Colleges across the country use campus disciplinary boards to pass judgment on students accused of violent crimes, including rape and assault.
Sometimes, schools handle crime and punishment without ever reporting violations to police. A joint investigation by The Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center of Arlington, Va., found that campus judicial systems, operating in secret, often impose light sanctions for serious infractions: sexual assaults, physical assaults resulting in serious injuries, robberies and other violent crimes.
"I expect those who have knowledge of something that would indicate it's not safe to make that public, and certainly to notify the students and to notify the parents of the students." That often does not happen, as was reported in September in the first installment of Campus Insecurity, now online at Dispatch.com/Campus Crime.The results of the campus judicial process are virtually never revealed.But those acting as judge and jury in these private proceedings are not lawyers.They are college administrators, students and faculty volunteers with little or no legal training.Those who work in campus judicial systems essentially ask the public to trust that they're doing justice.
Some said it's challenging because they often face cases that are not black and white.Federal student-privacy rules explicitly allow colleges to release the names of students who are found responsible for a crime of violence.Still, more than 75 percent of schools did not provide any documents - even in states where open-records laws require colleges to release such information to the public. Collectively, those 25 colleges found students responsible for a violent offense in 1,970 cases since 2010. Five students who were found responsible for sexual assaults weren't suspended, expelled or even placed on probation; they essentially were given a pass.Most colleges refuse to release records that would show which students were found responsible and how they were punished.About half of the Ohio schools initially refused to provide the information requested by The Dispatch.The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh found a student responsible for sexual assault and gave him a written reprimand, kicked him out of his dorm for a month and ordered him not to have any minors as guests.