Colleges and universities usually have fairly strict policies regulating student behavior on their campuses, and this has only become more true in the era of COVID -19.
From how many students can be in any one building at once to where students can go in their free time, universities are establishing new COVID -19 rules all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for students to find clear information on these rules, and to distinguish between recommendations and hardline rules on the part of their school’s administration.
If you’ve been accused by another student of violating your school’s COVID -19 policies, you might be feeling pretty nervous. The important thing is that an experienced student defense attorney like our attorneys at DC Student Defense can help make sure that you aren’t being punished for something that’s outside of your control.
Read on to find out what to do if another student reports you for COVID-19 violations.
College policies in the era of COVID-19
Every school is attempting to prevent the spread of COVID-19 differently, so naturally they are going to have different policies on what students can and can’t do.
If you are not sure whether what you did violated your school’s policies, check out the student code of conduct and any other code of conduct your school issued specifically relating to social distancing.
However, there are some general policies that most schools have adopted by the winter of 2021:
- Requiring students to sign a COVID -19 code of conduct
- Requiring students to sign up for an app or other program that measures their health and manages contract-tracing
- Prohibiting parties on and off-campus
- Prohibiting overnight guests in the dorms
- Requiring students to wear masks and social distance on campus, and limiting the number of students allowed in buildings at one time
Depending on your school and the nature of your agreement with the school to follow these COVID-19 policies, some of these rules may be more enforceable than others.
What to do if you’ve been accused of a COVID-19 policy violation
So you fudged the rules a bit and went to a small gathering of friends off-campus that may or may not have been a party, and when you got back to your dorm, your roommate gave you the side-eye. Next thing you know, you’re being asked to speak to your dorm’s Resident Director about a potential COVID-19 violation.
Or maybe you were just studying late at the library, and your roommate is mistaken.
Whether you think you genuinely broke the rules or not, there are several steps you can take to mitigate the damage of your alleged violation and prepare your defense:
- Don’t retaliate or post on social media: You may be understandably angry if another student reports you for a COVID-19 violation. The important thing is to not give into temptation and blast them on social media. Retaliating against the other student can only hurt your case and make you look more guilty in the eyes of your school.
- Strictly follow all COVID-19 policies: Whether you initially broke the rules or not, it’s crucial to be extra careful from now on. No more shortcuts or gray areas — now is your opportunity to prove to the university administration that you take the COVID -19 pandemic as seriously as anyone.
- Read the school’s materials: If you are being brought up on formal disciplinary charges, or suffering any other kind of punishment, as a result of this accusation carefully read through everything the school has sent you regarding this incident. An experienced student defense attorney can help decipher your school’s language.
- Gather evidence: If you have any evidence that you didn’t do what you are accused of, start recording all of it and gathering it into one place. In addition, if you think that the policy you’re accused of violating lies outside of your school’s jurisdiction, or breaks a state or federal law, now would be the time to begin preparing that defense.
- Consult a student defense attorney: Whether you’re reading through your school’s materials or preparing your defense, having an attorney with experience defending students against disciplinary charges by your side can be invaluable.
Discussing your case with a student defense attorney can help prepare you for what’s going to come next in the disciplinary process, and get an idea what to do and what not to do in the coming weeks.
Contact a student defense attorney in DC today
This is a difficult time for everyone, and college students are no exception. Don’t let university disciplinary charges make your life any more difficult than it has to be. DC Student Defense can guide you through the process and make sure your rights are being respected. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.