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Miami to review disciplinary processes

Miami will review its disciplinary processes following the discovery that the university did not write to several sexual assault victims to provide the final outcome of their disciplinary cases, the university's vice president for student affairs announced Oct. 7.

Dick Nault said an independent audit of notification procedures, record-keeping and paperwork flow would begin as soon as possible. In addition, Nault said he will initiate an outside review of Miami's administration of the student code of conduct to ensure its rules are being followed properly.

Miami officials Tuesday, Oct. 5, began to review disciplinary files of recent sexual assault cases after discovering that in a fall 2003 sexual imposition case the victim did not receive a letter indicating what final actions were taken against the accused, Jason Landis. Landis, a Miami senior, was suspended for a year, until this fall, and was charged with rape by Oxford police in a separate incident Sept. 28.

Although the file review is continuing, Nault said that the university's general counsel examined nine sexual assault cases since 1998 and found no evidence of written notification in six cases. The university is writing the six victims in these cases to apologize for the clerical errors and has alerted the U.S. Department of Education of the university's notification errors.

Under Miami's disciplinary system, victims are present at disciplinary hearings and thus know the original sanctions imposed on the accused, but the Education Department in 1997 reviewed Miami's compliance with the Campus Security Act and said Miami should notify the sexual assault victims in writing of the final sanctions against their assailants, after all appeals had been processed. Miami had agreed to do so and tells sexual assault victims they are due a final written notification, Nault said, “but we did not follow through on our promise and deeply regret our lapses.

“We believe our disciplinary system is fair and clear. We review our procedures yearly. Our judicial hearing officers address more than 2,000 cases a year. Their decisions are rarely appealed to our appeals board. However, in these instances we erred. We did not act on the commitments we had made in the way we should have,” Nault said.

“Colleges across the country have struggled to deal with sexual assault, and we have worked hard to be a leader in this field. However, this latest incident and the administrative errors we made have moved me to review our entire process again to ensure that victims/survivors are fully informed and supported.”

Nault said he also will be examining how to release more information to the campus and general public about the outcomes of student disciplinary cases without violating victims' confidentiality.

Date Published: 10/14/2004
Volume: 24   Number: 11

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