Coronavirus College Policy & Conduct Code Violations

Felice and Cristine standing in suits

College and University Coronavirus Policy Violations

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools

Case Results

Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.

Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings

Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.

Large private university

Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation

We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.

Small private college

Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed

Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.

Midsized private college

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Client Testimonials

I was introduced to Attorney Duffy by my criminal defense attorney because I was fighting both a criminal charge and a conduct code violations charge. Felice's office responded right away and she and I met by Zoom video. She and her team were respectful, professional and super knowledgeable. They made everything clear and easily understandable. They knew exactly what questions to ask the school officials to get them to focus on the facts that supported my case. I was incredibly well prepared. I knew what I was going to say before I went in to my interviews and how to react to the many questions that would have tripped me up. I got probation, which was definitely the best possible outcome and I couldn’t have gotten that without Attorney Duffy’s help.

College Junior

“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You're presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.

Felice's truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. She made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). She worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right person in his corner to defend him. Felice gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.

Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for.

I have already recommended Felice to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend her to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a private college senior

“I selected the firm after doing extensive research trying to locate an attorney that specializes in sexual assault cases on university campuses. Late one night I emailed her for a consult just to see what she had to say. By 6:30am the next morning she had already emailed me back leaving her information for me to call her. I was impressed by her promptness and early morning response. Our criminal attorney informed our family that this simply wasn’t his specialty and strongly recommended we hire someone who really understood how university disciplinary systems work.

In our culture, we are not often trusting and it took a huge step of faith to consider someone we didn’t know (much less one from out of state) to defend our son.

Based on her collegiate athletic background I felt that she would have a better understanding of our case as our son is a D1 athlete. Based on that and her professional accomplishments I felt like she was driven and determined and she clearly had the ability to understand the laws associated with Title IX.

Bottom line is that our son was found 100% not responsible (meaning not guilty) of the extremely serious charges that were brought against him by a female student.

Felice Duffy and her team were professional, focused, responsive and did a great job throughout the entire stressful ordeal. When we think about how badly and unfairly our son might have been treated by the school, we truly count our blessings that we found Ms. Duffy.”

Parent of a College Sophomore, Ohio

See More Client Testimonials

Schools Where We've Handled Cases

Here are just some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Dartmouth College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Lesley University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Mississippi University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • Yale University

In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities across the country are implementing new practices and policies designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Practices and policies vary from campus to campus, and different institutions are implementing policies that range from extremely restrictive (with disciplinary actions possible for students who are found to be in violations) to relatively lax (with institutions implementing new “recommendations” as opposed to “requirements”).

The following are issues to consider in order to understand how coronavirus college policies and conduct code violations may arise, and how students may be able to defend against them.

Different Types of Policies Schools Are Implementing

Colleges and universities are implementing different types of policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

As an article in The New York Times explains, Syracuse plans on requiring students to sign codes of conduct with penalties for violating COVID-19 rules more severe than punishment for smoking marijuana. On the other end of the spectrum, the University of Kentucky presents a more lenient front, adopting existing honor codes that urge students to ‘promote personal responsibility and peer accountability.’ Other schools that falls somewhere in between, like the University of Texas-Austin, are prohibiting students from hosting parties (on or off-campus), are prohibiting students from having overnight guests in dorm rooms, and are instituting disciplinary measures if students fail to abide by social distancing or PPE (i.e., mask) requirements.

Enforceability of Policies and Exceptions

According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the enforceability of policies will depend upon a number of factors, including, for example:

  • Whether policies are outlined in a Code of Conduct or behavioral contract
  • Whether the college or university is public or private
  • Whether the policy seeks to enforce behavior on-campus, off-campus, or both

In general, it is more difficult to enforce policies off-campus. For a number of public universities, the institution does not have jurisdiction off-campus.

Potential Defenses and Due Process

If a student is faced with a temporary campus ban or disciplinary measures for violating a coronavirus policy, the student may be able to present a defense if the student can prove that she or he did not violate the policy. The student also may be able to argue that the policy was unenforceable due to state or municipal laws, or the university’s jurisdiction.

Public universities have to attend more carefully to due process considerations for students than do private universities. As such, private institutions may be better able to enforce policies (and students may have more difficulty defending against sanctions).

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

College students and their families likely have many questions about coronavirus policies on campuses. The following are some answers to frequently asked questions:

Can I be expelled from my college for not wearing a mask?

It depends on a handful of factors. If your college or university has a student Code of Conduct, or required you to sign a behavioral contract, that requires the use of masks in classrooms and other on-campus spaces, a willful violation of the requirement ultimately could result in expulsion. For example, the University of West Virginia explains that students’ failure to comply with PPE requirements as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct will result in measures that may include a written warning, removal from class, probation, suspension, and/or expulsion. Next, were you on campus when you violated the rule? If you are not wearing a mask off-campus, it is more difficult for a college or university to enforce a mask requirement or other behavioral conduct policies in off-campus settings.

What if I live in a state without a mask mandate?

Again, it depends. If your institution is private and is located in a state without a mask mandate, that private institution likely can require masks. If it is a public institution, it may depend upon whether there is a municipal (or other local) mask mandate.

How will the coronavirus affect Greek Life (fraternities and sororities)?

Fraternities and sororities located on-campus likely will be restricted significantly in terms of organizing large gatherings, particularly those involving a large number of people with alcohol. As the article in The Chronicle suggests, many institutions likely will follow policies like those at the University of Mississippi, where on-campus fraternities and sororities can be placed on probation or be subject to additional disciplinary measures for violating campus policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, like at UC-Berkeley, many institutions cannot lawfully regulate such conduct in off-campus houses.

Can I be expelled for violating social distancing or mask requirements off-campus?

Off-campus policies are much more difficult to enforce. While some private institutions may be able to hold students accountable for certain risky behaviors off-campus, many colleges and universities will be in the same position as UC-Berkeley—the institution will not have jurisdiction, and regulating or enforcing social distancing and mask requirements will involve local authorities.

What if I attend college classes while infected but I didn’t know I was infected?

If you are following any testing requirements or symptom-reporting requirements (or similar requirements) instituted by your college or university in a Code of Conduct or behavioral contract, you will likely not be subject to disciplinary measures. However, if you attended class while infected—even if you did not know you were infected—you could be in violation of a conduct code or behavioral contract if you failed to abide by certain requirements designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Seek Advice from a National Code of Conduct Attorney

Do you have questions or concerns about code of conduct violations pertaining to COVID-19 policies? At Duffy Law, LLC, our national code of conduct lawyers are highly experienced when it comes to handling issues related to conduct code violations in colleges and universities, and we can speak with you today about your situation. Contact Duffy Law, LLC for more information.

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