Several weeks ago a good friend of mine was arrested outside his classroom on campus and was questioned by the CSU Police Department for three hours. He spent 39 hours in the Larimer County Detention Center and a week later was kicked out of school.
This occurred after he was accused of assault and domestic violence by an ex-girlfriend.
Let me clarify the specifics of this situation. This case, which is now one person's word verses another, has not yet gone to trial and at least a semester of one student's college career has been destroyed. The costs involved have become substantial, including: a $750 lost scholarship, $500 of lost tuition, a $1,200 charge for a broken lease, $350 worth of books, $5,000 in lawyer fees (thus far) and the lost wages from the job this student formerly held on campus.
If these charges do hold up in court then that is one matter. But, is it unreasonable to assume that until that occurs, CSU should protect both parties involved in matters of criminal allegations? It would appear that our society has become so overzealous in its attempt to protect alleged victims, the rights of the accused have become a mere afterthought.
And if you think that guaranteed rights haven't been thrown under the bus in this situation, you are sadly mistaken. The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty apparently has no meaning in the Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services office, where my friend was deemed "an endangerment to the CSU community" and was expelled until his accuser graduates, without so much as an attempt at a fair hearing.
Ron Hicks, assistant director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, could not discuss the specifics of any individual case but said they use a "separate administrative process." He added that they cannot wait for criminal cases to be resolved.
Now, if the defendant in this case is proven innocent in a REAL court of law won't that reflect quite poorly on the university? I mean they just booted a kid who pays his own way through school, out of both his classes and one of his jobs. They also happened to arrest him during class in front of his peers.
I attempted to contact CSUPD's public information officer in hopes of finding out what purpose publicly humiliating a suspect serves in the arrest process but calls were not returned. And from my understanding, this is not the first time a situation like this has occurred on our campus.
For all the women reading this, I know that boys (I won't call them "men" because they don't deserve it) sometimes do horrific things. Especially in a college town where, I am ashamed to say, rape is ever present in the back of people's minds. I also recognize that sometimes they get away with it. But is that an excuse to assume every woman who makes these claims is telling the truth? We have a fairly efficient justice system in this country, why not use it?
The anti-capital punishment crowd has screamed for years that even with a fair trial, a small percentage of those on death row are innocent. So what would that percentage jump to if those people didn't even get a trial, like my friend? I bet it could get pretty high.
In our society, children learn very early that if a woman says a man hit her, it can mean devastating consequences for that man. And I would venture to say it is because of this conditioning that cases of false allegations of violence against women even exist. And it might even explain why an innocent man can be humiliated and punished with no proof of the charges against him, as we have seen today.
On their Web site, Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services say that they "provide a comprehensive array of approaches to support Colorado State University values of interpersonal civility, respect for human dignity, and the honoring of community standards."
Maybe they should add, "…unless one person looks more convincing than the other" to the end of that because I don't think they really stuck to their proverbial guns on this one.
In the future I look forward to following up on this column with news of my friend's case as well as the changes in policy at CSU that prevent people who have not been proven guilty from being kicked out of school.
Ryan Chapman is a senior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.