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After second appeal hearing, Darwish returns to campus

Published: April 18, 2008
Section: Front Page

Following a hearing before the University Board of Appeals on April 16, TYP student Mamoon Darwish, who had been suspended for nearly two months, returned to campus.

Darwish’s hearing Wednesday came after a hearing April 8 in which charges against him for an ‘alleged incident’ were dismissed after the reporting party retracted the accusation. Darwish was thus found not responsible for those charges.

The hearing April 16 concerned a fist fight, Director of Student Conduct Advisors Laura Cohen ’09 said in an e-mail message. Cohen has served as Darwish’s advocate throughout his appeals process.

Darwish did not respond to requests for comment.

Unlike Darwish’s April 8 appeal, Darwish was found responsible for the first fight. The hearing concerned not his responsibility but his sanctions.

In order to file an appeal with the Board of Appeals, a student must claim procedural error, fraud, new evidence, or a rights violation, University Board of Student Conduct member Ryan McElhaney ’10 explained. McElhaney could not specify the grounds for Darwish’s appeal.

After accepting Darwish’s appeal, “the Board of Appeals reheard all witnesses and all were cross examined. The Board then decided on new sanctions,” Cohen explained.

According to Cohen, Darwish’s “official punishments are Disciplinary and Residential Probation until December 2008.”

Cohen added, “After reading the new sanctions, Prof. William Kapelle (HIST), chair of the Appeals Board, stated that [Darwish] was allowed back on campus.”

“There’s no definite answer to whether or not [the outcome of] his first appeal affected his second,” McElhaney said.

Generally speaking, McElhaney explained, during a hearing to determine responsibility, UBSC members are not informed of a person’s previous Rights and Responsibilities violations. If a student is found responsible, UBSC members are informed of any violations during the sanction hearings.

“If an appeal overturned responsibility,” he said, “the second appeal would no longer be able to consider the prior event.”

“I believe the Board made a fair and balanced decision,” said Cohen, “Mamoon’s right to due process and procedural fairness were upheld during yesterday’s hearing.”

“The appeals process functions well,” said Director of Student Development and Conduct Erika Lamarre, who handled Darwish’s initial conduct referral. However, she added that “if an appeal goes through, that doesn’t necessarily mean there was a problem with the process in the first place.”

During Darwish’s appeals hearing, 10 to 15 students sat in the hallway outside, as a show of support. “Mamoon has had a great deal of support from both his friends and the Brandeis community,” wrote Cohen. “That kind of dedication is not seen often on this campus, or anywhere else for that matter. I think its a testament to how committed the students of this campus are not only to upholding due process and procedural fairness, but to the University’s greater message of social justice.”

Despite Darwish’s return to campus, because of the length of his suspension, he will not be able to complete his TYP year, Cohen said. “Now that Mamoon is allowed back on campus,” she commented, “we will be focused on figuring out how Mamoon can finish his TYP year.”

An inability to successful complete the TYP program jeopardizes Darwish’s ability to matriculate as an undergraduate degree student in the Fall. Union Advocate Brian Paternostro ’08 compared Darwish’s predicament to that of a high school student accepted to the university who failed to earn a high school diploma.

He said, “it’s unclear what course equivalent equivalents [Darwish] could take to successfully complete the program.”