For many college students, interacting on social media has become an integral part of their daily routine. However, with the freedom to be whoever you want and say whatever you want on an internet platform comes the opportunity to say things that could potentially land you in hot water. A spat between friends on Facebook can spiral out of control and get one of the students in trouble with the university if the spat crosses the line into "internet threats."
Codes of Conduct at Schools
When you enter college or university, you're given the school's codes of conduct. These codes clearly outline the way that students must behave and conduct themselves while they are students at the university. These rules cover your behavior both online and offline.
Rutgers University states that it has its codes of conduct because the school "sets specific expectations for Rutgers University student behavior. It lists the behaviors prohibited at Rutgers University, the process for addressing allegations of student misconduct, and the possible consequences for students who violate the policy."
By setting these rules and codes, schools can help ensure that they're providing a safe, respectful and nurturing learning environment for all of their students.
What Types of Threats Are Considered to be Online or Internet Threats?
Online or internet threats can come in many different forms. Some examples of online or internet threats include, but are not limited to, threatening to kill or hurt someone, making harassing comments or posts about someone, cyberbullying, doxxing, and swatting.
Doxxing is when someone releases private information about another person online without their consent. This private information could include the person's home address, phone number, email address, place of work, etc. Doxxing can be done for many different reasons, but oftentimes it is done to harass or threaten the person whose information has been released.
Swatting is when someone makes a false report to emergency services in an attempt to get police or SWAT teams to respond to the victim's address. This practice is extremely dangerous and often results in innocent people getting hurt or killed.
The above is just a small sample of the types of activities that can be considered internet threats and that can put your entire educational career and future in jeopardy.
School Rules Against Causing Harm Via the Internet
Some colleges and universities are doing what they can to help ensure that students don't cross the line from healthy online discourse into internet threats.
At the University of Arizona, the school explains how students must learn to practice good "cyber ethics". The term "cyber ethics" refers to the code of responsible behavior on the internet. The school explains that the lessons like "do not harm others" extends to the internet as well.
Some of the school's rules regarding responsible internet behavior include:
- Don't cyberbully
- Don't break into someone else's computer
- Don't use other people's passwords
- Don't use language that's considered offensive or rude
- Follow copyright restrictions when downloading material from the web like music, games, software, and other items
- Don't hack into someone else's computers
Colleges and universities across the country have rules like this in place to help protect all of their students. Schools understand that the ability to hurt someone has gone from the physical world to the online world, and they're doing everything they can to protect their students.
School Conduct Code Violations and Sanctions
Colleges and universities have their own, specific procedures in place that must be followed in order for disciplinary action to be taken if students have violated their codes of conduct.
Once a report has been filed against a student, the school will conduct an investigation to determine whether there is enough evidence to move forward with a hearing. If there is, the student will be notified and given a chance to present their side of the story.
At the hearing, both the student and the person who filed the report will have an opportunity to present witnesses and evidence. The hearing panel will then deliberate and decide on a course of action.
Some common sanctions could include the following:
Probation: This is a period of time during which you are allowed to remain enrolled at the school but are under close scrutiny. If you violate any additional rules during this probationary period, you may be subject to harsher penalties, such as suspension or expulsion.
Suspension: This is a temporary removal from the school for a specified period of time. During this time, you will not be allowed to attend classes or participate in any extracurricular activities. After the suspension period is over, you will be allowed to return to school but will likely be placed on probationary status.
Expulsion: This is permanent removal from the school. If you are expelled, you will not be allowed to return to school and will have to withdraw from all classes. An expulsion from college can make it difficult to transfer credits to another institution and may negatively impact your future career prospects.
Why Should You Get Legal Help?
If you have been accused of violating your school's code of conduct, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the evidence that will be used in the hearing. They can also help prepare you for the hearing and represent you during the hearing if necessary.
If you've been accused of making internet threats, reach out to Joseph D. Lento and the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm. They have years of experience working with students who've dealt with the same exact issues. They can help you prepare the best defense possible.
Contact Joseph Lento and the rest of the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. Your future depends on it.