I just finished assisting a Rice University student who had been falsely accused of sexual misconduct and was facing campus discipline. He had been “rusticated” — ordered not to come on campus without permission except for classes — causing him to fail an exam (first the execution, then the trial!) and he could have been expelled, with a permanent mark on his college record.
Did I mention he was falsely accused? Fortunately he had documentation showing that the complainant’s story was not altogether true.
You young’ns are communicating via Snapchat, which doesn’t automatically keep a record of your communications. If you have communications with someone about having or not having sex, keep those Snaps. If you have communications at or around a time when you might be accused of sexual misconduct, keep those messages. It would really suck to have someone entice you over to her room, and then not have a record of the conversation when she later claimed that you had come over uninvited and misconducted yourself sexually. Want to be extra super safe? Record audio every time you are alone with an MOS / MSS / MPS.
Kafka Would Be Impressed
There is a definite “we [whack!] are [whack!] doing [whack!] this [whack!] to [whack!] you [whack!] for [whack!] your [whack!] own [whack!] good” attitude about the proceedings.
An accused student can have a “support person” in meetings with the Office of Student Judicial Programs, which decides such matters, but the support person cannot speak for the accused student. Rice’s rationale is that they treat students like grownups, and want them to speak for themselves. But any grownup facing possible reputation-destroying career-ending consequences is going to hire a mouthpiece to speak for her.
Rice has an inquisitorial pseudojudicial system. The staff member who will make a determination of whether you have broken the rules (and how you should be punished) is the staff member who “investigates” the matter and takes your and the complainant’s statements.
If you are accused of sexual misconduct, “You are entitled to the assistance of a Title IX Resource Navigator through the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Title IX Support. The Resource Navigator can answer questions about the disciplinary process and offer support to students that are involved in cases where sexual misconduct is at issue.”
Want a good laugh? Ask your “Resource Navigator” what her ethical duties are to you. (I quote: “Huh?”) She has none: She is not there to navigate you to where you think you need to be, but to navigate you to where SJP decides you need to go.
Due process? Bitch, please: After you tell us your side, we’ll tell you what the allegations are. Don’t talk to potential witnesses, but tell us who the potential witnesses are and we’ll talk to them ourselves.
Cross-examination? Fuhgeddaboutit. You wouldn’t want your accuser to be made uncomfortable, would we (whack!)?
Discovery? Only grudging: The complainant had given a recorded statement, and the SJP staff were reluctant to give the accused a transcript of those portions of the statement that they would be considering in making their decision.
Alls well that ends well, but spending time with Rice Pseudo Judicial Programs is a keen reminder of the inferiority of the inquisitorial system of justice compared to the Anglo-American adversary system. But, hey, those are Western values. And obviously Rice’s administrators know better than a thousand years of Western civilization.
Everything is Awesome
This is funny: SJP only started recording meetings last year, students will “not have the right to record meetings,” and
If students believe SJP is bad, they may decline to seek out SJP as a resource. This is a risk Rice students should not accept, and a risk students should actively work to guard against.
Or you could acknowledge the truth — that SJP is bad — and fix the system that you have broken. Maybe start by reincorporating the right to representation, and if that doesn’t cause the University’s descent into chaos, work your way up to confrontation.