Are you a college student facing an accusation from your school’s Academic Misconduct or Code of Conduct office? Here are 5 tips from attorneys who have seen real-life success.
Find a Trusted Support Person (or a few)
There are several reasons you should immediately find support when you are facing an allegation of cheating, nonconsensual sexual contact, underage drinking, fighting, vandalism – you name it. First and foremost, it is stressful! The process is probably new and scary to you. Secondly, you need someone to bounce your defense off of. Students often tell me their side of the story, and we say “HOLD UP! That is a bad defense.” Or we respond with, “What about this angle or that detail?” Lastly, depending on your individual mental health status, you may need to seek support from a mental health professional or take advantage of your school’s disability services department to assist you with maintaining your other classes and responsibilities while the process is ongoing. The worst thing you can do is assume you will be kicked out of school, and stop going to classes or completing assignments.
Read Your School’s Code of Conduct Thoroughly
You need to know two things: exactly what you are being charged with, and exactly what events will occur on the path to adjudication. Your school’s code of conduct should be available online or through your student portal. If you have questions on your rights as an accused student or what to expect at a hearing, it is best to seek the advice of someone who has gone through this before you. (And yep, that’s where Lawyers for Students comes in!)
Complete a Detailed Timeline of Events
This is key! Prepare a timeline of events leading up to the incident and following the incident, along with supporting documentation if you have it. Your timeline can be written in bullet points, but should account for every event leading up to the incident and include explanations. This will make it easier for you to present your side of the story in a thorough yet organized way when presenting it to an attorney or advisor to assist in preparing your defense, or keeping yourself on point for when you meet with an investigator. Supporting documentation could include text messages with other students, reasons why you joined a GroupMe where answers were shared, how you performed on other assignments, correspondence with professors, history between your significant other and you, phone records, screenshots, (to name just a few ideas).
Practice Like You Play
This can be as simple as reciting your timeline to yourself a few times, or as detailed as a mock hearing. When we prepare students to be interviewed or attend a conduct hearing, we ask tough questions and get you comfortable answering. The students who are the most successful are always the students who have prepared and practiced.
Exercise Your Right to an Advisor
What’s on the line? Your tuition money. If you are suspended in the middle of a semester, there is no right to a refund. If you are expelled three weeks before graduation, that’s a big investment with no return. Your future career goals. Were you thinking of grad school? Medical school? Law school? They will ask if you have a conduct record. Your future career timeline. If you are suspended for a semester, that is just another semester between you and landing that job. Embarrassment. Get ready to call Grandma and tell her to cancel her plane ticket. You won’t be graduating for another year. Most schools allow you to have an advisor or attorney with you during this process. That person can not only assist you in preparing your defense, timeline, and practice – that person can be your eyes, ears, and brain during a meeting or hearing. Questions will be asked of you, curveballs may be thrown… backup is always a good thing, especially when you are stressed and nervous to the max!
If you are a college student accused of misconduct, we’d love to help you. We frequently represent students all over Ohio, from preparation-only capacity to attending hearings.
Call us today. 614-745-2001.
The information contained on the site is intended to convey general information about the services offered by Albeit Weiker, LLP and should not be considered legal advice.