**The following is the fifth in a series of articles that are designed to provide students with a diagnosis of Asperger’s or autism tips regarding the sexual misconduct policies and procedures at colleges and universities nationwide.**
This article is primarily intended for a student who has been found responsible for campus sexual misconduct and who has exhausted all appeals that their school allows. If this has happened to you, and you have been either suspended or expelled, do not despair. You still have options and your college career can continue.
The following is general information. Your situation may vary due to the specifics of your case, the policies of your former school regarding how it records disciplinary actions, and what information the schools you are trying to transfer to require regarding previous disciplinary proceedings. If you feel that your specific situation is not addressed, feel free to contact Students Advocating for Students (sa4s.org) for guidance and support.
I. Short Term Suspension/Returning to School
If you were suspended for a short period of time (one year or less), there is the possibility of returning to your school at the conclusion of the suspension. You may have to reapply, and you will be required to meet any conditions that were also part of the sanctions, such as, therapy, anger management classes, substance abuse counseling, etc. During your suspension, you should consider using your free time to take classes either online or at a community college, to get a paying job, or to obtain an internship in your field of study. Using the duration of your suspension productively will allow you to explain to future employers or graduate programs what you were doing during this period of time. It may also help you emotionally to have your days be occupied with productive activities.
II. Long Term Suspension or Expulsion/Not Returning to School
If you have been suspended for a long period of time (a year or longer) or expelled, or simply do not feel comfortable returning to your school after the disciplinary process, you should consider transferring to another school. There are many students who have successfully transferred to new schools after being disciplined for sexual misconduct. However, you need to be prepared to address your misconduct violation because it is likely to arise during the application process. The need to address it can occur in several ways:
A. Situations Where You May Need To Reveal Your Misconduct Violation:
- Your old school may put some type of notation on your academic transcript, and this will be seen by any new schools to which you are applying;
- The new school may ask for a report or letter from your former college, and the former school usually reveals this information in whatever information it sends;
- Your new school or the current version of the common application may require you to answer if you have been involved in a disciplinary proceeding, and, if so, asks you to explain what the circumstances were.
There are limited scenarios where you may not need to divulge that you were involved in a disciplinary proceeding. For instance, the new school may not ask about it on their application, or you were not at your old school long enough to generate a transcript or academic record. If you choose to not divulge that you were disciplined for sexual misconduct, keep in mind that if your new school finds out about your disciplinary proceeding from a source other than you, this could be grounds for terminating your acceptance, even if you have already started at the new school.
B. What to Reveal About Disciplinary Proceeding: Due to privacy laws, the exact details of your disciplinary proceeding will not be able to be revealed. It is up to you to decide how much information you want to reveal. However, college admissions counselors who specialize in helping students who have been involved in sexual Misconduct proceedings transfer to new schools, recommend that students be honest and upfront about what occurred and demonstrate to new schools what they learned as a result of their experience. It is also recommended that whenever possible, you should schedule interviews with the schools to which you are seeking to transfer. A face-to-face conversation about your circumstances with an admissions officer will allow you to address any concerns the school may have and give the admissions officer an opportunity to ask you any questions that may not have been addressed on your application.
C. Letters of Recommendations: If possible, you should try to obtain recommendations from faculty, administrators, or coaches from your old school. It is sometimes helpful to show schools that you are seeking to transferring to that there are people from your old school who support you despite the misconduct violation. If this is not an option, you should consider obtaining recommendations from people outside of college who know you; these people may be former employers, former teachers, former coaches, clergymen, etc. Anyone who can validate your good character and hard work ethic would be suitable for a recommendation.
D. Gap of Time Between Leaving Old School and Applying to New School: If you do not plan on applying to new schools immediately, try to use your time away from school wisely. Consider taking classes at a community college or online. Try to find an internship in your field of study or a paid any type of paid job. Filling your time with productive activities will look good on your transfer applications, and it could also help your emotional state.
III. Seeking Counseling for Emotional Support
Being suspended or expelled for sexual misconduct can very traumatic. Many students feel isolated from their friends at school and are angry or depressed about their present situation. You should strongly consider seeking professional support to help you process any feelings or emotions you may have as a result of the disciplinary proceeding. If you are uncertain about how to obtain a therapist or want to know of other resources which may be available to you, contact the Asperger/Autism Network (aane.org).
IV. Potential Legal Remedies
If you believe that your school discriminated against you during the disciplinary proceedings or did not follow proper procedures, you may want to consider the following legal options:
A. File a Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of Department of Education: If you believe that your school discriminated against you during the proceedings on the basis of your race, disability, gender, religion, or national origin, you may be able to file a complaint against your school with the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education (OCR). For more information on how to file a complaint click here. If you have any questions about the requirements for filing a complaint with OCR or how to complete the complaint form, contact Students Advocating for Students (sa4s.org) for support and guidance.
B. Consult with an Attorney to Determine if you have Grounds for a Lawsuit: If you believe you were treated unfairly during your disciplinary proceeding or believe that the school did not follow its policies and procedures, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against your school. There are many attorneys who specialize in filing lawsuits on behalf of students who were suspended or expelled for campus sexual misconduct. In order to properly ascertain if you have a potential case against your school, it is recommended that you contact an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. If you need further information about filing a lawsuit or names of attorneys who specialize in this area of the law, contact Students Advocating for Students (sa4s.org).
**Important Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is not legal advice and should not be construed as such. Reading this article does not create an attorney-client relationship. This article is strictly written for educational purposes to generally educate students about campus sexual misconduct policies.**