Vanderbilt Versus Fairness
September 4, 2012
by Nico Perrino
Vanderbilt University continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. On August 24, Associate Provost and Dean of Students Mark Bandas sent an email to all Vanderbilt students regarding changes to the university's sexual misconduct policy—and those changes are disturbing.
In an op-ed published last week in Vanderbilt's student newspaper, The Vanderbilt Hustler, former FIRE intern and college junior Kenny Tan warns of the threats these new changes pose to student rights at Vanderbilt.
Like so many other schools, Vanderbilt has made changes to its policies as a result of a "Dear Colleague" letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in April of last year. The letter calls for, among other things, universities to use the "preponderance of evidence" (50.01% proof) standard when adjudicating cases of sexual misconduct, lest they lose their federal funding.
Kenny points out that Vanderbilt's lower evidentiary standard "will undoubtedly make it easier to falsely convict innocent students." He also draws attention to another OCR requirement adopted by Vanderbilt that will open up those accused of sexual misconduct to "double jeopardy," which Kenny rightly states violates the principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
To read the full op-ed, please visit The Vanderbilt Hustler's website, InsideVandy.