Rider University employs a Code of Social Conduct located in its student handbook, known as The Source. The Code of Social Conduct is a collection of governing standards students must follow to promote a healthy community. There are a number of violations students can commit, and they range in severity from level 1 to level 5; level 1 being the highest level of severity, and level 5 being the lowest. Level 1 violation consequences can include expulsion, while level 5 violation consequences can include mere warnings and light fines. Violations will subject students to action from the Community Standards Review Board.
Community Standards Review Board
Students who are under suspicion that they have committed a violation will be subject to hearings in front of the Rider University Community Standards Review Board. There are a number of ways the review board panels can be organized, however, in general, higher level offense require more serious and more populated panels. Likewise, the general standard of proof is "more likely than not" with the exception being level 1 violations that may result in expulsion, where the standard of proof is more strict. Students who fail to appear at the hearing will be given a new hearing date, but also an added charge of "contempt of the system" which will also be discussed at this hearing. For some lower level violations, students may be able to resolve the matter with the Director of Community Standards by agreeing to the violation and the consequences. Students that wish to dispute the charges can begin the process for a Community Standard Board hearing.
Community Standards Board hearings will be led by a hearing moderator, who can be likened to a judge, and decided by a Community Standards Review Panel, who can be likened to a jury. A hearing will typically consist of three separate phases. Hearings begin with the procedural phase, where students will be asked about their rights as a student, the hearing procedures, and the charges they face. This is followed by the merit determination phase, which will serve as the time for evidence presentation, panel deliberation, and the delivery of the decision. this phase is most similar to an actual criminal trial. During this phase students will be able to present evidence to support their defense, as well as have the opportunity to question witnesses. Students are also able to refrain from making self-incriminating statements during the process (similar to the protections under the fifth amendment afforded to a criminal defendant). The final phase occurs after deliberations and the panel's decision has been made; this phase is the consequence determination. This can be likened to a sentencing hearing. The panel will make the determination on what consequences the student should face; the purpose is to discuss what consequences will be appropriate. Students are welcome to introduce character witnesses during this phase.
Attendance at these hearings is typically reserved for only students and University personnel. Attorneys are welcome if a student is facing criminal charges. However, even if a student is not facing criminal charges, an attorney behind the scenes can still help. Board hearings can be intimidating and unfriendly environments for a student, and receiving an attorney's counsel before hearings will boost a student's confidence in their case as well as provide clear direction on things to avoid and/or emphasize while giving testimony.
Rider University will impose remedies and disciplinary sanctions if an accused student is found responsible for violating the University's Code of Social Conduct. Possible disciplinary sanctions include, but are not limited to:
- Disciplinary Probation
- Loss of University Housing
Rider 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. Rider 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 Rider University Student
Rider University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Code of Social 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, may be able to serve as an a liaison between Rider University, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after Code of Social 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 Rider 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 RIder University in matters involving Code of Social Conduct disciplinary charges and/or academic disciplinary charges should not be confused with Rider 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 Rider 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 Rider University.
In the event of an unfavorable hearing outcome, students must obtain an application for appeal from the Office of Community Standards, and can present new evidence. The Code itself does not specify a deadline for an appeal, but time is always of the essence. The Code urges students who want an appeal to contact the Dean of Students (609 896 5101) or the Office of Community Standards (609 896 5292). It should be noted, however, that students are not able to appeal if they "accept responsibility" or "take responsibility" for the charges; this can be likened to pleading guilty. It is important to get started on the appellate process right away, as the code does not specify what the requirements are because Rider University appeals are handled on a case by case basis.
If you or your student is currently involved in the disciplinary proceedings of Rider University, contact university student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.