American Association of University Professors Asks Office for Civil Rights to Withdraw New Evidence Requirement

By on July 28, 2011

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has joined FIRE in asking the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to rescind its new mandate that colleges use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof when adjudicating cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault. In a June 27 letter to OCR, Gregory F. Scholtz, Director of the AAUP’s Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance, explained that the requirement demands a "lower standard of proof than what we consider necessary to protect academic freedom and tenure," and noted that the lowered standard conflicts with AAUP recommendations. (The AAUP has not commented on other new OCR efforts in this area.) The AAUP’s stance on OCR’s new evidentiary standard is welcome support of fundamental fairness and due process in higher education.    

Cases: U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights April 4, 2011, Guidance Letter Reduces Due Process Protections