At this point, nearly all of the schools in the U.S. have been emptied to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This has had two repercussions for disciplinary violations on college campuses:
- It has moved existing and already pending disciplinary actions into an online hearing model
- It has drastically reduced the number of new claims of disciplinary violations
Pending Disciplinary Actions Move Online
In an attempt to stop the exponential growth of COVID-19, colleges quickly closed and sent tens of thousands of students home to their families, starting early in March. Getting students out of dormitory living situations, where infectious diseases spread rapidly and are then taken home during breaks and the summer, was one of the top public health priorities when the coronavirus reached America.
For students who had already been accused of violating their school's code of conduct, going home does not mean that their case is over. It just means that the normal method of investigating these cases has gotten far more complex.
Typically, disciplinary violations like hazing or underage drinking are investigated internally by the school. That investigation often revolves heavily around conflicting testimony from the accused student and either the alleged victim or the staff or faculty members claiming to have evidence of the violation – often the department of housing or residential life. In-person hearings are often conducted to determine whose side of the story is correct.
With campuses closed and empty, though, in-person hearings are not possible.
Instead, as many schools have begun to realize that their students like aren't returning this semester, these hearings are starting to get scheduled for online teleconferences.
The problem with doing evidentiary hearings on a video chat or through Skype is that it makes credibility determinations even less reliable. Trustworthiness and honesty are already difficult to express when dealing with someone, face-to-face. Portraying them on a screen can be even trickier. For students facing groundless accusations of a disciplinary violation, this can make their uphill battle even steeper, and that is why having an attorney-advisor with the requisite experience and resources to effectively and successfully represent those accused is critical to in an effort to ensure a fair process and a favorable outcome.
Very Few New Disciplinary Cases
The good thing about the campus closures is that new disciplinary violations have been nearly unheard of for the past few weeks. Without students on campus and in the dormitories, there is no one there to violate the codes of conduct and no one to report violations, were they to happen.
Without the steady influx of new cases that happens throughout the school year, once the existing cases get resolved there will be few that have to go through an inherently unreliable internet-based investigation.
Joseph D. Lento: A Defense Lawyer for Disciplinary Violations
If you have been accused of a disciplinary violation at your college, the ramifications of a finding of guilt should not be overlooked. They can drastically impact your college career, including where you live and even if you graduate.
Defending against the allegation can take the help of a lawyer. Joseph D. Lento has stood at the side of numerous students accused of wrongdoing and violating their school's code of conduct. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.