Why is an Advisor Necessary?
If you are reading through this page, chances are that you or a loved one are either involved in or about to be involved in a campus disciplinary or Title IX action. By the sheer fact that you are thinking about selecting a student advisor, you are ahead of the game. You must already know that a student shouldn’t go through a campus disciplinary proceeding without a student advisor. But, why?
The stakes are high for students facing campus disciplinary or Title IX proceedings. If a student is found responsible for violating a school policy, colleges and universities aren’t afraid to suspend and expel students. A student advisor should be separate from the school. Even though many schools offer student advisors at no cost, it is important to make sure that the advisor has one priority – you or the person you are looking out for. So, what are some questions or considerations that should help you on your quest for the right advisor?
Considerations and Questions to Ask When Choosing an Advisor
1.) Consider prior experience in campus cases.
Experience matters. Campus disciplinary proceedings aren’t court proceedings. If a lawyer approaches a campus case like a trial, it probably won’t bode well for the student. The rules are different – there are no rules of evidence; there’s a student code of conduct that governs the process. Also, the terminology is different. If a lawyer talks about “not guilty” outcomes, move on!
2.) Ask how the advisor prepares a student to advocate for themselves.
In campus disciplinary proceedings, a student must speak on their own behalf. So, ask the person you are considering how that advisor will help to get you, or the student involved, ready for the case. The advisor should provide a compelling list of ways to prepare the student for the interview and a hearing, if necessary.
3.) Don’t be concerned if the advisor is in a different state. Instead, ask the person how many virtual meetings they have participated in over the last few years.
A lot changed during the pandemic, including how hearings are conducted. While many advisors may believe that in-person hearings are the best way to proceed, there are many benefits to virtual proceedings. Students often feel less nervous in a virtual environment, and they can participate in a hearing from the comfort of their own home. What’s more important is that the advisor has a system for working with a student in a different location.
4.) Ask the advisor what they think about a student making statements in a campus proceeding when there is a threat of a criminal investigation.
Many campus disciplinary proceedings involve allegations – ranging from hazing to sexual assault – that can lead to criminal prosecution. In these cases, some advisors believe that students simply cannot participate in hearings without jeopardizing their right to silence in a criminal investigation. While there are certainly instances when this may be true, there are also a lot of creative ways for students to defend themselves without giving a full statement. The bottom line is that not participating in a disciplinary process will almost always lead to a finding of a policy violation.
5.) Inquire whether the advisor uses expert witnesses.
Yes, even though campus disciplinary cases aren’t court proceedings, students can still use expert witnesses to support their case. Expert witnesses can help in cases involving academic integrity issues, alcohol and drug abuse, and consent, to name a few.
6.) What other resources does the advisor offer?
Good advisors know that it can take a village to help a student in crisis. Make sure the advisor is well versed on other resources that can play a critical role in helping students, such as access to therapists, life coaches and college counselors. You want someone with a full rolodex.
7.) Don’t be fooled by bragging or false promises.
Success can mean different things for different students. Don’t be fooled by promises of a specific outcome. A good advisor cannot always control the outcome of the matter. On the other hand, you can ask about experience with a fact pattern, the campus culture in question and outcomes that have been achieved in the past year.
8.) Is this advisor a thought leader on the issue in question?
You want someone knowledgeable about the subject area. Ask if the advisor has written articles on the issue in question or spoken at conferences. Have they been quoted by media outlets? Is the person committed to speaking knowledge through social media, blogging, podcasts and other information platforms?
9.) Consider the entire team of professionals involved in the matter.
Let’s face it – emergencies happen. You can’t always rely on one person. Make sure the advisor you hire is part of a team where you can have access to a professional on “off-hours.”
10.) Is there a trust factor or other connection with the advisor?
Remember, you are not seeking a friend, but a trusted advisor. You should feel that this person can handle your case with confidence. It’s important to feel as if the advisor will treat you or your loved one like the advisor would take care of their own family member. Does this person really understand that a future is at stake?
To discuss the Campus Disciplinary Proceeding process further, please contact Susan Stone (SCS@kjk.com; 216.736.7220) or Kristina Supler (KWS@kjk.com; 216.736.7217).