A court's review of a college's or university's disciplinary action against a student limited to whether it complied with its own rules in the process

A court's review of a college's or university's disciplinary action against a student limited to whether it complied with its own rules in the process Matter of Hyman v Cornell Univ., 2011 NY Slip Op 01548, Appellate Division, Third Department A Cornell faculty member alleged that a graduate student exchanged a series of e-mails. The faculty member told the student she should not contact him after the student suggested that they have a sexual affair. When the student continued to send the faculty member e-mails, he told her that he that he would take formal action against petitioner if she persisted in communicating with him. Although the student agreed to discontinue communication, she subsequently e-mailed Cornell's president, copying the faculty member, alleging that her "institutional rights" had been repeatedly violated by Department faculty. The faculty member instituted proceedings against the graduate student and ultimately filed a complaint accusing her of harassment in violation of Cornell's Code of Conduct.* The graduate student than filed a complaint against the faculty member, accusing him of sexual harassment and retaliation. Ultimately the Cornell's Hearing Board sent the student a written reprimand and issued a "no-contact order." The student sued, but Supreme Court dismissed her Article 78 petition. Subsequently the Appellate Division dismissed the student's appeal of the Supreme Court's ruling, stating that: It is well settled that in reviewing a college's or university's disciplinary determinations, "court[s] must determine 'whether the university substantially adhered to its own published rules and guidelines for disciplinary proceedings," citing Matter of Warner v Elmira Coll., 59 AD3d 909. The court explained that only in the event the college or university "has not substantially complied with its own guidelines or its determination is not rationally based upon the evidence, the determination will be annulled as arbitrary and capricious." * Cornell's Code of Conduct makes it a violation "[t]o intentionally harass another person by . . . acting toward that person in a manner [that] is . . . severely annoying . . . and beyond the scope of free speech." The decision is posted on the Internet at: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_01548.htm .

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