University of Wisconsin: Students’ Due Process Rights

Category: Due Process
Schools: University of Wisconsin – La Crosse University of Wisconsin – Whitewater University of Wisconsin – Stout University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh University of Wisconsin – Green Bay University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire University of Wisconsin System University of Wisconsin – Madison

FIRE successfully persuaded the University of Wisconsin’s Board of Regents to affirm due process rights for students, including the option of a hearing before a committee including student peers, attorney representation in the case of serious allegations, and both e-mail and paper notification of proceedings. The Board had proposed changes to the State Administrative Code governing infractions and judicial procedures within Wisconsin’s public universities that would have limited due process rights and granted more discretion to administrators. FIRE’s Adam Kissel engaged in a speaking tour of University of Wisconsin schools in opposition to these changes, even speaking before the Board of Regents in March of 2008. FIRE also wrote the Board of Regents to encourage them to increase due process protections for students and better ensure that similar cases would receive similar treatment. Although some University of Wisconsin administrators opposed these protections, the Board of Regents agreed with FIRE and made most of the changes suggested by FIRE.

  • UW regents to consider revised changes to student conduct code

    June 3, 2009

    Students faced with suspension, expulsion or criminal charges for non-academic misconduct could have legal representation during hearings at University of Wisconsin System schools, but students would be expected to answer questions on their own, according to a revised policy the Board of Regents will consider this week. The change is part of a new conduct code that would expand administrators’ jurisdiction to allow them to discipline students for certain types of off-campus, non-academic misconduct. The issue has attracted interest at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where more students rent off-campus housing in a traditionally residential neighborhood. Homeowners have pushed UWM to […]

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  • UW System conduct code revisions still need tweaking

    May 7, 2009

    A committee of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday voted to delay until June the consideration of proposed revisions to the student conduct code. A key issue was a provision that would allow students to have a lawyer speak on their behalf during disciplinary proceedings where they face suspension or expulsion or have been charged with a crime in connection with their conduct. While students and advocates have argued that students are entitled to legal representation during such hearings, some student affairs officers testified that lawyers make the hearings too adversarial. The university system has been […]

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  • UW Regents consider conduct code changes

    May 6, 2009

    University of Wisconsin System students facing charges of misconduct could have lawyers represent them at disciplinary hearings under a change praised by student advocates but opposed by some deans of students. The UW System has spent two years considering changes to its student code of conduct, including giving universities the authority for the first time to punish students for off-campus, nonacademic misconduct. The system announced several revisions to the proposal last week after student leaders, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and others complained an earlier plan went too far. The UW System Board of Regents is expected to […]

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  • Possible changes to UW code of conduct debated

    March 5, 2009

    Amid the controversy surrounding the proposed changes to the UW student code of conduct, Adam Kissel of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education discussed their potential effect on students’ rights Wednesday at Memorial Union. The proposed changes would give the university the ability to punish students for crimes committed off-campus, but such offenses would have to be repeated violations or serious ones, like sexual assault or destruction of property. Kissel presented his worries that the new revisions may take away some of students’ rights, such as the right to legal representation at a disciplinary hearing. Under the new proposed […]

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  • New Due Process Rules Finally Hit University of Wisconsin

    September 10, 2009

    As of September 1, revisions to UWS 17, which governs the on- and off-campus behavior of students in the University of Wisconsin System (UWS), have taken effect. As Torch readers may remember, FIRE played an active role in the revision process, particularly when it became known that proposed revisions to the conduct code severely limited the due process rights of UW students. Adam quickly embarked on a speaking tour of the UW system and made FIRE’s case directly to Regents in a public meeting. With the help of FIRE and a host of committed UW students, many of these rights […]

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  • Wisconsin Students’ Right to Legal Representation Diminished in Ambiguous New Draft of Conduct Code

    June 4, 2009

    I reported last month that the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents had announced the restoration of fairly strong due process rights for students in the May 2009 draft of UWS 17 and 18, the statewide code of nonacademic student conduct. The restored rights include the option of a hearing before a committee including student peers, attorney representation in the case of serious allegations, and both e-mail and paper notification of proceedings. After protests from some deans of students and judicial officers, the Regents agreed to make some final tweaks to the changes they had announced, with a final […]

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  • Victory for Student Rights in Wisconsin: Regents to Restore Basic Due Process Rights Including a Hearing by Peers and Attorney Representation

    May 6, 2009

    Due process matters. It can protect a student from being expelled for no good reason or from being tried for an alleged infraction without any of the legal privileges that citizens routinely get in off-campus judicial systems. My statewide speaking tour of Wisconsin in March made clear to me that college students across the state understand the value of their due process rights, and many of them spoke out against the changes that the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents was considering to UWS 17 and 18, the system-wide disciplinary code. Many of the changes were unobjectionable from a […]

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  • Angry Wisconsin Dean Resents Fair Procedures for Students

    May 6, 2009

    As you can see in today’s press release, the University of Wisconsin System has been reevaluating part of its student conduct code with a particular emphasis on disciplinary procedures and what process is due to students who are accused of violations. The revisions to the code sections entitled UWS 17 and 18 include the following. Take a look at them and see if they seem reasonable to you: Changes of significance that have been made to the Chapter 17 documents going to the Board of Regents include: 1.  A student accused of a violation of Chapters 17 and 18 may […]

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  • Victory for Student Rights in Wisconsin: Regents to Restore Due Process Rights

    May 6, 2009

    MADISON, Wis., May 6, 2009—After substantial input from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has restored essential due process rights for students statewide. The restored rights include the option of a hearing before a committee including student peers, attorney representation in the case of serious allegations, and both e-mail and paper notification of proceedings. “The Board of Regents should be highly commended for protecting students’ rights and fundamental notions of fairness across the state,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The policy revisions are a victory for due process rights, which […]

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  • Adam’s Lecture at the University of Wisconsin Uploaded to Podcasts Page

    March 16, 2009

    Earlier this month, FIRE’s Adam Kissel went on a tour of the University of Wisconsin system to speak to students and faculty about due process and the proposed changes to Chapters UWS 17 and 18 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. We have posted his lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on our Multimedia page. Be sure to check back regularly for new podcasts and multimedia content.

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  • FIRE Writes Wisconsin Regents about Reconsidering Due Process Changes for Students

    March 13, 2009

    As I wrote last week, I spent several days in Wisconsin to discuss a number of due process concerns in the proposed changes (PDF) to Chapters UWS 17 (PDF) and 18 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Some of the proposed changes diminish due process for students accused of infractions, and other proposed changes make it easier for the University of Wisconsin (UW) System to suffer from due process lawsuits because of the greater ambiguity and administrative discretion in the proposed changes. Students and faculty members have contributed many voices to the debate, and their concerns are generally in line with […]

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  • FIRE Letter to University of Wisconsin Board of Regents

    March 13, 2009

    March 13, 2009 Jane Radue Assistant Director UW System Office of Operations Review and Audit 780 Regent Street, Suite 210 Madison, Wisconsin 53715 Sent via U.S. Mail, Facsimile (608-262-5316), and Electronic Mail (admincodecomment@uwsa.edu) Dear Ms. Radue: As you can see from the list of FIRE’s Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, due process, academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses. Our website, www.thefire-dev.wp.eresources.ws, […]

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  • Code of conduct change threat to student rights

    March 6, 2009

    Let’s create a hypothetical situation. Say you’re in some sort of trouble. Perhaps you ran your moped into the Abe statue, and Biddy Martin isn’t fond of Lincoln’s new tire-track look. This doesn’t look particularly good for you, but surely you’ve got a good explanation for your recent breach of UW protocol. Good thing you’ve got due process and the opportunity to sort this whole mess out, right? Well, that might not last for much longer. This past Thursday, the UW System Board of Regents held an informational session to present its proposed changes to UWS 17 and the brand […]

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  • Student leaders weigh in on code change proposal

    March 5, 2009

    University of Wisconsin System student leaders voiced concern at a public forum Wednesday about the UW System Board of Regent’s proposal to amend chapters 17 and 18 of the conduct of code regarding nonacademic misconduct. “It definitely needed to be updated,” University Affairs Director for the United Council Michael Moscicke said. “The two chapters don’t mention any technology at all, and they definitely need to update, but there are also some things we just object to.” Moscicke said the council, which represents all 26 UW System campuses, has four main objections to the board’s proposal to alter the rules dealing […]

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  • Wisconsin Faculty and Students Rise in Defense of Due Process

    March 4, 2009

    I am on tour this week in Wisconsin because of proposed changes to UWS 17 (PDFs), the part of the Wisconsin Administrative Code that applies to University of Wisconsin student non-academic disciplinary matters. The proposed changes, as I outlined earlier today, seriously diminish the due process rights of students and add so much uncertainty (in the form of administrative discretion) to the process that UW is practically asking for due process lawsuits in the future. Yesterday I spoke to outraged audiences at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point. Tonight, I will be speaking in Madison at 6:00 pm. The biggest events are […]

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  • Due Process Matters, or, Why I’m On Tour in Wisconsin

    March 4, 2009

    Due process matters. Just ask Hayden Barnes, who was expelled from Valdosta State University by means of a note slid under his door—without any hearing or any chance to respond to the “evidence” (a Facebook.com collage) against him. Or ask Professor Donald Hindley at Brandeis, whose provost put a monitor in his classroom over a misapplication of the university’s harassment policy—and then cut off the appeal of his punishment by simply declaring the matter “closed.” Or ask “The Coalition of Some Dudes,” two male students at Colorado College who were found responsible for sex-related violence because of a poster they […]

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  • Don Downs on ‘Blazing Saddles’ Controversy at UW–Madison

    October 28, 2008

    Two weeks ago, The Badger Herald, a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW), reported on the university’s apology to an African-American student offended by the content of a clip from the 1974 Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles, which an instructor showed in a training seminar run by UW’s Continuing Studies Department in November 2007. Use of the clip—which contained several racial slurs—prompted a complaint from the student, which was reviewed by UW’s Office for Equity and Diversity. The training seminar was not offered this year. The Continuing Studies department chair wrote an apology to the student along with […]

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  • University of Wisconsin Professor Don Downs Criticizes Misconduct Policy Revisions on ‘Minding the Campus’

    October 9, 2008

    Don Downs, University of Wisconsin–Madison professor and President of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights (CAFAR) at the University of Wisconsin (UW), has an article, “Due Process Fades In Wisconsin,” on the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus. Downs is critical of the changes approved by the UW System Board of Regents. After explaining the objections regarding the due process concerns already voiced in CAFAR’s statement released Monday, Downs offers some insight into the dubious wisdom of the Board of Regents’ motives and the broader context of these sorts of reforms. UW leaders endorse the reforms by pointing out that […]

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  • University of Wisconsin Faculty Criticize Proposed Changes to Misconduct Code

    October 6, 2008

    Last week, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System Board of Regents approved new revisions to the student misconduct policies including “Student Nonacademic Disciplinary Standards” and “Conduct on University Lands.” The revisions were sent to a legislative committee for review last Friday. They will be returned to the Board of Regents for a public hearing before being sent to the state legislature for a vote. The revisions, if enacted, will have serious ramifications for students’ due process rights. The Badger Herald reports: The revised codes include the universities’ power to discipline students for serious criminal offenses off campus, the shift of […]

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