Monday, August 6, 2018

Cautionary Tale from Another Public University

From Inside Higher EdIn July, a federal judge instructed the University of Michigan to break from its policies for investigating sexual assault and instead to hold a live hearing so that a student accused of rape could question his accuser. The decision could have national implications as it is part of an emerging pattern of case law: establishing that those accused of campus sexual violence have the right to question the evidence against them. 

With the U.S. Department of Education on the cusp of releasing new draft regulations on the federal gender discrimination law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, campus leaders are waiting to see how prescriptive Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be with a few of these processes. 

The anonymous male student sued Michigan in June, alleging that its sexual assault policies deprived him of due process rights. The student was accused of rape in April stemming from a sexual encounter last November that he said was consensual. Officials hadn't determined yet whether he committed the assault. 

Last month, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow ordered the institution to arrange the live hearing, writing in his ruling: "[The university] essentially asks the court to sit back and wait for the investigator to issue findings against plaintiff before intervening in this action. But at this very moment, the university may be denying plaintiff due process protections to which he is entitled. The court cannot, and will not, simply stand by as the fruit continues to rot on the tree. This case is ripe for adjudication."

This ruling doesn't mean that the accused student would be directly asking his accuser questions, merely that he be given the opportunity to challenge her narrative...

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