Law enforcement officials, after interviewing over 150 witnesses, exonerated the members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity last week who were accused of assaulting a homosexula man at one of their parties.
Not only did law enforcement officials find no evidence that the assault occurred, but their report states that the accuser, Haakon Gisvold, made false claims. Prosecutors have said that Gisvold won’t be charged for filing false reports.
Unfortunately, though, because the university system apparently operates in a separate universe which requires them to adjudicate accusations of serious crimes separately from the criminal justice system, UND is going ahead with their own investigation.
From the Grand Forks Herald:
The university released an email statement Wednesday saying, pending the release of all law enforcement records involved, UND would conduct its own investigation into whether federal Title IX guidelines or the UND Code of Student Life had been broken.
“We care deeply about the safety and well-being of all of our students and take every report brought to our attention seriously,” the statement said. “It is our goal that the UND campus remain a safe, respectful environment for all students.”
You can read the full email below.
The university is claiming that this separate investigation is required by Title IX. That seems dubious. For one thing, Gisvold is not and has never been a UND student. For another, the incident happened off-campus. Plus, as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has argued, it’s not at all clear that the Obama administration’s edict that campuses investigate these matters on their own is legally binding.
The Title IX requirement comes from a “dear colleague letter” sent out by the Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights in 2011. Since then campuses across the nation have carried on as though they have a mandate to subject students to kangaroo courts overseen by inexperienced administrators and academics where due process rights aren’t respected.
But FIRE says the feds skipped a few steps, and that the letter isn’t binding.
“If a proposed agency rule would impose new obligations on the public, the APA requires the agency to subject those proposed rules to notice and comment before they may be adopted,” FIRE wrote in 2014. “OCR skipped this process altogether when it issued the DCL, despite several new substantive requirements in the document, like the requirement that institutions use the preponderance of the evidence standard when adjudicating claims of sexual misconduct. When an agency imposes new obligations upon the public without subjecting it to public notice and comment, the new rules aren’t legally binding or lawfully enforceable.”
So does UND really feel this step is required? Or are they just saving face after initially jumping the gun?
Either way we can be thankful, as I noted earlier today, that if the Lambda Chi fraternity brothers are subjected to this process, they’ll have some rights courtesy of the North Dakota Legislature.