Col­lege stu­dents want due process in mis­con­duct cases.

Broad pro­tec­tions im­por­tant

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

Col­leges may be fine with throw­ing the book at stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct, but a just-re­leased sur­vey shows that the ma­jor­ity of un­der­grad­u­ates be­lieves the ac­cused should re­ceive broad due process pro­tec­tions.

The sur­vey, pub­lished Wed­nes­day by the Foun­da­tion for In­di­vid­ual Rights in Ed­u­ca­tion, found that stu­dents over­whelm­ingly sup­port such pro­tec­tions as the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence, ad­e­quate writ­ten no­tice of al­le­ga­tions, the abil­ity to cross-ex­am­ine wit­nesses and the right to have a lawyer present.

Sa­man­tha Har­ris, FIRE’s vice pres­i­dent of pol­icy re­search, said the find­ings demon­strate there is a “vast gulf be­tween the ro­bust pro­tec­tions that stu­dents want and to which they are morally en­ti­tled, and the mea­ger pro­tec­tions that most col­leges ac­tu­ally pro­vide.”

“Cam­pus pro­ceed­ings can have per­ma­nent, life-al­ter­ing con­se­quences,” Ms.

Har­ris said in a state­ment. “It’s time for col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties to start lis­ten­ing to their stu­dents and pro­vid­ing safe­guards that re­flect the se­ri­ous­ness of these pro­cesses.”

The sur­vey builds on FIRE’s re­port “Spot­light on Due Process,” which was re­leased last year and found that less than 30 per­cent of Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties pro­vide ad­e­quate due process pro­tec­tions for stu­dents. Among the sur­vey’s find­ings: ● 98 per­cent of stu­dents be­lieve it is very im­por­tant or im­por­tant for stu­dents to have due process pro­tec­tions in col­lege.

● 88 per­cent of stu­dents agree that stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should have the right to pro­vide ad­di­tional ev­i­dence at their trial.

● 86 per­cent of stu­dents sup­port the right to ad­e­quate writ­ten no­tice of al­le­ga­tions in sex­ual mis­con­duct tri­als.

● 80 per­cent of stu­dents sup­port the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence in sex­ual mis­con­duct tri­als.

● 72 per­cent of stu­dents be­lieve stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should have the right to have the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of a lawyer in their case.

● 72 per­cent of stu­dents agree that una­nim­ity should be re­quired to ex­pel a stu­dent ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

The study also found that fe­male stu­dents and stu­dents who iden­tify as lib­eral were less likely to sup­port due process pro­tec­tions for stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

Al­though male and fe­male stu­dents sup­ported due process pro­tec­tions for un­der­age drink­ing and rule-break­ing at sim­i­lar rates, women were 20 per­cent­age points less likely than men to say that a stu­dent ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should be able to make copies of ev­i­dence.

Women were also 18 per­cent­age points less likely than men to say stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should have the right to look through ev­i­dence.

And 81 per­cent of male stu­dents sup­ported the right to cros­sex­am­ine a wit­ness in a sex­ual mis­con­duct trial, com­pared to 64 per­cent of fe­male stu­dents.

Stu­dents who iden­ti­fied as lib­eral also were less likely than stu­dents who iden­ti­fied as con­ser­va­tive to sup­port broad due process pro­tec­tions.

Just 41 per­cent of self-iden­ti­fied “very lib­eral” stu­dents said stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should have the right to make copies of ev­i­dence, com­pared to 59 per­cent of self-iden­ti­fied “very con­ser­va­tive” stu­dents.

Among very lib­eral stu­dents, 58 per­cent said stu­dents ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct should have the right to cross-ex­am­ine a wit­ness at a cam­pus dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, com­pared to 83 per­cent of very con­ser­va­tive stu­dents.

Yet, when a stu­dent has been al­legedly un­der­age drink­ing, very lib­eral stu­dents were 13 per­cent­age points more likely than con­ser­va­tive stu­dents to sup­port the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence.

YouGov sur­veyed 2,457 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents be­tween Jan. 29 and Feb. 12. The over­all sam­ple has an es­ti­mated mar­gin of er­ror of plus-or-mi­nus 2.2 per­cent­age points.

“Cam­pus pro­ceed­ings can have per­ma­nent, life-al­ter­ing con­se­quences. It’s time for col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties to start lis­ten­ing to their stu­dents and pro­vid­ing safe­guards that re­flect the se­ri­ous­ness of these pro­cesses.” — Sa­man­tha Har­ris, Foun­da­tion for In­di­vid­ual Rights in Ed­u­ca­tion

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