Student Letter

To Whom It May Concern:

I am an undergraduate at Stanford University. I was charged by the Office of Community Standards (OCS) with providing unpermitted aid to another student on a final exam during the fall quarter of 2012.

During the investigative phase and adjudicative phase of my case, my fundamental rights under the Stanford Student Judicial Charter were repeatedly violaged in material respects in approximately 30 different ways.

Perhaps the most egregious example of a violation of my rights under the Charter occurred when the OCS and the reporting parties purposefully concealed the identity of the only known witness in my case. The witness would have impeached the testimony of the reporting parties in my case: however, the witness’s identity, which was known to the reporting parties, was never revealed. The OCS has acknowledged that I requested the witness come forward on multiple occasions, but that they failed to compel the witness to come forward. (Note: witnesses are compelled to cooperate and appear at Judicial Panel hearings per Section II(D) of the Charter.)

Unfortunately, I did not know that my rights had been violated repeatedly throughout the process. Nor did I know that 95% of students accused of an Honor Code violation were found guilty. Throughout my case, I felt strongly that the way my case was being handled was unjust, but the OCS kept telling me that their actions were permissible under the Charter, and that I had no choice but to accept that fact. Case in point, the “neutral” Judicial Advisor in my case co-authored a brief advocating for my conviction. The one person, whom I was told I could trust, pretended to advise me confidentially before advocating for my conviction. Some trust!

Notably, the Judicial Advisor in my case specifically advised me not to hire an attorney. He even went so far as to suggest that if I retained counsel I would look guilty. It was not until after I was convicted that I learned I had the right to have an attorney represent me. A few weeks after my conviction, I read an article in the Stanford Daily which described a student who had been simlarly wronged by the OCS, but had retained an attorney during his case, and was found not guilty. I contacted the same attorney. Only then did I realize the extent to which I had been wronged. I also realized that I had been treated differently than other students whom the attorny had represented.

In closing, I truly wish I would have known that I could have hired an attorney to represent me during my case. My family lives below the poverty line, and hiring an attorney would have presented significant hardship for my family and me, but the alternative is worse. I am quite confident that I would not have been convicted if an attorney had retained an attorney to stand up to the OCS when my rights under the Charter wer violated time and time again. I firmly believe that every student charged with an Honor Code violation deserves to have competent counsel.

Consider my case, three reporting parties——one of whom was a respected faculty member——were allowed to testify against me, I had no one on my side. I had no one to balance the playing field. It was my word, the word of an accused cheater, against the respected word of a Stanford faculty member and his assistants.

If the simple fact that 95% of students are convicted does not convince you that every student deserves an attorney, hopefully my case will illustrate how an honest student without an attorney can be thrown under the bus by the “neutral” Office of Community Standards.

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