August 8, 2017

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: University of Texas Student Sues President Over Sexual Assault Suspension:

A University of Texas student claims in a lawsuit that UT President Gregory L. Fenves misapplied the school’s sexual assault policy and suspended him for five semesters even though his accuser agreed to have sex after a sorority formal in spring 2016.

The case, which raises questions about the rights of the accused, comes amid national and local concern over the prevalence of campus sexual assault.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Austin, Fenves on April 12 overruled a university hearing officer who determined that there had been no assault. In a letter informing the student of his suspension, Fenves asserted that the woman was highly intoxicated and “someone who is intoxicated cannot give consent to sexual activity because they are incapacitated.” . . .

The lawsuit accuses Fenves of coming up with his own standard for incapacitation and ignoring the university’s standard, which defines it as “a state of being that prevents an individual from having the capacity to give consent” and “could result from the use of drugs or alcohol.”

The lawsuit also says Fenves has a possible conflict of interest because the father of the woman is a university donor who gave a significant sum within a month of her allegations. And, while the school’s investigation was ongoing, the lawsuit says the university brought on the father to be an adviser at the school.

Sounds shady, to say the least. Here’s the complaint. It notes that the hearing officer found consent. One of the woman’s friends is quoted as saying “I think she might have been using being drunk as an excuse.”

What I love is that this is done under a program called “Yes Means Yes,” but the actual finding is that “yes” can mean “no,” if the University President later so decides.