The plaintiff is a student and the defendant is Brandeis University in which the plaintiff is a student. The plaintiff was suspended from the university for approximately four months. Plaintiff filed a seven-count complaint in the superior court against the university seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief. One of the judges at the Supreme Court suspended the entire complaint with an argument that the plaintiff failed to state a claim for which the relief could be granted while the second judge denied injunctive relief. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiff's application for further appellate review. The court avowed the judgment of dismissal of the superior court, on the basis that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The Defendant University had the right to follow its own rules and the allegations of the plaintiff, though true, did not establish the breach of the contract by the University.
From the above there are question(s) that the court should answer in order to resolve this case;
Was the disciplinary action taken by the university, the defendant, against the plaintiff, Schear, appropriate and reasonable?
From the above question the court could have solved their case either in the favor of the defendant or of the plaintiff depending on the argument that was brought about.
In the case of the plaintiff, the disciplinary action taken by the university was illogical. The plaintiff claimed that the university suspended him for approximately four month. In these four months the plaintiff would have completed his studies and would probably start working. The universities action did not only impinge on the student's stay at the university but also on his entire career and his reputation. The plaintiff also had an ongoing project in the school's laboratory but was unable to continue his research since he had been banned from being in the school's vicinity. The university did not investigate on the matter in the proper manner as it should before suspending the plaintiff i.e. Schaer. Schaer asserts that at the time of the investigation, he was not asked to give a statement, to offer evidence, or to provide witnesses which could have favored his side of the case.
Schaer also argues that the university did not apply the standard of proof needed while judging an accused student thus violating section 19.3 of the university's rules, which requires that the board must base its finding "only upon clear and convincing evidence." His strife that the board failed to use appropriate standard was legal and not based on factual allegations.
Schear contends that the university violated its contract. This is because they did not use the evidence provided in accordance to procedure stated in section 19.3. He states that the court excluded the testimony from an expert, his sister, as to the difference between rape and regretted sex. He argues that the board used its own experience to reach its conclusion thus violating section 19.3 which provides, in relevant part: "Decisions shall be based solely upon evidence and testimony introduced at the hearing."
In the case of the defendant, Brandeis University, the disciplinary action that they took against the plaintiff was satisfactory. This was because the student despite having known about the school rules and regulations at the university went ahead and violated them. The defendant's argument against the plaintiff was based on section 17 which provides that, "The available facts shall be gathered from the [complainant] and a careful evaluation of these facts, as well as the credibility of the person reporting them, shall be made. If corroboration of the information presented is deemed necessary, further inquiry and investigation shall be undertaken." Nothing in this section requires university officials to obtain an interview from the accused student, to seek evidence from the accused student, or to grant the accused student an opportunity to provide witnesses at the investigatory stage in the proceedings. This rules out the meaning that Schear was trying to assign to the contract.
In the same case the university had the right and obligation to follow the rules that it had put in place to govern the discipline, safety and wellbeing of its students, deeming their action against the plaintiff appropriate and legal.
Rules and applications used
In this case, some of the rules applied by the court in its ruling included; failure to adhere to Brandeis's code of ethics. Courts are usually careful not to go against the academic and disciplinary measures made by private colleges and universities just like it was in Clayton v. Trustees in Princeton University, 608 F. Supp. at 437-438 as well as it was with Cloud v. Trustees of Boston University. 720 F. 2d 721, 724 (1st Cir. 1983). Courts are usually reluctant to interfere with the authority of and independence of private institutions while administering their legal disciplinary authority, especially where cases are of misconduct as opposed to academic issues. Any misconduct such as theft or rape, may put the student's reputation in jeopardy and may amount to suspension or expulsion from the university. This will have a negative impact on the student's morals and likely to minimize his chances for graduate study admission or even in the job market. Common Law Rights for Private University Students advocate for valuable relationship that one has with the institution.
The court applied as the gauge of review whether the colleges action in dismissing the student was an arbitrary action or capricious action. The court then summarized the ruling by affirming that it was undisputable that commitment of sexual misconduct by Schaer was a serious infringement to the college rules and the dispute was whether it warranted the act of suspension. It was concluded by the court that it was within the jurisdiction of the university to administer disciplinary action against Schaer thus the university was to determine the degree of discipline given the weight of the matter, also adequate was a hearing before the president. No inherent requisites were necessary with the trappings of the due process like, for instance; right to confront witnesses or right to counsel.
The court did not argue out the count on intentional infliction of emotional harm thus was waived. The defendant had no misrepresentation worth taking action against by failure to have tipped off Schaer with the accuser's complaint. Moreover, the court maintained that the defendant did no interference with the contractual relations. As much as Schaer had a connection with Brandeis, there was no way Brandeis could cause third-party interference. There was neither threat nor any kind of intimidation or undue influence. Brandeis did notify Schaer of the accusation which attracted the disciplinary proceedings and this does not amount to any kind of direct assault. There is no part of the complaint that amounts to privacy rights violation. It was the rightful duty of Brandeis to make inquiries into the complaint against Schaer's misconduct.
In conclusion, the court assumed an already existing contractual relationship between Brandeis University and David Schear. The court affirms the judgment of dismissal entered by the Supreme Court. It is on the basis that the court should follow its own rules and that Schaer's allegations, even if true, do not establish breaches of contract by Brandeis University. Schaer does not state a claim for which relief can be granted.
Schaer contends that the board of Brandeis University violated section 16.5 and 17 of the contract by not investigating the complaint. Schaer asserts that during the investigation he was not asked to give a statement or to produce any witnesses. Schaer fails to state the claim because this section 16.5 of the contract does not provide for investigation of the student's misconduct.
Schaer also alleges that Brandies violated section 19.4 of the contract which requires a record of all the proceedings. Section 19.14 provides, in relevant part: "A record of each hearing, comprised of a summary of the testimony and evidence presented, and of the decision rendered, shall be made by the adviser to the board." The section does not require the report to be of any minimum length. The report however should have been more detailed. However nothing in the contract suggests that the disciplinary proceedings will be conducted as though they were judicial proceedings. Schaer does not properly state his claim that the contract has failed to meet his expectations.
I affirm the judgment of dismissal entered by the Supreme Court. The plaintiff does not state claim for which relief can be granted therefore the courts ruling is just. Moreover, act of sexual misconduct not only puts into shame the reputation of David but the entire university. It portrays a negative image that the university is immoral and may discourage students from enrolling into the college. There's no excuse to sexual misconduct for a right thinking man for nature has it that a prudent man should have control over his feelings and emotions and not the vice versa. In my opinion, the disciplinary committee did their right job and it was right that the court upheld the decision made by the disciplinary. This would serve as an example to any perverts within the college if they existed. And therefore other immoralities would also be curbed.
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