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Duke ‘Chronicle’ Editorial Advocates for Due Process

By February 26, 2014

Earlier this week, the editorial board of Duke University’s student newspaper The Chronicle detailed some of the many ways Duke fails to provide due process to its students accused of campus violations.

Perhaps most critically, the editorial begins by calling Duke out on its claim that disciplinary hearings are just a “conversation,” despite the very serious consequences that can follow them. As FIRE has explained before, when two parties are each trying to convince a fact-finder, the process is necessarily adversarial. Yet Duke—and many other universities—repeatedly claim that misconduct hearings are merely part of the educational process and therefore do not need to include standard procedural safeguards for disciplinary hearings. (It’s an odd interpretation of the “educational process” to say that it includes permanently excluding someone from getting an education on your campus.) As the Chronicle’s editors argue:

To justify the lack of enumerated procedural rights, administrators have historically argued that maintaining a list of all due process rights would not only be practically difficult, but might also be an “impediment to the educational message” that disciplinary hearings send. Student conduct hearings have very real consequences, however, and refusing, in the name of pedagogy, to outline fully students’ procedural rights understates the seriousness of disciplinary proceedings.

Nevertheless, according to the Chronicle editorial, things are getting worse for Duke students:

[T]he current code of conduct enumerates only a fraction of the rights protected by the 1999-2000 Community Standard in Practice. Students no longer enjoy the right to cross-examine witnesses, for instance, and the current conduct guide does not explicitly guarantee a presumption of innocence for accused students, except in cases of sexual assault.

Read the rest of the editorial in The Chronicle.

Schools: Duke University