Students who bring forth allegations (complainants), and individuals responding to them (respondents) have the right to choose a person to serve as their advisor throughout the adjudication process. Here are some questions that I am commonly asked by students about the role of an advisor in their school's processes.
My school said I can select an advisor to assist me during the student conduct process. What does this mean?
The right to an advisor is extended because complainants and respondents will undoubtedly need assistance understanding and navigating their school's processes. A large part of the student conduct process is an investigation, which is a way that the college or university determines whether school policy has been violated. A school-sanctioned investigation isn't a legal proceeding, and as a result, doesn't determine guilt or innocence relative to any local, state, or federal laws. An advisor is tasked with helping a party prepare for this portion of the process, and all the other parts that come along with it, this includes meetings, conferences, proceedings, and the appeals process, if applicable.
What is the advisor's role in the student conduct process?
During the student conduct process, an effective advisor should have a comprehensive understanding of your school's process, and offer proper insight and support until adjudication is over. Here is a list of things that an advisor can do to help their party throughout the process:
- Seek clarification about the investigation process
- Ask procedural questions
- Alert the investigator or Title IX coordinator about acts of retaliation
- Be there for emotional support
- Accompany a party to any administrative meetings or conversation related to the investigation
However, there are limits to advising. There are some things they aren't legally allowed to do. For example, an advisor may not…
- Act in a way that interrupts the investigation process
- Take the place of or stand in for a party
- Disclose any information shared or learned throughout the investigation with anyone other than the party
- Misrepresent themselves as an investigator or another person during the process
Does an advisor need to be an attorney?
The short answer is no. A student may select any person to be an advisor, but it would be in their best interest - for respondents especially - to retain an attorney to take on this role. There are attorneys who specifically work with people in these situations, and understand the ins and outs of the process. A legal professional can also protect your rights, and recognize when a school acts irresponsibly towards a party.
Nationwide Title IX Advisor
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. For respondents, especially, the assistance of an attorney advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.