Ignored his accuser’s retraction, led a ‘nonsensical’ investigation
Pitzer College is a member of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five elite private schools in Southern California that is struggling to mollify racial-grievance activists.
It may have a new fire to put out when those activists learn the background of its new dean of students, who is also a Title IX coordinator.
The Claremont Independent uncovered a March court order that found Sandra Vasquez hid “material evidence” from an unnamed male falsely accused of “relationship violence” when she was associate dean of students and director of judicial affairs at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
The Independent said it also learned the Department of Education is investigating Vasquez’s alleged discrimination against the “low-income, minority student” as potential Title IX and Title VI violations.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle’s order against UCSB makes Vasquez and other officials who handled the “John Doe” case sound almost like cartoon villains.
The student had a vindictive girlfriend – not a UCSB student – who “illegally hacked into his private social media accounts,” recorded an argument with him that included “a scuffle for the phone,” threatened (in text messages) to post the video online if he had “any social contact with female students at UCSB,” and then actually did tweet an edited version that made it look like he hit her:
On the posted video, Ms. Doe states that she was posting the video to protect other women from being battered.
John Doe was suspended by UCSB before it had even talked to him for his side of the story, apparently satisfied he was guilty because UCSB police had arrested him and fingerprinted him.
But the real judicial system quickly determined he wasn’t a threat, including to his girlfriend, and the district attorney dropped two of the three charges. A Superior Court judge dismissed the third after the girlfriend admitted John Doe “never actually hit her.”
You would think UCSB would be convinced by this confession of non-aggression by the (non-student) girlfriend.
$100,000 in attorney’s fees – just through December
After he was declared a non-threat in the eyes of the law, UCSB still blocked him from campus – for several more months.
After a Sept. 16 hearing where Doe testified and presented a 45-page statement and 75 pages of exhibits, the university opened a full Title IX investigation that was still open as of Anderle’s March 21 order:
Petitioner remains under suspension and has now missed two quarters of his freshman year of college. … At this point, even if a recommendation was rendered immediately [by a university administrator reviewing a Title IX office recommendation], the ultimate resolution of this matter through a panel hearing would proceed well into UCSB’s Spring Quarter, if not beyond.
Doe told the court in December he’d already incurred more than $100,000 in attorney’s fees, and he has “undoubtedly incurred substantially more” through March, according to Anderle.
The judge makes clear several times that UCSB has no good reason for not having finished the Title IX investigation – more than 200 days old at that point – under its own promised timelines and in keeping with federal regulatory guidance. He even calls one university explanation “nonsensical.”
Though he filed suit against the university in October, Doe didn’t learn for several months that “UCSB had considered evidence prior to the suspension that it concealed from Petitioner [Doe] at the time.”
Less than a week after the court learned about that evidence, Anderle forced UCSB to let Doe back on campus “with no restrictions,” give him back his old room, give him “competent” academic counseling to catch up on the two quarters he missed, and give him priority in “needed or desired” classes.
The university had waited until mid-March – the week before Anderle’s order – to disclose that “it considered a statement from an employee of the campus police” that included third-party accounts of the girlfriend’s comments.
UCSB apparently never bothered to corroborate those comments with the girlfriend herself.
‘Uncorroborated and allegedly completely fabricated’
Vasquez’s role in the concealment isn’t clear in the March order, but the Independent cites a July complaint to which it “obtained access” (but did not post online) that specifies her alleged wrongdoing:
During a September 2016 hearing with the student, Vasquez concealed two pieces of material evidence that she and the college were considering in the course of their investigation, despite assuring the student that she had disclosed to him all of the information upon which she and the college would rely in determining whether to lift his suspension.
In relying upon this unmentioned evidence—which, upon revelation, proved to be uncorroborated and allegedly completely fabricated—to sustain the student’s suspension, Vasquez and other college officials willfully denied the student the opportunity to respond to all the evidence against him.
This is the official chosen by Pitzer after an “extensive national search,” whose search committee chair said she “made a strong impression on our community.”
It’s worth noting that Anderle said he agreed with the analysis in John Doe’s March 19 filing, which the judge quoted at length:
If this Court does not grant this injunction, UCSB will probably charge the student immediately, suspend him based on the charge, and he will have to file a whole new lawsuit. That will take another 6-12 months. UCSB’s only argument to that … is this Court should treat the current Interim Suspension Order as a distinct administrative decision. They argue any ultimate decision would have to be addressed by a separate injunction. That argument flies in the face of UCSB’s entire legal argument throughout this case, which is the suspension and any ultimate decision are all part and parcel of one process that cannot be separated. … Given the arbitrary and unreasonable conduct identified in what will be the final record, and now the admitted misconduct, this Court remains the only protection for John.
And the real courts may remain the only protection for Pitzer College students if they fall victim to an investigation led by its new dean of students.