‘Wall Street Journal’ Highlights Inadequate Due Process Protections at Auburn University

December 9, 2013

Over the weekend, Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Taranto penned a piece about one Auburn University student’s treatment by the campus judiciary following another student’s allegation that he committed sexual assault.

Joshua Strange faced two separate systems. In the criminal court system, a grand jury failed even to find probable cause to prosecute him, despite the fact that probable cause is a very low bar to pass. Yet in the campus court system, using the same information available to the grand jury, the school found Strange guilty under the “preponderance of evidence” evidentiary standard. The finding resulted in Strange’s expulsion from Auburn.

Although Taranto’s piece tells the story of just one student’s dealings with campus courts, longtime Torch readers know that many of the due process issues Strange faced are nonetheless illustrative of a wider problem with campus justice relating to sexual misconduct. As FIRE’s own Robert Shibley told Taranto, Strange’s case is unsurprising given that in the campus judiciary, “[t]he incentives are pointing toward findings of guilt, not accurate findings.”

Indeed, these problems with due process following sexual misconduct allegations on campus are so ubiquitous, some students convicted within these campus environments and under these rules are suing their schools for allegedly violating their rights.

For instance, just last Thursday, a student at Kenyon College in Ohio filed a lawsuit against his school, claiming among other things that “his accuser destroyed evidence relevant to the case, and alleg[ing] that those actions were taken ‘with the aid and encouragement of [the sexual misconduct advisor], and at her direction.’” FIRE will be following the case, which was filed in Knox County Common Pleas Court in Ohio.

Meanwhile, head over to the WSJ to check out Taranto’s full story.

Schools:  Auburn University Kenyon College