Reports from higher education journals like the widely read Inside Higher Ed document a rise in student worker strikes at college and university campuses. The Inside Higher Ed stories describe strikes at Indiana University and Kenyon College but note a nationwide trend. Graduate student assistants, resident assistants, library helpline workers, and other student workers have used peaceful protests and other public advocacy on and around campus to recruit union members and pressure school administrators toward wage and benefits increases, and other labor concessions. The schools argue that their student relationships are educational rather than vocational or adversarial, but the differing views have fueled the peaceful protests. Questions arise, though, whether the involved students might face school discipline for participating in disruptive strikes and protests.
The Role of Student Conduct Codes
Colleges and universities maintain comprehensive codes regulating student conduct. Those codes do more than prohibit academic misconduct and sexual misconduct. The codes also address student behavioral issues, like drinking, drugging, fighting, and property theft or damage, that can affect and interfere with the school's operations and academic environment. Violating those code provisions can lead to school disciplinary charges. As school employees, student workers can also face school employment issues. If you face student or employee disciplinary charges at your college or university, retain national school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for your winning defense.
Conduct Codes and Peaceful Protests
College and university student conduct codes also address organized group activities that interfere with school operations and the academic environment. The codes commonly prohibit rioting, blocking streets or sidewalks, occupying buildings, damaging or destroying school property, and threatening or intimidating school staff or students. The codes may also prohibit acts of disrespect and insubordination that disrupt the classroom or other educational activities. Notably, the codes also commonly prohibit refusing to follow a university official's lawful instruction. The Code of Conduct at the University of South Carolina is a good example, prohibiting, “Disobeying a directive or command by any university or emergency official in connection with a fire, alarm, or other safety, security, or emergency matter.”
Crossing the Line Toward Discipline
Schools must respect the First Amendment and other rights of students to participate in peaceful strikes and protests. But strikes and protests can intentionally or unintentionally block streets, sidewalks, and access to classrooms and other school buildings. They can also create safety and security hazards that school officials may direct or command participating students to avoid or address. Schools shouldn't be disciplining students for peaceful and lawful strikes and protests. But participating students should also take care not to violate conduct code provisions in ways that endanger or unduly disrupt school operations.
School Discipline Defense Attorney
National school discipline defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team are available nationwide to defend and defeat school disciplinary charges related to student worker strikes and other peaceful protests. Don't let your lawful participation in organizing and advocacy affect your school record, education, and ambitions. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now to retain Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team.