Friday, June 20, 2014

Will Due Process for Faculty be Maintained?

In case you are unaware of it, the issue of sexual assaults on campuses around the country has become a major topic, now involving various changes in federal rules.  Changes are in the works across the country involving such things as definitions of "consent" (particularly after drinking) and procedures when assault is charged.  Most of the anecdotal stories connected to this issue have involved student-on-student contact.  However, there could be instances in which faculty are involved.

Right now, faculty discipline takes place in the context of various Academic Senate procedures and processes designed to insure due process.  What remains unclear to yours truly is how the changes in federal rules will affect campus Academic Senate procedures, or even if they will, if a faculty member is involved.  According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

...To help colleges in responding to students’ reports, the rules set guidelines for investigating and resolving alleged incidents of sexual violence. For instance, colleges should ensure that officials handling such cases are "appropriately trained and do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the accuser or the accused" and that both parties "receive simultaneous notification, in writing, of the result of the proceeding and any available appeal procedures."  The disciplinary process should be transparent, according to the draft regulations, with the "steps, anticipated timelines, and decision-making process" all spelled out. Colleges must also "list all of the possible sanctions" and "describe the range of protective measures" available to alleged victims, the proposed rules say...

Full story at 

So how do Academic Senate procedures fit into this framework?  Typically, for example, members of Senate committees would not be "appropriately trained" in such matters.  In short, this is an issue that bears watching.

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