Research Paper: Student Searches, Free Speech

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[. . .] For the most part public institutions utilize codes of conduct that are reflective of regional public sentiment about moral conduct and legal behaviors while private institutions, especially those associated with religious affiliation can be far more encompassing as they are subject to internal rather than public review and acceptance and can reflect the moral opinions of the faith associated with the institution. Yet it is also clear that enrollment in such institutions should be reflective of an individuals' awareness of their responsibilities to act in accordance with the moral and ethical standards of the institution and its affiliates. In other words most people must be at least marginally aware that a private institution (especially a religious one) will have a stricter set of moral and conduct standards.

For the most part the legal precedence and the sentiment of public opinion stress that even when one is acting privately, i.e. such as in an off campus location once he or she makes such actions public by posting them online he or she has effectively made the actions public and therefore they are subject to public scrutiny. In the same manner the search and seizure issue is reflected as the location of one's belongings on campus is not the private space of the student and is therefore subject to the scrutiny of the institution. If such space or actions in it are reflective of violations of the law or codes of conduct then the individual is likely to be held accountable to some degree by the institution and is not often afforded protection from the law either. In other words if one acts outside the law on or off campus he or she can expect to be held accountable for those actions by both the law and the institutions he or she is enrolled in. For instance if an individual is found guilty of driving under the influence he or she is likely to find him or herself held accountable not just by the law but also by his or her school, especially if such violation is associated with school activities or events. The school has the right to restrict the individual's participation in certain activities that are associated with the school or even to expel a student if the violation or damage is severe enough to warrant the action. The institutions are only limitedly accountable for the sanctions they decide to enforce as the codes of conduct clauses allow them to take such actions against individuals even if these individuals have not been made completely aware of the standards they are expected to uphold through a thorough reading of the codes.

In short students and especially minor students and their parents should make themselves aware of the codes of conduct the student is expected to uphold and live within those guidelines even if they feel the guidelines are overreaching as students have little recourse because even most public institutions such as public schools are still considered voluntary and enrollment in them requires certain standards to be upheld. This is not to say it is likely that all new students will read and memorize a code of conduct but they must beware that violations especially that hurt others will not likely be tolerated. It is not likely that the constitutional protection of students will be expanded, rather to the contrary laws that protect others from immoral, unethical and/or illegal or harmful behaviors in a public forum such as the internet, across email, and cell phones will likely be expanded. It also must be made clear that the intent to harm another does not have to be present for that harm to be done or for the individual(s) responsible to be held accountable for it. In other words consider yourself under public scrutiny when you are enrolled in any institution and act accordingly, upholding the law and the moral and ethical standards associated with your role as a student.

Wheeler, T. (2011). Facebook Fatalities: Students, Social Networking, and the First Amendment. Pace Law Review, 31(1), 182-227. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Williamson, L. (2009). Private Rants Become Public When Aired Online. InsideCounsel, 20(211), 67-68. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Professional:

APA Format

Student Searches, Free Speech.  (2011, October 17).  Retrieved June 26, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Student Searches, Free Speech."  17 October 2011.  Web.  26 June 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Student Searches, Free Speech."  October 17, 2011.  Accessed June 26, 2019.