Stanford Shows that Going Above and Beyond Isn’t Always a Good Thing

By May 13, 2013


Stanford University Main Quad – Wikimedia Commons

Generally speaking, doing more than you’re required to do is great. Everyone appreciates an over-achiever. Unfortunately, when your assignment is to take away student due process rights, going above and beyond is actually the opposite of what you should do.  

Stanford University doesn’t seem to understand this. In response to the mandates passed down by the Office for Civil Rights’ 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter (DCL), Stanford has decided that it would be a good idea to restrict due process even further than the federal government now requires.  

As Torch readers likely already know, the 2011 DCL requires that students accused of sexual misconduct be found guilty if the "preponderance of the evidence" indicates that they committed the offense. Unfortunately, at Stanford, that standard appears poised to sink even lower. 

Over at Minding the Campus, FIRE friend and Brooklyn College Professor KC Johnson notes that Stanford’s Faculty Senate has now approved a new "Alternate Review Process" (PDF) that will govern student allegations of sexual misconduct once signed by university president John Hennessy. As KC writes, the ARP exacerbates problematic aspects of the DCL: 

[T]hrough the ARP, students are judged by a five-person panel of "reviewers," but can be found guilty by a vote of 4-to-1. (Even the "Dear Colleague" letter doesn’t require non-unanimous verdicts.) So if 80 percent of the review panel believes, with a 50.01 percent level of certainty, in an accused student’s guilt, Stanford can brand him a rapist.  

Sexual assault is a serious crime. Because of the dire consequences stemming from convictions for such offenses, judiciary systems—including campus judiciaries like Stanford’s—should be ensuring more rights to the accused, not less. 

Schools: Stanford University