Students at New Jersey's Montclair State University are under a rigorous and extensive Code of Conduct. The code of conduct covers everything from academic dishonesty through how to behave within a Residence Hall. Montclair State's Student Code of Conduct is meant to establish community regulations and rules which preserve the safety and well being of all Montclair State students. The university takes the well being of its students very seriously, thus, many of the sanctions for violations can be harsh. Many code violations even carry a potential penalty of expulsion. You or your student should not have to forfeit an education and because of an honest mistake.
In order for the disciplinary process to get started, a complaint must be filed against a student which details the incident. Complaints can be filed by anyone from the Montclair State community, and are to be made to the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Residence Life or University Police. From here, a Conduct Officer will respond to the complaint and, if necessary, will charge the student with violations. The Conduct Officer will also notify the student via email.
Students who are under accusations for code violations may be subject to interim suspension, if the University Director of Student Conduct deems it necessary, based upon the violations. Students will also be given a Conduct Conference Meeting to discuss the complaint, the disciplinary process, and potential resolutions for it. There are three ways a complain can be resolved:
- Mediation: Mediation can be suggested by the Conduct Officer as a way of resolving the complaint through non-disciplinary means, and will have the complainant and the respondent (accused student) resolve the dispute cooperatively.
- University Administrative Hearing: An administrative hearing is run by the Conduct Officer, and involves the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses. The Conduct Officer will arrive at a decision following this hearing.
- University Panel Hearing: If the Conduct Officer chooses to assign the student to a University Panel Hearing, the student will be subject to a process that can be likened to an informal trial. Cases involving a potential sanction of expulsion will likely be reviewed by a panel. Also cases involving allegations of harassment, dating/relationship violence, or sexual violence, are automatically subject to review by University Panel.
University Panel Hearing Procedures
The Montclair State University Hearing Panel will usually be made up of two faculty members, two administrators, and one graduate student. The hearing panel will come to a decision based on a "preponderance of information," meaning that there must simply be sufficient evidence against the respondent to show likelihood that a violation has been committed. University Hearing Panel will take a vote to make a decision, as well as any proper sanctions to be imposed. An attorney's presence is welcome at a University Panel Hearing, and your attorney can remain at your side throughout the duration of the meeting.
Montclair State University Sanctions
Montclair State University will impose disciplinary sanctions if an accused student is found responsible for violating the University's Code of Conduct. Factors considered by the University in determining sanctions include, but are not limited to, the following criteria: (1) present demeanor and past disciplinary record of the student, (2) the nature of the offense(s)/violation(s), (3) severity of any damage, injury, or harm resulting from it as perceived by the victim and/or appropriate Montclair State University officials, (4) Montclair State University precedent for similar violations, (5) mitigating or aggravating factors identified by student and/or witnesses. The (ab)use of alcohol and/or illegal substances is considered an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor. More severe sanctions will be imposed for violations of the Code of Conduct motivated by illegal bias. Expulsion, suspension, or lesser penalties as deemed appropriate will be imposed for repeated or aggravated violations of any provisions of the Code of Conduct. Possible sanctions include:
- University Warning
- University Probation
- University Suspension
- University Expulsion
"Sanction Stipulations" can also be imposed at the discretion of the Conduct Officer or University Hearing Panel, and more than one Sanction Stipulation may be imposed for a single violation. Sanction Stipulations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Loss of Campus Privileges
- Community Restitution Projects and/or Educational Assignments
- Financial Restitution
- Academic Holds and Restrictions
- Revocation of Admission and/or Degree
- Withholding Degree
Regretfully, some Montclair State University students, despite their and their parents' best intentions, proceed with the University disciplinary process without a full understanding of the possible consequences, both immediate and long-term. Those unfamiliar with the realities of the disciplinary process often do not realize until it may be too late that Montclair State University imposes suspensions and expulsions as a sanction more often than would be expected; even in disciplinary matters that may seem to be less serious. The stakes are very high, and some consequences are unforeseen; even sanctions lesser than suspension or expulsion can greatly jeopardize a student's academic and professional goals.
Montclair State University sanctions for Title IX sexual misconduct violations, which include sexual harassment and sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence, will always be severe, and Title IX sexual misconduct violations can have lifetime consequences. Montclair State University will also promptly impose interim measures as deemed necessary to protect the complainant before the final outcome of a Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceeding involving Dating, Relationship or Sexual Misconduct or Violence.
Experience Matters - An Experienced Attorney's Role When Representing a Montclair State University Student
Montclair State University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Code of Conduct disciplinary violations and/or academic misconduct charges are filed in certain instances. If charges have already been filed against a student, the accused student's attorney, also in certain instances, will be able to serve as an advocate between Montclair State University, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after Code of Conduct charges and/or academic integrity charges are filed, in working towards the prospect of an agreeable resolution, the extent of an attorney's involvement will be at the discretion of Montclair State University. Every student's case is unique; an experienced attorney will understand what the University may be receptive to, and will approach the matter accordingly.
An attorney's involvement at Montclair State University in matters involving Code of Student Conduct charges and/or academic disciplinary charges should not be confused with Montclair State University disciplinary cases involving Title IX sexual misconduct allegations. In Title IX student disciplinary proceedings, an experienced attorney must work both as the point of contact between the accused student and Montclair State University as well as behind the scenes to defend against sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations.
An experienced student discipline defense attorney will understand and use the most effective strategies when handling a student's case at Montclair State University.
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students may file appeals to review the decisions made from hearings. Montclair State University appeals can be filed in response to failure to follow proper procedure throughout hearings, unfair or overly severe sanctions, or in the event that the student has additional information that was not available at the time of the hearing that would have otherwise swayed the outcome. Letters of appeal must be made in writing and sent to the University Director of Student Conduct, and must be submitted within three days of the delivery of the sanctions letter. A late appeal will not be considered. Successful appeals can result in changed sanctions or a new outcome, including dismissal of charges. Sanctions can never become more severe based on an appeal. Time is of the essence for the appellate process, so students will want to act fast in the event of a poor outcome.
What Can You Do?
If you or a your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Montclair State University, there is no need to let the clock run out on properly defending yourself. Don't let a mistake jeopardize your future, contact university student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.