Press Release: GOVERNOR BROWN PLEASE VETO SB-169. WE CAN DO BETTER
Dear Governor Brown,
I am a long time California resident, attorney and Co President of Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE), a nonprofit formed to provide support and advocacy to innocent students wrongfully suspended or expelled from their college and university campuses following Title IX disciplinary proceedings.
Today I am asking you please, please veto SB-169.
Do not stop reading because you think you know what I’m about to say, because you do not know the half of what I have seen, and how many times I have been brought to tears by the destruction the Title IX machine has left in its wake.
Most Americans would be stunned to learn how Title IX disciplinary processes are conducted on many campuses, and those who have learned cannot fathom that such Kafkaesque “trials” are allowed to occur in our country, land of the free and fair.
In the past three-plus years hundreds of students and some professors have contacted FACE after experiencing result-driven Title IX disciplinary processes in which school officials have: refused to disclose details of the conduct of which they’ve been accused; denied them access to the very same evidence relied on to find them responsible; refused them the opportunity to question their accusers and witnesses; relied on hearsay and other evidence inadmissible in any other adjudicatory arena; ignored their lack of harmful intent or good faith beliefs; and dispensed with any presumption that the student may actually be innocent.
Denied the protections which normally accompany the use of the required (under California law) preponderance standard of evidence, innocent students are routinely found “more likely than not” to have committed what, more often than not, is not a crime, but a technical violation of the school’s conduct code. For this they earn lengthy suspensions or expulsions.
Though FACE representatives met personally with the SB-169’s sponsor Sen. Jackson, the Senator refused to acknowledge or even consider that students most tragically affected by these one-sided proceedings are the underserved, minorities and scholarship students, most of whom have worked diligently to rise above the circumstances into which they were born.
When faced with Title IX investigations, these innocent students believed the advice, variations of which they’ve heard their entire lives, that they should “just tell the truth and you’ll be fine.”
Unfortunately, these young students – often just 18 or 19 years old – are blindsided by experienced campus attorneys and administrators who effectively act as their prosecutor, compiling evidence and testimony only to establish their guilt, while denying them access to an equivalently experienced advocate or attorney because their families do not have the resources to retain one. Imagine constructing your own defense at that age. The consequences of this David v. Goliath farce are students left with no opportunity to complete their education, loss of a promised career and significant loans to pay for a diploma they will never receive.
No wonder an African American mother told me that, to them, “it’s just more of the same.”
Perhaps even more tragically, the foundation on which these students have relied since childhood, the promise of a better future and their belief in the American sense of justice, is destroyed. Disturbingly, many attempt suicide, some successfully, many, many are hospitalized and most suffer significant life-long trauma, PTSD and anxiety. Some have psychotic breakdowns and, in at least one case, a California college student developed schizophrenia, documented to have occurred as a direct result of the traumatic Title IX process he endured at his college.
When will this stop?
When will our representatives realize the lives of our children are being lost, destroyed, permanently and irrevocably changed?
When will our legislators take off their political hats and, as human beings, open their eyes to see the resulting destruction of promising young, innocent lives, not only in California but across this entire country?
Governor Brown, will you be the hero who opens your eyes to help stop this madness?
Cynthia P Garrett
FACE Co President
San Diego, California