As students, the laws and rights that we are all used to as citizens of the United States are often very different from those experienced at Fairfield University in the name of bringing “problem” students to justice. As the student handbook states so definitively, “student conduct hearings are not courts of law and formal rules of evidence do not apply. Hearings are not open to the public, other members of the University community, parents, family members, or legal counsel.”

Slapped with $111,000 worth of damages to be paid to William Rom, a former student who claimed to suffer financial losses after his suspension from Fairfield, the university learned that their jurisprudential bubble is not impermeable to the ruling of a jury at Bridgeport Superior Court.

This is a private institution with private rules and regulations; it’s understandable that the university reserves the right to create their own methods of judgment. However, the courts ruled that these methods were unfair, and we would tend to agree.

William Rom did many stupid, immature things. Whether or not they merited expulsion, on their own or in tandem with previous offenses, is not for us to decide. However, there is something to be said for the merits of due process. Our newly-minted Dean of Students, Tom Pellegrino, a lawyer himself, should revisit the judicial process at Fairfield University and consider what liberties are being denied.

To judge a student, regardless of the offense, without a chance for the student to be heard with counsel and witnesses extending beyond the university community not only suggests a lack of trust in the student, but a disregard for widely accepted judicial processes. The Rom case should serve as a red flag to University officials that the current system is flawed and must be modified so that future student conduct hearings can be upheld in a court of law.

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