Student Affairs Decisions and the Law

Student Affairs personnel often make or participate in the initial decisions that can lead to litigation. As a matter of law, the college generally is responsible and liable for the acts of its employees, including members of the student personnel staff. This series of essays is designed to educate and inform student affairs administrators and staff about the legal implications of decisions they make.
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Knowing the law and adopting preventive measures is the best way to cope with the law and prevent legal challenges and reduce exposure.

Student affairs personnel often make or participate in the initial decisions that can lead to litigation. For example, student affairs personnel counsel and advise students; recommend, make and implement disciplinary decisions; and establish campus security and residence hall policies. In sum, student affairs personnel significantly determine the co-curricular program and provide services that the college offers.

As a matter of law, the college generally is responsible and liable for the acts of its employees, including members of the student personnel staff. In relatively few instances are student affairs personnel personally liable even if they are named in a lawsuit.

In all of these roles--counselor, policy maker and disciplinarian--student affairs personnel make critical decisions that can generate litigation. Accordingly, it is in the interest of the college that student affairs personnel understand the law and take appropriate preventive actions.

This manual on student personnel administrators and staff as decision makers focuses on:

  • The Constitution and Public Colleges

  • The Constitution and Independent Colleges

  • The College Catalogue and Contractual Commitments

  • Liability and Releases of Liability

  • College Rules and Liability

  • Student Discipline and Enforcement

  • Campus Security

  • Alcohol Use by Students

  • AIDS and the Campus

  • Disclosure and Retention of Student Records

Each of these essays is presented with a common format: Overview, Application, and Preventive Measures. A Selected Bibliography follows each topic.

Table of Contents

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