We recently reported on the Marquette University demonstrations that took place in August 2022 and how ten students of color were cumulatively sanctioned for their participation.
Since the sanctions were announced, a Marquette University spokesperson, Lynn Griffith, stated that the university acknowledged the students' concerns of lack of support for people of color on campus. She then said that the issue was that sharing their frustrations prevented a celebratory moment for incoming students and their families, which went against the campus conduct standards. Thus, the behavior needed to be addressed in a disciplinary matter.
Punitive vs. Disciplinary Sanctions
Some professors believe that if Marquette's students of color had the proper support, they would have made their voices heard in a different way. For those professors, this type of punishment is less educationally motivated and more like punitive sanctions inflicted to punish the students rather than discipline. Punitive sanctions focus on making the students suffer because they broke the rules, whereas disciplinary sanctions teach students how to make better choices next time.
Marquette University Student Conduct Code Disciplinary Procedures
At Marquette University, students are given a Student Conduct Code at the beginning of the school year. This conduct code outlines all prohibited behaviors while on campus or representing Marquette University. Students who violate the conduct code are referred for disciplinary actions and given the opportunity to defend themselves. Additionally, they are notified that they might work with an attorney-advisor to help them properly craft a strong defense, gathering relevant evidence and witness testimony to aid their cause.
Based on the evidence, an unbiased conduct review board will determine whether the student is responsible for the alleged action, whether that action warrants a sanction, and what sanction should be applied. Students have five days to appeal the decision after receiving it.
Marquette students have specific due process rights for these proceedings, including:
- Objecting to a member of the review board because of personal or official conflicts of interest.
- Time to review the evidence and witness testimony being presented against them.
But according to the article linked above, and witness statements, it sounds like Marquette University did not follow its own hearing procedures. Instead of providing a space for the students to defend themselves, they interrogated them, asking for names of other students who were involved in the demonstrations and not providing necessary breaks even when students were visibly upset. In fact, many students felt like they were being treated like criminals rather than students who chose to demonstrate after their needs were consistently unmet.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have spent years helping students across the United States when universities fail to follow their procedures or uphold a student's due process rights. They understand that universities often use students of color as tokens to prove their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion without offering the necessary support. Working with Attorney Lento and his team will ensure your voice is heard and you do not suffer any unnecessary consequences – especially punitive punishments. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation or visit us online.