All campuses of Rutgers University place their students under a uniform Code of Student Conduct. Students from all campuses must follow the regulations set forth under the code, or they must face disciplinary action for any potential violations they have committed. Rutgers University has a large number of students across its many campuses. Because of this, the University employs a multi-step disciplinary process, with the potential for non-disciplinary resolutions, when applicable.
The Rutgers University Disciplinary Process
The process begins when a University community member files a complaint alleging a violation against a student. Once a student is accused of a violation, they will be given a time and date to meet with a Student Conduct Officer for a Preliminary Review of the alleged violations and their consequences. The accused student will discuss this with the Student Conduct Officer face-to-face, and then the Officer will make the determination on whether to pursue disciplinary action. The Student Conduct Officer will then either move the case forward to a hearing or attempt to opt for an alternate resolution if possible. An alternate resolution prevents an escalation to a hearing and also provides a resolution for the accused student that does not have any effects on transcript records.
The Rutgers University Hearing Board
If the Student Conduct Officer decides that a hearing should be in order, the accused student will be heard by the University Hearing Board in a more formal hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether or not the student is responsible for a violation or not responsible for a violation. A Hearing Officer will be appointed to oversee and lead the hearing; this position can be likened to a judge in a criminal case.
Accused students can present and question witnesses. Accused students are also welcome to the presence of an attorney's support throughout the proceedings as well. Also, accused students have the right to request removal of hearing board members on the basis of their inability to make unbiased judgements.
After the hearing has concluded, the Hearing Board will meet and deliberate regarding the case. There is an assumption that the accused student is not responsible for the violation, and it must be proven by a preponderance of evidence. The Hearing Board will provide a brief written summary of how the conclusion was reached, which will be added to the case file. If a student is found to be responsible for violations, a brief proceeding will be held to determine sanctions necessary for the violations. Accused students will then have the opportunity to present character witnesses and statements. The Hearing Board will meet once more and deliberate again to determine the appropriate sanctions.
Rutger University Sanctions
Rutgers University will impose disciplinary sanctions if an accused student is found responsible for violating the University's Code of Student Conduct. Sanctions at Rutgers University are generally composed of two components: a) an “inactive sanction,” and b) an “active sanction." An inactive sanction is the official University response to the accused student's behavior/violation. An active sanction will require the accused student to complete some form of service or assignment, and/or will be a disciplinary condition imposed instead of, or in addition to, the sanctions specified below. The sanction(s) imposed by the University depends upon the violation, its severity, the impact of the violation on the complaint party and the Rutgers University community, and the circumstances involved. Potential inactive sanctions that may be imposed for violations of the Code of Student Conduct include:
- Disciplinary Probation
- Restrictive Probation
- Dismissal or Expulsion
Active sanctions include:
- Removal from University Housing
- Loss of Privileges
- Other Sanctions (as deemed appropriate)
Academic penalties/sanctions will also apply for violations of academic integrity.
Regretfully, some Rutgers 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 Rutgers 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.
Rutgers 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. Rutgers 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 Rutgers University Student
Rutgers University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Code of Student 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 Rutgers University, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after Code of Student 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 Rutgers 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 Rutgers University in matters involving Code of Student Conduct disciplinary charges and/or academic disciplinary charges should not be confused with Rutgers 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 Rutgers 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 Rutgers University.
Rutger University Appeals
Appeals are handled differently depending on the campus that the student attends, and the outcome of the hearing.
- Appeals on sanctions only, excluding expulsion/suspension: These appeals are to be forwarded to the Campus Appeals Committee within 10 working days of the decision letter. These appeals will result in either the original sanction being sustained, or a modification to the terms of the sanction. For students on campuses other than New Brunswick, the appeal can be sent to the Chancellor's Designee.
- Appeals on sanctions only, including suspension or expulsion: Appeals of this kind are to be submitted to the Director of Student Conduct within 10 working days of the decision letter. Similarly these appeals can either result in the sanction either being sustained or modified. Likewise, students on campuses other than New Brunswick, the appeal can be sent to the Chancellor's Designee.
- Appeals of Decision and Sanction: Students that wish to appeal both the decision and the sanctions can submit a letter of appeal to the Director of Student Conduct. The appeal must be made within 10 days of the decision letter, and must also be made on certain grounds. The grounds for appeal are: unsupported conclusion, procedural error, disproportionate sanctions, or new information. Successful appeals can result in either a new hearing, a more informal disciplinary conference, or a modification to the sanction.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Rutgers University, contact our offices today.
What Can You Do?
No university wants to unnecessarily expel, suspend, or punish any of its students; however, university policies can take very harsh stances on breaching their code of conduct. A violation of Rutgers University's Student Code of Conduct can have severe repercussions on a student's education and future employment prospects. Having an experienced attorney as an advocate can make a substantial difference in a disciplinary proceeding outcome. The earlier you obtain the assistance of counsel, the more effect your attorney can have over the hearing. If you or your student is facing disciplinary action from Rutgers University, contact university student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.