NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
By John Higgins at The Beacon Journal
A Summit County jury found Charles Plinton not guilty of selling drugs to a confidential informant in 2004.
A few weeks later, a University of Akron disciplinary board found him ``responsible'' for ``selling drugs to a confidential informant.''
The difference between those two words -- guilty and responsible -- may not sound meaningful to the average person.
But it's a distinction that begins to explain the secretive world of college justice in which campus committees may re-try the facts of serious crimes after criminal courts have already decided them.
Critics see the hearings as unaccountable Star Chambers marshaled to advance political and ideological agendas.
``Campus tribunals are the ultimate `kangaroo court,' an affront to the rational thinking that is supposed to underlie the academic enterprise,'' said Boston-area attorney Harvey A. Silverglate.
He co-authored The Shadow University with Alan Charles Kors and helped found the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Disciplinary hearings are not trials; they are more akin to union grievance procedures and other types of administrative law hearings that have much looser rules.
Students usually aren't going to get a lawyer for one of these hearings. The university's representative may advise the panel on how to conduct the hearing; in criminal court, the prosecutor would never advise the judge on how the trial should proceed...