Widener University employs a Student Code of Conduct to ensure it keeps a safe and secure learning environment for its students. The Student Code of Conduct is located in the Student Handbook. Students who fail to uphold the rules of the University will be subject to the Campus Student Conduct System. Students who are facing charges of violations will be known as the "alleged violator" throughout the various Campus Student Conduct System processes.
Widener University Informal Adjudication
The first step in the process is known as Informal Adjudication. The process begins when a complaint is filed against a student. Any member of the University community can file a complaint. Once it is filed, the Office of Student Conduct will evaluate the details of the complaint to determine if a violation occurred. If a violation is believed to have occurred, there will be an investigator appointed to see if allegations have merit to form a prima facie violation. The investigator will charge the student with a prima facie violation, if necessary. The alleged violator will then be contacted for a meeting. From here, the alleged violator can accept the determination and any accompanying sanctions, or alternatively, can accept either one or both. An alleged violator that accepts the determination, but not the sanction, is required to proceed directly to the appeals process.
Formal Student Conduct Hearing
Formal Student Conduct Hearings at Widener University will be decided by a board of 3-5 members, all of whom can be students, administration, staff, or faculty. There will be a specially pre-appointed Chair who can be likened to a judge, and an assigned Student Conduct Administrator who will behave somewhat like a prosecutor. At times, the Student Conduct Administrator may want to hold a pre-hearing meeting to discuss elements of the case on both sides. At the hearing, the Student Conduct Administrator will be the first to present their findings from the investigation, witnesses, and any evidence. The alleged violator will have a chance to respond, and will be able to proceed with evidence and witnesses that support their case afterwards.
Students will be welcome to the presence of an attorney at their proceedings. Students with an attorney by their side will feel more confident and assured in their case. Attorneys will also be the source of a wealth of knowledge for students. Attorneys are skilled with techniques such as evidence selection and presentation, as well as questioning evidence and witnesses brought against the case. These skills will be invaluable to students facing hearings.
Widener University Sanctions
Widener University will impose disciplinary sanctions when sufficient evidence exists to support the allegations contained in a disciplinary charge or complaint against an alleged violator. The disciplinary sanction will be based upon the gravity and nature of the offense/violation. A student's prior disciplinary record will also be considered in determining sanctions. Disciplinary sanctions that suspend a student's privileges will indicate the specific time period when and how suspended privileges may be regained, if at all. One or more of the following disciplinary sanctions may be imposed by the University:
- No Further Action
- Written Official Warning
- Removal from Living Unit/Eviction
- Assignment to Alternate Housing
- Limitation of Access to Designated University Housing Facilities and Other Campus Facilities by Time and Location
- Campus Service Hour
- Disciplinary Probation
- Removal from Student Organization Office or Athletic Team
- Fines and Restitution
- Revocation of Admission and/or Degree
- Withholding the Degree
- Constructive or Educational Task(s)
- Counseling Center Referrals
- Medical/Health Center Referrals
- Psychological/Psychiatric Screenings or Evaluations
- Restriction of Communication with Named Individuals or Groups within the University Community
- Requirement to Secure Advance Authorization to Engage in a Specified Activity
- Rescission, Withdrawal, or Termination of University Scholarships, Grants, Loans, Employment, or Other Financial Aid
The Office of Student Affairs may also impose interim/temporary sanctions pending a Formal Student Conduct Hearing when students are charged with disciplinary violations that present a clear danger to the alleged violator, to other members of the Widener University community, and/or to the surrounding community.
Regretfully, some Widener 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 Widener 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.
(Widener 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. Widener 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.)
Widener University Appeals
In the event of an unfavorable outcome, students may file an appeal to the Office of the Associate Provost & Dean of Students. Appeals must be made within 3 working days in order to be considered. The grounds of appeal are either procedural non-compliance with what is laid out in the Student Code of Conduct, or new evidence to be considered. Bear in mind, that an appellate review can either increase or decrease any sanctioning, if the reviewing party deems it necessary.
What Can You Do?
No university wants to unnecessarily expel, suspend, or punish any of its students; however, university policies can take very harsh stances on breaching their code of conduct. A violation of Widener University's Student Code of Conduct can have severe repercussions on a student's education and future employment prospects. Having an experienced attorney as an advocate can make a substantial difference in a disciplinary proceeding outcome. The earlier you obtain the assistance of counsel, the more effect your attorney can have over the hearing. If you or your student is facing disciplinary action from Widener University, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.