York at Potsdam
- Crane School of Music
- State University of New York at Purchase
SUNY Specialized Doctoral Granting Units
- State University of New York Downstate Medical Center
- State University of New York Upstate Medical University
- State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
- State University of New York State College of Optometry
SUNY Community Colleges
- Adirondack Community College
- Broome Community College
- Cayuga County Community College
- Clinton Community College
- Columbia-Greene Community College
- Corning Community College
- Dutchess Community College
- Erie Community College
- Fashion Institute of Technology
- Finger Lakes Community College
- Fulton-Montgomery Community College
- Genesee Community College
- Herkimer County Community College
- Hudson Valley Community College
- Jamestown Community College
- Jefferson Community College
- Mohawk Valley Community College
- Monroe Community College
- Nassau Community College
- Niagara County Community College
- North Country Community College
- Onondaga Community College
- Orange County Community College
- Rockland Community College
- Schenectady County Community College
- Suffolk County Community College
- Sullivan County Community College
- Tompkins Cortland Community College
- Ulster County Community College
- Westchester Community College
SUNY State-wide Colleges
- Empire State College
- SUNY Learning Network
CUNY Senior Colleges and Graduate Schools
- Baruch College
- Brooklyn College
- City College
- Sophie Davis - School of Biomedical Education; School of Professional Studies
- College of Staten Island
- CUNY Graduate Center
- CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
- CUNY Law School
- Hunter College
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice
- Lehman College
- Medgar Evers College
- New York City College of Technology at MetroTech
- Queens College
- Aaron Copland School of Music
- York College
CUNY Community Colleges
- Borough of Manhattan Community College
- Bronx Community College, University Heights
- Guttman Community College
- Hostos Community College
- Kingsborough Community College
- LaGuardia Community College
- Queensborough Community College
- United States Merchant Marine Academy (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- United States Military Academy (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
Private Colleges and Universities
- Adelphi University
- Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Alfred University
- American Museum of Natural History; Richard Gilder Graduate School
- Bank Street College of Education
- Bard College
- Barnard College
- Brooklyn Law School
- Cazenovia College
- Clarkson University
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; Watson School of Biological Sciences (graduate school)
- Colgate University
- Columbia University
- College of Dental Medicine
- Columbia Business School
- Columbia College
- Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
- Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
- Columbia Law School
- Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
- Graduate School of Journalism
- Mailman School of Public Health
- School of the Arts
- School of General Studies
- School of International and Public Affairs
- School of Social Work
- School of Nursing
- College of Physicians and Surgeons
- School of Professional Studies
- Cooper Union
- Cornell University
- Cornell Tech
- Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
- Weill Cornell Medicine
- Culinary Institute of America
- Daemen College
- Dowling College
- Elmira College
- Hamilton College
- Hartwick College
- Helene Fuld College of Nursing
- Hobart and William Smith Colleges
- Hofstra University
- Frank G. Zarb School of Business
- Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Ithaca College
- Juilliard School
- Keuka College
- Long Island University
- LIU Brooklyn
- LIU Post (formerly C.W. Post)
- Manhattan School of Music
- Manhattanville College
- Marymount Manhattan College
- Medaille College
- Mercy College
- Metropolitan College of New York
- Monroe College
- Bronx campus
- New Rochelle campus
- The New School
- College of Performing Arts
- Eugene Lang College, School for Liberal Arts
- Parsons School of Design
- School for Social Research
- The Schools of Public Engagement
- New York Chiropractic College
- New York Institute of Technology
- Central Islip campus
- Columbus Circle
- Old Westbury campus
- New York University
- College of Arts & Science
- Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
- Gallatin School of Individualized Study
- Institute of Fine Arts
- Liberal Studies
- School of Law
- School of Medicine
- Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
- Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
- School of Professional Studies
- School of Social Work
- Stern School of Business
- Tandon School of Engineering
- Tisch School of the Arts
- Pace University
- Manhattan campus
- Pleasantville campus
- White Plains campus
- Paul Smith's College
- Pratt Institute
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Sage Colleges
- Russell Sage College
- Sage College of Albany
- Sage Graduate Schools
- Sarah Lawrence College
- Skidmore College
- St. Lawrence University
- St. Thomas Aquinas College
- University of Rochester
- Eastman School of Music
- College of Arts Sciences and Engineering
- Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development
- Simon Business School
- Union College
- Utica College
- Vassar College
- Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology
- Villa Maria College
- Webb Institute
- Wells College
Private Colleges and Academies (For Profit)
- ASA College
- Downtown Brooklyn campus
- Midtown Manhattan campus
- White Plains campus
- Berkeley College
- Brooklyn campus
- Midtown Manhattan campus
- DeVry University
- Five Towns College
- Globe Institute of Technology
- LIM College (Laboratory Institute of Merchandising)
- New York Film Academy
Religious Affiliated/Oriented Private Institutions
- Canisius College
- College of Mount Saint Vincent
- College of New Rochelle
- College of St. Rose
- Concordia College
- Davis College
- Dominican College
- D'Youville College
- Fordham University
- Lincoln Center campus
- Rose Hill campus
- General Theological Seminary
- Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
- The Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music
- Hilbert College
- Houghton College
- Iona College
- Jewish Theological Seminary of America
- King's College
- Le Moyne College
- Manhattan College
- Marist College
- Molloy College
- Montefiore Medical Center and Yeshiva University
- Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Mount Saint Mary College
- Nazareth College
- New York Theological Seminary at The Interchurch Center
- Niagara University
- Nyack College
- Roberts Wesleyan College
- Siena College
- St. Bonaventure University
- St. Francis College
- St. John's University
- St. Joseph's College
- St. John Fisher College
- Syracuse University
- Touro College
- College of Osteopathic Medicine
- Lander College for Men
- Lander College for Women – The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School
- Lander Institute
- Law Center
- Trocaire College
- Union Theological Seminary
- Wagner College
- Yeshiva University
- Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
- Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
- Stern College for Women
- Sy Syms School of Business
- Yeshiva College