Stanford University: Biased Sexual Misconduct Procedures and Unjust Guilty Finding
In 2011, a male student at Stanford University was found guilty of sexual assault and suspended for two years after Stanford determined that his accuser had been intoxicated during a sexual encounter, violating Stanford's sexual assault policy which states that one cannot consent to sex if "intoxicated" to any degree. After the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released its April 4, 2011, "Dear Colleague" letter mandating that federally funded universities try students under a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, Stanford lowered its evidentiary standard to this level from its prior threshold of "beyond a reasonable doubt" in the middle of the student's proceedings. FIRE's investigation of the case also revealed that the training materials provided to jurors in sexual assault cases at Stanford instruct them that being "persuasive and logical" is a sign of guilt, that they should be "very, very cautious in accepting a man's claim that he has been wrongly accused of abuse or violence," and that maintaining neutrality is equivalent to siding with the accused. Stanford has said that it is reviewing the training materials for adjudicating such cases. FIRE continues to seek a rehearing for the student in light of these serious due process violations.
- "Stanford Trains Student Jurors That 'Acting Persuasive and Logical' is Sign of Guilt; Story of Student Judicial Nightmare in Today's 'New York Post'," July 20, 2011: Displaying a shocking disregard for fair procedures on campus, Stanford University is training student jurors in sexual misconduct cases to believe that "act[ing] persuasive and logical" is a sign of guilt. Stanford also instructs campus tribunals that taking a neutral stand between the parties is the equivalent of siding with the accused. In this climate, Stanford last semester found a male student guilty of sexual assault solely because it determined that his partner was intoxicated (as was he).
- "Email from Dean of Student Life Chris Griffith to FIRE, July 9, 2011," July 9, 2011
- "Summary of Stanford Student ARP Appeal, June 29, 2011," June 29, 2011
- "Letter from FIRE to Stanford University President John Hennessy, June 20, 2011," June 20, 2011
- "Stanford Finding of Fact, May 10, 2011," May 10, 2011
- "Dean's Administrative Review Process Training Materials, 2010-2011,"
- "Stanford Sexual Assault Policy," December 15, 2009
- "'Minding the Campus' Applauds FIRE, Criticizes Stanford's Due Process Failures," by Ryan Ellis, July 21, 2011
- "The Problem with Stanford's Definition of 'Intoxication'," by William Creeley, July 21, 2011
- "Accused Student Pays Heavy Price at Stanford, Where Intoxication Eliminates Consent and 'Acting Persuasive and Logical' is Sign Of Guilt," by William Creeley, July 20, 2011