May no victim have to answer to their assailant

As proposed [1] for the University of Michigan Faculty Senate and Senate Assembly on November 18, 2019 and ultimately Resolved by the Senate Assembly, CCRL’s resolution to revise the Sexual Misconduct Umbrella Policy (in addition to the many many efforts of many many people) at first glances appears to have been adopted by The Powers The Be. Outlined in the recently published, and effective August 14, 2020, “Ann Arbor Interim Student Procedures” from the Sexual Misconduct Umbrella Policy, procedures have been put in place to protect victims of sexual and gender-based misconduct from further harm and harassment as might be caused by cross-examination by an (alleged) assailant. 
 
Specifically, the recommendations to “[a]dopt a policy that includes cross-examination by a representative” and to “[c]reate a forum where cross-examination of the Respondent and the Complainant may be conducted by a representative trained in the appropriate scope and manner of cross-examination” can be seen plainly in § VII (A)(8) [2].
 
 
While commendable, what is not immediately clear from the Policy is how a scenario would be resolved in which a Respondent has an advisor but does not wish to use them to cross-examine a Complainant. The above cited § VII (A)(8) suggests the University is amenable to providing advisors – “the University will select an advisor to ask questions on behalf of that party” – but lists only a situation in which “a party does not have an advisor available at the hearing”. Elsewhere [3] [4], the Policy recognizes situations in which “a party or witness […] participates in the hearing but refuses to answer questions posed by the other party through their advisor”, but does specify whether a Respondent would be required to use an advisor (either of their own choosing or of the University’s selection) to question a particular party or witness participating in a hearing.
 
We ought to recognize the fear of having to confront, and discuss in detail, a sexual and/or gender-based misconduct with the very individual accused of having committed the misconduct may well lead victims not to report cases at all. The more we can do to alleviate that particular burden, the better.
 
I urge the University to continue to commit to eliminating, preventing, and addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct, to foster an environment where all are informed and supported well, and to provide a process with fairness for all. Including one in which a Respondent would be clearly and unambiguously prevented from directly questioning a Complainant. [5] Through an advisor, through a hearing officer, written on a piece of paper, typed out on a computer screen, anything, anything but directly from a Respondent to a Complainant.
 
We cannot require a victim to answer to their assailant.

  1. Curiously, the text of this resolution, originally kept at https://facultysenate.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2019/11/A-resolution-to-revise-the-Umbrella-Policy-19.10.30_PDF.pdf, seems to have disappeared entirely from the Faculty Senate website, though the “Action of the Senate Assembly” is still recorded: “Passed with 2 abstentions.”
  2. I believe the authors intend to cite § VII (D)(5) at the end of the paragraph, since what is claimed to be “described in Section VII (A)(8)” is, itself, described in § VII (A)(8). [6]
  3. § VII (A)(7)
  4. § VII (D)(5)
  5. I acknowledge there could be a situation in which a particular Complainant feels comfortable with cross-examination by a particular Respondent; however, I believe such a case should be treated as the exception, rather than as the rule, which the Policy currently leaves unclear. 
  6. Another minor typographical error occurs in § VII (B)(5): the text switches from Times New Roman to Arial where it appears the phrase “procedural irregularity that materially affected the dismissal determination” was inserted.