Providing Attorney-Advocate Services for Code of Conduct Violations at For-Profit Universities
The pursuit of a higher degree offers students a strong platform for the future. Your time at college or university will not only prepare you for the career of your choice – but for greater success in life. There's a good reason why Americans with a college education report they are happier, healthier, and enjoy a higher quality of life than those who end their education at the twelfth grade. College and university provide a wealth of opportunities to students that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
As a student at National University College (NUC) University, a for-profit university community with campuses in Puerto Rico and Florida, you have likely put blood, sweat, and tears into the pursuit of your academic degree or technical-vocational certificate. Yet, if you are accused of violating any of the rules published in NUC's formal code of conduct, the school's published set of ethical, legal, and professional standards for all members of the campus community, you may find all that hard work now at risk. As noted in NUC's Student Regulations Manual, “lack of awareness of standards and procedures” outlined in the code will not excuse you from potential penalty. It's important to read those regulations thoroughly to know what is expected of you.
Understanding Minor and Major Offenses
The NUC rules include a list of both minor and major offenses that may lead to sanctions by the university. For example, dressing inappropriately in the classroom, using social media to publish content without authorization from the Dean of Student Affairs, and smoking in closed areas of campus all constitute minor offenses that may result in penalties ranging from a verbal reprimand to a one-year suspension of participation in extracurricular activities. If such violations occur more than once, you may be looking at even stronger sanctions – probation or even suspension.
If you have received a notice of violation for a minor offense, you have three business days to submit a written explanation that details the situation for the school's review. Afterward, you will likely be invited to meet with the Director of Student Affairs or Coordinator of Student Services for an interview. That meeting is particularly important: it is where you will hear about the evidence against you, as well as the possible sanctions that may apply. The outcome of that conversation may determine whether you can reconcile the situation on the spot or will be referred to a disciplinary committee for a further hearing.
The procedures for a major sanction are slightly different – a hearing of some sort is all but guaranteed. And for good reason: the actions and conducts in this category include academic misconduct like lack of honesty and plagiarism, as well as offenses including possession of drugs, bearing firearms, and engaging in sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. In these cases, NUC's Coordinator of Student Services will convene a disciplinary committee to review each case and come up with the appropriate punishment. In cases where there the school can prove there's been a violation of a major offense, students are likely looking at suspension or permanent expulsion from the institution.
In these situations, you will also engage in an interview with a member of the administration, as will all parties who may be involved in the alleged offense. If the Director of Student Affairs or Coordinator of Student Services determines that there was a possible violation of a major offense, they will then refer the matter to their direct supervisor or to the Dean of Academics. From there, a disciplinary committee will be convened to adjudicate the matter.
Know Your Rights
It is important to understand that a disciplinary committee hearing is not the same as an appearance in an official court of law. You may have come to expect that you have certain rights to protect you, including due process, representation, and self-incrimination protections. While NUC does have published institutional policies to govern its judicial proceedings, they are not always followed to the letter. Schools have a remarkable amount of leeway when it comes to maintaining code of conduct standards – and some missteps can and do occur. Unfortunately, when such procedures are not closely followed, the outcome usually comes at the expense of the student's rights.
That's why it is so important to have the advice of an attorney-advocate with many years' experience in college and university code of conduct hearings if you do find yourself accused of a violation. The NUC code of conduct states that all students have the right to “receive guidance and support in cases where the student's safety is in jeopardy.” But it does not include any specific wording with regard to what rights you have if you are accused of a violation. Far too often, for-profit schools tend to rush proceedings so they can keep your tuition while denying you your rights. With an experienced advisor to guide you from your initial written statement to your full hearing, you are in a much better position to ensure that any minor offense results in a minor sanction that will not impact your permanent academic record.
An Advisor You Can Trust
If you are charged with a minor or major code of conduct violation at NUC, it is important to reach out to an experienced lawyer immediately. With so much at stake, this is not a situation you want to leave to chance – and certainly not one you should ignore or try to talk your way out of. With consequences ranging from loss of school privileges to permanent expulsion, having a trusted advisor who can guide you throughout the entire disciplinary process can help ensure you end up with the most favorable outcome, protecting both your reputation and your tuition dollars.
Joseph D. Lento, of the Lento Law Firm, is an attorney with national experience representing students who have been accused of code of conduct violations, including at for-profit universities like NUC. When you have an advocate in your corner from the very beginning, you are in a much better position to understand your rights, prepare a strong defense, and, ultimately, protect your degree – and your future.
For many years, attorney-advocate Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have successfully defended thousands of students across the nation facing various code of conduct allegations. They can help you favorably resolve any allegations made against you, too. With your future at stake, you need an experienced lawyer who will stand up and fight on your behalf. To schedule a confidential consultation, call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online.