Press Releases | Title IX

Columbia Blasted for Denying Students Basic Rights

ACTA Calls on Trustees to Veto New Sexual Misconduct Policy
March 27, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC—Today the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) weighed in on the debate raging over the Sexual Misconduct Policy recently adopted by Columbia University.

In a letter to Stephen Friedman, Chairman of Columbia’s Board of Trustees, ACTA President Jerry L. Martin blasted the policy and expressed grave concern about the procedures governing the trial of students accused of sexual misconduct, “many of which flaunt the most basic premises of due process.”

Martin cited numerous areas of concern, pointing out that the new rules deny students the right to legal counsel. “They are not allowed to face their accuser,” observed Martin, “or even to hear the witnesses against them.”

“Students should not have to surrender basic rights when they enroll at Columbia,” wrote Martin, whose voice joins the chorus of scholars, students, and alumni who have risen in protest against the new policy.

Martin called trustees’ attention to remarks made by Columbia law professor Eben Moglen, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Moglen has said that “the message of Columbia University’s new sexual misconduct policy is that there must be respect for the rights of people out there charged with serious offenses—but not here on campus. There are those at Columbia who want to hang people before trial as the only way to ‘take back the night.’”

Martin called on trustees to strike down the policy and to demand adoption of procedures for handling charges of sexual misconduct that protect the rights of all students.

ACTA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of alumni and trustees from over 200 colleges and universities, dedicated to academic freedom and excellence.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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