Arkansas SB 365: What it Means for Students and Student Organizations at Arkansas Public Universities
On April 4, 2023, Governor Sarah Huckabee-Sanders signed into law SB365, creating the Arkansas Student Due Process and Protection Act to establish procedural protections for student conduct disciplinary proceedings at public two-year and four-year institutions of higher education in Arkansas. The bill was first introduced on March 3, 2023 and was passed within a month of starting the legislative process.
What Is SB365?
SB365 establishes due process protections that ensure students and student organizations who face disciplinary actions from their universities are provided fair protections and representation. The biggest change made by SB365 gives students and student organizations the right to counsel. Before SB365 went into effect, students and student organizations who faced disciplinary actions were only allowed legal representation for an appeal of a decision made by the university.
What Does SB365 Mean for Students?
With the new amendments implemented by SB365, students and student organization have the right to counsel through the entire disciplinary hearing process, including before a disciplinary proceeding and during a disciplinary proceeding as well as during the appeal process.
SB365 also provides that students and student organizations now have an “express presumption of innocence”, which means that a student or student organization cannot be deemed guilty until they either formally acknowledge responsibility for the violation in question or after a disciplinary hearing has happened and guilt has been proven.
Other procedural protections include reasonable and continuous access to the administrative files evidence in the institution’s possession, including evidence that may prove innocence, as well as a guarantee of impartiality from the hearing panel that prohibits one person filling multiple roles during the adjudication process.
SB365 ensures that students and student organizations who are facing disciplinary actions from their university not only have rights to fair due process, but it also forces Arkansas universities to abide by these statutory provisions to ensure students and student organizations are being properly represented and are afforded a fair disciplinary hearing process.
Questions about SB365? Call The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas
If you have any questions regarding SB365, or if you or someone you know are facing a disciplinary hearing at your university, The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas can help. Contact Jason Boyeskie at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas PLLC to schedule a free, initial consultation. You can also contact us by using our online contact form or call (479) 439-9769.