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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 am writing to let any college student who gets accused of something serious by their school know that they need a lawyer like Felice Duffy to defend them.  I was accused of something terrible by a student that I would never do and didn’t do.  Even though I knew exactly what actually happened, I was very scared that my university might not find me innocent. It was terrifying to think that I might lose my full basketball scholarship or could have been suspended or expelled and that me and my family’s name could have gotten a horrible reputation.

I can’t even put into words how I excited I was when I got the letter from the school that cleared me completely of the charges against me and I have Felice to thank for that 100%. Since I’m not in Connecticut, Felice and her investigator used video conferencing to interview me and my witnesses, talk with my parents, and get me fully prepared for every meeting I had with my school.  They got all my texts and email that proved my innocence and organized them perfectly for the Dean and the discipline committee.

Felice was always very direct and respectful even though the subject matter was very personal, and she was always ahead of the school in terms of getting me and them important information at every step.  It was like having the best scouting report ever." Felice obviously knows her stuff but she also deeply cares.  You can tell that she loves the work she’s doing to help college kids in really difficult situations."

College Sophomre, Colorado

“I hired Duffy Law in the middle of a Title IX sexual assault proceeding. While I had initially retained another attorney on a recommendation, it turns out they did not have much insight to the inner workings of university policy, which I learned is NOT required to follow the basic laws of due process. Felice was absolutely incredible, and as an athlete, she understood my thought process and feelings the entire way. This is what stood out the most to me. At the beginning of my school’s adjudication process, I was an absolute mess. Not only is Felice extremely knowledgeable in law and how school adjudication processes work, but she also really does care about her clients and their well-being.

It was initially extremely tough for me to speak about what I was facing. Felice was able to assist me not only in compiling the proper evidence and responding to the school, but also put me in the right state of mind to defend myself and move on with my life after it was all completed. Prior to hiring Duffy Law, I was concerned that I would be relegated to working with a legal assistant or secretary being that my case was in a college setting as opposed to a state court. However, Felice always found a way to make time and was there every step of the way.

I feel like an important part of hiring an attorney is being able to trust them to fight for you no matter what the scenario may be and you can rest assured you will be getting that with Duffy Law. I would recommend Felice Duffy of Duffy Law 10 times out of 10 to anyone that may be put in a tough situation like I was”

Female College Freshman, Massachusetts

“The claims leveled against me were terrible, but the wonderful news is that I was fully cleared of all the allegations because of the outstanding work Christine Brown and the team at Duffy Law did on my behalf. The first thing that really impressed me was that from the very first call Christine quickly understood what was going on and was able to read between the lines to understand the complicated dynamics of the situation. Despite my entire career being spent in academia, I didn't know much about Title IX procedures. Her expertise and knowledge of the process was immediately apparent and critically helpful in guiding me and giving me as much peace of mind as possible..

Christine knew how to spot the important subtext throughout the process and made sure I understood the strategic options I had at every stage going forward. I felt very confident in the decisions we made together. I felt vindicated by the decision and that this situation will have no further effects on my career. I am very grateful to Christine and Duffy Law for guiding me through this stressful process and recommend them without reservation to any faculty member facing a similarly challenging situation. ”

Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at a midwest university

“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.

Duffy Law’s truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. They made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). They worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right people in his corner to defend him. They 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 Duffy Law to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend them to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a male southwest private college senior

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Schools Where We've Handled Cases

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

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Black Hills State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Cal State Polytechnic University
  • Campbell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Colorado State University
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Creighton Law School
  • Dartmouth College
  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Elim Bible Institute and College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Fordham University
  • Furman University
  • George Fox University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • LaSalle University
  • Lesley University
  • Long Island University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi University
  • Mount St. Mary's University
  • New College of Florida
  • Nichols College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pittsburgh State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Texas A&M Univiersity
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Lynchburg
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of New Haven
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Pittsburg
  • University of Redlands California
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Texas Austin
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
  • University of Wyoming
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vance-Granville Community College
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Connecticut State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • William Smith College
  • Yale University
  • Youngstown State 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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