As a part of the Student Code of Conduct, the student judicial process for Texas Tech is outlined.
This process includes the intake, or first report, the investigation, a hearing and, if applicable, an appeal, according to the Student Code of Conduct.
Amy Murphy, Tech dean of students, said the process is a learning opportunity for students, and administration tries to ensure it will be conducted in the least adversarial way possible.
“That’s why we use this investigation model where the investigator is neutral at the point of information gathering as far as they’re gathering information from both students about what occurred,” she said. “We already have the information. They (the students involved) don’t have to participate in the hearing.”
Also a part of this model, she said, is the decision that students are not able to cross-examine witnesses, nor are the students’ advisers, during the hearing.
If cross-examination were to be allowed, she said, it would create a chilling effect for future possible reports.
“We want responding and reporting parties to talk to that investigator about the questions that they have for witnesses,” Murphy said, “the information that they want to see in that investigation report.”
While the procedure is in place to better educate students, students are split in their opinion of the procedure.
Andy Johnson, a sophomore exercise and sport sciences major from Albuquerque, New Mexico, said he thinks the system has flaws that should be updated.
“I can’t speak for other people and I’m only thinking about if I were accused,” he said, “but if it were me I’d be mad that no one could represent me. I’m a student. How am I supposed to know what to say and what not to say?”
He said if he could change the system, he would make it more like a court system because college is his real world right now, so it should resemble the real world.
Brittany Todd, associate director with the Office of Student Conduct, said the decision of what to say and what not to say is one she deals with often in the office. The office, she said, is there to help students, and telling the truth can help students’ cases more than hurt them.
Jenn Davis, an undeclared freshman from Houston, said she thinks this procedure is good in some instances but she would change it in others.
“I can’t imagine being a sexual assault victim,” she said, “but if that were ever to unfortunately happen to me, I would not want people to ask me questions about it after I had already told my story. I’ve done some research on the topic and it can be traumatic to continue to relive the situation over and over again.”
In other instances, Davis said, she does not understand why it would hurt to change procedures.
In a situation involving an incident like hazing or stealing, she said she thinks the point at when a person would report would be when they do not have as much loyalty to the other person or any longer.
“If a group hazed me and I decided to report it, I don’t think I would care what they thought of me anymore,” she said. “In that case why does it matter if we let some students ask other students questions? If it makes people happy then why not?”
Reece Walker, a Tech student who was expelled after a university discipline committee issued a ruling against him saying he participated in hazing – consumption and harmful, threatening or endangering behavior, is currently suing the university for reasons including the lack of due process rights during the hearing.
“The Disciplinary Policy also deprived Plaintiff (Walker) of his due process rights by preventing him from having meaningful assistance of an attorney,” according to the lawsuit filed by Walker. “University Disciplinary policy permits an individual to have an ‘advisor’ present but limits the involvement of a legal professional to cases where there is a pending criminal charge.”
The Daily Toreador attempted to reach Walker for comment.