Any protocol ‘must respect basic principles of due process,’ FIRE program officer said
Stanford University’s student government unanimously passed a joint resolution calling for the immediate removal without appeal of any faculty member “under investigation” for sexual assault or harassment.
“A clear and transparent process for reporting sexual assault or harassment by faculty members through the Title IX/SHARE Office is lacking, leaving incidents to be evaluated on a case by case basis,” the Stanford Undergraduate Senate and Graduate Student Council joint resolution stated.
Therefore, the university must “institute a swift and transparent faculty-specific reporting process for sexual assault and harassment” and “remove any faculty member under investigation for sexual assault or harassment from student-facing work…while an investigation of sexual assault or sexual harassment is ongoing,” according to the resolution.
But such a student resolution is non-binding and also appears to run afoul of faculty’s rights, according to one policy watchdog.
In a March 21 statement to The College Fix, Senior Program Officer Ryan Ansloan of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression said any legal policy Stanford were to adopt, in order to be legal, “must respect basic principles of due process.”
Before stripping faculty members of job responsibilities, “they must be able to point to some direct threat or ongoing danger to the university community,” he said.
A process for faculty-specific reporting that “balances the rights of the accuser and the accused is one that acts swiftly but comprehensively to investigate all allegations and does not rush to judgment,” Ansloan said.
Otherwise, a process that does not offer faculty members an opportunity to contest any restrictions on their job responsibilities “could certainly conflict with due process for accused faculty members,” according to Ansloan.
The College Fix contacted Stanford Undergraduate Senate Co-Chair Amira Dehmani, Graduate Student Council Co-Chair Emily Schell, and undergraduate Faculty Senate Representative Gurmenjit Bahia for comment. No responses have been received.
According to Stanford’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Investigation and Hearing Procedure, updated in August 2020, “After a receipt of concern of a Policy Violation, the Title IX Coordinator/Director of the [Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Education Office] … may undertake an individualized safety and risk analysis to determine whether the allegations indicate the Respondent [the accused party] poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations.”
“If the University determines removal is appropriate, the Respondent will be provided with notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal,” it continued.
Even more, “the University may place a non-student Respondent on administrative leave after notice of a concern of a Policy Violation and during the pendency of resolution of the matter,” according to the policy.
However, in his remarks to The Fix, Ansloan warned against “interim measures” undertaken while a person is under investigation, arguing that these should be instituted on a case-by case basis.
This would accomplish the dual purpose of “protect[ing] the university community from an ongoing physical danger” while granting accused individuals “the opportunity to swiftly appeal their imposition.”
UGS and GSC members contend that the current reporting process for faculty members is insufficient. The cited the school’s 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, in which 30 percent of all students reported that sexual assault or other misconduct at Stanford University was “very or extremely problematic.”
The Stanford University leadership and Faculty Senate had also ignored students’ concerns regarding faculty-specific issues of sexual violence, according to the student resolution. The Faculty Senate failed to initiate the “culture change” necessary to end sexual violence on college campuses, it stated.
To address these issues, the resolution called for a new sexual assault and harassment reporting process, specific to faculty, through the University’s Title IX/SHARE Office. The inclusion of the new process should be mandated in all course syllabi, according to the students.
The resolution also called for removing tenure and any other university honors from faculty members found guilty, and barring them from “any work that involves students.”
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