March Madness has arrived, and what should have been a Cinderella story for Yale’s men’s basketball team has instead been dismantled by a different, grim fairy tale. Several weeks prior to the March tournament, the senior captain of the team, Jack Montague, was expelled from the university after a Yale disciplinary panel found him guilty of having non-consensual sex with a female student.

While many of the case’s facts are unknown, Yale University’s tyrannical disciplinary procedures, however, are very well known.  Based on the facts of the case that are publicly available, nobody should feel comfortable with Yale’s handling of this event.

The undisputed facts of the case consists of the following: Jack and a female student slept together four times in the fall of 2014.  The female claims that the fourth occasion was not consensual; yet, after having this alleged non-consensual sex, she revisited Jack that same night and spent the evening with him.  A year after this incident occurred, she reported her story of the events to one of Yale’s Title IX coordinators, and the university–not the female student–filed a formal complaint against Jack.

When complaints are filed, Yale claims to offer its students a fair process of adjudication. A glance at Yale’s sexual misconduct adjudication procedures, however, would reveal that fairness is exactly what these procedures lack. Yale students brought before this board lack several basic rights, including:

  • The right to meaningful legal representation,
  • The right to properly cross examine the accuser,
  • The right to an impartial panel,
  • The right to a proper burden of proof, and
  • The right to see the full evidence used against them.

If equivalent charges had been brought against Jack in a criminal court, then all of these rights would have been granted to him.

Whether Jack actually committed the violations Yale has found him guilty of is still unknown.  However, this incident sheds light on a much greater issue: due process is not mere legal jargon, but a set of fair procedures that embody moral principles of how we can and cannot treat each other.  The fact that this is the senior captain of the basketball team, someone who has led the team to its most successful season within the past half-century, is even more telling.

If even Jack has been deprived of due process when faced with questionable allegations, then nobody at Yale should feel safe about being faced with such charges.