Most people don’t realize that higher ed students don't have the right to legal representation in expulsion and suspension hearings. But North Dakota has done something about that.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed SB 2150 into law, providing students the right to be represented at hearings at their own expense. Joe Cohn of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says his group worked with a bipartisan legislative group to get the bill passed.
“We think it’s really important that states are starting to recognize that without lawyers able to actively represent students in these campus disciplinary hearings, students are being railroaded out of school,” he explains.
He says these hearings aren't only about academic suspensions or expulsions but often involve serious accusations of sexual misconduct or sexual assault.
“I don’t think even the schools realize that the statements students make during these proceedings are admissible against them in criminal trials later on,” he adds.
Cohn says the bipartisan group of representatives and senators fought especially hard to get the bill passed, going up against university systems that were adamantly opposed to it.