CHARLOTTE, NC - University disciplinary proceedings regarding student misconduct must provide due process safeguards, say more than 60 scholars, education rights attorneys, and advocacy organizations in a new statement, released today by the National Coalition For Men Carolinas (NCFMC). The statement also calls for university students who are facing a disciplinary proceeding where a suspension is at stake to be properly provided due process rights as K-12 students currently enjoy under state law.
The “Statement in Support of Due Process Safeguards for North Carolina University Students,” urges the General Assembly to take up this issue and help provide due process rights for students attending a state public university. As justification for why due process legislation is needed in, the statement cites a recent report by the Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) which showed:
Nearly three quarters (73.6%) of America’s top 53 universities do not guarantee students that they will be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Only slightly more than half of schools (52.8%) require that fact-finders—the institution’s version of judge and/or jury—be impartial.
Fewer than one third of institutions (30.2%) guarantee a meaningful hearing, where each party may see and hear the evidence being presented to fact-finders by the opposing party.
FIRE included the state’s flagship public institution, the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, in its report. UNC-Chapel Hill rated zero out of a possible two points for due process protections related to:
A clearly stated presumption of innocence – 0 points for UNC-CH
Timely & adequate written notice of allegations - 0 points for UNC-CH
Adequate time to prepare for a hearing - 0 points for UNC-CH
Requirement that disciplinary findings leading to expulsion be agreed upon by a unanimous panel or determined by clear and convincing evidence – 0 points for UNC-CH
“NCFMC hears from students that due process rights such as having witnesses speak on their behalf, exculpatory evidence being presented or having the ability to face and question your accuser are routinely denied to the accused student” stated NCFMC President Gregory Josefchuk. “Equally troubling is that, with young lives hanging in the balance, constitutional protections of equal treatment and due process are not being provided by UNC institutions.”
The statement highlights why the General Assembly’s approaching crossover deadline of May 9th provides urgency to the signatory’s plea for action. “House Bill 305 and its companion bill Senate Bill 360 were introduced a month ago with strong support but have yet to be moved to committee for a hearing.” Josefchuk said. “Families are contacting our office asking why these bills haven’t been enacted into law and we tell them to call their legislator and ask them”.
“Due process safeguards need to be available to citizens in North Carolina and at all times.” Josefchuk stated. “We must strongly protect against impugning this fundamental right. The time for legislative action and leadership is right now”
 FIRE Spotlight on Due Process 2018