The Daily Gamecock

NC students granted legal representation

North Carolina college students will be allowed an attorney to represent them in school hearings.

Last month, North Carolina took an important step forward in protecting students’ rights. The governor there signed a bill passed by the legislature to allow college students facing disciplinary charges from campus crimes the right to hire an attorney. This new law should go a long way in helping students navigate through what is often an overwhelming and intimidating campus legal system at many universities.

Previously, students were forced to defend themselves against oftentimes serious charges while facing a room full of powerful and high-ranking university officials.
This law helps ensure that legal proceedings on campus are fair and lawyers are present to inform students of their rights and speak for them if they are uncomfortable or simply unsure of how to do so. It also addresses the inequality between students living off campus and those living on campus. This is because people accused of crimes off campus always had the right to an attorney, yet students accused of those same crimes on campus didn’t have the option of legal representation.

While it would be unthinkable for a student facing rape, assault or larceny charges off campus to be denied a lawyer, that is precisely what happens to many students in universities across the country today. As a result of this change, North Carolina should see fewer students wrongfully convicted of offenses they didn’t commit. South Carolina legislators should take note and take up the issue of students’ rights during their next legislative session.