Contact: Gina Lauterio
Free Speech and Due Process Violations on Campus Give Rise to Budget Cutbacks, Costly Lawsuits
WASHINGTON / March 1, 2016 – A growing number of budget cutbacks and lawsuits across the nation reveals colleges that fail to respect free speech and due process rights may incur substantial financial liabilities. SAVE urges administrators and lawmakers to work cooperatively to restore the constitutionally based rights of students and faculty members on campus.
Regarding free speech, state lawmakers in Missouri recently announced they plan to reduce funding for the University of Missouri by $8 million. State House and Senate members singled out the actions of professor Melissa Click who was recorded interfering with students’ exercise of free speech rights (1).
University of Missouri trustees were also informed that the university system expects to lose $20-25 million in tuition revenues this year. Last month Standard & Poor’s lowered the system’s credit rating, citing a severe drop in new student enrollments (2).
Last July Valdosta State University in Georgia settled a First Amendment lawsuit, agreeing to pay $900,000 to former student Hayden Barnes who had been expelled due to his protests over planned construction of two parking garages (3).
Due process violations are proving to be costly, as well.
In Georgia, Rep. Earl Ehrhart warned Georgia Tech president GP Peterson on January 26 that he wouldn’t consider Tech’s budget request until the college adopted “simple, basic due process protections.” The following week, Georgia Tech withdrew its request for state bond funds for building renovations (4).
Lawsuits filed by students accused of or expelled on allegations of sexual assault have become more prevalent. At the University of Montana, administrators just agreed to pay $245,000 to former quarterback Jordan Johnson for the college’s “misconduct” in investigating a 2012 rape allegation (5).
Last week the Rhode Island District Court refused to dismiss a complaint filed by a male student who had been suspended from Brown University, citing breach of contract and a pattern of sex discrimination against male students (6).
Last month two men announced they were suing the University of Texas to prevent sanctions from being imposed on them. They charged the school is using them as scapegoats to build a reputation for being tough on sexual assault (7).
Over 100 due process lawsuits have been filed against colleges and universities across the country (8).
SAVE is working for evidence-based, constitutionally sound solutions to campus sexual assault: www.saveservices.org