Misconduct Hearings on Campus Are Rotten and Have to Change

You haven’t seen kangaroo courts until you have seen these student tribunals. And by the way, it hardly matters what rules they operate under. You might say, well, what’s the standard to convict? It doesn’t matter. You could have reasonable, beyond a reasonable doubt. They will convict because it is in their nature. Now, sometimes these are political cases, like the rape cases are invariably political. But sometimes not. A student registering a student party. That’s not a hot-button political issue. But it is in the nature of these institutions to ignore facts, to ignore logic, to not look at evidence, to look at where they want the outcome to be. That is the sickness of these colleges and universities. But most of the cases I get do involve hot-button issues involving gender and race and sexual orientation. Not all of them do. The simplest case can come out with a bizarre conclusion because some administrator decided that he wants to teach the student a lesson.

via Misconduct Hearings on Campus Are Rotten and Have to Change.

One of the reasons I despised my time in college was the stifling atmosphere of political correctness. And this was in 1987. I can’t imagine it has gotten any better.

In the Army, if you screw up, or if your commander suddenly just has a hard on for you, he’s got plenty of ways of making your life miserable. The most common form of punishment in the Army is the Article 15 (so called because it’s Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice).  It’s called “non-juidicial punishment” because it is, in fact, non-judicial.  If the commander thinks you’re guilty, you’re guilty.

There are three levels of NJP. The Summarized, Company Grade, and Field Grade. The summarized is little more than a slap on the wrist.  The company and field grade proceedings, however, can result in real penalties, and can have drastic effects on your career prospects.

So if your boss wants to hang you out to dry, you’re screwed, right?

Not exactly. Even though the proceedings aren’t judicial, you still have rights, including access to counsel before the proceedings, the right to have witnesses speak on your behalf, and to present evidence, both exculpatory, and of mitigation.

Further, in the Army*, for proceedings above the summarized level, you have the right to refuse NJP, and demand a court martial. I wouldn’t recommend that path to the truly guilty, but it IS an option for those who think they won’t get a fair hearing from their command.

Servicemembers also have recourse to other means of addressing what they see as an injustice. It is not at all unheard of for troops to contact the Inspector General (IG) or even to write their Congressional Representatives to air complaints.

Military Justice is hardly perfect, but one thing it most definitely is not is a kangaroo court. We ask our servicemembers to sacrifice a lot, including the free exercise of rights that many of us in the civilian world take for granted. It is only right that we jealously protect those rights they still maintain and ensure their treatment under authority is fair and equitable.

Contrast that with a college. Universities in America spend an inordinate amount of time bleating about the exercise of free speech, but an even more amount of time suppressing the true exercise thereof.  In the Army, your exercise of free speech is pretty much restricted to not making insubordinate statements. On a campus, vaguely worded speech codes can be used to arbitrarily condemn almost anyone for any reason. The true crime isn’t speech, but speech that offends anyone in power. And there is little or no recourse against the institution if they decide to cast you as The Other, and outside the protections of the institution.

The bonus here is, you have to pay good money and go deep into debt to be treated poorly.

*Naval personnel on sea duty may not refuse NJP. Those stationed ashore may.

5 thoughts on “Misconduct Hearings on Campus Are Rotten and Have to Change”

  1. Things like this are why I’m desperately trying to find some other way to acquire credentials. I’ve already had one close call with PC BS. For some reason putting “three times smarter than you can imagine” on the resume doesn’t open nearly as many doors as a Bachelor’s degree. Even one in English.

    1. heh

      My BA in PoliSci (or, my BA in BS, as I frequently refer to it) has been absolutely worthless. Since 1999 I’ve been in one engineering-related position or another, with an exception of about 2 years managing a security company.

  2. I can only speak of my experience before a student tribunal at my university, but I think that some aspects of it are applicable across the spectrum. First, the problem is that it was primarily student run. Imagine what types that would attract at university that prided itself on the liberality of some of its alumni. Second, while it viewed itself as sort of a student court, it had no real procedure it followed. Yes, there was the right to call witnesses but the idea that the people hearing the case were impartial, in many cases, is dubious at best. Furthermore, the way the charging procedure worked, the “crime” is reported to the campus police and the “victim” retains the right to bring to actual authorities if they don’t get what they want from the student run board.

    Essentially, if youre caused of something un PC, then you are screwed. It ends up smearing you because the way they classify the charges makes everyone sound like they should be in actual jail (at least to future employers and grad schools if you have to report it.)

    I was fortunate in two regards. I was able innocent and with witnesses. But in a he said she said instance, you can be screwed.

  3. I guess I was lucky in my school, then. We had a tribunal of sorts, but it was only invoked for honor violations, and was run along the lines of a court martial. (Military school, go figure.) They also were held to a certain standard of proof.

  4. At Tennessee Tech I never heard of anyone brought up to anything smacking of a student court. I don’t recall there being one even. The place was still pretty much run as an Engineering School as it started as one, but the Engineering School was only about 25% of enrollment when I graduated. When I was there in the early 80s, before I was injured and forced out, it was 50% of enrollment. I’ve heard some bad things recently, but know for sure if they’re heading down the PC path. Wouldn’t be surprised, though.

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