1989 UM GRAD

January 29th, 2014 at 9:06 AM ^

it's sketchy is more a reflection on you then it is on me. And I'm not sure how you know what "everyone" is thinking.

Do you only know and/or only communicate with people your own age? In my personal and business lives I meet people of all ages and backgrounds.

I have nothing to gain by making up this story and then posting what I posted in a forum that is almost completely anonymous.

LSA Aught One

January 29th, 2014 at 9:14 AM ^

46 year-old:  Man, I would really like to find some grass.

20 year-old:  Hey old-timer, what did you say?

46 year-old:  I'm looking to get potted-up.

20 year-old:  ummmmm.  I'm guessing you are asking if I'm holding?

46 year-old:  Yes.  I want to buy some illegal drugs from you.

20 year-old:  eff this, man.  I'm not selling to a cop.

Wisconsin Wolverine

January 28th, 2014 at 5:25 PM ^

The author doesn't seem to know whether the university actually reviewed the accusations the first time ... this could be their first actual effort at investigating it.  With however the policies were previously, perhaps they didn't have to look into it.  And if they don't have to, they probably rather wouldn't.  So maybe that happened?


January 28th, 2014 at 6:07 PM ^

Depends on how he was tried and what the process was.  There's a crapload of stories out there of the system being abused against both men and women.  Just like with Duke Lacrosse, it's always best to take a breath here and wait for the story to come out.

If this does revolve around whatever was rumored to happen in 2009 then there are two ways to look at it:

If he did it and it took this long to prosecute and for there to be consequences then it's a black mark on the university.

If he didn;t do it and got railroaded out on a technicality or so the school could push a storyline of harsh punishments, then it's a black mark on the university.

If this is down to a more recent incident, then the story changes.



Wisconsin Wolverine

January 28th, 2014 at 8:52 PM ^

What?  Your words, they hurt me.  I am not siding with anybody here.  If anything, there is a trace of derision in my comment aimed at the university because I implied that they'd rather not take any punitive action against football players if they aren't compelled to.  As far as 'sympathies' and 'small print', I choose not to ascribe such emotionally-laden connotations to a complicated matter which I aim to treat as logically as possible.  Naturally, I sympathize with any innocent people who were harmed unjustly.  I don't know who they are, but I am sorry for what happened.


January 28th, 2014 at 5:50 PM ^

as someone who was entitled a benefit from a state organization, isn't he entitled to an administrative hearing, the determination from which he would be able to appeal to a civil court? i mean, along the way he could be begging for a criminal investigation through production of affidavits from accusers, etc., but i wonder to what extent, if any, he was afforded a right to an administrative appeal?

Or whether that's what took so long (and whether the length of time from the alleged incident precludes criminal investigation at this point)?


January 28th, 2014 at 9:46 PM ^

The Feds recently forced colleges to adopt a "preponderance of evidence" standard for sexual misconduct allegations (previously most schools used a stronger standard, e.g. "Clear and convincing evidence" or "beyond a reasonable doubt").

Basically, this means that if 51% if the evidence points to guilt, the accused must be found guilty. What this MAY mean for this case is that the previous investigation showed that Gibbons was slightly more likely than not to be guilty, but the evidence was not strong enough for a higher standard of guilt.

Anyway, that's speculation but it's a possible reason for revisiting a previously closed investigation.

Coastal Elite

January 28th, 2014 at 6:03 PM ^

Having worked at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (the "disciplinary" office that administered the expulsion proceedings against Gibbons) for two years in undergrad, I thought maybe I could offer some insight / clear up some confusion about the OSCR process in this thread.

OSCR is not, in any appreciable sense, an investigatory body. It is a passive office that acts only after receiving a complaint from some member of the University community. While any individual student, faculty, or staff member can file a complaint, the most common OSCR complainants by far are Residence Education (Housing) and DPS. In order to pursue a complaint with OSCR, the Complainant has to provide all the necessary evidentiary backing; again, OSCR does not investigate events on its own.

The process for initiating and pursuing a complaint with OSCR goes as follows:

  • An OSCR staff member conducts an intake meeting with the Complainant to discuss the nature of his/her/its complaint and inform the Complainant of the various resolution pathways available (in addition to formal arbitration, OSCR offers a number of alternative dispute resolution pathways that do not result in disciplinary action).
  • An OSCR staff member will then conduct an intake meeting with the Respondent to notify him of the complaint and inform him of his rights/options in the process.
  • At that point, the Respondent can either accept responsibility for the complaint or indicate that he's willing to proceed to a formal arbitration.
  • Assuming that the Complainant is also interested in pursuing a formal arbitration, OSCR will either appoint a trained member of the University staff to serve as the formal arbiter, or it will select a panel of student arbiters.
  • After hearing from both the Complainant and the Respondent, the arbiter or the student panel will reach a finding of "responsible" or "not responsible," and will then proceed to make a sanction recommendation.
  • Any recommendations for expulsion have to be approved by a member of the University administration. When I was there, I believe this was the responsibility of the VP for Student Affairs, E. Royster Harper.

As you can see, this is a multi-step process that requires several meetings and often many different witnesses, advisors, and arbiters. With that said, it is emphatically NOT a three- or four-year process. Given that all of the investigatory work is already completed before a complaint is filed, the formal arbitration process does not take very long at all. In my time at OSCR, I can't remember a single arbitration - including those involving sexual assault allegations - lasting more than a single semester, from initial complaint to final sanction.

Hope this helps. Happy to take questions.


January 28th, 2014 at 9:10 PM ^

Wait, let me make sure I understand this.

The Complainant doesn't even have to be alleged victim?  It can be anyone who has heard about something and can accuse the Respondent?  Any member of the university community, as you called it, can file a complaint against another member of the community, regardless of whether that person has any actual knowledge of the complaint?

So if I were a teacher or student at UM and read the reports about Brendan Gibbons, I could have gone to the OSCR and filed the complaint.  Then the arbitrator, which is apparently unilaterally appointed by the university from a group composed of people within the university, interviews the Complainant (me, not the actual victim) and the Respondent and comes to a decision?  There's no requirement they speak with the person who is the actual victim?

I mean . . . am I the only one who sees a problem with this procedure?  If I'm wrong, please clarify for me.  Because it sounds like a student can be accused of misconduct and effectively convicted in the eyes of the arbitrator without the accused ever having a chance to confront the accuser.   Hell, the accuser doesn't even have to be there or participate in any way from the description I'm reading.


January 28th, 2014 at 9:21 PM ^

If there is enough evidence available for an independent arbiter to determine someone deserves to get punished, I don't see why it matters whether he or she spoke to the victim. And since when does an accused person have the right to "confront" their accuser? The whole purpose of arbitration is to have a third party be able to talk independently with both sides and come to an unbiased assessment


January 28th, 2014 at 9:42 PM ^

Uh . . . seriously?  Since when does a person have the right to confront their accuser?  It's sort of the entire basis for our justice system.

And do you really think that an arbitrator chosen by the university from a pool of faculty at the university (or students from the university) is unbiased when the entire process is a function of the university?

If you were accused of a crime (or any misconduct) while at UM, you would think it's fair that the person who made the accusation never had to actually say it to the person deciding your culpability?  You'd be okay with the fact you weren't allowed to ask that person questions about their version of events?

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.  I'm a prosecutor by profession and even to me it  seems grossly lacking in due process.

Michigan Arrogance

January 28th, 2014 at 9:53 PM ^

in cases of a minor (say at the high school level & lower), if a school employee overhears about a threat to minor from an Xth party (X>=1) , that employee is legally obligated to report it within 24hrs.

it sounds like the recent interpretations of the Title IX law are looking to mirror this policy to all (public?) universities who investigate sexual assault.

so, NO: the "accuser" does not have to "out" the action him/herself in order to get an investigation rolling.


January 28th, 2014 at 10:14 PM ^

But this doesn't really address my point.  Regardless of who brings the complaint, do you find it fair that a person can be judged without the opportunity to ever confront the person accusing him/her?  You just get to tell your version of events to an arbitrator which you had no say in choosing and that's the summation of your ability to defend yourself.  You don't get to question the accuser's version of events at all.

Does this seem fair?  Does this seem to be in keeping with anything we've come to associate with criminal justice in this country?  

I find it pretty scary.  I could accuse you of any crime or misconduct, file a police report and then go to the OSCR and demand a hearing.  If the prosecutor's office rejects my case, that apparently has no bearing on my credibility.  You will then be informed by the university that you've been accused and you'll get to tell your version of events.  You don't get to question me.  If I come across as slightly more believable than you (which is what preponderance of the evidence is), then you have committed misconduct.

Whether it's Brendan Gibbons or Joe Schmoe, this is a troubling lack of due process which can have some very severe consequences.


January 29th, 2014 at 12:20 AM ^

This is not a criminal complaint and the standards of the criminal justice system don't apply.

It's complicated by the fact that Michigan is a public university, and as we all know by now students and student-athletes aren't employees. But consider a for-cause dismissal from a job. Somebody reports some alleged wrongdoing on your part to your bosses--maybe they saw you stealing money from petty cash, maybe IT caught you watching porn during work hours, maybe you were seen accepting a substantial gift from a customer and didn't report it.

Depending on the circumstances you may be presented with the evidence gathered in their investigation and you may have an opportunity to tell your side of the story, but not only do you have no right to confront your accuser, in all likelihood you will never know who your accuser was. And if that accuser, and whatever evidence was uncovered in the investigation, is sufficiently convincing, they can determine that you've committed misconduct and you can be fired.

This is, essentially, a for-cause dismissal from the university. The student in question is certainly free to bring a civil case if he feels he's been wrongly dismissed, but if his claim is simply that the university didn't follow the standards in place for a criminal trial he won't get very far.


January 28th, 2014 at 9:58 PM ^

It appears the victim must file the complaint, so it's a moot point regardless, but I was just envisioning a situation where the victim may be traumatized and perhaps unable so someone else files the complaint instead. Of course the accused has every right to question the story of the accuser, but that's done with the arbiter, the accused rapist doesn't sit in a room with the alleged victim face to face. Maybe I took "face the accuser" to literally?


January 28th, 2014 at 10:20 PM ^

 I take the processes of criminal justice pretty seriously.  And yes, I find it troubling that a person can suffer a public finding that he's probably a rapist without ever having the chance to actually question the accuser. 

You can see my comment directly above this to get my take on it.  


January 28th, 2014 at 10:32 PM ^

We know about it, so it's now public.  And if expulsions/suspensions are public, then this gets us right back to my concern about this process.

Expulsions/suspensions are only going to be imposed in the most serious cases.  That means the people most likely to be publicly named as offenders are only those accused of something serious without the ability to question the accuser 


Urban Warfare

January 28th, 2014 at 10:42 PM ^

Ok, I see what you're saying now; I thought you meant public in the same sense as a jury verdict being public.  It's a legitimate concern, but at the same time, I think holding student conduct departments to the same standard as an actual court is unreasonable.  I don't know the answer, but I'd suggest that this case is an outlier for a lot of reasons, including Gibbons's relatively high profile.


January 28th, 2014 at 10:52 PM ^

Ok, I don't doubt your knowledge, but I was talking about something a little different. This is not a court of law, or part of our criminal justice system. I'm not making a comment about our justice system as a whole. This is a university organization that does not investigate crimes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they appear to be a neutral party meant to hear disputes between students. The accused gets an opportunity to share his side and question the story. This is different than a court of law, but it's meant to be an alternative option of dispute resolution. If after both sides get to share their story the arbiter deems a punishment necessary, I see no problem. I didn't say the accuser doesn't have to share his/her story, they just don't need to be subject to a cross examination, that's the benefit of having an outlet like this to resolve disputes. Maybe that's not fair, you know more and have insight I don't, but that's how it seemed to me.

Urban Warfare

January 28th, 2014 at 9:32 PM ^

While anyone can file a report, the actual language of the policy would seem to indicate that the complainant must be the victim.  http://studentsexualmisconductpolicy.umich.edu/definitions

From reading the policy, it's hard to believe that Michigan (or any other university) would proceed with discipline if the complainant refuses to cooperate or if the university is unable to contact the complainant.

Coastal Elite

January 29th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

Yes, my apologies for not making that clear in the initial post. The rules on "standing" to file a complaint are a little sketchy when it comes to *institutional* complainants (i.e. there were many occasions when Housing or DPS would file a complaint that perhaps *could* have been filed by a wronged individual but was *also* a transgression against general Housing/University policies). But in a case like this, the complainant would almost certainly be the sexual assault survivor herself. No need to worry about some random student/professor/staff member reading these allegations on MGoBlog and taking it on himself to file and pursue the complaint with OSCR. Sorry again for the lack of clarity on that topic in the initial post, was trying to fit a lot of information in and missed that fairly major point.