Legal Issues

Posted on March 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In my Legal Issues in Higher Education course I got a thorough framework for understanding the two most broad areas of legal concern for colleges and universities: tort liability and freedom of speech rights. I did my legal memo on the potential ramifications of deconstructing a free speech zone  on a college campus (it will be up shortly) and also completed two case briefings (RAV vs. St. Paul and Southworth v. The Board of Regents at the University of Wisconsin) that related to freedom of speech issues. During this time I was also able to go to two webinars hosted by the National Association of College and University Attorneys. One focused on the new FERPA regulations and the other on Civility Codes and Freedom of Speech Issues.

In order to display my understanding of tort liability I will be attaching the answer to an essay I had to do as part of our final exam. However, I think that the most important thing that I have learned from class has been that higher education administrators should be proactive in developing policies that signifcantly reduce the chances of foreseeable harm and take additional steps to publish and distribute information about how students and community members can take additional steps to be more safe.

Through my work in conduct, I have gained a thorough understanding of the concepts of due process, how  Oregon Administrative Rules, Oregon Revised Statues, and other state laws dictate the matters that our office is involved in, and how federal laws like FERPA and freedom of speech affect my work. I have also gained an understanding of the concept of precedence and how it can greatly influence future decisions and actions that a university takes with regard to policy violations.

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One Response to “Legal Issues”

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In response to Scott’s question regarding FERPA and parent issues: I think that the biggest problem is that parents are often unaware of FERPA and are often faced with its ramifications when they are stressed and dealing with what they consider crisis. I think that parent orientations, parent associations, and family outreach programming should be geared toward giving parents a heads up with regards to FERPA and how it will affect them. During this education it will be necessary to explain the circumstances under which information can be shared (for education purposes, if a student may hurt himself or others) and in very general terms how the university works to determine such things. Using real world examples, of how FERPA benefits students and their families is essential. I think it will also be important to provide parents with brochures, websites, blogs, that go into more detail regarding why FERPA was created and the privacy functions that it offers students. FERPA was created as a way to give increased responsibility and authority to students, if parents understand this they may be more likely to comply with it.


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