If you’ve been accused of academic or disciplinary misconduct at a university in the State of New York, you may have a lot a stake but no experience navigating the student discipline system. Allegations can come without warning, cause intense stress and anxiety, derail your academic and social life, and draw you into a process as confusing as it is overwhelming.
But you don’t have to defend yourself alone. Our student defense advocates will ensure your rights are respected, you receive fair due process, and get the best possible outcome. You’ve got options. We’ve got your back.
Defense for New York Students
The State University of New York (SUNY)
Title IX in New York
Affirmative Consent in New York
Exercise Your Rights
Liberal Arts Colleges and For-Profit Universities
We’re Here for You
Our legal and educational professionals draw extensive experience from diverse backgrounds in law and higher education – including current and former university professors and school administrators, education attorneys, counselors, and special education experts – and have successfully represented students at dozens of public, private, and for-profit universities throughout New York.
We understand New York’s legal and educational landscape and know that effectively defending students takes familiarity with the particular rules, regulations, and norms of New York universities. Our student defense practice areas include:
Student Organization Defense
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients and guide them through every step of the process to secure their rights and protect their educational and professional futures.
Defense for New York Students
From the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks and the hustle of Manhattan to rural upstate, New York is a diverse and unique place to earn a degree. Whether you’re enrolled in a SUNY or CUNY campus, or one of New York’s small liberal arts colleges, the Empire State has its own unique educational atmosphere.
New York’s social and political climate influences its education laws and culture of higher education; and its student discipline policies are no different. New York universities may share commonalities in student discipline procedures with other schools around the country. However, successful student defense in New York requires knowledge of standards, laws, culture, and policies specific to the New York educational environment.
If you’ve been accused of misconduct at your university, you’re going to face a student discipline culture specific to New York. Knowledge, expertise, and experience with New York higher education is critical to fighting charges in New York universities.
1) The State University of New York (SUNY)
The State University of New York Board of Trustees establishes system-wide policies and guidelines that govern the various campuses within the SUNY system. These policies help ensure consistency in addressing student behavior and disciplinary matters. They are designed to provide overarching principles and standards for the entire SUNY system while allowing individual campuses some flexibility in implementation. Common characteristics found in student conduct and disciplinary policies include:
Student Code of Conduct: Each SUNY campus has a Student Code of Conduct that outlines academic and disciplinary standards at that specific school yet adheres to general SUNY disciplinary process guidelines.
Student Conduct Office: SUNY locations have a Student Conduct Office responsible for enforcing the code of conduct, overseeing disciplinary proceedings, investigating alleged violations, and providing support to accused students.
Disciplinary Process: Disciplinary procedures typically include an investigation, a hearing, and potential sanctions with an emphasis on the right to a fair and impartial process.
Appeals Process: Most campuses provide students with an opportunity to appeal disciplinary decisions and challenge the sanctions imposed.
Educational Approach: SUNY institutions focus on education and ethical development in the disciplinary process, looking to help student assess their actions, encourage personal growth, and behave honestly and responsibly.
Restorative Justice: The system emphasizes repairing harm caused by misconduct and promoting accountability and understanding.
Due Process: Per SUNY Student Conduct Regulations, disciplinary processes must adhere to principles of due process, guaranteeing that students have an opportunity to present their side of the case to an impartial hearing body or officer and challenge allegations.
2) Title IX in New York
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual violence at schools receiving federal funds. It provides procedures for protecting students subject to, and sanctioning students responsible for, any such behavior, including a complex process for adjudicating complaints.
New York State universities are required to follow federal Title IX laws. These include the use of a preponderance of evidence standard and due process steps including the right to receive an investigation, present evidence, participate in a hearing, and appeal a decision.
However, New York State Title IX law is different in one critical area.
Affirmative Consent in New York
In 2015, The New York State Senate passed bill S.5965 which led to Education Law Article 129-B, known as the “Enough is Enough” law. It requires “all colleges and universities in the State of New York (“institutions”) to implement uniform prevention and response policies and procedures relating to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.”
The main feature of the law is implementation of an Affirmative Consent standard under Title IX for all universities in New York. The law defines affirmative consent as “a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity.” The law also requires that “consent to any sexual act or prior consensual sexual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other sexual act.”
The policy has been called a change to a “yes means yes” standard in which consent must be clearly and actively given for each particular sexual act. This stands in contrast to most states’ “no means no” standard in which sexual activity may be considered consensual until a “no” is given. The law further states that silence “in and of itself” is not consent. In other words, arguing that a student failed to say “no” or resist and advance is not a successful defense to a charge of sexual activity without consent.
However, New York State Title IX laws do not explicitly require verbal consent. Consent can be conveyed through both verbal and non-verbal means, including body language and physical cues. Article 129-B, does not specify that consent must be verbal or a specific statement of permission. Consent can be given through either words or actions if those words or actions clearly indicate willingness to engage in sexual activity.
Exercise Your Rights
If these terms, definitions, and processes seem confusing, it’s because they are. Few firms or attorneys specialize in Title IX laws and student defense. Even fewer fully understand Title IX laws and student rights specific to New York.
Successfully navigating the Title IX process in New York requires specific knowledge of New York State Title IX laws and procedures. Ensuring your rights are recognized and your university provides proper due process is critical to receiving a fair outcome.
Whether you’re a student fighting a Title IX complaint or holding another student accountable for Title IX violations, you will have the best chance of success with support and guidance from legal and educational professionals with expertise in the particularities and nuances of New York State Title IX law.
3) Liberal Arts Colleges and For-Profit Universities
New York has a large number of small liberal arts colleges. Compared to SUNY schools – which are regulated by, and accountable to, state education laws – private colleges have more independence in developing their own specific policies. For students accused of academic misconduct, this means that students may have fewer rights in disciplinary matters.
New York’s social and political culture also affects how private colleges determine their disciplinary policies and how administrators and faculty interpret them. Private schools have more discretion and leeway in judging whether a violation occurred and what sanctions to issue. When fighting allegations, experience with the distinct policies and academic culture at each college, as well as wider norms in the New York education environment, can make the difference between receiving probation or expulsion.
Like its liberal arts colleges, New York’s for-profit universities aren’t regulated by certain state education laws. Also, as private institutions, they have more freedom to create their own disciplinary policies. Many students take classes at local campuses connected to, and governed by, larger, nationwide universities. These schools’ policies are commonly developed at the national level. However, they are implemented at the discretion of local faculty and administrators. Navigating this combination of local and national influences requires understanding of both state educational norms and values as well experience with for-profit universities’ national policies.
We’re Here for You
Regardless of where you study or what charges you’re facing, we’ve got the knowledge and experience to defend you from a wide range of allegations and get the result you deserve. Our expert legal and educational advocates are here to support you and make sure your rights are upheld, you receive fair treatment, and you get the best possible result.