The UM System Board of Curators has decided to stick with the recommendations made by the Intercampus Faculty Council regarding representation at Title IX hearings. The IFC decided to allow representation at the meetings but council cannot speak on behalf of people accused of sexual assault or the victims of sexual harassment.
Board of Curators Chairman Donald Cupps said the board discussed the issue but felt the IFC’s recommendations were solid after a nearly yearlong process. “I think the boards position was, we’re not going to go back and tell the faculty that you did all this work and we’re not going to pay any attention to it,” Cupps said.
However, many people feel like the change is a bad thing. More than 180 faculty members from 3 of the 4 UM System schools signed a letter urging the Board of Curators to reconsider.
MU law professor Ben Trachtenberg believes that without lawyers, students and staff will have another hurdle in an already difficult situation. “I think we’ve learned a lot in American and in England even before that, that when you’re trying to find the truth about contested matters at a hearing that lawyers are often helpful,” Trachtenberg said.
He added that this ruling is somewhat of a waste of time because advisors could be present and suggest questions to the accused and accuser. Critics of this ruling believe many people would have a hard time asking difficult questions in such a hostile environment. Trachtenberg said an advisor asking questions wouldn’t “feed anyone the story but rather help direct the testimony.”
Cupps noted that although the Board of Curators voted on the issue, it is not necessarily a final decision. If issues arise, the IFC can make new recommendations to the curators.