Education

UMich Won’t Give Accused Student His Degree Or A Hearing

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Rob Shimshock Education Reporter

The University of Michigan will not give a student accused of sexual assault his degree and transcript, while also not affording him a hearing.

A UMich student identified as “John Doe” is suing the university for violating his due process rights, alleging that the school’s refusal to grant him “any form of hearing or cross examination” is “clearly unconstitutional,” according to The College Fix Thursday. The university’s actions prevent Doe from enrolling in an engineering graduate program, into which he had previously been accepted.

Due process “requires some form of cross-examination and live presentation in front of the ultimate fact finder in order to assess credibility,” Doe’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, told The Fix. Specifically, Doe and Gordon believe UMich’s denial of Doe’s degree and transcript infringes on the “fundamental fairness” clause of the 14th Amendment’s due process provision, which the 6th Circuit Court used to justify its ruling against the University of Cincinnati in a fall 2017 campus rape case.

Doe asserts that he and his accuser had consensual sex in November 2017 and, in the subsequent weeks, “chatted pleasantly” and sent several “text and Snapchat messages.” But Doe argues that the relationship took a turn for the worse when the female accuser asked him about the status of the two students’ relationship after having sex and Doe said he could only offer her friendship.

UMich diversity, equity, and inclusion senior director Pamela Heatlie, listed as a defendant in Doe’s lawsuit, issued the student a no-contact order, under which Doe could not engage in “incidental” or “indirect” contact with his accuser without risking “suspension, expulsion, or revocation of degree.” The lawsuit cites the order, noting that it “does not restrain” the conduct of Doe’s accuser.

The unnamed accuser alleged that Doe violated the order, but the male student disputed her claim with card-swipe data showing that he was not where the female student said he was at the time she claimed.

UMich’s code of conduct does not afford students accused of sexual assault the same rights as students accused of other crimes, including a “live hearing in front of the fact finder(s) where both parties are present and witnesses can be called,” an audio recording of this hearing, and the ability to make statements and respond to incriminating evidence.

“No law or governmental regulation requires Defendants to maintain a different procedure, where there is no due process when sexual misconduct is alleged,” Doe and Gordon allege.

University of Michigan is also fending off a lawsuit filed by free speech nonprofit Speech First, which asserts that its speech codes banning “bullying” and “harassment” breach the First Amendment, citing over 150 instances of “bias” the university has investigated since April 2017. (RELATED: University Of Michigan Sued For ‘Un-American’ Speech Codes)

The school made headlines in November 2017 when its student government passed a resolution to divest from Israel after 11 previous failures. The university administration and board of visitors, however, are opposed to divestment.

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“Because this is a student batter [sic], we are limited regarding what we can say outside of the legal proceedings by federal privacy laws,” UMich spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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