Bryant & Stratton College is based in Buffalo, New York. The school, which began as the Bryant & Stratton National Business College, has a colorful history dating back to the 1850s and is still controlled by the family of its co-founder, John Collins Bryant.
Today, B&S has several campuses in New York State (two each in Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse, plus three in the Buffalo area). It also maintains three Virginia campuses (Hampton, Richmond, and Virginia Beach), four in Ohio (Akron, Cleveland, Parma, and Solon), and three in the Milwaukie, Wis., metro area (Glendale, Mt. Pleasant, and Wauwatosa).
The Bryant & Stratton Student Code of Conduct contains lengthy explanations of Prohibited Conduct, Complaint Resolution and the disciplinary process in the Student Life section of the official catalog.
Like most universities, B & S prohibits academic misconduct, including:
- inappropriate collaboration or otherwise gaining an unfair advantage in a course;
- using any course materials for which distribution and use has been specifically prohibited by the instructor;
- the use of any unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations;
- use of sources beyond those authorized by the instructor in writing papers, preparing reports, solving problems, or carrying out other assignments;
- the acquisition, without permission, of tests or other academic material belonging to a member of the College faculty or staff;
- theft of another student or person's academic work;
- engaging in any behavior specifically prohibited by a faculty member in the course syllabus or class discussion;
- plagiarism, including:
- self-plagiarism, or reusing significant, identical, or nearly identical portions of his or her own work without acknowledging that one is doing so or without citing the original work;
- the use of purchased reports or other material represented as the student's work;
- the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear attribution; and
- the unattributed use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.
Outside of the classroom, the school unsurprisingly prohibits other misconduct, such as theft, classroom or campus disruption, improper use of computers, and the like. But the school also prohibits “online posting of defamatory content about the Bryant & Stratton community,” and “engaging in conduct that reflects poorly upon the College.”
Bryant & Stratton appears to take a dim view of student participation in demonstrations. It calls out authorized or unauthorized events, held either on-campus or off-campus, which would disrupt or obstruct “teaching, research, administration, disciplinary actions, or other College activity.” These activities also cannot obstruct the “free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic” at school-sponsored events or on campuses.
With sweeping categories like these, a student might easily find themselves accused of misconduct, and then sanctioned for speaking out about it.
School management categorizes several types of complaints and handles each differently:
- A Grievance Procedure is prompted by a student's complaint against a faculty member, administrator, or student who works at the school. This may include harassment, discrimination, or other concerns.
- A separate Grade Appeal Procedure is for disputing grades for a course or assignment, unless some type of unlawful discrimination has occurred. (This procedure is mentioned but not explained in the online catalog.)
- A Disciplinary Procedure begins when there are allegations of misconduct about a student, brought by another student, faculty member, or an administrator. Only a College Grievance Coordinator can initiate this procedure.
On every B&S campus, there is a designated Grievance Coordinator, and one for online students; it is most often either the Dean of Student Services or Dean of Instruction. However, if a complaint involves sexual harassment or assault, stalking, or domestic violence, these are handled by a Title IX Coordinator, not through the standard grievance or disciplinary process.
School policy states that its procedures “are not intended to provide constitutional due process to students as would be required by a public institution.” It says it will “attempt to resolve all disciplinary matters, promptly, fairly, and impartially,” but acknowledges this could take “at least one month, and possibly longer.”
Your Role in a Grievance Procedure
If you are the subject of a complaint, the school suggests attempting informal resolution, which begins with the Grievance Coordinator.
If the complainants feel an informal resolution is unlikely or has been unsuccessful, they can file a formal complaint “within 30 calendar days of the event complained of” with the Grievance Coordinator.
The school specifically mentions that an attorney “is not an appropriate representative for any party,” but coordinating your response to a complaint with a skilled student defense attorney-advisor is absolutely in your best interest.
The Grievance Coordinator's job is to take the complaint, present it to the subject of the complaint, and provide them the opportunity to respond, also in writing, within five business days. The Coordinator then conducts an investigation, which can take a month or so, and another 10 days to issue a decision, or “written disposition.”
Not satisfied with the disposition? An appeal must be filed within 10 business days after you've received it, to the Campus Director, who has 20 business days to respond. The Campus Director's decision is final.
Your Role in a Disciplinary Procedure
The Grievance Coordinator receives a written report within 14 days of a situation that might require disciplinary action. The Grievance Coordinator might set up a meeting with you and the person who filed the complaint to see if things can be resolved informally.
If the allegation is more serious, you'll receive a Charging Letter from the Grievance Coordinator, outlining the specific violations against you with a deadline to respond. The Campus Director might also opt to suspend you in the interim—again, depending on the allegation.
Your response must be in writing. You'll need to gather evidence to support your position and request a hearing by a Code of Conduct Committee, made up of “one to three” College employees.
If you don't respond on time, don't attend the hearing, or are found guilty of the allegation, you risk any of a list of sanctions, including expulsion.
Need Some Advice?
Bryant & Stratton College states outright that it discourages students from seeking legal counsel in tough situations, and does not guarantee due process. These are red flags not uncommon in higher education. Schools guard their reputations by trying to keep disputes strictly internal.
However, this does nothing to protect your reputation! For that, you can rely on the Lento Law Firm. Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience helping students defeat misconduct allegations and other education-related issues. Contact him online or at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.