Every university has an official code of conduct, but it will not provide a student with enough information to even guess at the school’s process. They will need to talk to the administrators, and that task can be daunting when the student is presumed guilt of sexual assault. Information may be withheld and the progression of the case can be cloaked in secrecy.
When you talk with administration, consider the following:
Should You Communicate with School Administrators?
If you have been accused, you need to be very involved in your case. The allegations can deeply affect you and even your family. The social stigma is incredibly embarrassing and you may want to let your parents handle the case. Parents will often step up and take over when the future of their child is at stake. It may feel like everything you say or do will be perceived as wrong and that it is best if you don’t come. School administrators will even treat parents differently and typically won’t use bullying or intimidation tactics like they do with students. Parents can often come prepared with better questions and address points that you had not seen.
But the student needs to be involved. You won’t have their support at the hearing. You will be alone. If you isolated yourself from the process and leaned on your parents, you won’t be able to properly defend yourself. To have a complete understanding of the allegations you face, you need to be intimately involved in all communications. That doesn’t mean that your parents can’t be involved: it means that you need to be the primary contact. The school will likely request a Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) waiver in the event that they discuss information with a parent.
The Stakes are High
It is easy to have a negative perception of everyone around you when you are already treated as guilty. Understand that some of the administrators also want the whole process to be treated fairly, even though they are under immense pressure from the U.S. Department of Education to close the case quickly. The Department of Education also has strict guidelines that the administration must follow. Sometimes it may seem as though the school is out to get you, but they are only following the rules laid out for them. They could loose their funding if they don’t follow these rules. That should make it easier for you to work with them, but administration cannot always be trusted to give you a fair chance when the pressure is high for them to resolve the case.
Everything Needs Documented
Everything needs to be in writing. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people to restate or repeat themselves. This deters misunderstanding of one or both parties and instances of “he said, she said.” Every time you correspond with school authorities, whether it is in email, letters or even on the phone, keep a record.
Manchester & Associates Defense
Have you been accused of sexual assault? Do you need a lawyer experienced in correspondence with university officials? Contact Manchester & Associates today for help.