As a college student in Nebraska (or the parent of one), there's likely a lot on your plate. Between the challenging courses that you're taking, the relationships you're building, and the things that you're learning about yourself, there's a lot going on.
However, you know that it's all going to be worth it. At the end of your college career, you're going to unlock your college degree. This degree will help you embark on the career of your dreams — and, ultimately, a future that you get to spend being successful, doing what you love.
It's tough to imagine the alternative, but let's take a minute to think about what could happen if you don't get that degree. What would happen if something were to disrupt your graduation or even stain your reputation and record so that you weren't able to ace interviews and get jobs in your future?
If anything like that happens, you might find yourself on the hook for student loans, the requirement to retake courses, and more without actually achieving the degree that you're looking for.
Unfortunately, it can be far easier than you may think to be involved in a situation that results in life-long ramifications. Consider what might happen if:
- Someone makes allegations of sexual misconduct against you
- You're involved in plagiarism, cheating, fabrication of data, or unauthorized access to testing materials
- Your educator claims that you're failing to progress academically as is expected and refers you to the administration for sanctions
- Someone alleges that you're involved in violence in your school's residence halls
If any of these events (and many others) occur, you may be stuck with sanctions that affect the rest of your life. This may even be the case if the allegations against you are the result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding.
At the Lento Law Firm, we don't believe that you should be on the hook for sanctions like that, particularly if you're innocent. That's why we provide timely, strategic student defense and support during disciplinary negotiations at schools in Nebraska. If you or a loved one is getting involved in tense, confusing adjudicative processes, it's time to retain an attorney. These scenarios can spiral out of control before you know it!
Bookmark this page for later use (trust us—you'll be glad you have this resource later), and let's dive in. What does a Nebraska college student need to know to protect their rights and their reputation in the event of misconduct, academic issues, or other collegiate concerns?
What Private and Public Colleges and Universities Are in Nebraska?
No matter which of Nebraska's fine academic institutions you attend, you're in good company. Here's a brief overview of some of the colleges and universities in Nebraska:
Public schools in Nebraska
- University of Nebraska
- Chadron State College
- Peru State College
- Wayne State College
- Purdue University Global
With over 26,000 students, the University of Nebraska is by far one of the largest academic systems in the state. As this is the case, it sets the standard, in many ways, for the way schools in Nebraska write and implement their disparate codes of conduct.
Throughout this helpful guide, whenever we need an illustrative example to properly punctuate a point, we'll reference the code of conduct at the University of Nebraska. Its policies should be somewhat universal. However, it's always a good idea to check your own school's policies, as every school likely has at least a few stipulations that are totally unique. Your student defense attorney can help you learn the special rules and regulations that may be in effect at your school.
Next, we'll take a brief look at the private academic institutions in Nebraska.
Private schools in Nebraska
- Creighton University
- Nebraska Wesleyan University
- College of St. Mary
- Concordia University, Nebraska
- Doane University
- Union College (Nebraska)
- Hastings College
We'll take a moment here to state one salient point about private schools. Many people think that private schools simply don't have to follow the same rules as public academic institutions. While it is true that many privately-funded schools have a little more leeway in how they operate, there are fundamental rules (specifically those regarding student safety) that all schools will likely implement in some way.
For example, almost all schools in the United States will follow the guidelines of Title IX, a federal regulation regarding the way schools need to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. At the very least, schools will want to provide their students with a competitive, standardized experience—and even schools that don't now receive or require federal funding will want to remain open to the possibility of receiving funding in the future.
That said, let's take a moment to go over some of the specific laws and government bodies that oversee the ways that schools in Nebraska must operate:
Statewide Higher Education Laws and Government Bodies in Nebraska
- Rule 41 from the Nebraska Department of Education contains regulations that govern the way private postsecondary career schools can operate
- Nebraska’s Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education oversees program creation and more for public colleges and universities
- Title II, the Higher Education Act within the Nebraska State Legislature, provides regulations that all schools in Nebraska should follow
- Nebraska is in the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. This court may see cases, from time to time, that could relate to events occurring at your college (e.g., collegiate sexual discrimination cases). The opinion the court issues could have an impact on the way your school adjudicates these types of cases, so it's worth keeping an eye on while you attend a Nebraska school.
What Does “Failure to Progress” Mean at My Nebraska School? What Will Happen if I'm Failing to Progress?
Failure to progress can be a frustrating thing to see on a note from your teacher or school, particularly because it's a little vague. Particularly if you know you're struggling, this notation can make it feel like your school is adding insult to injury.
Your school may make understanding this designation more difficult by leaving it up to your teacher. If your professor believes, for any reason, that you're not measuring up to some type of standard or ideal, they have the power to escalate your case to the administration and make your life far more difficult than it should be.
Here are some examples of actions that could merit this type of attention from your educator or from your school:
- Failing to prepare specific (required) materials for courses or labs
- Repeatedly withdrawing from courses
- Repeatedly or consistently low grades in your coursework
- Repeatedly earning incompletes in courses
- Failing to take an adequate or minimum number of credits for either your program or your specific student status
- Failing to do the background reading for your courses
- Failing to do everything that is required for your course (e.g., as denoted in your course curriculum)
It's key to realize that this is hardly an exhaustive list. If you and your teacher don't have a great relationship, it could feel like just about anything might merit a suggestion from your teacher that you're simply not good enough to continue on in their class—or even at your school.
No matter the rationale, you need to realize that this is a big deal. You can't just try to ignore these statements. Whether this results in a failing grade, a failed class, or even a suspension, your designation as a student that's failing to progress could have a big impact on your future.
If you believe that a failure to progress or other type of academic concern could be in your future, you need to work with a student defense advisor to make sure that your situation doesn't get very serious very quickly. This may feel like an overreaction. Trust us; it isn't. These situations can get very ugly very fast, and you're going to want to be prepared when the rubber meets the road.
What Are Code of Conduct Infractions?
Failure to progress and other academic issues and concerns are far from the only reason your school may feel like it needs to investigate your behaviors. Outside of alleged poor academic performance, there are specific code of conduct issues that your school may deem worthy of sanctions.
Fortunately, for the most part, these should be defined far more clearly than failure to progress scenarios.
Your school should have a document, known as your school's code of conduct, that clarifies all of the behaviors that it deems punishable. Your school's code of conduct should be very easily accessible. (It will likely live on your school's Student Life website or possibly on the Dean of Student's landing page.) Whether this is your first year as a Nebraska college student or your fourth, you should take some time to review this document.
It'll be a complex read. Your school's various codes and policies may read like dense legal documents, with lots of complicated terminology, footnotes, and references. If you're stressed out by allegations as you're navigating your school's code of conduct for the first time, it's possible that you'll find yourself in over your head.
That's why we recommend that students never try to manage code of conduct issues themselves—even from the start. The second that you suspect that a code of conduct allegation could be in your future, you need to call an advisor for support. While you may be tempted to think that you won't need support unless your situation calls for a formal hearing, that couldn't be further from the truth. Code of conduct cases are often won and lost in the very first phase of your school's adjudicative process. This makes quick action absolutely vital for students who seek favorable outcomes.
There are two main types of code of conduct infractions. Next, we'll spend a little time going through both.
Sexual Misconduct at Your Nebraska School
Sexual misconduct is loosely defined as any type of sexual activity that occurs without the specific consent of all persons included.
Actions that fall under the umbrella of sexual misconduct that most schools will consider punishable include sexual exploitation, domestic or dating violence, stalking, incest, and rape. Depending on the specific environment, traditions, and community at your school, different actions may feature as inclusions on your school's specific list of prohibited actions. (For example, at some schools, simply telling a lewd joke or sharing any sexual content that makes someone else uncomfortable could be enough to merit an investigation.)
Sexual misconduct is a special form of misconduct because your school's response is actually mandated by the federal government. Under Title IX, a federal regulation first established as one of the Educational Amendments of 1972, your school needs to respond quickly to any allegation of sexual misconduct or risk losing its funding.
This means that even if a bystander misunderstands something seen on campus and files an allegation, or if an ex of yours files an allegation based on a miscommunication, your school still has a legal obligation to figure out what happened. And, since your school's funding is actually at stake, your school may be incentivized to dole out aggressive sanctions in any case.
This is a big deal. Having sexual misconduct on your student record can also be a non-starter for many other schools and companies, whether you're looking for a new school or a new job later down the line.
Potentially confusing the matter further is the number of policies your school may have concerning sexual misconduct. Whereas other types of misconduct (like academic integrity issues, which we'll discuss in a moment) are typically governed by just one policy, your school may have two sets of documentation for sexual misconduct cases: A Title IX policy and a more generalized sexual misconduct policy.
Why? It's because of that federal regulation, Title IX. It's hot-button enough that it receives a different interpretation every few years (roughly with the advent of each presidential administration). Instead of having to update all of their documentation and processes regularly, many American schools have a dual policy system so they can stay up-to-date and somewhat consistent. Unfortunately, this does mean that your experience as a student accused of sexual misconduct can be wildly different, depending on which policy your school decides to use.
Your attorney will be able to help you determine what to do next in this situation.
Academic Misconduct at Your Nebraska School
The other most easily-defined type of misconduct is academic in nature. It's important to mention that academic misconduct is distinct from failure to progress scenarios, though they may seem similar.
In a failure to progress scenario, although a student is technically not responsible for any rule-breaking, their (alleged) lackluster performance itself is worthy of concern. Academic misconduct, on the other hand, centers on actual rule-breaking.
Students who are failing to progress can easily turn to academic misconduct or integrity issues, but they are different.
Here are some common examples of academic infractions your Nebraska school may choose to investigate:
- Collaborating with Other Students (at inappropriate times)
- Accessing Unauthorized Materials
- Fabrication of Data
Your school's code of conduct will let you know if there are any other actions your school may choose to punish.
Sometimes, with academic misconduct, the school will attempt to tailor the punishment specifically to the “crime” — e.g., giving a student suspected of cheating on an exam a failing grade.
While this, in itself, might be a good enough reason to necessitate working with an advisor (especially if it sets you back or causes you to be put on probation), you really need to call in an attorney if your school slaps you with a suspension.
Why is that such a big deal? We'll review that in an upcoming section. Right now, let's take a moment to flesh out the list of potential misconduct allegations.
Are there other types of misconduct at my Nebraska school?
Yes! Aside from sexual and academic misconduct, your Nebraska school will likely consider the following actions punishable:
- Drug or alcohol use: Students under the age of 21 will likely not be allowed to imbibe, and controlled substances anywhere are likely frowned upon.
- Residential misconduct: Your school will want to keep its dormitories safe. As a result, there may be a long list of actions not allowed in the dorms (e.g., theft, violence, etc.).
- Hate crimes: If your prank, theft, or act of violence can be tied to the victim's orientation, gender, religion, race, or any other aspect of their person, it could be labeled a hate crime. Much like sexual misconduct, having a hate crime on your record can be a really big deal in future interviews.
- Hazing: As cases of hazing-gone-wrong have swept through the media in the last few years, many schools are now taking a second look at the initiation rituals of many social clubs, sports clubs, and even sororities and fraternities. If you're involved in an initiation ritual that involves too much embarrassment, pain, or destruction of property, you may want to think twice.
Once your school receives information about an event that you're allegedly responsible for, it'll launch into its version of due process. In the next section, we'll talk about what that could look like — and how you can best position yourself to move through it successfully.
What Will My Nebraska School's Due Process Be Like?
Depending on your school's specific policies, there are a few different ways that your adjudicative process could go. However, it's key to realize that no matter what happens, there are a few things you should do the second you realize that you might be involved in a misconduct matter or a failure-to-progress investigation.
- First, make sure that you take time to gather all evidence yourself regarding what may have happened. Collect screenshots of social media posts, consider people you may be able to rely upon for witness statements, and write out an accurate timeline of what you remember happening regarding the central event. This will come in handy later.
- Don't speak to anyone. Even confiding in a friend or a trusted faculty member may come back to bite you later. If you need to talk to someone, rely on a mental health professional or a member of your family.
- Contact a student defense advisor. Remember, these cases are often won or lost very early in the process, as early as the investigation. Being prepared from the get-go can be transformational!
Now that you know what you should do, let's talk about what could happen. Your school's due process will likely look like some version of the following sequence of events:
- You'll meet with a representative from your school to learn more about the allegations against you
- Your school will conduct an investigation
- Once your school has enough evidence, you'll be invited to a formal hearing
- At this hearing, you will have a chance to review the evidence against you
- At this hearing, you may also have a chance to tell your side of the story and question any witnesses present
- At the end of this hearing, your school will come to a decision regarding your responsibility for the allegations
- Based on that decision, your school will also issue a recommendation for sanctions
Exactly what sanctions are on the table? It depends—and, based on the information in your school's code of conduct, it may not be what you think.
What Sanctions Am I (Really) At Risk for After an Investigation and Decision of Responsibility From My Nebraska School?
This is another situation where it's a good idea to take a look at your school's documentation, at least to start. When you look at the laundry list of potential sanctions featured in your school's code of conduct, you'll likely see something like this:
- Written warnings
- Mandated course changes
- Loss of privileges
- Loss of scholarships
- Behavioral contracts
- Monetary fines
- Housing changes
Your school may pair this note with a caveat, saying something about pairing appropriate punishments with specific types of infractions or escalating sanctions according to a specific internal metric.
While that may or may not be the case at your school, in many instances, the single most likely sanctio is going to be a suspension. Unless your school is investigating you for very serious or repeated infractions, you're likely facing a suspension. (And, in those more serious cases, you're looking at a possible expulsion.)
Maybe you just let out a sigh of relief. A suspension might seem totally manageable, especially if you just thought that an expulsion was surely in your future.
You need to realize that suspensions are a big deal. Think for a moment about what happens when you receive a suspension: As you're away from school for at least some period of time, there will be a resultant gap on your transcript. That might not seem like a huge issue — but think about who's going to be looking at your transcript. Later down the line, when you have interviews for key jobs or further education, your interviewers are going to request copies of your transcript. They'll see the gap caused by your suspension. They'll ask you to explain what happened.
Whether it seems fair or not, that conversation probably won't go well. As a result, you probably won't end up getting that opportunity, no matter how otherwise well-suited it may have been.
This is why it's absolutely crucial that you spend time now making sure that you tackle your school's adjudicative processes as well as you possibly can. Working with a defense advisor now to work towards lesser sanctions and a clean student record can help you protect your future and your reputation from any long-term harm.
How Do I File an Appeal at My Nebraska College or University?
After your school issues a disciplinary sanction at the end of your hearing, they may or may not make you aware that you have the opportunity to file an appeal. Typically, you'll have a short period of time after your school's hearing (perhaps five business days) in which to file an appeal.
To file an appeal, you'll need to fill out the required paperwork, determine a good basis for your appeal, and work with your defense advisor to make sure that all of the components of your appeal are as persuasive as possible. You'll only get one shot at your appeal, so you'll want to make sure it's a good one!
Your advisor can help you determine what a good basis for your appeal might be. Depending on your situation, a good basis might be:
- The fact that you have more evidence to bolster your story, evidence that came to light after the school's investigation
- Demonstrably inappropriate recommendations for sanctions
- Proof that your school did not adhere to due process throughout your adjudication
Whatever your basis for your appeal is, work with your advisor to draft a good argument and submit the paperwork to your school on time. Then, you'll need to wait for an answer. If your school listens to your appeal and indicates that it's open to negotiations, your advisor can help you figure out how to proceed.
If your school isn't open to negotiations, it may be time to try another tactic.
What if It's Time to Sue My School in Nebraska?
Litigation against your school is a big step! While it can get results, at the Lento Law Firm, we recommend another step, first.
Before you sue, have your student defense attorney speak with your school's office of general counsel. This type of lawyer-to-lawyer conversation can often smooth over tense negotiations and result in a good, mutually beneficial compromise without the expense and frustration of a lawsuit. At the Lento Law Firm, we often use this strategy to great effect.
However, if that doesn't work, we're also ready to help you file an effective lawsuit. Your defense attorney will help you determine what step is best for you.
Are There Other Nebraska Laws I Should Know About?
There are! Here are some laws worth keeping in the back of your mind as a Nebraska college student:
- In Nebraska, it is illegal to drink and drive. You'll face harsh penalties if you're caught doing so.
- In Nebraska, you need to follow your tenant agreement. If you live off-campus, you'll need to abide by any rental agreement you sign.
- In Nebraska, you cannot use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or show a fake ID to an officer of the law.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Nebraska
- Injury to Person: Four years
- Libel: One year
- Slander: One year
- Fraud: Four years
- Injury to Personal Property: Four years
- Trespassing: Four years
- Collection of Rent: Four years (if there is an oral contract)
- Contracts: Four years
Need Help with Stressful Misconduct Allegations or Academic Concerns? Call Attorney Joseph D. Lento for Strategic Assistance
We get it: When you're first slapped with sanctions or allegations, it can feel like your world is shattering. Suddenly, you're getting scary notices in the mail, people are looking at you a different way, and you're hyper-aware that people are looking into you, your actions, and your past in a way that's totally unfamiliar.
When this happens, the last thing you need on your plate is the necessity of handling complex due process events on your own. Trust us: It's far more effective to leave that up to the pros—so you can focus on your mental health and your duties as a student. That's where we come in.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a student defense advisor who has spent years honing his specific skills and expertise in the niche craft of academic and disciplinary negotiations. He can help you translate the complicated legalese of your school's policies and code of conduct, review the evidence, coach you for hearings, help you file an appeal, negotiate with your school, and more. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of other students in your exact position as they work towards more favorable outcomes. Now, he's ready to do the same for you.
Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for more information! The number is 888-535-3686 for more information. Alternatively, you can fill out a form online to receive a timely response from a friendly member of our team.
Are you a student or the parent of a student at a Nebraska college or university facing a school-related issue? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help. Click on the following links as applicable for more information: