Missouri State Latest School to Succumb to OCR Mandate

By August 29, 2012

According to an article by Steve Pokin in Springfield, Missouri’s The News Leader, another school has succumbed to the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) April 4, 2011, "Dear Colleague" letter. Missouri State University (MSU) is the most recent casualty of OCR’s push to have colleges and universities across the country lower their standard of evidence for campus sexual harassment and sexual assault cases to the "preponderance of the evidence" (or "more likely than not") standard. As FIRE has pointed out before, this standard only requires a mere 50.01% proof that an incident occurred, the lowest standard used in American courts. 

The News Leader quotes FIRE’s own Will Creeley, as he points out the issue with this standard of proof:

"In our society the presumption of innocence is necessary to protect precisely those individuals accused of such heinous crimes … They have made it mandatory that our schools use the lowest judicial standard of proof." 

MSU has already begun to implement this policy change. Pokin reports that Coordinator of Student Conduct Kim Sahr received "training on how to implement the recommendations." 

This policy change now has the potential to make student judicial proceedings extremely difficult for accused students at MSU. We hope other universities realize that all students, including those accused of sexual misconduct, are entitled to meaningful due process rights.

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