Academic Policies Guide

New York University School of Law Policies for Formal Student Discipline and Informal Resolution of Concerns or Complaints

Pursuant to applicable New York University by-laws and disciplinary procedures, the faculty of the New York University School of Law voted on May 8, 2019, to amend the section addressing informal resolution of issues raised by or against students.  These amendments do not alter the procedures for formal student discipline described in Part V and approved by vote of the Law School Faculty on October 27,1989 and in subsequent amendments. The procedures described below are not exclusive, and are not intended to prevent the Dean from acting independently in cases involving emergencies, severe violation of university policy, or imminent danger to community safety.


In a large, diverse, and vibrant community such as NYU Law, students may encounter issues that require assistance to resolve.  Some such issues may involve serious misconduct, while others relate to ministerial matters.  Examples of the range of complaints, concerns, or questions that might arise include:

  • A faculty member or student alleges that another student plagiarized a paper
  • A group of students seek a curricular change
  • A student alleges that a faculty member repeated an exam given in a prior year
  • A student alleges that a recruiter made a racially charged remark
  • A bar owner alleges that a student at an NYU law-sponsored event defaced property at the bar
  • A student group seeks a change in Law School policy
  • A student alleges that a faculty member uses terminology the student deems offensive
  • A student alleges that another student threatened and assaulted them

This policy provides guidance about NYU Law’s community standards of conduct (Part I), the resources available when students have concerns or complaints (Part II), the option to pursue formal or informal measures to address such issues (Part III) and the informal measures (Part IV) or formal process (Part V) that may apply.

I. Community standards

A. General code of conduct

As reflected in the University Student Conduct Policy, New York University School of Law is an academic institution committed to the principles of “free inquiry, free expression, and free association.”  The Law School is part of “a community where the means of seeking to establish truth are open discussion and free discourse” and one that “thrives on debate and dissent.”

As an educational institution, NYU Law is further committed to establishing a learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to flourish. The Law School endeavors to foster an equitable and inclusive educational environment, even as community members engage in spirited dialogue around difficult, contested, and deeply felt views.  As stated in the university policy on Academic Integrity for Students at NYU:

[A] commitment to excellence, fairness, honesty, and respect within and outside the classroom is essential to maintaining the integrity of our community. By accepting membership in this community, students take responsibility for demonstrating these values in their own conduct and for recognizing and supporting these values in others. In turn, these values will create a campus climate that encourages the free exchange of ideas, promotes scholarly excellence through active and creative thought, and allows community members to achieve and be recognized for achieving their highest potential.

All members of the NYU Law School community are expected to follow state and federal laws; to adhere to the standards of behavior set out in university and Law School policies; and to hold themselves to the highest standards of honesty and civility.

B. Specific disciplinary standards

The university sets out numerous policies outlining the general rules of conduct that apply to all students in the university community, including a University Student Conduct Policy, the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures for Students, the Rules for the Maintenance of Public Order and an Academic Integrity policy.  The university also prescribes rules regarding specific areas, such as described in the Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy, which applies to all members of the university community.  NYU maintains a comprehensive, searchable database of university policies.

Specific policies expressly govern the conduct of faculty, staff, and administrators, including the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedures for Employees, the Code of Ethical Conduct, and the promise of Academic Freedom.

These university policies cover a wide range of conduct.  As regards students, they generally govern four areas of concern, which in some cases may be overlapping:

  • academic integrity (such as plagiarism, cheating, or altering a transcript)
  •  general student behavior (such as abuse of alcohol, misuse of technology, or destruction of property)
  • bias and harassment (such as adverse treatment on the basis of a protected status or display or electronic transmission of hostile or degrading images)
  • sexual misconduct and harassment (such as sex- or gender-based discrimination, sexual assault and sexual harassment)

Certain of these policies merit special emphasis.  Because these policies undergo periodic revision, students are advised to consult the most current version of these policies, as found on the university’s and Law School’s web pages, to verify the precise governing language.

1.  Academic integrity. The Academic Integrity policy expressly defines and prohibits plagiarism, or “presenting others' work without adequate acknowledgement of its source, as though it were one’s own.”  It also lists examples of cheating that include:

  • bringing or accessing unauthorized materials during an examination
  • submitting the same or substantially similar work in multiple courses
  • providing assistance to acts of academic misconduct/dishonesty
  • altering or forging academic documents

In addition to the University-wide Academic Integrity for Students at NYU Policy, the Law School adopts the following policy.  The Law School expressly prohibits cheating, plagiarism, forgery of academic documents, or submission of substantially the same work for duplicate credits with intent to defraud. Each of these constitutes an academic crime and a serious breach of Law School rules. Faculty and students are obligated to report cases of plagiarism to the Vice Dean for Curriculum for appropriate action. Among the possible sanctions for plagiarism are expulsion, suspension, grade reduction (including a grade of “FX” indicating a failure for plagiarism), and a statement of censure placed in the student’s file. All disciplinary code violations will be made available to bar admission committees and others on proper waiver of confidentiality.

A student’s submission of work (including journal submissions) under the student’s name constitutes a representation that the research, analysis, and articulation of the work is exclusively that of the student, except as expressly attributed to another in the work, and that it has been prepared exclusively for the particular course, seminar, or use entitling the student to credit.

Plagiarism occurs when one, either intentionally or through gross negligence, passes off someone else’s words as one’s own, or presents an idea or product copied or paraphrased from an existing source without giving credit to that source.

Although not within the definition of plagiarism, it is also forbidden, without permission of the instructor, to submit the same work or a portion of the same work for academic credit in more than one setting, whether the work was previously submitted at this school or elsewhere. Submission of a paper or written work, or portion thereof, for credit, of work that has been previously submitted in identical or similar form in another course, or any other forum, either within the Law School, or any other setting, is forbidden without permission of the instructor.

What follows are some examples -- by no means exhaustive -- of common situations in which plagiarism (or other conduct prohibited by this policy) has occurred. These are meant to be purely illustrative and in no sense establish floors or minimal requirements.

  •  Example 1: A student submits work in which portions are copied verbatim from another text without quotation marks and a citation.
  •  Example 2: A student rearranges or paraphrases portions of the copied material, but still fails to put verbatim language in quotations or to cite the source for material that has been paraphrased.
  • Example 3: A student uses part of a paper previously submitted in another course, without the permission of the instructor to whom the student is submitting the paper.
  • Example 4: A student relies on the discussion of Source A that is contained in Source B but fails to cite Source B.
  • Example 5: A student takes notes from various sources onto note cards or a computer; the notes include both verbatim quotes and the student’s own thoughts.  The student transfers information from the note cards or computer without preserving quotation marks. Even if the student was pressed for time, or wrote the paper hurriedly, plagiarism has occurred.
  •  Example 6: A student downloads work from the Internet and modifies it in important respects to conform to a specific topic without acknowledging the original source.

Students are advised to steer clear of the border line. It is never a problem to recognize that ideas and arguments were derived from another source or to use quotation marks for words or phrases borrowed from someone else’s work. Where doubts exist, students should seek advice from their instructor.

2. General student behavior. The University Student Conduct Policy governs the standards of conduct for all students at the University, including the Law School.  The policy requires students to refrain from a number of types of conduct defined in detail in that policy, including violations related to alcohol and drugs; bullying, threatening, and abusive behavior; destruction of property; discrimination and harassment; disorderly conduct; failure to comply; fire safety; conduct while studying abroad; guests and visitors; hazing; information technology; misrepresentation; retaliation; residence halls; sexual misconduct; smoking; theft and unauthorized taking; misuse of University properties; weapons and related items; and violation of other University policies.

The University Student Conduct Policy applies fully to students at the Law School and would prohibit, among other things, the following examples of misconduct:

  • Physical assault, intentional acts of physical violence, malicious injury to the property of others, conduct which intentionally or recklessly imperils the safety of any person or of Law School premises, or threats to commit any of the above
  • Intentional disruption of a lecture hall, classroom, or any other premises used for academic purposes
  • Theft of library materials, or destruction of all or part of a library book or archival document
  • Intentional interference with access to lecture halls, classrooms, or academic offices
  • Intentional physical detention or restraint of a student, instructor, staff member or administrator while that person is attempting to exercise Law School duties

The Law School additionally specifically forbids: engaging in any violation of law, or school rule, or other conduct that adversely reflects on fitness as a law student or fitness to practice law.

3. Bias and harassmentThe Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy states that “[p]rohibited discrimination and prohibited harassment undermine the character and purpose of NYU and may violate the law.”  As specifically defined and explained further in the policy, NYU prohibits adverse treatment and unwelcome conduct based on a student’s protected characteristic.  The Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy protects students at the Law School and would prohibit, among other things, the following examples of misconduct:

  • Verbal abuse or hostile behavior, which could include insulting, teasing, mocking, degrading, or ridiculing another person or group
  • Inappropriate physical contact, comments, questions, advances, jokes, epithets, or demands
  •  Physical assault or stalking
  • Displays or electronic transmission of derogatory, demeaning, or hostile materials
  •  Physically threatening or intimidating, or otherwise harassing, behavior which is overtly and intentionally directed towards a person or group of persons on grounds of  a protected characteristic as defined in the policy

4. Consensual relationships; Sexual misconduct and harassment. The Policy on Consensual Intimate Relationships proscribes certain sexual relationships based on the status of the individuals involved. It specifically prohibits intimate relationships between a “faculty member and a graduate student in the same discipline or academic program,” as well as between a “teaching assistant and a student in the teaching assistant’s class.”

The Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking Policy defines and proscribes sexual misconduct, and prohibits retaliation against those who file complaints. There are also detailed procedures for filing and adjudicating a complaint against employees or students. The policy sets out a lengthy definition of prohibited conduct, including sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, relationship violence, and stalking.

C. Retaliation

Many University conduct policies also prohibit retaliation against a person who makes a good faith report of an alleged violation of an NYU policy.  Retaliation can constitute a separate violation of the applicable policy.

Specifically with respect to any policy of the Law School not otherwise addressed by a University policy, retaliation is forbidden and constitutes a separate violation of Law School Policy. Retaliation means an adverse action taken against a student because a student pursued an informal or formal complaint, or participated or assisted in the resolution of a complaint.