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Critics question WSU student conduct board

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The cases of Robert Barber and T.J. Fehoko have garnered the attention of advocacy groups.

Washignton State v Oregon Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The suspension of WSU nose tackle Robert Barber is sure to hurt the Cougs’ defensive line, but it may have greater repercussions off the field.

As Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times reported Thursday, a pair of Asian Pacific Islander groups is raising issues with how the Washington State University student conduct board handles cases. They contend that Barber was denied his due process rights. They have also reached out to a higher authority to step in.

The two groups, the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, and the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, have requested to President Kirk Schulz that Barber’s case be given an adjudicatory hearing. Barber also wrote to Schulz requesting a full hearing.

However, it may be out of Schulz’ control at this point. According to Loh’s article, the only sanctions that are reviewable by the president are expulsions, and Barber is now dealing with a suspension. In his letter to Schulz, Barber argued that since he was originally expelled he should be eligible for additional review. I would guess we will know how Schulz’ responds to these pleas soon.

The issue that the APIC, and WSCAPAA have brought forward is the rights that students have when they are brought before the student conduct board. Students are allowed to have an advisor, which can be an attorney, but the advisor can’t present the case. The student must do that on their own. They also cannot question witnesses, but instead can "suggest" questions to the conduct board chair to ask.

In comparison, six schools in the Pac-12 allow legal representation in cases involving an expulsion or suspension. Seven schools allow the accused to question witnesses.

While the university defends it as an "educational environment", the consequences are too significant. An expulsion is not a punishment one simply brushes off. Not allowing students legal representation with consequences of this magnitude is wrong in my opinion.

In her report, we also learned that redshirt freshman defensive lineman T.J. Fehoko has also been expelled by the student conduct board. Fehoko has appealed the punishment and is waiting to hear back.

If you haven’t read Stefanie’s article yet, do it now.

*****

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