Letter Argues for Student Role in Sex Assault Hearings

February 26, 2015

Student presidents from 76 universities sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education this week opposing the Office for Civil Rights' recommendation that students should not be permitted to serve on panels adjudicating campus sexual assault cases.

"While we understand and support the good spirit of the recommendation -- to ensure well-trained and unbiased participation -- we strongly feel that it has significant unintended consequences," the letter reads. "Students provide valuable perspective as peers that faculty and staff cannot. They relate to the student experience directly and provide insight during questioning and discussion, enhancing the quality of hearings."

The letter, which was also sent to senators from 25 states, was written by Celia Wright, student president at Ohio State University. "A reasonable alternative would require adoption of baseline standards for training and confidentiality expectations for all members of conduct hearing boards," Wright wrote.

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