When incoming student Ash Mikkelsen was expelled without due process after retweeting sexually explicit Japanese-style cartoons featuring nudity and sex, known as hentai, FIRE sprang into action — and won.
Due process demands that authorities provide fair, unbiased, and equitable procedures when determining a person’s guilt or innocence. The same principle applies to judicial hearings on college campuses: If those campuses care about the justice and accuracy of their findings, they must provide fair and consistent procedures for the accuser and the accused.
History teaches that the rights of all Americans can be secured only through the establishment of fair procedures and with a consciousness that all are equal in the eyes of the law. Yet on many college campuses, the accused face “kangaroo courts” that lack fair procedures, in which the political viewpoint or institutional interests of the “judges” greatly affect the outcomes of trials. The accused are often charged with no specific offense, given no right to face their accusers, and sentenced with no regard for fairness or consistency. As a result, a generation of students is being taught the wrong lessons about justice — and face ruinous consequences in their personal, academic, and professional lives. College students and faculty must come to know that justice means more than merely the enforcement of the will of the powerful and the suppression of the views of the powerless.
I’m relieved that the school has recognized its mistake and rectified its actions. Knowing that standing up for free expression will now allow other students to consume fictitious content without fearing punishment is the icing on the cake.
For a thorough analysis of your due process rights on campus, consult FIRE’s Guide to Due Process and Campus Justice to learn more about the rights that students should have within campus disciplinary proceedings and the warning signs that student due process rights may be at risk.
At too many American colleges and universities, students accused of conduct violations are put through “kangaroo courts” that lack fair procedures, in which social and political pressures or the institutional interests of the “judges” can greatly affect the outcomes of campus disciplinary procedures. Take this course to find out what your due process rights are, learn more about how other American universities treat due process, and empower yourself to use your knowledge of due process to make your school’s conduct process fairer for you and your peers.
FIRE’s core defense program provides free assistance to individual students, professors, student media, and campus groups whose fundamental civil liberties are violated.
FIRE’s college Policy Reform team works to proactively and systematically challenge campus policies that violate students’ and faculty members’ free speech and due process rights.
Facing a university investigation? Have officials refused to share evidence or follow fair procedures? FIRE’s lawyers may be able to help.
FIRE advocates for individual rights at both the state and federal level by advocating on behalf of rights-protective legislation and against proposed laws that threaten student and faculty due process rights.
Colleges and universities across the country fail to afford their students due process or fundamental fairness in disciplinary proceedings.
FIRE’s research reveals that institutions nationwide are refusing to implement a single, fair disciplinary process for all students.
Subscribe to FIRE updates to get the latest free speech news in your inbox as it happens!