Federal suit seeks ‘due process’ in university student discipline

Appeal hearings are underway for suspended University of Minnesota football players, KSTP reports.

A three-person panel, consisting of at least one student, selected from the Student Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee will hear the appeals from the players, some of whom were expelled, others suspended for their alleged part in what a woman claims was a sexual assault.

No criminal charges were filed against the men, but the university disciplined them under Title IX rules.

The University of Minnesota football team boycotted activities prior to their bowl game, saying the men didn’t get due process.

Because of that ongoing assertion, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye on Purdue University, where an attorney for a student thrown out of the NAVY ROTC program has filed a federal suit claiming a lack of due process, the Indianapolis Star reports today.

The unnamed student was suspended after complaints from an ex-girlfriend who said he groped her while they were sleeping together when dating.

“This student’s hopes and dreams to serve his country as a Naval officer have been destroyed as the result of false accusations by an ex-girlfriend and the Kafkaesque disciplinary process at Purdue University,” said Andrew Miltenberg, the student’s lawyer.

He’s represented other students who have complained that the process assumes male students are guilty until proven otherwise.

Lauren Bernstein Klein, a trainer and development specialist at the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said “it is important to remember that the campus conduct process (like a place of employment’s human resource processes) are not the same as courts or legal institutions.” She added that most sexual assaults are never reported to authorities.

“The campus process has the goal of protecting the safety of the academic institution’s environment,” Klein told the IndyStar. “The highest possible consequence a university can exact is expulsion, which should indeed be under consideration for misconduct that cannot only harm an individual person’s academic success and well-being but the safety of the rest of the campus.”

With the new Trump administration assuming power, the future of Title IX, and how it’s enforced, is uncertain at best.

At a forum on Title IX yesterday, a group of college administrators urged the continuation of a lower standard of guilt than the criminal justice system, Inside Higher Ed reports today.

“I think the preponderance of the evidence standard should be one that would stand,” Alisa White, the president of Austin Peay State University in Texas Tennessee, said, accing colleges should not rush to judgment on a student’s guilt. “It’s important to us and will be important to us regardless of what guidance and policies change.”