Villanova University governs its student body through its Code of Student Conduct. The Code of Student Conduct is located within the University's Student Handbook. The Code of Student Conduct is in place to ensure that students do not exhibit behaviors that endanger or otherwise interfere with a safe and comfortable learning environment. When a student violates the code, they will subject to a disciplinary process, and may incur sanctions imposed by the University as punishment.
The process begins when a complaint is filed against a student. Complaints can be filed by any member of the University community, and can be filed to the Dean of Students Office, the Department of Public Safety, or the Office of Residence Life.
In any disciplinary proceedings, the person who initiated the complaint will be known as the "complainant," and the one who is the subject of the complaint will be known as the "respondent."
Villanova Conduct Review Officer Meeting
The next step in the disciplinary process is a meeting with a Conduct Review Officer. Meetings will be of an informal nature, and are meant to educate the student on what they may encounter and also provide opportunity for early resolution. The Conduct Review officer can resolve lower level offenses at the meeting, and can also decide what cases move forward to the Conduct Review Board. Informal resolutions may be used for sanctions that are less than a written warning.
University Conduct Review Board Hearing
The University Conduct Review Board will be comprised of 1 member of the student body, 1 faculty member, and 1 administration member, selected by the Dean of Students. Each member is not to have any conflict of interest with either the complainant or respondent, and all boards will always have a member of the student body on them.
At the hearing, the complainant and respondent will present their statements and relevant witnesses to support their own side of the case. Both parties must direct their questions to the Board, who will then ask questions to witnesses. Likewise, witnesses are to direct their comments and responses to the Board. If the complainant and respondent wish to question each other, they must also direct their questions to the Board. The purpose of this indirect questioning is to prevent the fostering of an adversarial environment, however it can also lead to questions being misconstrued or re-worded by the Board. The Board will ultimately decide what questions are appropriate and relevant to the case. After all of the information has been presented, the complainant and respondent will be able to make their final comments to the Board. Finally, the Board will deliberate privately using the standard of a "preponderance of evidence" to make their decision.
The University restricts attendance of Board hearings to only members of the University community that were involved with the incident in question. In spite of this, receiving outside counsel from an attorney will still be a great source of help to students. Attorneys will be able to provide help from behind the scenes to prepare students for what they may be facing in these hearings. In addition to this, attorneys are experts of evidence presentation and examination, and will pass on some of these techniques to students so they may use them in their hearings.
An Experienced Attorney's Role When Representing a Villanova University Student
Villanova University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before non-academic disciplinary charges 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, may be able to serve as an a advocate between Villanova University, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after non-academic disciplinary charges and/or academic misconduct charges are filed, the extent of an attorney's involvement will be at the discretion of Villanova University.
A student attorney's involvement at Villanova University in matters involving non-academic disciplinary charges and/or academic misconduct charges should not be confused with Villanova 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 Villanova University as well as behind the scenes to defend against sexual misconduct / sexual assault allegations.
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students may make an appeal. All appeals go to the Dean of Students. and are divided into two distinct categories
An appeal for a new disciplinary hearing will grant the student a new hearing, if successful. The grounds for this appeal are a defect in procedure, or new evidence to be considered. These appeals must be within 2 business days of receiving the notification of the original outcome.
An appeal for a review of sanctions will grant students different sanctions if successful. These appeals must be made within 2 business days of the notification of the original outcome, and must state clearly why the assigned sanctions are disproportionate to the offense.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from Villanova University, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.