Students of William Paterson University are placed under the Student Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is intended to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the members of the University community. The University defines a number of potential behaviors which it believes have the potential to jeopardize or infringe upon the community as violations. Committing a violation subjects a student to swift and immediate disciplinary action from the University.
William Paterson University allows for its version of Due Process for students who violate the Student Code of Conduct, however, it is significantly simpler, quicker, and more informal than the standard criminal procedure. The process begins with allegations of a code violation against a student being sent to the Director of Student Conduct. The Director of Student Conduct will then notify the student of the allegations. From that point, the student will be known as the "responding student."
Hearings will be held in one of two ways: either by a single hearing officer, or by a review from the University Hearing Board. Hearings conducted by the University Hearing Board are typically limited to allegations that are serious enough to warrant suspension or expulsion. The University Hearing Board will also hear cases that may affect the University Community as a whole. Violations that do not constitute the seriousness reserved for the University Hearing Board will be heard out by a single Hearing Officer. A Hearing Officer will either be the Director of Student Conduct, or a designated representative.
A hearing with a single Hearing Officer will follow a mostly informal process. After the responding student is given their official notice, they will be given the date and time of their hearing, and informed of what specific violations they face. Responding students will be given the opportunity to present their own eye-witnesses to the situation, so long as these witnesses were not given any violations. Students are welcome to have an attorney at their hearing alongside them as well. After the investigation and hearing has concluded, the Hearing Officer will make the decision as to whether or not the responding student is responsible for a code violation.
University Hearing Board
Cases heard by the William Paterson University Hearing Board follow a slightly stricter process, and more closely follow a process that can be likened to a criminal trial. The responding student will be notified of what violations they are alleged of committing. They will also be notified of a pre-hearing meeting to discuss the violations and possibly present additional information for the University Hearing Board to review during the hearing. During the hearing responding students will be able to present eye-witnesses in their favor. Responding students in hearings before the University Hearing Board are also welcome to the presence of an attorney. Legal counsel at a University Board Hearing will greatly boost a responding student's confidence, and can greatly influence the overall outcome. In addition, a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with the university disciplinary process can provide invaluable advice as to what a responding student should emphasize or avoid when presenting evidence or testimony. The University Hearing Board itself will consist of three voting members, and will make the determination of whether a responding student is responsible or not responsible for the violations after the hearing has concluded. The basis of the determination relies on the preponderance of information; meaning that if there is simply more evidence levied against the responding student they can be found responsible for the violation.
William Paterson University will impose disciplinary sanctions if a responding student is found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct, University and/or Campus Activities, Service and Leadership policies and procedures. More than one of the sanctions listed below may be imposed for a violation, and the full range of sanctions is available depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Possible sanctions include:
- Official Warning
- Campus Life Probation
- Disciplinary Probation
- Loss of Campus Housing
- Suspension from the University
- Expulsion from the University
- Order of No Contact
- Administrative Relocation
- Other Sanctions (as deemed appropriate)
In addition to any of the above, the University will impose additional sanctions for academic integrity violations as deemed appropriate.
Regretfully, some William Paterson 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 William Paterson 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.
William Paterson 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. William Paterson 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.
Experience Matters - An Experienced Attorney's Role When Representing a William Paterson University Student
William Paterson University and a student's attorney may be able to work together to achieve an agreeable resolution before Student Code of Conduct disciplinary violations 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 liaison between William Paterson 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 William Paterson 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.
A attorney's involvement at William Paterson University in matters involving Student Code of Conduct disciplinary charges and/or academic disciplinary charges should not be confused with William Paterson 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 William Paterson University as well as behind the scenes to defend against sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations.
An experienced student discipline defense attorney will understand and use the most effective strategies when handling a student's case at William Paterson University.
Appeals are reviewed differently depending on what type of hearing was conducted.
Students who had their hearing in front of a single Hearing Officer have 5 business days to submit an appeal to the Associate Vice President of Campus Life. These appeals can only be made if the outcome of the hearing resulted in the Loss of Campus Housing. The grounds for the appeal are disproportionate sanctioning for the actions, procedural error during the hearing, and new information that was unavailable at the hearing.
University Hearing Board
The appellate process for cases heard by the University Hearing Board is similar to that of cases heard by a Hearing Officer. The deadline and grounds for appeal remain the same, however, the appeal itself must be submitted to Vice President for Student Development. Likewise, William Paterson University appeals can only be made if the student has lost University Housing, or has been suspended or expelled.
If you or your student is currently facing disciplinary action from William Paterson University, contact university student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.