Legal Issues Facing Social Work Academia
Robert G. Madden and Norman H. Cobb
Prior to the early 1960s, administrators, faculty, and staff exercised considerable “parental authority” (locus parentis) over students enrolled in colleges and universities. Kaplin (1985) identifies several reasons for this degree of authority given to faculty and administration. The university held a unique place in society. Faculty were seen as having a special mission to be “guardians of knowledge,” which required considerable expertise and intelligence. This resulted in a high level of status and respect accorded to faculty and administrators. In this atmosphere, it was considered inappropriate for an outsider to presume to tell an institution of higher education how to do its business. This was particularly true of lawyers and judges, most of whom were not products of the university, having been trained instead in the apprenticeship model (“reading law”), studying, and working in a practitioner's office.
Historically, attendance at a university was considered a privilege rather than a right. Faculty and administrators chose students and granted degrees according to their judgment of each student. As a result, students entering a university were under the near complete authority of school personnel. Their physical care and custody were controlled by the student-life/studentservices staff. Students' moral behavior was controlled by honor
Sections of this chapter include revised material from the following article, used with permission of the publisher: Madden, R. G. (1993). Protecting all parties: A legal analysis of clinical competency and student dismissals. Journal of Law and Social Work 3 (1): 1–13.