Legal Foundations

Aside from my coordinating the governance review of YSJSU in 2006 as previously mentioned in this assessment, my experience of working toward “understanding and applying knowledge of legal issues to one’s work environment and relationships” (ACPA, 2007, p.9) has allowed me to reach an intermediate level of this competency.  To demonstrate this, I have included a document highlighting the requirements placed upon Students’ Unions to conform with charity lawYSJSU’s equal opportunities policy, drafted by myself in 2006, the syllabus from the Legal Issues in Student Affairs class I took in the Spring of 2009, and my explanation of the legal issues surrounding Healy v.  James (408 U.S.  169 (1972)) that I submitted as an assignment for the class.   I also subscribe to the Higher Education Legal Alert and the Pavela Report, two great publications that help me stay aware of legal issues surrounding higher education and student affairs.

As a conduct officer, legal issues play an important role in my everyday working life.  I am often placed in a situation where I have to handle sensitive information and communicate with parents about student issues.  Interacting with parents often requires a careful approach, as it is necessary to balance the best interests of at-risk students with their legally-protected privacy under the FERPA law.  It is also necessary for me to know when an intervention or lack thereof may cause harm to a student so that I can keep myself and my institution free from any danger of tort liability.  It is for this reason that I took the Legal Issues class in my first year and regularly read relevant publications to educate me on trends in the law and help me frame an understanding of how my actions or inactions would be perceived in a court of law.

My experience of drafting York St John’s equal opportunities policy was valuable as it allowed me to develop skills in creating organizational policy that aligned with legal requirements, promoted civic responsibility and complied with institutional policies with regard to non-discrimination.  Throughout this process, I reflected on and studied the values of the organization, the institutional mission of York St John, the social and cultural needs of the campus and the legal issues surrounding non-discrimination policies.  These experiences have proven me to be competent at the intermediate level as written by ACPA, which requires professionals to act in accordance with best practices, institutional policies and federal laws to manage institutional and personal tort liability, non-discrimination as well as identify emerging trends in the law to show how they affect current case precedent (ACPA, 2007, p.9).