My kids are teenagers now. It won’t be long until all three are enrolled in college and living away from home. We prepare our kids for life absent our direct supervision but once on their own they often find themselves in trouble at school, and even worse, with law enforcement. This is where they learn about the student disciplinary hearing process.
The administrative rules and procedures involved in a student disciplinary hearing at Texas A&M University are difficult to navigate, even for the well informed. A while back two young A&M students contacted me about a disciplinary hearing which had gone badly for them. A young woman had accused them of sexual assault. The criminal case was fully investigated by the College Station Police Department but dismissed for lack of evidence. However, the aggrieved woman presented her case to the Student Conflict Resolution Office at Texas A&M. She made the sexual assault claim and the boys were given notice of a hearing which would address the merits of the woman’s complaint.
The boys believed they had been “exonerated” by local law enforcement. However, they wrongly assumed they could attend the Texas A&M student disciplinary hearing, tell their side of story again and everything would be fine. They were dead wrong. The boys attended the hearing without an advisor and without first consulting a qualified College Station attorney. Following the hearing each boy was found responsible for sexual assault and suspended from Texas A&M. They were required to complete several remedial educational courses before re-applying to the University and without any guarantee of re-admission. Most significantly, they now had a permanent blot on their educational records. The moral of this story is students embroiled in University disciplinary matters should never assume anything. Everything they say can be used against them, especially in criminal court. Disciplinary sanctions on their educational record can haunt them as much as a criminal conviction. Unfortunately, the students mired in these matters are very naive. They often decide to keep their parents in the dark. A HUGE mistake.
Please don’t make a mistake by failing to act. Students should hire an advisor to help them navigate these dangerous waters. If criminal charges are also involved, they need a qualified criminal defense lawyer immediately to assist them with both the student discipline and criminal charges. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a very informative website on these important issues.
Call an experienced Texas A&M student rights attorney immediately if you find yourself in trouble with the University. More on the Texas Aggie Disciplinary process to follow.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.