With the best of intentions, the university plans to add additional training for “35 volunteers to preside over hearings, as part of an effort to cope with an upsurge in complaints about sexual misconduct on campus,” the Star Tribune reports. While efforts to end sexual misconduct are justified and such efforts should be applauded, the public needs to consider some very troubling possibilities.
The university panel of volunteers will be made up of faculty, administrators and students. Such collective effort is laudable. The panel members will receive extensive training. However, in cases where serious crime is at issue and lives can be derailed forever, these panels must, at the very least, receive extensive oversight. These panels often oversee issues related to minor student code of conduct violations and plagiarism. While certainly important issues, cases involving sexual misconduct allegations should only be trusted to authorities with extensive education and a deep understanding of the gravity of such cases. Additional resources for the university may be needed so appropriate authorities can ensure fairness for all parties involved.