West Chester University of Pennsylvania governs its student body through a Student Code of Conduct. The University has a number of Standards of Conduct which students must obey. Failure to do so will subject students to the University's Judicial Procedures. Students charged with violations may face harsh sanctions for their behavior. The process begins when a complaint is filed against a student. Any member of the University community may make a complaint against a student.
West Chester University Judicial Procedures
The first stage of University Judicial Procedures is a conference held between the student and designated University staff. At the conference, students can waive their right to a hearing and admit responsibility or request a formal hearing.
Hearings can come in two forms: administrative and judicial. West Chester University Administrative Hearings will be in front of a designated hearing officer, while West Chester University Judicial Hearings will have a Hearing Board to decide on the case. The hearing will be structured the same, whether or not a Hearing Officer or a Hearing Board is deciding the case. In all cases a standard of a "preponderance of evidence" will be used to determine culpability. This is best thought of as "more likely than not" that a violation was committed.
Hearings begin with the Hearing Officer or Board reading a statement of charges to the accused student. Accused students are known as the "referred party" during hearing proceedings, and whomever presented the complaint will be known as the "charging party." The charging party will present their case first, including any witnesses and evidence. The referred party will have an opportunity to question witnesses and the charging party. The referred party can then make their case and present any evidence or witnesses in their favor, which will be questioned by the charging party following the presentation. After the presentation phase for both parties has ended, the Hearing Officer or Board may permit closing remarks and statements, and will then either go into deliberation or discussion of the facts to make a decision. When assigning sanctions, the Hearing Officer or Board will take into account academic record, class year, prior disciplinary records, and the student's attitude during the hearing.
Students are welcome to the presence of an attorney at both Administrative and Judicial Hearings. An attorney's presence will inspire confidence and self-assurance in students who may be nervous before their hearing. Advice from an attorney will also help students with things such as questioning witnesses and presenting relevant and strong evidence.
West Chester University Sanctions
West Chester University will impose disciplinary sanctions if an accused student is found responsible for violating the University's Student Code of Conduct. Students found responsible will be subject to one or more of the following penalties:
- Disciplinary Reprimand
- Disciplinary Probation
- Interim Campus Restriction
- Disciplinary Suspension
- Deferred Suspension
- Disciplinary Expulsion
- Interim Disciplinary Suspension
West Chester University will also impose "sanction conditions" upon a student as deemed appropriate. Possible sanction conditions include:
- Alcohol/Drug Education
- Housing Reassignment
- Loss of Housing
- Interim Loss of Housing
- Deferred Loss of Housing
- Loss of Dining Hall Privileges
- Failing Grade
- Hold on Records
- Financial Restitution
In addition to any of the above sanctions and/or sanction conditions deemed appropriate, the University will impose mandatory minimum sanctions for alcohol and/or drug violations.
Regretfully, some West Chester University students, despite their and their parents' best intentions, proceed with the University 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 West Chester University 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.
(West Chester University 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. West Chester University 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.)
An Experienced Attorney's Role When Representing a West Chester University Student
West Chester University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Student Code of Conduct charges and/or academic integrity 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 West Chester University, the accused student, and other involved parties, in an effort to achieve a constructive resolution. Whether before or after Student Code of 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 West Chester University. Every student's case is unique; an experienced attorney will understand what the University may be receptive to, and will approach the matter accordingly.
An attorney's involvement at West Chester University in matters involving Student Code of Conduct charges and/or academic integrity charges should not be confused with West Chester 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 West Chester University as well as behind the scenes to defend against sexual misconduct / sexual assault allegations.
An experienced student discipline defense attorney will understand and use the most effective strategies when handling a student's case at West Chester University.
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students are able to undergo an appeals process. West Chester University appeals must be made on the grounds of potential violations of judicial procedure, severity of their sanctions unsupported by evidence, a lack of substantial evidence to determine guilt, or new evidence to be considered. The due date for appeals is provided to students in the letter that details the decision from the hearing. Appeals that result in loss of housing or dining privileges, suspension, or expulsion will be handled by an Appeals Board. All other appeals will be handled by the Director of Judicial Affair and Student Assistance, or a designated staff member.
Students seeking appeal can attend the appellate hearing, where the Appeals Board will decide the case. Most appeals are final, but under certain circumstances a secondary appeal can be made to the President of the University on the same grounds as the first stage. Presidential appeals must be made within 2 business days of the original appellate decision.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.