SOURCE: Association for Student Conduct Administration

Association for Student Conduct Administration

June 28, 2016 06:00 ET

Report Examines an Attorney's Role in the Student Conduct Process

ASCA Releases Report Informing Best Practices in Student Conduct

COLLEGE STATION, TX--(Marketwired - Jun 28, 2016) - The Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) has released a new resource for student conduct and higher education professionals. "An Attorney's Role in the Student Conduct Process" by Tamara King, JD, and Benjamin White, JD, provides insights and recommendations for how attorneys and individuals in student conduct roles can navigate various aspects of the campus conduct process.

"We've reached a tipping point in higher education where student conduct issues are becoming increasingly more complex and difficult to navigate," said Jennifer Waller, ASCA Executive Director. "Serious behavioral issues such as sexual assault are turning into epidemics across college campuses nationwide. In addition to education and prevention efforts, we have a lot of work to do in order to fine-tune the adjudication process while still maintaining the flexibility to address incidents on a case-by-case basis."

As the report states, there are times when the participation of an attorney in campus adjudication is appropriate and necessary. For example, when students face criminal charges and/or are at risk for suspension and/or dismissal. An attorney's role should be clearly defined in the institution's student conduct code. Given the number of student conduct cases that arise each year, situations where attorney participation is necessary are small in number and scope. Therefore, involvement of attorneys in the process should occur on a limited basis and no process should be dictated by the financial ability or inability of a student to hire legal counsel.

Student conduct professionals understand that the road to prevention is linked to education, counseling and creating a culture of reporting on campus. Students need various options for support in order to feel they can come forward and report an incident. For students who experience sexual misconduct, most want the option to report the incident to trusted advisors without facing a legal requirement to get attorneys involved or press charges.

"When attorneys become part of the student conduct equation, it can shift the focus from having the student take responsibility for his or her actions to 'getting off the hook,'" said Waller. "We need to do better when it comes to protecting all parties involved, that's why ASCA is dedicated to providing the resources and training to help build safer communities and positively impact the higher education experience."

Report Highlights:

  • Student Conduct Professionals with JDs -- some student conduct professionals have a law school education or professional legal background; and more and more institutions are looking to hire JDs for this role. Those without JD credentials should look for additional training from ASCA's Gehring Academy or equivalent requisite training.
  • Students' Rights -- students are expected to take an active role in responding to allegations of misconduct. Therefore, it's in the student's best interest to engage in the process. The Office of Student Conduct will communicate directly with the student. Attorneys are not allowed to participate directly in any part of the conduct process, however, a student may at any time seek assistance from legal counsel.
  • Standard of Proof -- the burden of proof will be such that the respondent will be presumed not responsible for the violation(s). Responsibility of the respondent must be established to the satisfaction of the student conduct review board or administrator by a preponderance of the evidence. A student will be found responsible of the alleged violation(s) if it is more than likely he/she violated the Student Code of Conduct or university policies.
  • Financial Ability/Inability -- it's fundamentally unfair to have a student conduct process wherein the outcomes are determined based upon whether the student has the resources to hire an attorney. This is not just an affordability issue for the student but for the institution as well.

To access the report: http://www.theasca.org/files/Best%20Practices/Attorney%20role%20in%20conduct%20process%20%202.pdf

To access additional resources and best practices from ASCA: http://www.theasca.org/best_practices

For more information, please contact asca@tamu.edu.

About ASCA
ASCA is the leading voice for student conduct in higher education. ASCA's network of qualified professionals is dedicated to cultivating student responsibility and accountability through prevention education, investigation and adjudication. ASCA members are trained and equipped to uphold the integrity of the student conduct process, resulting in the ability to build safer educational communities and positively impact the higher education experience. 

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