Earlier this year, the University of Chicago expelled a male student one week before graduation, for sexually assaulting a female student. The former student is now suing the university for gender discrimination, the Chicago Maroon reports.
The lawsuit was filed last month. In it, the plaintiff alleges that the school discriminated against him on the basis of gender, and denied him the right to a fair trial by not granting him “the opportunity to have legal representation,” call witnesses or cross-examine his accuser. (The Maroon notes that the school was not under any legal obligation to do so—as those are privileges reserved for criminal court cases.) The lawsuit also alleges that the female student accused him of spreading false information and intending to inflict emotional distress.
This is the second time that the school has been sued under Title IX for gender discrimination by a male student.
According to the Maroon, the lawsuit goes after the school’s Student Disciplinary Committee for following Obama-era guidelines for universities investigating sexual assault cases—like the preponderance of evidence standard, says the committee must only decide if the female student’s claims are more likely than not to be true. Under Betsy DeVos, universities now have the option to raise the standard of proof in campus sexual assault hearing; so far, the University of Chicago has not chosen to do so.
The lawsuit itself may be in murky territory, the Maroon reports, as it refers to oral testimony given during the Student Disciplinary Committee’s investigation, as well as text messages presented then. These and other pieces of evidence are meant to be highly confidential; under university policy, students involved sexual assault investigations are prohibited from discussing “any information learned during the investigation or hearing that [they] did not already know.” These materials are not attached in the lawsuit, and students are not allowed to review their investigation file after the case ends, so it is unclear how the male student obtained a record of the oral testimony and text messages in preparing this lawsuit.
Violating these terms could be grounds for a lawsuit by the school against the former students, according to its student handbook; however, asked by the Maroon, the university declined to comment on whether it would seek legal action against the male student if that were true.
The Maroon notes that it’s possible that the male student “felt that he had nothing to lose” as he was already expelled.