Although some of the issues facing respondents in these matters are similar to those facing charges in criminal court, the processes and rights of respondents are vastly different. Students at public universities have rights that those at private schools of higher learning may not. Additionally, the due process rights and guarantees to an accused in criminal court are generally not available to students facing college disciplinary hearings.
For instance, although a student may have a support persons accompany him to such a hearing, that person is generally merely in an advisory role, not a speaking role. While the student may provide questions to be asked of a complainant, those questions may or may not be asked and, if asked, may be asked in a totally different manner than requested.
Since the stakes are great, there is a role for counsel, however. Not only can counsel advise the student who may also be facing potential criminal charges but an attorney can review the rules, communicate with university officials and counsel prior to the hearing, as well as help the student prepare for the hearing. Counsel may also advise the student should unexpected issues occur prior to, during, and after the hearing.
A student facing such a situation should definitely consult with and retain an attorney to help navigate the process. I have successfully represented students facing university disciplinary hearings
Lori G. Levin
Attorney at Law
180 N. LaSalle, Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60601