At far too many colleges today (as has been discussed here, here, and here), due process does not exist. By its very nature, the presence of due process within disciplinary proceedings is moral. A legal term used to encapsulate a set of safeguards for individuals involved in settling a dispute, due process simply means receiving fair treatment in legal proceedings. For due process to exist, procedures must include the two essential components detailed below.
The first component is the use of non-arbitrary procedures in adjudicating disputes. The employment of non-arbitrary procedures is predicated upon the idea that everyone accused of being in violation of Code A is subjected to Disciplinary Procedure A. When Jen and Tom are both accused of doing the same wrongdoing, there is no reason either one of them should be subjected to a different means of adjudicating their alleged misconduct. If a college uses a harsher set of procedures with Jen and a more lenient set of procedures with Tom, even though they are alleged to have committed the same violation, then everyone is subjected to the personal whims of their administration rather than established guidelines.
The second component is the use of an impartial judging committee. Let us once again evaluate what the alternative means of settling a dispute would look like. If a judging committee uses bias in their judging, rather than fair-mindedness, then the entire purpose of attempting to settle disputes will become distorted; the sole motivation for a college to conduct disciplinary procedures is to evaluate the validity of allegations of misconduct based upon available evidence. All college disciplinary procedures are designed to serve as fact-finding missions that, upon determination of such facts, merit resolutions of either varying degrees of punishment or acquittal. When these determinations are predicated upon the personal prejudices of those conducting the procedures, facts become meaningless and resolutions do not match the reality of the disputed conduct. If a student is wrongfully punished or incorrectly acquitted simply as a result of the biases held by those resolving the dispute, then the college involved in handling that case is abusing its power to a very high extent.
This case for due process does not constitute an exhaustive list of the procedural safeguards that ought to be granted to students who face serious disciplinary charges. The discussed procedures merely highlight two vital components of any fair disciplinary system. It is important to remember that due process is versatile, and it applies to varying levels of misconduct in accordingly different ways. Nevertheless, the only way by which a college can properly settle any allegations of wrongdoing is to employ the use of accurate, equitable, fact-finding investigations; when settling severe allegations, such investigations are simply not possible without the components described above.