Guilty Until Proven Innocent


  • On December 4, 2009, the SAO communicated these concerns that letters were being sent prior to the full conclusion of a student’s proceedings to Dean Fortunato of Student Affairs.
  • On March 5, 2010, the SAO was again informed that more letters were being sent home prematurely and addressed these concerns to Dean Butler of Student Conduct, and Dean Sears and Fr. Murphy of Student Affairs.
  • As of December 27, 2010, two more letters were mailed to parents before either student had the chance to submit an appeal. A year later, this problem still has not been corrected.

Two Strikes for the Office of Student Conduct
Editorial printed in the December 3 issue of The Cowl

Once again, the Office of Student Conduct has demonstrated a disregard for fair process in failing to adhere to the College’s disciplinary policies. While consulting students throughout their judicial proceedings, I recently was made aware that this office has been unjustly sending letters home to the parents of students who allegedly had violated school policy.

Parental notification is one of the possible sanctions that the office may render to a student who is found guilty of a particular charge. The notification involves a letter that is sent to the student’s home, explaining, for example, that the student was caught with alcohol. The main injustice behind the recent notifications is that many of these letters have been sent prior to the full conclusion of a student’s proceedings. The Student Handbook explicitly states, “Sanctions resulting from the case will not be implemented until after the appeal is resolved.” Some of these letters have been sent home before students have even had the chance to submit their appeal.

If the Office of Student Conduct cannot follow a procedure as simple as not applying a particular sanction until after an appeal is resolved, what is next? These instances only further enforce the idea that students must be aware of their rights in order to advocate for themselves. The Handbook also reads, “Providence College views student discipline as an integral part of its educational process.”  Procedures that are explicitly stated need to be followed more consistently.

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