Student Conduct; Students; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence
John Doe v. Skidmore College (N.Y. App. Div. July 13, 2017)
Memorandum and Order reversing the judgment of Skidmore College finding Petitioner responsible for violating the College’s sexual misconduct policy. Petitioner and the complainant, both students at Skidmore, engaged in intimate activity in Petitioner’s dormitory but did not engage in sexual intercourse, having agreed not to do so beforehand. Petitioner later received a formal complaint alleging that he had violated Skidmore’s sexual misconduct policy, for which he was ultimately expelled. During the period between the incident and the hearing, Skidmore amended its policy to reflect New York’s “Enough is Enough” law requiring colleges to adopt policies to ensure that students are afforded certain rights in proceedings involving sexual activity. The lower court dismissed the action, and in so doing rejected Petitioner’s claims that Skidmore’s findings were arbitrary and capricious, that the findings and sanction were arrived at in violation of the College’s procedures, that the procedures violated fundamental fairness requirements, and that the penalty was excessive. On appeal, the court determined that Petitioner’s claims regarding fundamental fairness lacked merit because Skidmore is not a public university. However, Skidmore had not substantially complied with its own investigation and sanctioning procedures outlined by the updated policy, thereby prejudicing Petitioner and imposing sanctions that were arbitrary and capricious.