Trouble in Paradise
Your student got in trouble. Or they are having trouble. Now what? It’s not uncommon. Sometimes even “the best kids” end up getting in trouble in some fashion in college. It could be as simple as a parking ticket, or as big as a charge of plagiarism. Problems with a roommate, an apartment lease, getting caught underage drinking, are just a few of the issues that can play havoc with a college student and their parents. No matter how well we’ve warned them to be safe, and follow school rules, it is important to also know what to do if trouble arises.
Firstly, breathe. Your student is probably freaking out and is terrified to talk to you. Remain calm and get all of the facts. Remind your child to obtain and keep all paperwork and information. Go over the dates and processes that they have been given. HaveUHeard about the services provided by the Student Government that include free legal aid to students? There is an on-campus service that offers a full range of legal services, such as consultation, assistance with traffic citations and criminal traffic charges, and even representation in court. If you or your child has a dispute with their landlord or leasing agency, USF’s Student Legal Aid can assist you. Free consultations are given by Tampa area lawyers to USF students.
Not surprisingly, the Tampa and USF police departments take underage drinking very seriously and can be seen handing out MIPs on and off-campus, otherwise known as a Minor in Possession. This is considered to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. If a student is a dependent and under the age of 21, it is reported to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSSR) the University is permitted to inform parents or guardians. The student will be notified first so that they can notify their parent/guardian before USF does. USF’s Alcohol Policy may be found here.
As for student code and conduct violations, USF utilizes the Dean of Students Office to deal with these issues. Violations include plagiarism, cheating, university housing code violations, Greek Conduct violations, among others. Each violation is dependent on the overseeing committee’s discretion and the degree of the violation.
There have been students who are pulled over and ticketed for not having their school address on their license. That will not hold up in court as non-resident college students attending college in Florida may drive in Florida without having a Florida driver license if they have a valid license from another state or country. For resident college students, a Florida Statute exempts students while at school in Florida so they are allowed to keep their home address.
If they do get in trouble and you need to contact someone at the University, here is a list of important contacts to have on hand.