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No expulsion, UO bans Duck athletes from campus for 4-10 years

Last updated on 06/24/2014

6/23/2014 update: KVAL reports that the survivor’s lawyer, John Clune, is focused on UO’s decision to admit Brandon Austin:

Clune told KVAL News his client remains concerned about Oregon’s recruitment of Austin, who left his previous school while under investigation for a possible sexual assault there.

“We definitely want some more candid answers from the Athletic Department about their recruiting of Mr. Austin,” Clune said. “The suggestion that Coach Altman was recruiting a student-athlete who was at the time serving a disciplinary suspension for an entire season and no one ever asked why is just flat out not believable.

“If we can get honest answers without any litigation – great, but my client, her family, and the UO community need some transparency here or something like this is just going to happen again.”

The alleged assault in Eugene took place in March, but news of the incident didn’t break until the police report became public in May.

“If we can get honest answers without any litigation – great, but my client, her family, and the UO community need some transparency here or something like this is just going to happen again.”

The alleged assault in Eugene took place in March, but news of the incident didn’t break until the police report became public in May.

UO has a “Athletics Special Admit” committee, chaired by Lorraine Davis. Still no word on what role they had, if any.

6/22/2014: No expulsion – UO bans Duck athletes from campus for 4-10 years

Josephine Woolington has the story in the RG, here. The news is from the survivor’s lawyer, who also says she plans to finish college at UO. Good for her:

In her statement released earlier this month, the victim praised employees in the UO’s Dean of Students office for their support, but was critical of the athletic department.

“I am angry with the culture that appears to exist in our athletic department that prioritizes winning over safety of our students. I cannot fathom how our basketball coach recruited someone who was in the middle of a suspension for another sexual assault to come to Eugene,” she wrote, apparently alluding to Austin.

Why just suspension, and not expulsion? In 2011 the US DOE Office of Civil Rights recommended lowering the standard of proof for expulsion for sexual assaults to “a preponderance of the evidence”. But UO’s VP for Student Affairs, Robin Holmes, didn’t do anything to update UO’s student conduct code. Too busy with her bowl game junkets.

Finally, after the rape allegations, the Senate got wind of this, and quickly passed revisions:

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.56.19 PM

Too late of course. For that matter President Gottfredson still hasn’t signed off on the revisions, passed May 28.

You’ve got to wonder what the penalty would have been if Gottfredson had succeeded in hiding the whole incident from the public, as was apparently his plan. Gottfredson gave the Eugene PD report to his athletic director Rob Mullens, while his police chief only found out about it from reading the newspapers.

Under UO’s student conduct code, suspension does not even necessarily include any notice on the student’s transcript – that’s a different penalty. From:

(1) Forms of Sanctions
(a) Expulsion. Student status is severed permanently. A Student who has been expelled from the University shall not be permitted to participate in any University Sponsored Activity or allowed to reside on University Premises.
(b) Suspension.
(A) Individual Suspension. Student status is severed for a specified period. A student who has been suspended from the University shall not be permitted to participate in any University Sponsored Activity or allowed to reside on University Premises during the period the student is suspended.
(B) Group Suspension. A Student Organization loses University recognition and all privileges associated with such recognition for a specified period. Imposition of this sanction against the ASUO or a recognized Student Organization requires approval by the Vice President for Student Affairs.
(c) Negative Notation on Transcript. Entry of the fact of violation on the Student’s permanent academic record as the sole or an additional sanction may be imposed at the discretion of the hearing officer or panel. After the expiration of the period of time, if any, set by the hearing officer or panel, the notation shall be removed upon the request of the Student or former Student.


  1. ace 06/23/2014

    All three were basketball players on scholarship who had already been kicked off the team and certainly are pursuing playing time and scholarship potential elsewhere, so it’s not likely she would ever have seen them again. This may be called ‘suspension’ but it was basically ‘expulsion’ when they were dismissed weeks ago. What’s being done now as “investigation” is all part of *the show* hoping to demonstrate that Gottfredson, Holmes, Mullens et al. are actually looking to make change.

  2. Hedgehog 06/23/2014

    Why does the revised code use the word “information” rather than “evidence.” I am familiar with “preponderance of evidence.” Does a “preponderance of information” mean something different? Don’t the OCR guidelines use the language of “evidence”?

  3. Sam Dotters-Katz 06/24/2014

    I think blaming Robin Holmes for the lack of conduct code changes is both unfair and a failure to understand basic players and politics within the relevant University Senate committee that governs the conduct code. Hillary Berkman is the ASUO Advocacy Director, and is very pro defendant. She is a very good person, not attacking her integrity. But it is a fact, committee members can confirm, she has lobbied and concealed as hard as possible against making these changes for a long time. I met with her and she was very against my support for changes, for example like extending code jurisdiction off campus, citing it would lead to students being held criminally liable and liable by the school for the same offense. I don’t have a problem with that in this case, but I agree don’t want kids getting an MIP and serious trouble with the school, should be one or the other.

    Also, I know for a fact and others can confirm, that Robin had several conversations within the last 18 months with University Senate leadership about making these changes, which were not met with any sense of haste to say the least. Further, both Laura Hinman, the previous ASUO President, and myself spoke with committee members individually about the need to make some of the new changes, which were not listened to. The fact is, the committee was appropriately called out in several Senate meetings this spring for being ridiculously reluctant to make any changes to the code for the past ten years. Simply put, this was the Senate’s job, not Admin’s. I feel like if Admin had come in and rammed through changes, and there had not been an event like what happened on campus, you would accuse them of over-reach violating shared governance, and you would in that case be right to do so, again because this is the Senate’s purview.

    But to blame that on Robin Holmes is again unfair, factually incorrect, and irresponsible, because these are serious accusations you are making and the facts just don’t support them. It damages your credibility, and it is just cruel to be playing such careless games with people’s careers.

    • Law Professor 06/24/2014

      It is amazing to me that Robin Holmes has so much authority, and makes so much money, yet bears no responsibility for anything. Can you explain that, Sam?

      • Sam Dotters-Katz 06/24/2014

        My comment, which was narrow, is that I don’t think she should be blamed for the fact that the conduct code hadn’t been amended with regards to sexual assault, in some manner similar to what eventually happened at the last Senate meeting of the year. I think that is accurate because the Senate, via the committee, is where changes are made. Her office administers the code, the Senate changes the code. I also think that is accurate because she has actually been pushing for changes, to no avail. So if there is anyone to blame for the code’s failures, it is with the committee and body responsible for making changes. Remember that prior to this incident, the University Senate had not held a single discussion, passed a resolution, done literally anything whatsoever with regards to sexual assault in years. I am honestly sure that every faculty member cares about students generally, thinks sexual assault is a serious problem specifically, but that doesn’t excuse the failure to do anything as a body. Besides a small group of faculty that have been active on this issue, and likely a handful of others not associated with the coalition, the Senate hasn’t done much of anything with regards to sexual assault.

        That is the context surrounding a committee that has been receiving recommendations from many people about changes that could help survivors, yet fails to do a single thing. So yes, it is not Robin’s fault that the committee refused to pass changes until popular opinion shifted and, and the attention of the Senate was finally turned towards what has clearly been the greatest problem on this campus for some time. Only the Senate can answer the question of why it has failed to discuss or take action on sexual assault for so long. The Board of Trustees talked about sexual assault at our very first meeting, months before the alleged incident occurred. Students were talking about, and working hard on this issue, all year. Certainly one could make the argument that the Admin could have been doing more, but they were at least doing something, making multiple hires in new positions solely dedicated to sexual assault prevention, investigation, and working with survivors.

        • uomatters Post author | 06/24/2014

          I’ve heard lots of people blamed for the student conduct code delays, including Sam Dotters-Katz for appointing students who wouldn’t show up for the meetings, the Senate President for not appointing the statutory faculty the OAR calls for , Carl Yeh (the convenor) for being generally ineffective, and Robin Holmes for putting up with Yeh and then taking 9 months to replace him after he went to OSU and hiding the Groves report from the Senate for 5 months, etc.

  4. Anon 06/24/2014

    Three years, no progress. Lots of work on the excuses though. In any case Sandy Weintraub now seems to have things in hand.

  5. Anon 06/24/2014

    Does it bother anyone that the basketball players were given a long-term suspension without any apparent due process? Would the same thing have happened if they were white rather than black? I”ve read the police report and I am certainly not prepared to view the players as innocent. But the police report shows that this is hardly a clear-cut case. Do we really want to make “guilty until proven innocent”–especially if you are black–the standard on our campus?

    • uomatters Post author | 06/24/2014

      President Gottfredson has made it very clear that UO has been following due process on this case. All three of the athletes have lawyers, just looking for some some violation of the process in the student conduct code so that they can sue. I’d guess that UO now has some competent outside attorneys of its own making sure that due process is followed. That’s presumably why they got suspensions rather than an expulsions.

      In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and the rest of your comment seems like some sort of race-baiting/trolling effort. Stop it.

      • Sam Dotters-Katz 06/24/2014

        The Black Fraternity released a statement speaking to some of the concerns Anon wrote about above. I was approached by countless students of color who were feeling very marginalized on campus given the events in the aftermath of the allegations being made public. I agree with you, Bill, that anon is incorrect when saying that they didn’t receive due process. But I think the comment regarding the racial aspect is very fair.

        In this country, there is a long history of affording young men of color accused of sexual assault, 1) a presumption of guilt, 2) fewer rights generally, and 3) fewer due process rights. It is always fair to consider that, especially on a predominantly white campus, in one of the whitest states in the nation. I can say that I do think far too many were pushing a presumption of guilt for these men, criminal guilt, not moral guilt. I was told by coalition leaders that these men needed to face justice, in an email i am happy to provide to you. Then you have the calls to release confidential information about their case, violating their rights. Then you have the fact that, and you were CC’d on these emails, some were calling for the university senate to establish a separate committee to handle the investigation of this incident, which would have been a violation of their due process rights. Thankfully the Senate Exec quickly discarded that notion, but it was made.

        Honestly, many students of color, including the President of the BSU, told me that the very angry predominantly white crowd, with some audience members making unfortunate statements regarding the need for these men to face justice, elicited a very different response for many folks in communities of color on campus, than it did for white folks witnessing literally the exact same scene. Now I talked immediately with rally organizers, and they were sensitive to those concerns, and were adamant that while they couldn’t control every person, the point was to call for reform, not to be calling for justice for the men. I believe them on that point. But it is also not unfair to see how these scenes were incredibly marginalizing to many students of color on campus. I am not just guessing that is how some folks felt, I say that because I went out and spoke with a considerable number of students from communities of color on campus and that was what I was hearing.

        I’m from North Carolina, where the racism is overt. Up here people don’t like to talk about the R word, but it still exists, its just more subtle. As a country with a terrible record on race relations, in one of the whitest states in the country, on a predominantly white campus, I think it is essential we always consider these things.

        • Anonymous 06/25/2014

          It’s completely reasonable to wonder if the rush to judgment by uomatters and many others on campus was caused, at least in part, by the race of the supposed perpetrators.

          • Anonymous 06/25/2014

            I don’t think Bill is a racist. An idiot? yes. Racist, no.

            • uomatters Post author | 06/25/2014

              Thanks for that endorsement, Anonymous. You’ll have to buy your own coffee cup though.

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