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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

EDITORIAL: Due process is always due

Published: April 4, 2008
Section: Opinions

It was announced this week that Mamoon Darwish, a TYP student who is being tried by the University Board of Student Conduct, will have to wait until June for the second of his two appeals to be heard. Darwish was suspended in February for involvement in a fistfight.

New information about the incident and the events leading up to it suggest that there are holes in Darwish’s account of what happened. For example, Darwish claimed that the police intercepted him without giving him medical treatment, while the other student involved in the fight said that both of them were taken to the hospital following police questioning.

However, the fragility of Darwish’s story may be irrelevant, if it turns out that the UBSC did not accord Darwish due process. The UBSC needs to ensure that due process procedures are employed regardless of the clarity of the case.

One of Darwish’s complaints about how his case was handled is that he was not informed of his rights. Without an advocate, Darwish said that he was not aware that he had to respond responsible or not responsible to the charges made against him by the UBSC within 48 hours of their issuance. While the assignment of an advocate to the accused student is not mandated, the immediate implementation of this measure will limit the potential of violating due process. The delay in receiving an advocate well-versed in Rights and Responsibilities allowed room for more errors in the treatment of this case. In student conduct cases, the UBSC should follow procedures precisely so that there is no room for claims of discrimination or lack of due process. Indeed, allowing Darwish to have a trial with such a clear disadvantage irrevocably biases the handling of this case, no matter how well-intentioned the Administration may be.

Also, just as the UBSC should apply the same due process measures to every case, students should also take the same efforts to ensure they do not form a biased opinion of this situation. Students need to take a critical approach to the information they receive via word-of-mouth, Facebook and even, campus media. Do not be persuaded by impassioned or polished rhetoric. Focus on the facts and do the most to take in a diverse range of viewpoints. A process of fairness needs to be implemented by the administration and the student body alike.