Is In Consortio Cum Parentibus the New In Loco Parentis?

Gavin Henning

In loco parentis had been the philosophical foundation of higher education policy and practice since 1913 when it was established as a legal doctrine in Gott v. Berea. The doctrine defined the relationship between colleges, students, and parents. That relationship has changed with the death of in loco parentis in Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education (1961), the cultural shifts of the past forty years, as well is an increase in litigation in higher education. New models including the constitutional model, contract model, fiduciary model, and the bystander model were put forth as replacements for in loco parentis to provide not only a philosophical foundation for higher education’s policy and practice, but also to redefine the relationship between colleges, students, and parents. Recently, some scholars have argued that the increase of liability cases against colleges for student injuries indicates that we are experiencing a return to in loco parentis. By tracing the origins of in loco parentis through its beginnings and end as well as examining the many replacement models posited, this article suggests that there is not a regeneration of in loco parentis, but rather an evolution of a new model that could be called in consortio cum parentibus—in partnership with parents. This model can be used as a foundation for policy and practice in higher education and help define the relationship between colleges, students, and parents. Assumptions, tenets, and applications of this model are discussed.

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