88% American Colleges Don’t Guarantee Fair Hearings for Students
Most of the colleges and universities across the United States don’t provide a fair opportunity to students to defend themselves in allegations related to campus misconduct, according to the “Spotlight on Due Process 2018” report released by Fire.
Nine out of ten colleges surveyed don’t ensure a meaningful cross-examination in cases where a student is involved in sexual misconduct, the survey found.
“Students accused of serious campus offenses routinely face life-altering punishment without a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves,” said FIRE’s Susan Kruth, lead author of the report. “Universities need to provide basic procedural protections that help ensure accurate outcomes, and right now they overwhelmingly do not.”
During the survey, the non-profit organization found three out of every four top colleges not guaranteeing presumption of innocence in its proceedings, while none among them ensures protections envisaged under the proposed Title IX regulations.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education proposed amendments to the Title IX rules requiring the institutions to respond and investigate every complaint of sexual harassment and making the definition of sexual harassment consistent with U.S. Supreme Court Title IX cases and adopting Clery Act definition of sexual assault.
Fire analyzed the policies of the top 53 universities in the country while looking at fundamental procedural safeguards they guarantee students, including the presumption of innocence, the right to impartial fact-finders, and the right to appeal. Forty-seven out of the 53 colleges either received a D or F grade.
“Of the 104 policies rated, not a single one receives an A grade. This shows just how far removed students have been from real justice in campus proceedings — and how much work is still left to do,” said Samantha Harris, FIRE vice president of procedural advocacy.
“By adopting the ten elements of fair process laid out in FIRE’s report, universities can ensure that their judicial process protects the interests of everyone involved.”
Top colleges and universities including Boston University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Harvard, John Hopkins University and MIT received either D or F grade.