The Ludlow Hearing: Some Questions

The hearing to determine whether Peter Ludlow will be fired from Northwestern University (previous posts) has been underway over the past month or so but is currently on hold. According to documents related to the hearing provided to Daily Nous, a number of complaints about whether the hearing is being conducted fairly and in accordance with Title IX guidelines have been raised. It is unclear whether the pause in the proceedings is owed to these complaints or to something else.

The thrust of the complaints is that the graduate student Ludlow has been accused of sexually assaulting has not been offered the same procedural considerations that Ludlow has, despite the relevant guidelines requiring such equal treatment.

The Department of Education’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on sexual discrimination, including sexual violence, says:

Throughout a school’s Title IX investigation, including at any hearing, the parties must have an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence. The complainant and the alleged perpetrator must be afforded similar and timely access to any information that will be used at the hearing. For example, a school should not conduct a pre-hearing meeting during which only the alleged perpetrator is present and given an opportunity to present his or her side of the story, unless a similar meeting takes place with the complainants; a hearing officer or disciplinary board should not allow only the alleged perpetrator to present character witnesses at a hearing; and a school should not allow the alleged perpetrator to review the complainant’s statement without also allowing the complainant to review the alleged perpetrator’s statement. While OCR does not require schools to permit parties to have lawyers at any stage of the proceedings, if a school chooses to allow the parties to have their lawyers participate in the proceedings, it must do so equally for both parties.

According to an email forwarded to Daily Nous:

With respect to the hearing currently underway, Ludlow has had the opportunity to present witnesses; [the graduate student] has not. Ludlow has had the opportunity to present evidence; [the graduate student] has not. Ludlow has had the opportunity to present character witnesses; [the graduate student] has not. Ludlow has had the opportunity to veto panel members; [the graduate student] has not. [It appears that ] Ludlow has had access to a pre-hearing meeting; [the graduate student] has not. Ludlow has had the opportunity to have his attorney present throughout; [the graduate student] has not.

Questions regarding the university’s compliance with Title IX during Ludlow’s disciplinary hearing were first put to Northwestern’s administration and general counsel over the summer. I am told they have yet to satisfactorily respond to these questions.

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