FIRE Writes Wisconsin Regents about Reconsidering Due Process Changes for Students

March 13, 2009

As I wrote last week, I spent several days in Wisconsin to discuss a number of due process concerns in the proposed changes (PDF) to Chapters UWS 17 (PDF) and 18 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Some of the proposed changes diminish due process for students accused of infractions, and other proposed changes make it easier for the University of Wisconsin (UW) System to suffer from due process lawsuits because of the greater ambiguity and administrative discretion in the proposed changes. Students and faculty members have contributed many voices to the debate, and their concerns are generally in line with FIRE’s.

Today FIRE is sending a formal letter to the Regents regarding our concerns. This letter follows up on my statements at last Thursday’s public hearing. I would like to take this opportunity to state that the hearing was a great success, with respectful comments from those either in favor (mainly nonstudent citizens of Milwaukee) or opposed (mainly UW students) to the changes. Very few people spoke longer than the allotted two minutes, almost nobody made any off-topic comments, and the event ended a little early. The Regent chairing the hearing, Michael J. Spector, was a model of good listening, thanking all the speakers and never arguing from the chair. (Spector and other representatives of the Regents also attended the UW students’ pre-hearing press conference.) Students who held signs of protest remained silent and out of the way in the back of the room, and Spector thanked them for their respectfulness. All of this was a quite remarkable exercise in good citizenship.

Schools:  University of Wisconsin – Madison

Cases:  University of Wisconsin: Students’ Due Process Rights