Columbia University: Violation of Due Process Rights in Sexual Misconduct Policy

Category: Due Process
Schools: Columbia University

Despite all of the fanfare surrounding Columbia University’s promulgation of a so-called "Sexual Misconduct Policy"-a policy touted as a "national model"-Columbia, under intense and broad public criticism, has silently altered the text of its scandalous assault on student rights and decencies. For instance, in the original policy, there was no recording or transcript made of the proceedings, preventing any serious internal appeal or recourse to the real legal system. Instead, the very authors of a judicial decision would "summarize" the case for the official charged with hearing appeals. Now, Columbia University will keep a recording or full transcript of the hearing, thus offering at least a minimal means of legal and moral remedy for the victims of this kangaroo court. Most of the changes are efforts to move hesitatingly toward meeting FIRE’s objections. However, not a single admission of prior and ongoing injustice has been made. Moreover, many problems remain with Columbia’s policy, such as the lack of a right to confront one’s accuser.

  • Senate to Vote Friday on Sexual Misconduct Policy

    February 23, 2006

    The rallies and petitions from six years ago have long been forgotten. The widespread anger seems to be gone. The University-wide sexual misconduct policy was due for review in the spring of 2002—a semester before current Columbia seniors set foot on campus. Tomorrow, after four years of delays, postponements, and extensive debate by a task force, it is scheduled to come to a vote by the University Senate. But on the eve of what could be the most significant senate meeting in recent memory, the tone of the discussion surrounding one of Columbia’s most controversial policies is notably more subdued […]

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  • Columbia’s Slow, Secret Steps Toward Justice; Sexual Misconduct Policy Still a Bizarre Patchwork of Outrages

    December 7, 2001

    MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, NY—Despite all of the fanfare surrounding Columbia University’s promulgation two years ago of a so-called “Sexual Misconduct Policy”—a policy touted as a “national model”—Columbia, under intense and broad public criticism, has silently altered the text of its scandalous assault on student rights and decencies. Visitors to the web page of Columbia’s nearly two-year-old policy now will find a section that became “effective September 28, 2001.” Most of the changes are efforts to move hesitatingly toward meeting FIRE’s objections, without a single admission of prior and ongoing injustices. “The flawed policy was nothing less than a systematic withdrawal of […]

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  • Columbia Belatedly Embraces Free Speech, But for Whom?

    November 8, 2001

    NEW YORK, NY—With breathtaking hypocrisy, the Columbia University Senate passed a resolution in support of freedom of speech. After decades of watching Columbia trash and neglect free speech, legal equality, and all notions of individual rights and responsibilities, the Senate suddenly asserts itself, alarmed only about alleged patriotic threats to freedom of expression. The resolution claimed that, in the current climate, “some student members of the Columbia community have felt pressure to curtail their opinions of the national response to the September 11 attacks.” In response, the University Senate voted forty-six to none (with one abstention) to “reaffirm open discourse […]

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  • University Senate Affirms Free Speech

    October 29, 2001

    Concerned that the nearly unanimous support for a military response to the attacks of Sept. 11 could stifle those with opposing views, the University Senate reaffirmed Columbia’s commitment to free speech and open debate. A student-sponsored resolution, which passed with no votes against and just one abstention, called on members of the Columbia community to “preserve an environment conducive to the free exchange of ideas and the civil discussion of diverse opinions.” In Friday’s resolution, the Senate stated that “Columbia University is dedicated to the free expression of ideas and open debate as well as the respect for diversity of […]

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  • Columbia University Unable to Defend Policy in Public

    March 13, 2001

    NEW YORK, NY—The Columbia University administration, although invited by Columbia students, faculty, and parents, did not show up at a campus discussion of its controversial new Sexual Misconduct Policy. A few days later, Columbia refused to participate in a highly rated television news program discussing the policy. Columbia’s new sexual misconduct policy lacks even the most minimal safeguards and fundamental principles of fairness. Indeed, it lacks virtually all safeguards long considered by civilized societies to be essential for a reliable search for truth. Columbia came under national scrutiny six months ago when the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) […]

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  • Kafka U.

    March 7, 2001

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  • Student Groups Must Act

    February 28, 2001

    In recent discussions about the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Columbia campus has witnessed ardent attempts to portray a community divided between those favoring student rights and those somehow opposed to this notion. This is, of course, a false characterization, since most informed individuals recognize that while last year’s student activism surrounding the Policy met with much success, the actual disciplinary procedures at Columbia, and in fact nationwide, can always benefit from further reform. However, many members of the community, including SAFER, do take issue with certain activities recently adopted in the name of reform. Rather than engage in endless polemic […]

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