Sandra Vasquez, Pitzer College's new Dean of Students, was cited in a court order for concealing evidence in a Title IX investigation during her tenure at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Vasquez, who holds a doctorate in education, was one of several UCSB officials cited for concealing two key pieces of evidencefrom a student who was under investigation for allegedly hitting his ex-girlfriend. The evidence turned out to be completely fabricated, but not before the accused student was punished with a suspension.
The Claremont Independent reports more:
According to the complaint, to which the Independent has obtained access, during a September 2016 hearing with the student, Vasquez concealed two pieces of material evidence that she and the college were considering in the course of their investigation, despite assuring the student that she had disclosed to him all of the information upon which she and the college would rely in determining whether to lift his suspension.
In relying upon this unmentioned evidence—which, upon revelation, proved to be uncorroborated and allegedly completely fabricated—to sustain the student’s suspension, Vasquez and other college officials willfully denied the student the opportunity to respond to all the evidence against him.
In fact, the student would not learn about all of this purported evidence until March 2017—months after Vasquez and the college had decided to maintain his suspension indefinitely.
On March 21, Judge Thomas Anderle of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara, enjoined various UCSB officials. In his ruling, he chastised Vasquez and her colleagues for violating the student's due process rights and ordered the university to lift the suspension against him.
Judge Anderle said the following:
Moreover, this Court disagrees with UCSB's claim that the University's use of the detective's summaries in issuing the interim suspension does not violate his due process rights. First of all, the arugment that due process does not require production of all evidence at the interim suspension stage is irreconcilable with the nature and seriousness of the entire process at hand. The claim the Petitioner was provided the opportunity to review the documents in un-redacted form upon confirmation of the finality of the criminal proceedings, but Petitioner never provided such confirmation to the University is irrelevant at this juncture. Indeed, the suggestion is unreasonable in its context. John Doe is entitled to know all the information against him at the hearing; not via emailing his counsel allegedly critical and decisive information at a later time. The fact is, that it is patently obvious to this Court, Petitioner was seriously prejudiced by the use of these summaries.
Similarly, this Court does not find the offer to let the Court review documents in camera persuasive. The Court does not embrace the idea that documents slid under Chambers door is ever useful. The backbone of our legal system requires all evidence to be presented in the Courtroom where it can be tested; it can be questioned; evidence acquired otherwise is an abrogation of our legal system. The bottom line is, use it or lost it.
This Court concludes that the University is intentionally doing indirectly what it is unwilling to do directly. The University has made a decision to deny John Doe the opportunity to enroll in the any of the first three quearters of his freshman year. But instead of making that decision based upon facts, the law, and in fairness, it has decided to do it their own way.
After The Claremont Independent broke this story, Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Carlisle sent an email to the Pitzer student community defending Vasquez. He referred to the reporting as "reckless and inaccurate" even though their reporting was based on the publicly available court order.
Dear Pitzer Community,
Recently, you may have noticed an article published in the Claremont Independent, alleging that Pitzer’s new Dean of Students, Dr. Sandra Vasquez, concealed evidence as part of a Title IX investigation while she was employed at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The article attempts to paint Dr. Vasquez as an untrustworthy leader, bent on undermining students’ rights. During the College’s national search for a new Dean of Students, the College engaged in a thorough vetting process of Dr. Vasquez. After an internal review of this issue, the College believes that the Claremont Independent, misinterpreted and misrepresented the facts in its August 28, 2017 article.
Below is a statement from Dr. Vasquez regarding the August 28, 2017 Claremont Independent article:
“During my tenure at UC Santa Barbara, I performed my duties as the Director of Judicial Affairs in compliance with federal and state law, and university policy. I also performed my duties with integrity and the utmost respect for fairness and process. The article in the Claremont Independent does not accurately describe the case at UCSB, nor does it accurately describe my involvement. Suffice it to say that I have never concealed material evidence in any case, nor would I do anything that flies in the face of the professional and personal ethics that define me. I have dedicated my career to advancing the access, retention and success of all students. I have advocated and worked diligently to develop student conduct policies and procedures that ensure fair and equitable processes for all parties involved, and I look forward to continuing this important work at Pitzer College.” – Dr. Sandra Vasquez
We are disappointed by Claremont Independent’s reckless and inaccurate reporting without contemplating the potential ramifications to Dr. Vasquez’s professional reputation. Dr. Vasquez is a nationally regarded Student Affairs professional, and in a very short period of time, has already shown her commitment to Pitzer students. She has my full support, and we are delighted to have her as part of the Student Affairs leadership team.
Despite Carlisle's impassioned defense of his colleague, The Claremont Independent confirmed that both Vasquez and her colleagues are now under investigation by the Department of Education for not only violating Title IX but also Title VI, in light of this case.
The Department of Education states that Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin while Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
This story demonstrates one of the fundamental reasons why Betsy DeVos is correct in seeking to overhaul the Obama Administration's 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter. The letter forced colleges and universities to set up kangaroo courts to investigate instances of sexual assault, rape, and other criminal acts under a preponderance of the evidence standard and often times at the expense of due process rights against the accused.
This case originating from the University of California, Santa Barbara is quintessential proof that the Obama-era edicts giving college campuses jurisidiction over serious criminal matters is a horrendous strategy. Individuals like Vasquez are woefully unqualified to handle fundamentally legal issues, especially in the realm of evidence, and these matters should be given to law enforcement.