CAN MY COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY CHARGE ME FOR OFF-CAMPUS CONDUCT?
By Jonathan Cook
Colleges and Universities Exercise Jurisdiction Over Students' Conduct Even When it Occurs Off-Campus. Most Colleges and Universities' campus discipline and Student Conduct Codes explicitly grant the College or University the power to exercise jurisdiction over students no matter where the Conduct Code violations are alleged to have occurred.
Many Colleges and Universities have strict jurisdictional policies that apply equally to every student, while others treat jurisdiction on a case-by-case basis.
For example, at Northeastern University "the Code of Student Conduct strictly applies both on and off campus, to all Northeastern University students, at all levels of study, in all colleges and programs locally or abroad, on-ground or online, as well as all student groups and organizations." See Northeastern Student Handbook 2017-18 at 6.
In contrast, Providence College leaves the question of whether or not to exercise jurisdiction in cases involving off-campus conduct up to the discretion of one administrator on a case-by-case basis: "[t]he Director of Community Standards shall decide whether the Code of Conduct shall be applied to behavior occurring off campus on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, conduct constituting a violation of city, state, or federal law may result in disciplinary action." See Providence College Student Handbook 2017-18 at 69.
Additionally, jurisdiction applies to students traveling outside of the United States and/or studying abroad. For example, the University of New Hampshire explicitly states in its Student Handbook that: "[u]niversity jurisdiction and discipline shall apply to students participating in University managed or approved study away, study abroad and events or trips." See Article II; Authority.
It's always best for a student to assume their College or University's jurisdiction follows them outside the campus gates. An experienced Student Defense Attorney can help students and parents navigate this and other confusing issues that arise with the inevitable nuances each College and University unique disciplinary policies and procedures present.
Remember: although it is extremely important to hire an experienced Student Defense Attorney as early in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings as possible (as soon as a notice of charges is received, if not before), it is never too late. Whether a student has already been sanctioned and is in the appeals stage or even after an appeal has been denied, a lawyer with extensive experience representing and defending college students can offer invaluable help.
Jonathan Cook at New England Student Defense has represented over 150 students at Colleges and Universities nationwide from Yale University and Georgetown University to the University of Houston and Tulane University.
These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.