Found Guilty of ‘Improper Sexual Behavior,’ Expelled Vassar Student Files Suit

July 30, 2013

Former Vassar College student Xiaolu Yu has filed a lawsuit against the college, claiming that sexual discrimination and a lack of due process led to the school finding him guilty of “improper sexual behavior” a year after he had consensual sex with another student. The allegations might sound familiar to Torchreaders; former St. Joseph’s University student Brian Harris recently brought a Title IX claim against his university on similar grounds.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports on Yu’s case:

Yu, a Chinese citizen, said that after the night of consensual sex, he and the woman exchanged texts, a police report wasn’t filed, and the woman didn’t visit a medical care facility.

Yu claims the college found him guilty this year of sexual misconduct without assistance of an adviser, cross-examination of his accuser or testimony from witnesses, according to court documents.

If these claims are true, they illustrate a seriously flawed campus disciplinary system. If a bare accusation results in a guilty verdict—a year after the alleged misconduct, without witness testimony or cross-examination—I have to wonder how a student might ever be found not guilty. And as FIRE’s Robert Shibley recently pointed out, students are even less equipped to defend themselves in a biased system when they are not represented by counsel or an adviser.

According to Yu and his attorneys, Vassar’s process demonstrates bias against male students accused of sexual misconduct. It is not yet clear whether there is sufficient evidence to show that Vassar deprives only male students of due process. But whether Vassar’s system unfairly presumes the guilt of all accused students or only male accused students, this case—like Brian Harris’—could have important implicationsfor the rights of college students nationwide.

Check back to The Torch for more updates on these cases as they develop.

Schools:  Vassar College