Know Your Rights: A Guide To Due Process and Campus Justice

March 12, 2015

By Ashe Schow at Washington Examiner

A newly updated guide to help college students wade through the murky waters of campus disciplinary procedures has been released by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

I suggest every current and incoming college student read the guide in order to be prepared for the (hopefully) unlikely accusation of misconduct. The guide includes basic information about one’s rights as a college student — not just in cases involving sexual assault, but also those pertaining to free speech and academic records.

From the guide:

A common misconception is that due process protections apply only in the context of criminal trials. In fact, these constitutional provisions guarantee that the federal and state governments, respectively, may not deprive any person ‘of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’ In the educational context, your interest in your diploma and in the value of a clear academic record establishes a property right, and your interest in your reputation and good name establishes a liberty right.

The guide explains that, students going through the disciplinary process are “entitled to have (1) notices of the charges against them, (2) an explanation of the evidence against them, and (3) an opportunity to tell their side of the story.”

Different types of hearings also require different levels of due process. An accusation of plagiarism requires fewer protections than, say, an accusation of sexual assault.

Along with outlining what rights students have at the college or university (including the differences between public and private institutions), the guide provides a helpful walkthrough of what a disciplinary hearing might entail. Each school has their own procedures, but it is important to know what could happen and have examples of what has happened in the past.

The guide is not only helpful to those accused of misconduct, it also lays out the problems with forcing an accusing student to play the prosecutor when he or she lacks the skills to do so.

As more and more students are suing their universities for denying them due process, it’s important to know what your rights are and whether your school is violating them.