There's no denying that the year or several years after a person graduates from high school is one of the most eventful and potentially overwhelming times of their life. They no longer belong in the building where they've spent so many hours over the past four or more years. Their future is unwritten—they may have an idea of where they'd like to go and what they'd like to do, but they don't know much, if anything, for certain. Often, this is also the period in which people leave home and strike out on their own, living independently (albeit usually with one or more roommates) in a dorm room or an apartment. They may be managing their own money for the first time. Of course, there are also all sorts of day-to-day and occasional tasks and responsibilities that they will be expected to handle.
More and more young Americans are choosing to take a “gap year” between high school and college, which can be a wise decision. Those who make this choice are often more emotionally mature than their contemporaries—or perhaps they are simply more intelligent, smart enough to realize that they aren't yet emotionally mature! Regardless, it can be difficult for anyone to leave the comfort and familiarity of their family, to be set adrift in a sea of strangers, to tackle the typically heavy workload assigned by college professors, and to get acclimated to the entire college experience.
Even once the student has adjusted to these new environments and experiences, they're still under enormous pressure—to perform well academically, to make friends, to avoid gaining the infamous “Freshman 15” pounds, to set their own schedule and manage their own time, and to balance the demands of coursework with their desire to have fun, relax, and blow off steam at parties.
It's no wonder they sometimes make poor decisions and engage in regrettable behavior. And let's not forget that it's teenagers we're talking about here, at least in part. Making poor decisions sometimes seems like a bona fide prerequisite for entering one's 20s.
The Three Main Types of Misconduct
Every institute of learning has drawn up, then distributed, a Code of Conduct by which its students must abide. Also called Student Conduct Codes, Academic Codes of Conduct, etc., these are extensive, exhaustive documents that detail all of the possible infractions a student can make, and the potential punishment for them.
Misconduct can be broken down into three fairly distinct categories: academic, behavioral, and sexual. They will all be included in the school's Code of Conduct. We'll take a look at each in turn—or, if you'd like to look at one in greater detail, here is the Code of Conduct that's distributed to all students at Aquinas College.
Simply and broadly put, academic misconduct describes cheating, in some form or another, to get ahead or gain advantages that the student might not otherwise be able to attain. Academic misconduct can be:
- Cheating—using dishonest or fraudulent means to complete work, perform better on exams, or fulfill any requirements for a college course.
- Complicity—helping another student to gain academic advantages dishonestly.
- Plagiarism—using any material that was created by someone else but claiming it as one's own, and/or failing to give that person credit. Note that even copying one's own words, for example by recycling an essay one wrote for a previous class, is considered plagiarism. All submitted materials must be original, properly credited, or attributed to its creator.
- Fabrication or Falsification—Similar to plagiarism but a distinct category of academic misconduct on its own, fabrication refers to anything that has been invented or made up that forms part of an academic assignment. It could be quoting a source who doesn't really exist, citing an experiment or research study that never took place, or similar deceptions. Falsification can also refer to transcripts, letters of recommendation, awards, diplomas, or other documentation that the student either creates or alters to paint themselves in a better light.
Colleges and universities take these misconduct behaviors very seriously, as they form the very foundation of that establishment's integrity.
Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Violations
Many people, when they hear the term “Title IX,” think of gender equality in sports—the set of laws established to level the playing field and afford female athletes the same opportunities and advantages as those enjoyed by male athletes. Title IX, however, goes much deeper than that. It specifies a wide range of gender- and sex-based discrimination, harassment, and other harmful behavior. Some of the acts addressed by Title IX statutes are:
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Non-consensual touching or sexual contact
- Rape and other forms of sexual assault
- Sexist remarks that are insulting or stereotypical
- Sexual language or sounds (i.e., being catcalled or whistled at)
- Unauthorized pictures, video recordings, audio recordings
- Bullying that's based on gender identity or sexual orientation, whether or not the bullied individual identifies with the presumed identity
- Discrimination of any type based on gender identity or sexual orientation
- Dating violence, also called intimate partner violence
- Electronic harassment, which is the use of communication methods such as text, email, messaging apps, or social media platforms to disseminate sexually explicit or demeaning content to the victim(s) or others
This is, unfortunately, by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give readers the gist of what sexual misconduct and Title IX infractions can look like.
The last category covered in student Codes of Conduct is behavioral misconduct. Essentially, this is a catch-all of types of behavior violations, but don't fall under the umbrella of academic or sexual misconduct. Behavioral violations for which a student could be sanctioned include:
- Hazing or bullying
- Hate crimes
- Drug offenses
- Underage drinking; providing alcohol to someone under 21
- Possession of a fake ID
- Vandalism or willful damage to any school property
- Misuse of social media or text to stalk or harass another
- Threats or threatening behavior
- Weapons charges
Every college and university will also set forth—sometimes in their Code of Conduct, sometimes in a different document—its behavioral expectations for living in campus housing. While there's usually a great deal of overlap with the wider conduct policies, some residential regulations will be unique.
Schools assume that students will familiarize themselves with the Conduct Code, although for many college kids, it's nothing more than fine print that can be skimmed or ignored altogether. In the event that you have been accused of misconduct at your university or college, however, you must read whatever section of the Code addresses your specific offense. You will want to look at the description of the disciplinary process, as well, to know how the process will unfold and what is going to happen next.
A Word About Consequences
It's important to understand what's at stake, of course. Disciplinary issues are a far bigger deal than many students realize. Some of the fallout of being found responsible for any type of misconduct include academic probation; the loss of privileges such as the ability to live on campus or use campus resources; the loss of scholarships and financial aid; an inability to pursue certain vocations or licensed professions; a difficult-to-explain gap on the student's record (or, perhaps even worse, a notation of the specific misconduct); suspension; expulsion; and the loss of self-esteem, self-respect, and the respect of others.
These consequences are perhaps more profound, and naturally more painful, if the allegations against the student are untrue. False misconduct claims are perhaps far more common than most people realize, and students may not realize how swiftly and unilaterally a disciplinary board will act. As soon as the student becomes aware that they've been accused of misconduct or an issue with academic progression, they should contact Joseph D. Lento right away. Waiting until the days leading up to their hearing or worse, trying to go it alone against the board will be a grievous mistake, and one the student will come to regret tremendously.
Academic Progression Problems
Aside from behavioral, sexual, and academic misconduct, there is one more variety of misbehavior that will need to be handled by a student defense attorney-advisor, and that's academic progression. Well, technically, it's the failure to progress academically, and the possibility that it will lead to the student's dismissal.
The powers-that-be at universities and colleges will call it “failure to meet standards of satisfactory academic progression” or refer to it using the acronym “SAP”—but a much more blunt expression is “flunking out.” When a student fails to meet these SAP standards, the first step is usually academic probation. In the event that the student doesn't apply themselves sufficiently to earn better grades, they may be called on the carpet for additional repercussions, such as suspension.
There are plenty of reasons that students might fail one or more courses. Naturally, the first that springs to mind is not understanding the material, and neglecting to seek help from the instructor, the school's tutoring center, or peers. But unavoidable stressors can also be to blame: financial troubles, psychological or medical concerns, or family matters like a death of a close relative or other trauma. These are extenuating circumstances that can unfairly derail your college career.
Students who are suspended because they have not met SAP standards even after a probationary period will be asked to leave campus, and will not be allowed to enroll in classes. Usually the suspension will last for a semester, sometimes for an entire school year. A suspended student will need to find employment and possibly a place to live. Their graduation will most likely be delayed; they may lose financial aid.
This situation will undoubtedly cause upheaval and stress in the present, but its ramifications don't necessarily end when the period of suspension ends. The student's educational record will be permanently marred, and indeed SAP issues and their punitive effects can potentially steer the student in an entirely new—and not always positive—direction.
The general upheaval that this situation will cause is potentially devastating, so it makes sense to confer with student discipline defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento.
Nashville-Davidson and Murfreesboro Colleges and Universities
Students who attend any of the many excellent universities or colleges in the Nashville metropolitan area or in Davidson County can count on school discipline defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to help them with whatever disciplinary issue they may be experiencing. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 if you are a student at any of the following four-year institutes of higher learning and may be facing allegations of misconduct.
- Vanderbilt University
- University of Belmont
- Tennessee State University
- Fitz University
- Lipscomb University
- Trevecca Nazarene University
- Middle Tennessee State University
- American Baptist College
- Cumberland University
- Welch College
- Nossi College of Art
Area High Schools Whose Students Can Be Assisted by The Lento Law Firm
Even before a student gets to college, however, it's possible to get in hot water, in high school. Most high schools' codes of conduct are similar to those of their higher-education counterparts, with standards for academic conduct, behavioral conduct, and sexual conduct. The stakes, while still very high, are also very different for high school students; in the most extreme instances, a student who is found responsible for code of conduct violations can find themselves facing an entirely different future than the one they'd always envisioned. This could mean that attending the university or college of their dreams is no longer possible. It could mean that an education from any university or college is off the table.
Students who attend Nashville-area high schools like the following can turn to the Lento Law Firm for assistance with any misconduct allegations.
- University School of Nashville
- Harpeth Hall
- Montgomery Bell Academy
- The Ensworth School
- Franklin Road Academy
- Battle Ground Academy
- Brentwood Academy
- Christ Presbyterian Academy
- Pope John Paul II Preparatory Academy
- Ezell-Harding Christian School
- Brentwood Highschool
- Ravenwood High School
- Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School
- Hillsboro High School
- Lipscomb Academy
- Templeton Academy
- Franklin Road Academy
The Importance of Student Discipline Defense
Whether your child is in high school in the greater Nashville-Davidson/ Murfreesboro area, or enrolled in one of the area's colleges or universities, disciplinary matters are never matters to be taken lightly. They can lead to punishment at the student's current school, up to and including suspension and expulsion; difficulties gaining admission to other schools; problems finding employment; and other issues that can have a serious and long-lasting impact.
To make the best of the situation, it's imperative to have experienced, qualified, and compassionate legal counsel. Turn to Joseph D. Lento and the Lento student defense team to give your scholar the best possible outcome in this trying time. Call 888-535-3686 today or use this contact form.