College Judicial Consultants

Information on college, conduct, Greek life, advocacy, and fairness-published every Tuesday and Friday morning.

Archive for the category “college trouble”

Top Five (or 6) Reasons Students Get in More Trouble At the End of the Year

In my experience, the last 6 weeks of school have the highest amount of judicial incidents. I wanted to share some of the reasons for the spike, and offer some tips on how to prevent them. (As always, if you have any problems or want some advice on how to avoid problems, we can help.)

  • Senior Week. While it may be true that the rules are “relaxed” during this week, there is always someone who will take it too far and confuse relaxed enforcement with anarchy. Every year there are seniors who wake up from a night of debauchery to find that they have a meeting with the judicial office and have placed their graduation in jeopardy. Tip: Remember not to fight, destroy things, do drugs, or commit sexual assault and you should be okay. Better yet, stop drinking before you won’t remember all the fun you had.
  • Senior Week, Greek Version—Once classes and exams are over there are occasionally seniors who decide they can party with reckless abandon. The problem is that if they violate the rules, even if they are the only people left in the house, your fraternity or sorority will still be held accountable for their actions long after they’ve graduated. Tip: Work with your chapter advisors and Greek life office to separate your chapter from any “problem seniors” before they do something wrong. Even letting those resources know you’re concerned will help mitigate the trouble later if something happens.
  • You Are “Sick of It”—Stress makes small sparks into huge flames. If you are in a forced relationship with someone (roommate, project team, etc.) that has been difficult to this point, it is not going to get easier.  Tip: Get help-your RA, hall director, TA, and professors either have some training in mediation or can point you to someone who does. Address these issues BEFORE you lose it on your roommate for putting on Skrillex at 3am AGAIN, or on that jerk in your business class who isn’t doing his part.

 break-upcartoon

  • Breakups—When you’re in a relationship with issues, nothing brings those to the forefront like the looming specter of finals and summer break. Many breakups happen during the last 6 weeks of school, and someone invariably does not handle it well. This can lead to things like late night confrontations, unwelcomed and repeated texts/phone calls, and other behavior that quickly escalate to stalking and harassment. Tip: Listen to what the other person is telling you regarding his or her boundaries and respect those even if it doesn’t seem “fair.” Connect with the counseling center or administrators you know to safely talk it out.
  • Missed Work Catches Up With You—April and May are also big “academic misconduct” months. If you are too behind in a class to catch up, remember that an earned F is better than a sanctioned zero and a year home on suspension. Tip: Talk to your professor and explain your situation. Addressing it with 5-6 weeks to go will be well received, and your professor may even have some tips to help you feel less overwhelmed.
  • Spring Weekend—In the Spring almost every school has a major event with great musical and comedic acts and day-long functions—essentially they throw a HUGE two-day bash. In addition, there are also a lot of unofficial parties happening at the same time. What you may not realize, is Spring Weekend is also a time where most student affairs staff are required to work. In other words, there are more people on the look out for problems and disruptions than at any other point during the year. So when a student lets loose and comes to campus after they’ve been drinking for 6 hours in the sun or tried mushroom tea for the first time, they get caught. Tip: If you’re going to “get wasted” have a safe place to stay away from campus and people to make sure you’re okay. While you may miss Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the quad, you won’t miss school for the year you’re suspended. Bonus Tip: Watch your guests! Remember that if your friends come visit that their actions can be held against you as if you did them yourself. Be prepared to keep anyone who visits in check.

Do you have any questions you would like answered regarding judicial issues, risk management, student advocacy, or anything else? Email me at davek@collegejudicialconsultants.com. I’ll answer every email I receive and may use some of them in a newsletter or blog.

Advertisements

What You Post On Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media WILL Get You In Trouble.

This week I worked with students from Boston University’s Panhel and IFC on next step risk management. Towards the end of our time together, one brother asked me if Facebook posts could be used against them in a judicial hearing. If you read nothing else, know this—what you say/post on social media (or on most internet sites) can absolutely come back to hurt you.

My expertise is in the campus judicial process and in those hearings, the civil and criminal rules of evidence do not apply (which is one reason hiring an attorney makes less sense than hiring us.) This means that hearsay, unverifiable reports, biased testimony, and other evidence not allowed in court are used in judicial hearings. So, as a rule (even though there are some exceptions)—there are no barriers to using what you post in a blog/social media/other site against you in a judicial hearing. In other words, if you post something silly that shows you violating campus policy on the internet you can expect it to come back to bite you. Ask Sigma Chi at Central Florida what happened when this picture surfaced:

UCF_FRAT_SUSPENDED

The caption on TotalFratMove.com was “Forcing a pledge to chug while two others puke in misery. Total Frat Move.”

The best advice I have to avoid trouble through social media posts is simple—do not do anything that, if recorded, would get you in trouble. However, if you ignore that first part make sure it isn’t recorded. (Most of us with a past of “spotty” decision-making are really happy Facebook wasn’t a thing when we were in college.)

You may be saying “well, duh”, but you would be surprised at the many ways posts and pictures come to the attention of administrators:

  • Your social media accounts are not set to “private.” Don’t let a picture show up accidentally when someone is just trying to get in touch with you.

If you’re going to post pictures of yourself doing a 2 story beer bong, you should make sure your hall director can’t find it when checking the dorm’s Facebook page.

  • You have been tagged in a photo or post. People LOVE tagging their friends when they have a photo that could embarrass them. That’s fine, but when you’re tagged it becomes easier to find. Either set your privacy levels to prohibit someone from tagging you or check (regularly and often) to make sure you aren’t.
  • Your photo was “shared” with the administration. Off the top of my head I can think of 4 sorority judicial cases and 2 fraternity cases that came from someone sharing photos of them violating party rules, hazing, or committing a recruitment violation. There are many reasons someone might do this, but the point is that if it is brought to your admin or judicial officer’s attention it has to be responded to.

If he is your pledge, this will always get you in trouble.

  • Parents researched you because they are concerned about their son/daughter. This is especially true just after roommate assignments are made, but it can be true all year. If a pledge has a protective parent you should expect that parent to check out every other pledge’s and every brother/sister’s pages to see what they can find. If they find anything, they’re probably going to share it.
  • You are part of a national organization (honor society, NCAA, fraternity, sorority, etc.) and someone from that organization is checking on the members. This is less common, but if you are part of something and thus represent something there is going to be someone who believes you should be upholding the values and reputation of the group you joined and/or someone who resents it.

The good news is that most judicial officers I know do not seek out incriminating photos, and even the ones that might do not try to get past privacy settings or build a case solely on what you put out there. As with most things, the more incriminating your post the more risk you take, so ask yourself if posting it is worth it before doing so.

I leave you with my 5 rules of posting:

  1. Never post something that embarrasses someone else without his or her express permission. (Yes, this includes that picture of your friend passed out with writing all over him.)
  2. Assume anything you post will slip out of your control and be seen by more people than you intended. (*cough* Anthony Weiner.)
  3. Understand what your posts and profiles say about you to anyone who searches you out. In most cases, people do not take the time to get past the impression you chose to give them.
  4. Never make a decision about what you should post when you’re wasted (or even buzzed.)
  5. Pretend you’re not you and Google yourself occasionally to see what someone can find. Fix anything you don’t like.

Have you or anyone you know ever been in trouble because of a post they made? Do you have any questions you would like answered? Email me at davek@collegejudicialconsultants.com or post in the comments and let’s talk about it!

Join our mailing list for periodic updates, offers, and give aways.

Getting Better Advisors–Why Administrators Are Wrong About Us, And Why That Mistake May Hurt You

At College Judicial Consultants we have tremendous respect for judicial officers, Greek advisors, and other administrators, but believe they should be less mistrustful of outside help during the campus judicial process. When that help is an attorney for the non-legal judicial process, that help can indeed hurt a student and cost the student thousands of dollars. While we understand that mistrust, we believe that when you look at the support offered on campus, we are not truly outside.

Fact 1: Every student discipline system allows a student or organization (“respondent”) to have an advisor, with most limiting that advisor to a non-attorney from the campus community.

Fact 2: Only a handful of schools have an organized advisor program where they train a few faculty and staff in how the system works and make those people available for students going through the process. These advisors are well intended and may help a few students each year. However, their job is to make sure the student understands the process and is connected to campus resources; not to “help” the student minimize the consequence or negate false accusations. In other words, they are there for emotional and psychological support only. That support is REALLY important (in fact we encourage every client to take advantage of it) but that type of advising is less than a respondent needs when they are innocent or the stakes are high.

When a respondent goes through the disciplinary process there are two essential parts of that process the respondent needs to understand—the procedure and the content. Judicial officers often say that their system is “different” and thus requires someone with specific training to understand it. While this is technically correct, ask your judicial officer if he or she can understand other systems and I’ll bet you $5 they won’t have a problem doing so. Judicial systems have slight differences, but they are similar enough that there are best practices, model codes, community assessment models, and uniform standards. More importantly, any system they have must be explainable AND in writing in a way to make it understandable. When you meet with the judicial officer he or she will explain it to you and that explanation is essentially the same “training” the advisors from the school receive.

The much more important part is developing the content where the respondent gets the chance to tell their side of the story and present evidence to show how their version is correct and the accusations are inaccurate. It is during this part of the process where respondents make mistakes that can get them found responsible when they are not, and make their sanction worse than it needed to be. It is in this arena that our consultants are miles ahead of any other “advisor” you will get from the school for two very important reasons:

  1. The least experienced of our consultants has seen at least 10 times the number of cases as the most experienced advisor from your school (with that number closer to 50 times more.) This means that your consultant has seen literally hundreds more responses than anyone you will find on campus, and are much more likely to have seen a case with similar facts to yours.
  2. Our consultants’ only goal is to make sure you are not found responsible for something you did not do and have the smallest consequence possible for what you did. We are not faculty who have opinions about plagiarism at your school. We are not administrators who have had to deal with “problem” students. In other words, we do not have any reason to protect the school, the community, or the system.

In other words, we are like the best advisor you might find on campus but with vastly more experience, and without any agenda other than giving a respondent the best chance for the best result. Why would anyone on your campus not want you to take advantage of that?

 Contact us for a free and completely confidential consultation to go over your case and see what we can do for you.

Know the People That Affect You In College (i.e. the Accidental Good Idea)

When I was in college, I was the classic example of a smart kid who made bad decisions. If there were 2 ways to do something and one way could get me in trouble that was the way I invariably chose…and chose it often. It was so bad that it became pointless for me to try and avoid mistakes, and success became learning a lesson early enough to not make the same mistake more than twice. Some of these mistakes were small and some involved police being called, but any one of them could have been the thing that got me sent home.

There was exactly one reason I was able to be that donkey and still graduate (and it wasn’t because I had good grades or my almost unbelievable charm.) The simple truth is that I got to know everyone in a position of authority that I could. I knew not just the RAs on my floor, but I knew the ones from my building and when someone came around I didn’t know I introduced myself. I knew the hall director, the student government advisor, the judicial officer, and every one of my professors. I met some of them when things went wrong, but for the most part I knew them simply because they directly or indirectly had authority over my life. This was not an intentional strategy, but it turned out to be a good one.

When I started working in higher education I was reminded of my relationship building because a small percentage of students took the time to do the same with me.  There are several reasons this is a good idea:

  1. Almost without exception the people working in student affairs and with students are good people with interesting stories. If you know that first hand it will improve your interactions down the road.
  2. People are more inclined to help when they know you. This is simple human nature. If you are “Jennifer” and you get caught smoking marijuana in the dorm, the first instinct will be to do more for you than if you’re “that girl in 205.”
  3. You get the chance to let someone know who you are so they don’t just judge you when they “have to.” This is similar to #2, but more positive. When I was in charge of judicial issues, if someone came up to me to change the way something was enforced I was a lot more open to it than if they tried to make the same argument because they were “caught.” The truth is that when a person in authority knows you he or she is much more inclined to trust the motives you present rather than make assumptions you may not like.
  4. There are numerous opportunities that get presented to these people, and the better they know you the more likely it is that you will be informed of them. This can be as simple as being on a committee or information about a paid internship.

If you are going to get to know someone, remember that they are busy as well. If the person is an administrator make (and keep!!!) an appointment. Go to programs, say hi, help out, and do other things that show you’re a good person before you need them to believe it. Besides being a good way to check out some other life options, it can also be fun.

Obligatory plug: Subscribe to this blog, check out our website, follow me on Twitter, or like us on Facebook (if people still do that.) Also check out our friends at The Greak Tweak if you’re in a fraternity, sorority, or just want some good advice.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind–Why Disciplinary Suspension is Not Educational

I do a lot of outreach to student life administrators at colleges and national organizations to let them know about our services for individuals and groups. Occasionally I’ll get a response from one that aggressively claims that our job is to “stop students from having any accountability” and thus “contrary to the “education” of a judicial system.” There are a lot of problems with this accusation, but the biggest one is that the severity of a sanction is not inherently related to the educational merit. If the purpose of a campus judicial system is primarily to educate the person or organization going through the process, then temporarily pulling that student out of the environment where the people most capable of educating him are located makes no sense.

Let’s say Tim Student plagiarizes a paper and gets caught. One of two things is true-either Tim is a completely dishonest person who cheats repeatedly or Tim demonstrated weakness and made a really bad decision. If Tim is a habitual cheater, sending him home for a semester or a year might make him reassess whether cheating is worth the risk, but it will not teach him that it is wrong. It may teach him that the price of getting caught is not worth the benefit of cheating which may be a deterrent, but it is not educational. It’s the judicial equivalent of shocking the mouse if he hits the wrong button. There will be some point where a situation has a benefit that is worth the cost, and Tim will absolutely cheat again. If, however, Tim is like most of us and makes occasional bad decisions, then suspending him teaches him nothing. It does not address the issues that lead to the decision to plagiarize and it separates him from the support resources he would need to develop the tools that will allow him to maintain his integrity in the future. Tim staying on campus allows the school, and specifically the student support professionals, to do actual development work with him.

I should point out that there is also value in sanctioning to protect the students who are doing the right thing. In other words, if someone cheats he should be sanctioned strongly enough that the majority that does not cheat feel justified in doing the “extra” work (i.e. they do not get outperformed by cheaters.) However, if Tim is and will remain a cheater, why allow him back into that community at all? Expelling him sends a stronger message, protects the community more, and makes the cost to Tim even higher. If Tim loses everything and associates that loss with “getting caught,” there will be even fewer things worth that cost and thus fewer times where Tim might cheat again in the future. Expel the cheaters and keep the students worth saving on campus. Of course nobody comes forth and says “I absolutely did this on purpose and will do it again,” so it is difficult to identify the habitual offenders.  A good system should therefore err on the side of helping a responsible student grow and develop into the type of person the school wants their graduates to be. Allowing him to stay on campus can still protect the community. There are many things you can do to someone while keeping them on campus (e.g. fail them for the class, put them on probation for the rest of their career, place a notation on their transcript, mandate self-improvement sessions, etc.) If Tim cheats again or he fails to meet the terms of the sanction, he will reveal himself as irredeemable and then expelling him will make sense.

These same ideas are true with a fraternity, sorority, or other student organization. If a chapter makes a mistake, suspending them for a year does not help them improve. Again, if an organization is dangerous enough to merit removing them from the community for a limited period of time (i.e. suspending them) then why allow them to return at all? If they are a hazing fraternity, suspending them for a year does not protect the students or the community. Expel habitual offenders that are a danger to the community because of their inability or unwillingness to change, and work with the rest to make them better. Suspension neither protects nor educates. We do everything we can to keep an organization on campus so that the very people who criticize us for doing so can help that chapter be what it should.

At College Judicial Consultants we believe that most students or student groups get in trouble, that action is a symptom of a personal or cultural problem, requiring the help and support that separating them from the school does not give. Those students who stray, those students that make serious mistakes, and even those students of flawed character need the support and encouragement of administrators and other authority figures even more than those who do not. Sending them home or suspending their existence as an organization does nothing more than make the lesson “don’t get caught.” Suspending an individual or group treats them the same as the worse offenders, puts them on the defensive, and obfuscates any lessons that are trying to be taught. The solution is a sanction that requires the student or organization to work on the deeper flaws in character or judgment, partner with campus and other officials to do so, and has measurable outcomes to ensure that they make positive change. This is much more difficult, but education is not supposed to be easy.

Avoiding Looking Guilty During Finals

Most college students will have their finals next week, and I wanted to share some frequent “mistakes” students make to hopefully help a lot of you avoid getting into trouble.

  1. Make sure you fully understand your professor’s interpretation of the collaboration policy.  You are probably allowed to work together on final projects and presentations, but many professors have individual twists on the collaboration policy especially around finals.  You are responsible for whatever is written in the syllabus, whatever is said in class, AND whatever your school’s policy is on this issue.  Check with your professor to make sure your understanding of the policy is correct.  This is ESPECIALLY true for take home exams.
  2. On take home exams, follow the instructions regarding collaboration and acceptable source material exactly.  If you have 3 take home exams, chances are you will have 3 different sets of rules and expectations regarding collaboration and what you can use when completing the exam.  Your professors know that many students will cheat and use prohibited resources so he or she will be looking for some signs of academic misconduct. Take the B or C rather than trying to cut corners for the A.  I know take home exams suck, but getting caught sucks a lot more.
  3. Make sure you know how your professors feel about using past exams to study, especially if you are in a fraternity or sorority and have a “bible” with old exams in it. While I think it is fine to use old exams to study, avoid these mistakes:
    1. Do not bring in old exams you have as part of any “open book” test.
    2. Do not memorize solutions.  Even if you have memorized them because of your giant brain, do each problem/answer each question from scratch.  Faculty, especially faculty that use old exams, usually have things in the questions that they expect students to get wrong or answer a certain way and when someone doesn’t they get suspicious.
    3. If you have been told expressly what you can and cannot do in terms of using old tests, follow those instructions.  Professors have more experience catching cheaters than you do breaking the rules.
  4. Do not make the common mistakes people make when doing their final paper. I know many of you are going to half-ass your final papers especially if they are in a “blow off” class, but make sure that no matter how little effort you put in you avoid doing the following:
    1. Do not use Wikipedia.  I know that is almost hack advice at this point, but people do it every semester.  Here’s how they get caught:
      1. They actually quote Wikipedia and try to attribute that quote to a different source. Professors Google phrases.  You will get caught.
      2. Using a source sited in Wikipedia not in their library and that might be considered a “rare” book (i.e., no way you found it.)
    2. Make sure you cite your work properly.  A lot of plagiarism cases are based on students either not citing their work or citing it improperly in a way that looks like they are trying to take credit.  Go to your writing center or check with your TA to make sure you understand what’s expected
    3. Do not use a paper from another class.  Professors who teach similar subjects usually know each other and there is zero defense for doing this other than “I didn’t know I couldn’t” which never works.
    4. If you have someone proofread make sure his or her edits are put into your own words.
  5. Don’t cheat. I do not know a single person who didn’t know they cheated when I was in school, but as a professional I met dozens each year that claimed they didn’t know.  You know, and if you aren’t sure whether something you’re doing is cheating, it probably is.

All that being said, if you do make a mistake it is crucial that you handle the consequences properly. We have continued our 20% off sale though December 20, 2012.   The best time to get our help is before you meet with anyone officially, but we have a variety of services to help you.  So don’t do anything to get in trouble for academic misconduct or violating the honor code, but if you do get in touch with us ASAP.

Good luck on finals and congratulations on finishing the semester!

 

 

Bring us to your campus!

We have launched a new campaign on RocketHub to raise money to do a nationwide college tour beginning in February.  Go to our page on RocketHub for more info.  If we get enough money I will spend up to 6 weeks on the road going to as many colleges as possible to do workshops and/or presentations on risk management, student advocacy, fairness, or other related topics that meet the needs of each audience.  

Many chapters, IFCs, Panhellenic Councils, and other student groups have asked that we do something.  This is your chance to bring us to your campus for a fraction of what it would cost otherwise. Depending on your donation, we will publicize you, your organization, or whatever you’d like on our site or even our touring vehicle.  Help change the way college students and student organizations understand their power and advocate for themselves!

(Un?)Intentional Bias Against Greek Organizations–Iowa Edition

There was an article in the Des Moines Register that discusses the higher rates of arrest among Greek students than their non-Greek counterparts that was essentially a reprint of an article published in the Iowa Press Citizen.  There are so many things wrong with the articles that I’m just going to choose a few. As a preface I want to remind you that I am not now, nor have I ever, said that Greek organizations are innocent of all wrongdoing and are framed.  I understand that Greeks, on average, tend to have higher rates of binge drinking and other behaviors.  As I said in an earlier post about the systemic bias against Greeks, the problem is that the police, administrators, and people who assess these behaviors go into their interactions with Greeks expecting a particular result.  That being said, here are some problems with these articles:

1.  The assumption that arrest percentages correlate to a proportional increase in illegal behavior.  Let’s look at the Greek men versus non-Greek men.  According to the article in 2010-2011 fraternity men had an arrest rate of 15.1% and non-Greek men had an arrest rate of 8.5%.  (I’m going to make an assumption that most of these “arrests” are alcohol-related for things like underage possession, public intoxication, open containers, and the like.  I can’t believe that Iowa students are committing more serious crimes at the rate of 1 in 10 male student, and these types of arrests are the ones I’m most familiar with on a campus.) On the surface this seems like a lot, but how are these arrests (most likely citations, by the way) made?  When the police appear at a fraternity party do they ID everyone and cite anyone who is over the limit, underage, etc? Or are these singular arrests of students they stumble upon?  I will bet $100 that these arrests/citations are done in masse which means that every time they show up at something they’re making dozens of arrests/citations? This matters because I can guarantee you that the police are not walking the floors of residence halls on Thursday-Saturday nights.  I may be wrong, but I’ll bet the 8.5% of non-Greek arrests are done in small numbers (1-3 students at a time) and the 15.1% are done in larger numbers.  This would mean that the incidents are not dissimilar.  I could be completely wrong, but there is NOTHING in the data that lets me know either way.

2.  The use of the word “frat” makes it clear that the author is not Greek.  This doesn’t really matter, but it does make it more likely than not that comments that seem anti-Greek are at least carelessly so.

3.  Arrests happen where the police are.  This is a version of the argument explaining the arrest rates in urban/minority areas so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but it essentially says that there is an underlying bias against minorities and the urban poor that makes police in those areas more likely to arrest the people living there.  I think the same is true for Greeks, especially those with fraternity houses outside the school grounds. If you are part of a city or town where the college is a large part of the population, there is often an “us and them” feeling that develops among the non-college population.  For those people nothing expresses the privilege and difference of college students like fraternity houses with neighbors frequently calling the police on anything that is outside the “norms” of the neighborhood.  If you have 30-60 students living in a house, almost everything they do will be outside those norms.  I would ask how many calls to fraternity and sorority houses the police receive, what their patrol patterns are, what their protocols are when the find something in a fraternity/sorority house (as opposed to when something happens in a residence hall) and other questions to give the arrests some context.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll bet you find at least a corresponding 2:1 rate of normal patrols and dispatched calls.

4.  Shame on the University of Iowa (and other schools) for not protecting their students better.  Again, without knowing the actual reasons for the arrests/citations this is conjecture, but it makes me furious when a school allows arrests/citations to be given for drunk in public and underage drinking without fighting the town on those arrests.  An 8.5% arrest rate is ABSURD.  I am all for arresting all students (or anyone) who drives drunk, vandalizes, or commits other crimes where there is either a victim or it is so reckless that a third party-injury is likely.  I also refuse to believe that most of the arrests fall into that category.  So what you have is a police force targeting students for the sole purpose of raising revenue, and the schools allow it.  In fact, “town/gown” relations (the relationship between the school and the local community) almost always has the school apologizing rather than standing up for the students.  I’ve seen it at other schools, but what this type of police profiling does is increase drunk driving (because it’s easier to get away with than walking home), decrease the number of students returning to the safety of their homes (because if you stay indoors, you are less likely to get caught), and other actions that actually decrease student safety.  The solution is not to demand fewer arrests by the students, but to demand that the police treat students the way they treat the rest of the population.  Have the police stop people leaving restaurants and bars, or leaving dinner parties, and watch how quickly the public outrage changes their behavior.

So what can you, as a student government/organization, do?  There are several things:

1.  Organize a week-long boycott of local business.  Remind the city of the benefit students bring to the community and make it clear that the boycott is due to police profiling.  You need to engage the community and get them in the fight because your school won’t do it alone.

2.  Each student should challenge any judicial action resulting from the arrest/citation.  I do not know what action Iowa takes, but I’m willing to bet that there is a protocol that comes into play every time they get a report.  The school is not equipped to handle 8.5-15% of the population demanding a hearing.  Tax the system and maybe you can highlight the injustice to members of the administration who can do something.

3.  Represent yourselves in court and fight EVERY citation.  This is similar to 2, but the impact will be to the courts and the police force.  Most police either can’t attend court or get overtime for doing so.  Make them come.

We would love to help the students in the Iowa Greek community or The University of Iowa Student government develop a system to fight this on behalf of the students.  We can come train a group of you to be advocates, we can represent every student cited for a very reduced rate, or work together to find ways to bring this to a stop.  Get in touch, whether you are at Iowa, Arkansas, or any other school, and let’s see what we can do. Nobody will fight harder for you than you fight for yourselves.  Let me show you how.

If you are a student and want to help us out in less than 3 minutes, please take our survey!  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MGDYXK5 

Why We Are Better Than Hiring An Attorney (Exhibit A)

We understand the process; know how to prepare for hearings; can work with national organizations, alumni or advisors; we don’t threaten the university; we don’t make it about us; and we don’t make you humiliate yourself in public.  Plus, we’re not homophobic.

 

We Are the 5% Solution

We recently were featured in an article in The Dartmouth. The journalist, Ms. Amanda Young, discussed what we do and then spoke with their Director of Undergraduate Affairs, Mr. Nathan Miller, and Ms. Jessica Womack, a junior on Dartmouth’s “Committee on Standards (COS),” to get a sense of whether or not we are a resource that Dartmouth students should use.  It was a fair article with both Mr. Miller and Ms. Womack saying what you would expect from people in their positions.  Neither of them thinks that a student needs to use our services to get through the process; although they both seem to acknowledge that a student should use anything he or she can to maximize their readiness for the process.  While that position is inherently contradictory, since we essentially agree with them I thought I’d explain it.

To make the math easy, let’s say that, on average, 5% of college students get into some kind of trouble each year.  This trouble can be anything from the silly (violating copyright through “illegal” downloads) to the horrible (sexual assault.)  To make it even simpler, let’s pretend that Dartmouth has 2000 students so each year 100 of them get in some sort of trouble.  Ms. Womack and Mr. Miller both think that the process works well and that the support offered is sufficient for the students involved.  Let’s say they’re right, and give them an A on their process and the support offered.  That means that there is a 95% rate of what I call “sufficient fairness” where the resources and the process are enough to ensure that a student is prepared to obtain the best result possible. That would be an amazing system, and something that the people on the COS (like Ms. Womack) and the person responsible for the process (Mr. Miller) should be understandably proud.  In fact, at College Judicial Consultants we assume that every system is at or near 95% with the people involved in the process acting beyond reproach and really doing the best they can for students.

That still leaves 5% of the time where some additional help is needed or would help a student be more prepared.  Using the numbers above that means that at Dartmouth every year, 5 students could benefit from competent outside help.  In other words, it is completely consistent for the world to have judicial systems with an efficiency and customer satisfaction rate higher than almost anything offered anywhere by anyone, and also that the students subjected to that system could on occasion, use help and support beyond that system. We are here for that 1%, 3%, 5% or higher percent of the cases where the resources either are not sufficient or the student/student organization cannot use them fully so they are, in practice, not sufficient.  We are not trying to suggest that systems are out to get students or are happy when a student organization gets screwed over. We believe that systems of accountability are good things, managed by good people who work hard, and adjudicated by good people with the best intentions.  The problem is that sometimes that isn’t enough.

I can hear the defensiveness of some of our critics now “you’re just making up numbers!” Correct. I did. I have no way of knowing how many students that have gone through a process believe that they understood it all, did everything they should have, and would change nothing about how it went.   I do know, however, that if systems were perfect there would be no need for an appeal process.  If everything worked out as it should AND the students subjected to it were always satisfied with the result, they wouldn’t want to appeal because there would be no need. However, the appeals process is there for when a student believes that something very wrong has happened, and that the result is unfair. (I talk about appeals in an earlier blog so I won’t go into it more, but if you don’t see this point let me know and I’ll explain more.)

We love to assign blame in this country. If something isn’t working, or if there is a breakdown in something that does work, we love to point to someone and say “this is why it doesn’t work.”  If a student thinks the system is unfair, then it is that student or that fraternity that is “broken,” not the system. ($5 to the first person who can send me an article where the upper administration of a school, before any legal action began, said When we say that systems with underprepared participants are inherently unfair, we are not criticizing the people involved in that system (usually.)  We believe that most systems are inherently fair and that almost administrators and board members are trying to get the right result.  In fact, we count on it.  Our fundamental belief is that no matter how fair a system is the outcome will not be fair if the person subjected to it is not able to use it fully.  We are not challenging the fairness of a system when we say that.

Schools do have varying levels of support–some have advisors they train on the process, student advocates who help they prepare their responses, and other resources to help a student be prepared.  As I’ve said, in most cases they are probably fine and will be enough help.  However, when something is really serious, when a student or student group feels that they want someone who’s goal is to help them minimize the sanction against them or make sure they are not held accountable for something they didn’t do, when they want judgment free help, or when they just don’t trust the resources, we are here.  We have seen thousands of cases in different kinds of systems.  We have seen administrative hearings (run them in some cases,) all student boards (advised/created them in some cases,) boards made up of faculty, staff and students (trained them in some cases,) and “special” boards made up of more highly trained people to hear more serious cases (and served on them in some cases.)  We study the judicial system of every client’s school, and by the time the hearing happens understand it better than almost anyone. More than that, when we help a student or student group, our only obligation is to them.  We have no obligation to disclose and will never tell anyone what our client tells us, a promise that administrators simply cannot make. We also do not care about any political pressure on an office to deal with hazing, the anger of a faculty member about allegations of academic misconduct, the ego of a dean who believes that he should be able to control student behavior, or any of the other things that consciously or subconsciously shape a system. It is also worth noting that we encourage our clients to ALSO take advantage of the resources on campus.  Go to the counseling center, the academic resource center, your RA, and get yourself a hearing advisor so you don’t have to sit there alone!  Just don’t think that any of them have the combine expertise, experience, and knowledge that we do about Greek life, judicial systems, and case preparation.

If you have any questions about what we do and why we do it, email me.  We try to be as transparent as possible, so if we are doing something and you want to understand why, just ask. You can email me at DaveK@collegejudicialconsultants.com, or the office in general at Info@collegejudicialconsultants.com, or you can call us at (617) 287-8782.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: