KC Johnson on the Flawed Assumptions Made by Critics of NC Representation Law

By August 27, 2013

Writing for Minding the Campus today, Brooklyn College professor KC Johnson questions critics of the new North Carolina law that allows the state’s public university students to be represented by an attorney for non-academic campus disciplinary hearings. Perhaps most troubling is the ever-persistent presumption of guilt among some administrators. Johnson writes: UNC-Asheville’s vice chancellor for student affairs expressed skepticism about the law, commenting that the college disciplinary process differs from the lhegal process, since “a key component of the developmental process of responding to student misconduct is for the student to take responsibility for their own behavior and to learn from the incident.” But what happens if an accused student is innocent? The vice chancellor’s statement seems to presume guilt—how can an innocent student “take responsibility” for something he didn’t do? Johnson also expresses skepticism at the idea that allowing attorney representation would allow rich students to get off scot-free: [The vice chancellor] scowled that “whoever’s able to hire the best and most expensive attorney is likely to win the day.” I’d propose that if the mere act of having a good attorney identify weaknesses in the college’s case is enough to collapse the college’s case, then maybe the college didn’t have much of a case to begin with. Read the rest of Johnson’s piece at Minding the Campus.

Cases: University of North Carolina System: Law Guaranteeing Right to Counsel