Important Laws College Students Should Know

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    College often gives you a taste of freedom that you may not have had at all before – you usually won’t have parents to watch your every movie, you’ll meet new people and find yourself in different environments, among many other scenarios. It can be easy to get carried away in the process of navigating college life or forget laws that protect you, so keep these regulations in mind:  


    • Plagiarism is the act of recreating or labelling others’ work and thoughts as your own, and is taken VERY seriously in college
    • If your professor or TA suspects you of plagiarism, you may be asked to appear in front of a board or Dean of the college to explain your actions
    • If you’re found guilty, punishment could range from disciplinary programs, removal of a scholarship, suspension, and in some extreme cases, expulsion – so DO NOT risk this under any circumstances! 

    Underage Drinking/Fake IDs

    • In most U.S. states, young adults may not legally drink alcoholic beverages until 21 years of age 
      • In some states, underage drinking is allowed with parental consent  
      • Most underage drinking punishment involves various levels of fines, loss of privileges, or community service requirements 
    • Despite strict drinking laws, alcohol is prevalent on most college campuses 
      • If college officials catch you participating in underage drinking (or drugs) you could be suspended, lose financial aid privileges, or even be expelled  
    • Many students use fake IDs to purchase alcohol, drink at parties, and more – this again will result in a fine and loss of privileges on most campuses if caught  

    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

    • FERPA protects the release of a student’s educational records 
    • Unlike high school, in college, usually only the student is able to have access to their transcripts and other records, unless specified by the student to give others access
    • Be wary of anyone or any organization asking for your academic and college data who you do not feel comfortable sharing the information with! 

    Title IX and Sex Discrimination

    • Title IX is an amendment set forth by the U.S. Department of Education, and prohibits any kind of sex-based discrimination in any federally funded program or activity
    • Most schools have separate offices to report sex-based discrimination and/or violations, so if you ever feel your rights and safety have been jeopardized, it is well within your right to report and take action against the individual or group in question  

    Title VI and Racial Discrimination

    Title VI of the Civil Rights Act specifies that organizations or individuals of federally funded programs may not discriminate based on race or ethnicity in any category of event – financial aid, participation privileges, and equal opportunities are some examples 

    There are many more laws and regulations you should be aware of as a college student, but these are just the common ones! Check out your school’s webpage or visit their offices for more information specific to your university – this will help you stay aware and educated of which practices are allowed on campus and which aren’t.

    Mythri Challa


    Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas, aiming to specialize in cyber security and web development.

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