- DUTY TO FRATERNITY GUESTS EXPLAINED BY INDIANA COURT
- BETTER CAMPUS COMMUNICATION NEEDED
- NEIGHBORS SEEKS TO OUTLAW GREEKS
- ASSESSMENTS OR CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION?
Newsletter > September 1999 > "BETTER CAMPUS COMMUNICATION NEEDED"
BETTER CAMPUS COMMUNICATION NEEDED
Robert E. Manley, Manley & Burke
A key player on every campus is its lawyer. Larger campuses often have lawyers on staff, but every educational institution has lawyers available.
Over the last 25 years, it has been my experience that student personnel officers often do not keep their lawyers informed as to what is happening.
Student personnel officers often do not know or neglect the fact that their activities have legal consequences. There is often a naive belief that a well-intended policy or practice is permissible because it is on a college campus, even though the policy or practice is illegal.
[The National Association of College and University Attorneys was formed in 1960 to improve communication among themselves.]
Student personnel departments will introduce regulations that their lawyers would never have approved had their lawyers been consulted. For example, there was a state campus where the student personnel officers imposed a regulation on fraternities that they deposit all of their funds with the university treasurer at no interest. This meant that fraternities would be required to sell their certificates of deposit on which they were getting market interest and turn the money over to the university for safekeeping at no interest. Indeed, the university treasurer might impose a service charge on them.
The regulation to transfer funds to the university clearly seems to violate the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution which state institutions must follow. Since this was a state campus, it could not, by regulation, take property from a fraternity without due process of law and without compensation.
Perhaps what the student personnel officers were trying to accomplish could have been done if market rate interest had been paid on the funds deposited with the university treasurer, but that never crossed their minds. A simple letter from a fraternity attorney to the lawyer for the university brought an end to this unconstitutional behavior.
Time and time again this story is repeated. The student personnel officers impose regulations that violate constitutional rights or other legal protections and the university lawyers never hear about it until it becomes a controversy.
The National Association of College and University Attorneys was formed in 1960 to improve communication among themselves. They run excellent educational programs.
Last winter, N.A.C.U.A. had a day-long institute on alcohol on the campus. It was an excellent program covering medical, legal, educational and social issues. There were two sessions involving fraternities in which we made presentations. This was a great learning experience.
- Most of the university lawyers in the room were learning for the first time about the movement to have alcohol-free housing among men’s fraternities.
- Some of the university lawyers were worried that this may be a bad development and seemed to be vastly underinformed about what happens when a fraternity house becomes a neighborhood saloon.
- The notion that when a tragedy happens at a fraternity that the general fraternity would send a high-ranking official to the campus to immediately deal with the issue was a new idea to a large number of the attendees.
- The suggestion that if a fraternity cleans up a messy situation, this relieves the university from difficult tasks, was another new idea.
Experiences at the conference on alcohol on campus confirm that university lawyers are being left out of the loop. Student personnel officers are not keeping university lawyers informed as to what is happening on the fraternity front. Fraternity leadership probably should be doing more to build bridges with university lawyers.
University lawyers should probably be doing some in-house training for their student personnel staffs. The student personnel staffs need to be educated about what the university legal departments need to know about the campus student personnel policies.