Students that attend The College of New Jersey, or more commonly known as "TCNJ," must adhere to the Student Conduct Code. The code defines certain behaviors as "Violations of Expectations For Student Conduct" that may result in disciplinary sanctions from the College. The process begins with a complaint. Whenever a member of the College community believes that a violation has occurred, he or she may file a complaint. After this, the Director of Student Conduct will begin an investigation to see if the complaint merits charges against a student, or if the dispute can be resolved without hearings. If charges are deemed necessary, the student will be informed via their College email.
Students that are charged will be assigned a hearing administrator, and a date and time to have a conference regarding the charges, the disciplinary process, and any sanctions they may face. The accused student will then be able to make a choice between an informal hearing or a formal hearing. Students are always able to make the choice, unless their violation falls under "Personal Abuse," which entails harassment, sexual harassment, and the like.
If an informal hearing is selected, it will be conducted by a hearing administrator. If an informal hearing is to occur for Personal Abuse violations, a new hearing administrator will be selected for the informal hearing. The informal hearing is normally just between the student and the hearing administrator, and are typically resolved quickly; however, the administrator may choose to adjourn to review or contact witnesses and complaining parties. There are no official rules on evidence presentation, however the accused student has the opportunity to be heard, present witnesses, and accept or deny their responsibility. Attorneys are welcome to attend this hearing as well.
If the accused student or hearing administrator elects a formal hearing, the procedure is a bit different. Formal rules of evidence and procedure again do not apply in TCNJ hearings. Students have some rights similar to those of a criminal case, such as "declining to provide information," although these so-called "rights" are flawed at best. In addition, the standard to find a student responsible is based on the notion of "more likely than not," thus, being found responsible for a code violation is much easier than being found guilty of a crime.
Formal hearings can come in one of three forms, and the student my choose which form to proceed with. Likewise, attorneys are welcome to attend these meetings as well. The presence of an attorney can be relieving to both you and whomever conducts the hearing. The various forms of hearings are:
- Administrative: An Administrative hearing is ran by a faculty member selected by Director of Student Conduct. The administrator will hear the information and deliver a decision and any sanctions.
- Community Standards Board: A Community Standards Board hearing is comprised of students: four board members and one chair. The chairperson only votes if there is a tie among the board members. The Community Standards Board does not hear cases that can result in suspension or expulsion.
- All College Standards Board: The All College Standards Board is made up of five members plus the Director of Student Conduct acting as chair. They will hear cases that can result in suspension or expulsion.
The College of New Jersey will impose disciplinary sanctions if an accused student is found responsible for violating the College's Student Conduct Code. More than one of the sanctions listed below may be imposed for a violation, and the full range of sanctions is available depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Possible sanctions include:
- Loss of Privilege
- Discretionary Sanctions
- Restorative Justice
- Master Educational Plan
- Parental Notification
- Pending Termination of Housing
- Termination of Housing
- Pending Suspension
- Interim Suspension
- Degree Revocation
In addition to any of the above, The College of New Jersey will impose additional sanctions for academic integrity violations as deemed appropriate.
Regretfully, some TCNJ students, despite their and their parents' best intentions, proceed with the College 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 The College of New Jersey 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.
TCNJ 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. The College of New Jersey 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 TCNJ Student
The College of New Jersey and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Student Conduct Code 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 TCNJ, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after 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 The College of New Jersey. Every student's case is unique; an experienced attorney will understand what the College may be receptive to, and will approach the matter accordingly.
An attorney's involvement at The College of New Jersey in matters involving Code of Student Conduct disciplinary charges and/or academic disciplinary charges should not be confused with TCNJ 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 TCNJ 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 The College of New Jersey University.
Accused students are entitled to a single appeal, should the hearing result in an unfavorable outcome. TCNJ appeals must be in writing, and should include any supporting documentation to be considered. Written appeals can be made out to the Director of Student Conduct for all rulings except those determined by the All College Standards Board. Determinations made by the All College Standards Board must be sent to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Appeals must be made within a five day period, so any appellate preparation and action must be done quickly. A successful appeal can result in a changed sanction, or a new hearing.
It is crucial to get an attorney involved at the hearing level. Early attorney involvement will result in a more favorable outcome from a hearing, or if necessary, a better appeal. If you or your student is facing collegiate disciplinary action, contact college student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.