Students from all over the world come to the United States every year to seize the opportunities the country's colleges and universities present. Thousands of these students from other countries, known as international students, move to Montana to attend schools like the Montana State University, the University of Montana, Montana Tech, and other state higher education institutions to earn a college degree and propel their careers. In turn, these students better Montana campuses by diversifying them and lending their talents, brain power, and skill to improve these academic environments.
Title IX is a federal law that covers all college students and regulates how schools handle cases of sexual misconduct. If an international student is involved in a case of sexual misconduct, whether they are an accuser, known as a “complainant,” or the accused, referred to as a “respondent,” they are expected to abide by this law. But unfortunately, there are certain aspects of this law and its enforcement that tend to leave international students vulnerable.
Sexual misconduct allegations can lead to serious consequences for any student under Title IX. However, international students must be aware of how this law specifically and uniquely impacts them.
Understanding Title IX
Discrimination of any form is strictly prohibited on college campuses under federal law. Students are protected from gender-based discrimination, in particular, under Title IX of the Education Amendments. Title IX covers all students, regardless of their citizen status, national origin, or immigration status.
Sexual misconduct falls under the umbrella of gender-based discrimination, and there are multiple actions that constitute sexual misconduct. Some of them include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence - all of which are prevalent on college campuses. Under current Title IX guidance, higher education institutions are to fairly and promptly adjudicate all complaints alleging sexual misconduct in any of its forms.
How Sexual Misconduct Allegations Affect Montana International Students
Being a respondent in the Title IX process obviously comes with inherent disadvantages. Because of the social stigma these allegations carry, many respondents report being mistreated and ignored by fellow students, peers, staff, and administration throughout the process for merely being accused of sexual misconduct. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon despite the fact that Title IX endorses that the interests of both parties are to be equally considered and catered to.
A respondent who also happens to be an international student will face an additional unique set of challenges that could disadvantage them further. Many international students feel alienated throughout the Title IX process, not only due to the nature of the allegations but as a result of being unfamiliar with certain American customs.
International students are often less aware of the rights entitled to them and the obligations they're expected to fulfill. Also, important concepts like evidentiary standards and investigatory procedures must be understood to gain leverage in the Title IX process. Not having a firm grasp on these concepts as an international student can make being accused a very confusing situation.
Sexual Misconduct Allegations and Student Visas
The unfortunate reality for international students is that they have a lot to lose when accused of academic misconduct. In fact, these students have much more to lose than the average native student in the same predicament.
In order for international students to remain in the United States for their studies, they must acquire a student visa. This visa only remains effective when international students fulfill certain requirements. Among these requirements is the obligation to maintain a full-time course load, which is equivalent to at least 12 academic credit hours per semester. If an international student is found “responsible” for this misconduct, said student's ability to continue their education becomes compromised. A suspension or expulsion can result in an international student losing their visa.
This consequence is imposed on top of possibly having a criminal record if official charges are filed.
Montana Title IX Advisor for Student Defense
As you can see, you, as an international student, have a lot to lose when accused of sexual misconduct in Montana colleges and universities. A responsible finding can derail your professional and academic goals. If you're in this predicament and believe that they're innocent, it's imperative you reach out to a legal professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm can help you make sense of your situation and give you options that will increase your chances of a favorable outcome - contact him today online or by phone at 888-535-3686.
Montana colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your international student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Blackfeet Community College
- Carroll College
- Chief Dull Knife College
- Dawson Community College
- Flathead Valley Community College
- Fort Belknap College
- Fort Peck Community College
- Little Big Horn College
- Miles Community College
- Montana State University
- Montana State University Billings
- Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology
- Montana State University Northern
- Montana Tech of the University of Montana
- Montana Tech College of Technology
- Rocky Mountain College
- Salish Kootenai College
- Stone Child College
- The University of Montana
- The University of Montana Western
- University of Great Falls
- University of Montana Helena College of Technology
All students must be extremely mindful when accused of sexual misconduct at their college or university; international students in particular, however, can have even more concerns at all stage of Title IX proceedings because the stakes are higher yet – When first contacted by their school's Title IX office, when a sexual misconduct investigation begins, when facing a hearing or an appeal, or when seeking further recourse by filing a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights when necessary. For international students who are facing a Title IX case and their families, it is critical to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible, including having an experienced attorney advisor, when accused of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, some international students, not being as familiar what is at stake and also their rights in the process, will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," everything will work out. Title IX cases can be won, but international students and their families must recognize, however, that achieving a favorable in a Title IX case requires a dedicated and intensive approach best handled by a professional who has a track record of successes in the Title IX disciplinary arena.
Fighting passionately for the future of international students at colleges and universities throughout the nation for over a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an international student's academic and professional future and Visa is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to international students facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Montana and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.