Our right to shut down university business is ‘freedom of expression’
Maybe now Charlie Landeros knows how it feels to be accused of sexual misconduct at the University of Oregon.
The student activist who used a megaphone to take over President Michael Schill’s State of the University speech is trying to turn “their” disciplinary proceeding into a spectacle by demanding UO not use its student code of conduct to judge “them” (Landeros’ preferred pronouns).
The Daily Emerald reports that Landeros wants a “fair and public trial” in which they’re tried by a jury of their peers and “considered innocent until proven guilty, all of which are Constitutional rights given to anyone who is on trial in a court of law.”
As the newspaper dryly notes:
The University is not required to follow the laws of the constitution in this circumstance because it is not a court of law. The UO uses the school conduct code to determine what it will do to decide if a student has violated the conduct code.
UO uses the school conduct code to determine what it decides if a student has violated the conduct code. https://t.co/L04N1U8kRi
— Daily Emerald (@DailyEmerald) November 17, 2017
The school already found Landeros responsible for disrupting university business, and they were told to accept a “letter of reprimand” and write an apologetic essay. They’re instead going to appeal.
Landeros apparently wants better treatment than anyone else accused of violating the code – particularly students who are investigated for such innocuous behavior as yelling “I hit it first” out of a window – because of President Schill’s recent op-ed in The New York Times about the disruption:
Landeros also asked what standards and legal ethics the UO uses to govern the school …
“If we are to use the Constitution as any standard, which our so-called President has recently been using to justify allowing hateful, dangerous and harmful groups on campus, then this entire process that we are engaging in now is far past unconstitutional. It is fascism,” said Landeros.
Landeros, who identifies as a “queer brown local organizer,” actually makes a good point.
Student disciplinary proceedings are often shrouded in secrecy, with no right to see evidence, be given detailed (if any!) allegations, cross-examine one’s accuser or even challenge the neutrality of the investigator and decisionmaker (sometimes the same person).
Even worse, the vast majority of the top institutions in America have separate and less fair procedures for handling sexual-misconduct allegations.
No ‘reliable record-keeping’ allowed in proceedings
The UO Student Collective, which Landeros co-founded and has been advocating his case, spoke before the University Senate Wednesday.
It introduced a resolution that conflated the right to free expression with the right to interfere with university business, demanded Schill illegally and unilaterally ban groups they dislike from campus, and framed the disciplinary proceedings against Landeros and others as “retaliation,” which is ludicrous.
But many of its points are legitimate procedural grievances, suggesting the collective is being advised by lawyers:
the students were declared guilty by the administration on public news outlets before charges were made
students were denied information regarding how the conduct process was initiated
the university has yet to offer reasonable options [for legal assistance] in lieu of [student government] legal representation or advising, which has been withheld
the student conduct hearings offered occur behind closed doors, do not include a scribe or other form of reliable record-keeping, disallow recording, and rely on a decision-making body of a single person
That complaint about “reliable record-keeping” came up in another context at Columbia University a year ago, when it banned participants in proceedings from making their own recordings or even taking notes, or risk conduct charges. The changes first drew criticism from accusers.
It would be a happy accident if this sustained pressure on the UO administration actually resulted in a more transparent and fair process for all students accused of wrongdoing under the student code.
But I’m not holding my breath that Landeros and their illiberal mob cronies are going to extend the same grace toward students whom campus progressives automatically believe are guilty, because they “believe the survivor.”