Off-Site Consultation

The NCHERM Group can assist you off-site in developing policies, assessing compliance and revising procedures. Our off-site services extend beyond the services listed here, so please let us know how we can meet your needs. For example, we have been engaged to review student government constitutions, faculty handbooks, disability compliance policies, and to assess FERPA compliance for student conduct procedures, by clients who wanted us to address these issues.

Here is a menu of off-site consulting services described on this page:

Consensual Relationships Policy Development

Clery Act Compliance Audits and Assessments

Code of Conduct Revision Services

Setting Up a Civil Rights Investigation Model Process

Specially-Commissioned Projects

Consensual Relationships Policy Development

Faculty and other employees can be resistant to limitations on their abilities to fraternize with students and amongst each other. Rightfully so. Faculty often view these policies are as attempt to take away their power or rights. Another perspective is to see these policies as strong self-protection. Different policy models are offered, and rational language is proffered. Extending the policy to staff, to RAs, and creating exceptions is all in the details. Sometimes, the faculty believes that if they enter into a relationship with a student, there might be penalties. Our policies are designed to be more about eliminating power differentials and the potential for ugly legal consequences for pursuing romantic liaisons at work.

Clery Act Compliance—Is Your Campus Reporting Crime Accurately?

This law was passed twenty-one years ago, and most colleges still don’t get compliance 100% right. This off-site nuts & bolts assessment assures accurate, full and correct compliance with the mandates of this campus crime reporting and recordation law. Do you have the Clery Act crime categories right? Are the geographic requirements met correctly? Are you using the hierarchy rule to rank crimes? Are you reporting non-forcible sex offenses in the right category? How does your crime log look? It is complete and available? Are annual reports made available correctly, and are they distributed to prospective students and employees? What are the requirements for reporting campus registered sex offender information? Brett Sokolow wrote the book on Clery Act compliance (The 1999 Clery Act Compliance Manual), and he can make sure you’ve got it right.

Code of Conduct Revision SERVICES

Has it been more than a year since you revised your student conduct code? If so, it’s time to take a look, and update your code. Let The NCHERM Group’s expertise make it easier for you. Policy writing is what we do, and the four options below describe how we do it. Send us your conduct code, and we’ll provide you with a written report, identifying areas of weakness, suggesting policies that you may want to consider adding, and highlighting areas where recent cases or legislation suggest or demand changes. We’ll help to bring you up to date on both policies and judicial procedures, and we’ll do it for a fraction of the cost that others might charge.

REDLINE REVISION SERVICE: This service engages The NCHERM Group to review an area of policy (such as sexual misconduct), all policies in the Code of Conduct, and/or all policies and procedures of the Code. The NCHERM Group uses the MS-Word Reviewing function to redline problem areas, comment on improvements, and suggest best practices. The client then uses this redline review to make desired changes. COST = $3,500 to $6,500 depending on extent and complexity of review.

COMPREHENSIVE CODE REVISION SERVICE: This is our most popular revision service, using MS-Word’s Reviewing function to provide your campus with a comprehensive written review detailing the areas of your policies and student conduct procedures that need attention, and offering guidance for how improvements can be made. This review identifies areas of weakness and offers suggested language to help your code reflect best practices and address ever-changing trends in student behavior and ethical development. Language is not based on cookie-cutter models, but is custom-crafted to suit your institutional policy style and procedural philosophy, with special attention on reducing risk via streamlined procedures, modifying legalistic procedures for educational effect, and making your proceedings transparent and accessible. This review can also include support documents associated with your conduct process (charge letters, notice, sanction letters, etc.)

COST = $5,000 to $12,500, depending on extent of changes needed (The NCHERM Group will preview documents in advance to quote you a firm rate prior to the review).

OPTION = Add a site visit to the above comprehensive review at the rate of $6,500-$7,500/day (depending on consultant). Our clients use this option often, so that The NCHERM Group can do an on-site assessment of practices. Then, the code review is done with an eye toward ensuring that the procedures accurately reflect the practices that are in place. Usually, one or two on-site days is sufficient. The same daily rate can be applied to a comprehesive conduct program assessment by The NCHERM Group, with a written report of evaluating your program against best practices, alignment with CAS standards, and/or accrediting agency standards. Conduct code reviews can also be folded into Special Counsel Retainer contracts, if you would prefer to retain The NCHERM Group for a longer-term or more involved code review project. This permits The NCHERM Group to work with campus revision committees or task forces in a collaborative review process.

UNDER FIRE? MAKE SURE YOUR CONDUCT CODE WON’T BE SEEN BY THE COURTS AS A SPEECH CODE: This policy review service is for colleges and universities that value free speech and want to ensure that their codes of conduct do not inadvertently prohibit speech protected by the first amendment. Today, colleges are being attacked and sued by interest groups such as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the National Association of Scholars. It is possible to create reasonable expectations for campus civility without trampling on the rights of free speech. Let NCHERM help you strike a Constitutional and workable balance. This policy review service examines only those areas of your code that address speech and expressive conduct (such as discrimination codes, creeds, mission statements, freedom of speech statements, harassment provisions, and the like) to help you guarantee the constitutional rights of your students. You may be surprised at what we might find. A written report will detail problem areas and offer suggestions for alternative language and phraseology. COST = $2,500 to $3,500 depending on extent of review.

Recently, a potential client asked us what our revision service offered beyond what their own attorneys could provide. Here is our response:

Lawyers are good at making a code legally-compliant. Good lawyers (which I am sure yours are) can ensure compliance and craft language that reduces the potential for liability. The NCHERM Group can bring one additional key element, which is a compliant code that reduces the potential for liability, while maximizing the educational and developmental emphasis. Our code work is designed to help prevent misconduct, not just challenge it when it occurs. To be legal without sounding or being legalistic is our talent. Making the code easily teachable means it is easily learnable, and creates a clear set of expectations for the community.

Our work incorporates advanced prevention theory, integrating primary, secondary and tertiary prevention elements, such as bystander empowerment. We also incorporate generational theory and research because writing rules for Millennials is different than for Gen Xers. Thus, our code work is values-based, connecting rules to clear aspects of the institutional mission. Our work brings a civil rights lens to misconduct covered by Title IX, which is an often-overlooked aspect of code development, and applies that lens explicitly to stalking, sexual harassment, relationship violence and sexual misconduct as well as online conduct, distance education and technology-based misconduct.

Here’s an example of how we work. Your current policy on sexual harassment (which I assume your current lawyers have vetted) is a lawyer’s policy, not an educator’s. It is long, dense, and full of abstract, non-intuitive language. Ask the simple question, “can a student read this relatively quickly and have clarity on community expectations?”  No way.

Here is your current language:

“For the purpose of this policy, the term “sexual harassment” includes any unwelcome or unwanted sexual attention, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or other offensive behavior directed toward an employee or student because of or on account of his or her gender, whether by a person of the opposite or same gender, when:

1. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis or factor in decisions affecting the terms or conditions of employment or education of any individual; or

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used either explicitly or implicitly as a basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or professional performance; or

4. Such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic, employment, educational or living environment….”

Here is one version of a policy we wrote for another private liberal-arts client, recently:

“Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome, gender-based verbal or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive and/or persistent that it unreasonably interferes with, limits or deprives someone of educational or employment access, benefits or opportunities. ”

That’s it. The whole, simple, legal, understandable policy. It says the same thing as yours, but with the intent of being more easily understood by an eighteen year-old. Focus-group both versions with your students, and see what they relate to better.

Setting up a Civil Rights Investigation Structure

This off-site service is designed to help you create a Civil Rights Investigation-based Model Policy and Procedure to address all forms of discrimination complaints. It is a Title IX-compliant model that can be housed under student conduct, human resources, or can stand alone. The service provides a job description for investigators, and describes the qualities that make for a good investigator, and helps to form and train a pool of investigators. An investigation checklist is provided, thoroughly reviewing each step of a comprehensive investigation. A sexual misconduct investigation protocol is included, featuring witness forms and other important documentation. Also, a strategy and investigation tip guide is included, along with off-site consulting time for follow-up and implementation assistance. A Model Policy and Grievance Procedure complete this service, giving you all you need to structure and conduct competent investigations of civil rights grievances.

Specially Commissioned Projects

Examples of special projects commissioned by our clients include:

  • Colorado State-wide Campus Safety and Security Guidelines for CAILED. Download an outline of this project.
  • CUNY System-wide Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment Guidelines. Download an outline of this project.
  • Amicus Curiae brief in Lacey v. Widener commissioned by AICUP. Download the NCHERM brief.
  • Clery Act Compliance Checklist commissioned by Kean University with updates for the Higher Education Reauthorization Act. View the Clery Act checklist.
  • Residential Life Risk Management Audit commissioned by Kean University. Conducted both on and off-site. Report confidential.
  • Office of Student Conduct Risk Management Audit commissioned by Kean University. Conducted both on and off-site. Report confidential.