Note: Until 23 February, this letter from the editor held the text of “2012: Court ruled that Student Handbook is not a contract.” The intended text of the letter is below.
Last Tuesday, Feb. 10, President Steadman Upham sent an email to University of Tulsa students, faculty and staff. In that email, President Upham stated that the Collegian improperly assumed that Trey Barnett’s case was handled under the Student Code of Conduct, when it was actually handled under the Policy on Harassment.
The Collegian stands by its reporting in “TU administration suspended student without hearing.” The Policy on Harassment states multiple times that the Student Code of Conduct still applies in harassment cases.
Under the section entitled “Formal Complaint Process” the Policy on Harassment states that “investigations, and if appropriate, hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the appropriate governing document.”
Under the section “Who is Covered,” it states that the Policy on Harassment “shall be applied and interpreted in conjunction with the following existing documents: … ‘The Student Code of Conduct’ and ‘The University of Tulsa Statement on Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities.’”
Finally, “harassment” is included as a violation of the “General Standard of Conduct” given in the Student Code of Conduct.
As reported in our original story, the Student Code of Conduct reads under Section D.4 Procedures: “In all cases, a student accused of one or more violations of the student code has the right to a hearing.”
It further states in Section E.5 Rights of the Accused that “no student shall be found partially/fully responsible for an offense without having been afforded each of the following rights, except with respect of those rights specifically and knowingly waived by the student in writing: … 2. The opportunity at the proceedings to hear all information against the student and to question all the witnesses against the accused student. 3. The opportunity at the proceeding to present relevant information and witnesses on his/her behalf.”
TU’s policies unequivocally suggest that a harassment complaint ought to be handled under the joint aegis of the Policy on Harassment and the Student Code of Conduct.
As reported in the story, we asked for clarification from the school multiple times. The school declined to comment in each case. Though the Policy on Harassment does bind university officials to confidentiality, it does not prevent them from discussing policies or procedures in the abstract.
We received no response from university officials after presenting them our reading of the harassment policy.