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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Will Behun
Will Behun
5 years ago

I am not sure I understand how an institution like NU (of which I am a graduate) could be as bald faced as the email forwarded to DN seems to indicate. I would suspect great packs of university counsel boffins are involved.Report

anonymous
anonymous
5 years ago

Great packs of university counsel boffins frequently make errors, frequently with respect to Title IX compliance. I’m sure they think that since this is an employment hearing, Title IX suddenly does not apply — or that the union contract trumps federal law. Both are of course wrong. It seems the graduate student should find her legal feet and take a stand, rather than continue to be caught in the complex spider’s web of the intersecting and criss-crossing special interests at the university. I recognize that can be hard for a victim to do. Victims are often overwhelmed and unable to stand up for themselves — and please don’t accuse me of victim-blaming, I’m just stating a fact, or at least an observation. But sometimes taking an assertive and/or aggressive stance is exactly what is required to become a survivor, to move beyond the trauma.Report

Crimlaw
Crimlaw
Reply to  anonymous
5 years ago

Why think that a hearing on whether to dismiss a tenured faculty member for cause must follow a form specified for Title IX investigations? Is the idea that every dismissal hearing must follow this form? Or that this one must because some of the underlying issues leading to the hearing were issues involving allegations of sexual discrimination and/or sexual harassment? I assume the answer is the latter? I really do not know and would like to hear from someone who does.Report

Coherentist
Coherentist
Reply to  Crimlaw
5 years ago

The language quoted in the post above says “any hearing.” Another guidance document (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-title-ix.pdf) reads:

“For the purposes of this document the term ‘investigation’ refers to the process the school uses to resolve sexual violence complaints. This includes the fact-finding investigation and any hearing and decision-making process the school uses to determine: (1) whether or not the conduct occurred; and, (2) if the conduct occurred, what actions the school will take to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, and prevent its recurrence, which may include imposing sanctions on the perpetrator and providing remedies for the complainant and broader student population.”

Both seem to imply that any hearing arising out of a Title IX complaint in which sanctions are at issue fall under Title IX.Report

Doc Rod
Reply to  Coherentist
5 years ago

Your reading of the language there does not necessarily mean ANY sanctions toward Ludlow need to comply with Title IX. Northwestern already made that determination earlier. This is now to determine his fitness to remain a faculty member at Northwestern, including his lawsuits against the institution. That does not mean it has to follow Title IX.Report

Coherentist
Coherentist
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

No, not any sanctions — any sanctions *arising out of a Title IX complaint* which this hearing is. By the way, are you the same Doc Rod/ Rod Carveth who was repeatedly tweeting at Northwestern students, even after they asked you to stop?Report

SCM
SCM
5 years ago

Dear Northwestern. Please do not fuck this up. Hugs and kisses, Philosophy.Report

Anon
Anon
5 years ago

It’s completely unclear that the DOE’s “Dear Colleague” letters are legally binding:

https://www.thefire.org/second-department-of-education-official-in-eight-days-tells-congress-guidance-is-not-binding/Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
5 years ago

FYI, many of us students in the department at NU have been writing letters in support of our colleague to Jennifer Lackey, our DGS, asking that they be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel. Until our colleague gets the answers that she deserves, we would appreciate it if others from the discipline would do so as well.Report

Brian
Brian
5 years ago

Just a word of advice: given that this is a major breach of confidentiality of proceedings that were supposed to be confidential, the original source, as well as anyone posting here, will likely be fair game for discovery should the proceedings result in an adverse employment decision and the matter ends up in court.Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
Reply to  Brian
5 years ago

If the implication is supposed to be that I ought to be worried that in virtue of commenting here, someone might be able to ask a court if they can sift through my relevant emails or ask me some questions, I’d rather risk the inconvenience than sit by when the university refuses to answer questions when one of my fellow students wants to know if, and if so, why, her rights were violated.Report

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Brian
5 years ago

“Aren’t you sharp as a tack.
You some type of lawyer or something?
Somebody important or something?”Report

I don't know what you take me as
I don't know what you take me as
Reply to  Matt
5 years ago

I ain’t stepping out of shit, all my papers legitReport

Grad Student
Grad Student
Reply to  Matt
5 years ago

“Well, I ain’t passed the bar but I know a little bit
Enough that you won’t illegally search my shit”Report

philodaria
philodaria
Reply to  Matt
5 years ago

“And I know my rights so you gon’ need a warrant for that.”Report

GS
GS
Reply to  Brian
5 years ago

I didn’t realize confidentiality agreements covered procedural details. Could you explain the reason for that?Report

Jan Dowell
Jan Dowell
5 years ago

Bring it.Report

anon
anon
Reply to  Jan Dowell
5 years ago

I seem to remember similar bravado last September. But if/when legal proceedings are brought, a sudden ‘how could they?!’ I know BL is the grinch to many, and he’s not my favourite either, but he’s trying to be helpful here. Law is, unfortunately, a lot like fire: people are happy to play with it, until they get burnt…Report

Paul Prescott
Paul Prescott
Reply to  anon
5 years ago

Anon, your post strikes me as a rationalization of conduct that is pretty clearly laughable, petty, and destructive. I’m with Jan. Bring it.Report

anon
anon
Reply to  anon
5 years ago

He’s not trying to be helpful. He’s obviously trying to scold Justin.Report

Doc Rod
5 years ago

I’m confused. Is this a hearing to see if Ludlow should be fired, or is it a Title IX hearing? They are not the same thing. If the former, the alleged victim does not need to be represented by counsel as she is not the one who might be fired. If the latter, then both sides need equal treatment.Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

Why do you think a Title IX hearing cannot be a hearing in which it is determined if someone should be fired?Report

anonymous
anonymous
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

Doc Rod, when the allegation against Ludlow is that he violated Title IX (by restricting equal access to educational opportunities — note that this is true if, say, he is providing favors for the women which are not available for the men due to his sexual preference), then yes, the ensuing employment termination hearing is indeed explicitly covered under Title IX. The same is true of a suspension hearing for a student who has, say, been found guilty of sexual misconduct.Report

Doc Rod
Reply to  anonymous
5 years ago

No, I was asking a factual question here — is this a hearing to fire Ludlow or a Title IX hearing? Ludlow had already gone through the latter, and was already sanctioned. I was wondering if he is undergoing yet another Title IX hearing, or what becomes a personnel matter.Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

Why do you think he was already sanctioned?Report

Doc Rod
Reply to  NUGradStudent
5 years ago

Ludlow lost a named professorship, and was told not to have social interactions with students. He later was barred from teaching his classes. Those are sanctions. People can debate whether or not they were sufficient, but they were sanctions.Report

Crimlaw
Crimlaw
Reply to  anonymous
5 years ago

Is “providing favors for the women that are not available for the men” really an example of a Title IX violation? I don’t find anything like this covered in authoritative or advisory statements about Title IX. Have I missed something?Report

Doc Rod
5 years ago

To Coherentist — Ludlow already was sanctioned following a Title IX investigation. So, unless these are new Title IX complaints, this would be double jeopardy.

In terms of this quote: “By the way, are you the same Doc Rod/ Rod Carveth who was repeatedly tweeting at Northwestern students, even after they asked you to stop?” Yes, I have commented before on Ludlow, but the rest of your question has no basis in fact. I am happy to debate you on the issues. I am not willing to endure ad hominem attacks, especially those based on falsehoods.Report

philodaria
philodaria
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

Doc Rod, do you not realize there was more than one Title IX complaint?Report

AnonAttorney
AnonAttorney
5 years ago

Posting here because I can’t seem to reply to anon at 1:56. I doubt university counsel is as stupid as you think. This from the Chicago Reader Article:
Northwestern has filed its response [the student’s allegation that NU failed to follow Title IX], claiming that it conducted a “prompt and thorough investigation” that “substantiated some, but not all” of her allegations, and then imposed “corrective actions against Ludlow.”
What were those corrective actions? Ludlow was denied a raise, lost his honorary status as John Evans professor (but not his tenured professorship), was prohibited from dating Northwestern students (all faculty members, as of January, are prohibited from dating undergrads), had to take sensitivity training, and was told not have any contact with the student in question and not to retaliate against her.

This already complete investigation is one in which Title IX applies, as it clearly meets the standards that Coherentist notes. I suspect the current hearing is one in which NU will determine whether to fire Ludlow, not as a result of the Title IX violation, which was (per NU) resolved above, but as a result of his subsequent conduct, e.g. suing the university, bashing the university in interviews, etc. I could be wrong; maybe NU is re-opening this investigation, but it’s hard to see why they would do that when it would appear to be an admission that the previous action was inadequate.Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
Reply to  AnonAttorney
5 years ago

AnonAttorney, all of those sanctions you mention were the result of the first Title IX complaint. The hearing we’re concerned with is a result of the second.Report

J. Bogart
J. Bogart
5 years ago

Re anonymous at 1:57: It is common to contract out of statutes and even constitutional rights. Depends on the nature of the statute. Arbitration, for example, is contracting out of a constitutional rights. Collective bargaining and private securities transactions may involve contracting out. Whether a university and its faculty could contract around some provisions in Title IX is open. And it would not imply that a university and its students could contract out. Like anonattorney, I doubt that the current proceeding is under Title IX. It sounds more like an employment process than a proceeding responding to a complaint under Title IX.Report

Doc Rod
5 years ago

NUGradStudent — Both Title IX complaints were already heard and dealt with. Ludlow was found to have harassed, but not sexually assaulted, either woman.Report

AnotherNUGradStudent
AnotherNUGradStudent
Reply to  Doc Rod
5 years ago

I have no idea what would give you the impression that the second complaint has been “dealt with”. Perhaps you only mean to signal your shock at the fact that the internal proceedings at NU have somehow managed to outlast a grueling federal suit and its dismissal. Still, I hazard to guess that we at NU are significantly more informed than you, and I can assure you that the matter is most certainly not yet resolved.Report

Jeff Heikkinen
Jeff Heikkinen
Reply to  AnotherNUGradStudent
5 years ago

According to the statement released today by the university’s VP for University Relations, “Northwestern University had initiated proceedings to terminate Ludlow’s employment following findings that he had engaged in sexual harassment involving two students.” If that statement is accurate, the second complaint had indeed been dealt with.Report

NUGradStudent
NUGradStudent
Reply to  Jeff Heikkinen
5 years ago

The investigation had reached a determination. The hearing was to determine sanctions.Report

bystander
bystander
5 years ago

And… with his resignation, there can be no “adverse employment decision” I reckonReport

Doc Rod
Reply to  bystander
5 years ago

No necessarily. It all depends on if the “resignation” has been negotiated. If Ludlow felt he was being persecuted by Northwestern, he could resign and still sue. If this was part of a deal, he may have given up those rights in return for something of value.
If there was a deal, then the question arises as to what was accomplished over the past year by torpedoing the negotiations over a settlement last year. It just meant more expenses Northwestern (and others) had to incur in terms of legal action and an additional year where the alleged victims were not able to move on.Report

bystander
bystander
5 years ago

“Constructive discharge” is an uphill battle… his lawyers would likely have dissuaded him from such a move. Better to let the procedure play out then challenge that, strategically. By the looks of the statement emanating from the University rather than Ludlow, it was likely negotiated. Guess we’ll see.Report

M.G. Piety
5 years ago

The Title IX offices and official legal counsels of universities are there to protect the university from lawsuits. They will bend over backwards to “protect” students from predator professors so long as students don’t sue. When students do sue, however, they always sue the university rather than the offending individual, so university attorneys (and indeed all university administrators) circle the wagons to protect the university.Report