Transparent Trials

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 9:23am
Harvard Crimson

A case brought to the Washington State Supreme Court regarding the privacy of faculty disciplinary hearings at colleges will likely result in far-reaching ramifications for schools across the country. The suit involves Professor Perry F. Mills at Western Washington University, who claims that his academic suspension after a closed faculty hearing would not have occurred had the hearing been open. Mills argues that the secrecy of the proceedings promotes perjury and precludes witnesses with conflicting evidence from coming forward. On the other hand, the school argues that it maintains the right to set its own procedures and that confidentiality is crucial to protecting student testifiers. Although a reasonable balance must be struck, schools conducting faculty hearings must permit students, faculty, and other interested parties to submit evidence and understand the state of faculty disciplinary trials, even if all details remain unknown.