Codes of conduct and honor codes are one of those things that all college students know about, but chances are they probably don’t think about them until they find themselves in front of an Ethics Committee for a hearing. This can be a scary process, and you may be surprised to find out how many rights you have at one of these hearings. Most of the time, a student will find him/herself in front of an Ethics Committee because they have been accused of drug/alcohol use or cheating. A hearing before the Ethics Committee, in general, takes place before a board of individuals, usually made up of various college faculty, personnel, and fellow students. This committee hears testimony from witnesses involved in the alleged ethical violation, and any evidence of the violation can be presented as well. The accused student also has an opportunity to speak to the board about the allegations. An accused student has the right to appeal whatever decision is handed down.
So do you, as a student, have a right to an attorney at one of these hearings? Not necessarily. Your student handbook will give you more direction in this regard, but whether you can have an attorney present with you at the hearing depends on the school you attend. Some colleges allow for you to bring an attorney and others do not. However, even if you are allowed to bring an attorney with you to the hearing, your attorney will not be able to speak on your behalf. Your attorney is only there in an advisory capacity.
A lot is at stake when you find yourself in front of an Ethics Committee. If the committee finds that you have violated a student code of conduct, you may face counseling, probation or expulsion. These sanctions can also result in program removal if you are in law school, medical school, or pharmacology school. That’s why it’s a good idea to prepare for an Ethics Hearing. Make sure to review your university’s code of conduct so that you know your rights and what to expect at a hearing.
University of Denver Honor Code link: https://www.du.edu/studentlife/studentconduct/media/documents/honorcode20192020.pdf
University of Colorado Boulder link:
Colorado State University link: