Mike Adams

1. Denial of legal representation. Students are brought into hearings where they face possible expulsion in the middle of the semester. This means they may have paid thousands of dollars in tuition and may receive no credit for their efforts - even if they completed most of the semester's work. University counsel is routinely present at these hearings but students are routinely banned from having their own lawyer present.

2. Redaction of exculpatory statements. When police gather evidence and conduct interviews, they always turn them over to the Dean of Students Office. There, the evidence is routinely examined by administrators. They quickly make a determination of guilt or innocence. If the accused is guilty in the eyes of the administration, they extract portions of their testimony while leaving the testimony of accusers intact. This virtually assures that there can be no finding of innocence at the "hearing."

3. Determination of verdict prior to hearing. Normally, the announcement of a guilty or "responsible" verdict is typed up in official document form before the hearing begins. The document also includes an announcement of punishment, which can sometimes mean immediate expulsion. It is simply handed to the student at the end of a "hearing," which is held in order to give the appearance of due process. These kangaroo courts are staged in order to respond to angry inquiries from parents with the following explanation: "We're sorry, but your child did have a hearing before we expelled her."

All three of these routine abuses occurred in the recent UNC case that I mentioned above. The student was expelled in the middle of the semester and also suspended for the fall of 2013. Fortunately, she successfully appealed her case to the Vice Chancellor who reinstated her. But the month-long ordeal disrupted her studies and certainly affected her academic performance for the semester. Too bad the Dean of Students can't be charged with disorderly conduct.

With the help of the Republican legislature, I'm trying to fix these problems that have been ignored for so long by Democrats. Presently, there is a bill moving through the house that will force every public university in the state to allow students the right to counsel in all administrative hearings where they may be expelled or even suspended.

The new bill permitting students to fight back with the assistance of legal counsel will help erode all three of the abuses I have listed above - one directly and the other two indirectly. But we also need to eliminate "disorderly conduct" charges from university handbooks and simply allow the criminal code to function in its place. For example:

*If someone is drunk and disorderly, charge him with that.
*If someone becomes so disorderly he makes a threat, charge him with that.
*If someone becomes so disorderly he throws a punch, charge him with simple assault.

Put simply, there is no need for residual "disorderly conduct" clauses in student handbooks. Like speech codes, they are overly broad and arbitrarily enforced. And they are turning our campuses into modern day fiefdoms.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.