WMU-Cooley Law School Black Law Students Association Holds Discussion on Sexual Misconduct
On Thursday, November 17, 2016, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) from WMU-Cooley Law School’s Tampa Bay campus presented the panel discussion, “Staying Safe by Avoiding Title IX Sexual Misconduct on a College Campus” to students at Jefferson High School Law and Criminal Justice Leadership Academy.
WMU-Cooley Professor Renalia DuBose, began the event by describing numerous high-profile sexual assault cases on college campuses throughout the U.S., including the prison sentences presently being served by students involved. Elina Bivins, equity manager and Title IX coordinator, Hillsborough Community College, presented the actions taken by higher education institutions when sexual harassment or assault allegations are submitted to college officials. She included the long-term effects on the academic careers of students who are involved in sexual misconduct.
Lieutenant Ruth Cate, Tampa Police Department, spoke to students about the role of law enforcement and how investigations on college campuses can lead to various sexual misconducted charges. She described investigation processes, such as questioning witnesses and participants and the importance of DNA testing when a sexual assault is alleged. Theda James, Esq., senior legal counsel, Office of the Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, warned students about the consequences of engaging in sexual misconduct and in encouraging or planning the sexual misconduct of others. Catisha Smith, division chief, Office of the Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, described the difficulty involved of defending a college student on trial for sexual misconduct, who could have had a promising college career.
The panelists warned students about the role of excessive drinking, which is typically involved in college sexual misconduct cases, especially among under-aged students who consume alcohol. The panel fielded written, anonymous questions from the audience for over an hour regarding various topics associated with sexual misconduct including, sexting, statutory rape, loss of civil rights among convicted felons, and inequities in sentencing of guilty parties.
Cordel Batchelor, associate attorney, Office of the Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit, who was in attendance, stated, “The information presented today is extremely relevant to the future success of high school students as they transition to college.” Michael Dexter, director, Jefferson High School Law and Criminal Justice Leadership Academy added, “This program was outstanding. In the future, we must have all seniors and juniors attend this presentation.”
About Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School: Western Michigan University and Thomas M. Cooley Law School affiliated in 2014, combining the status of a nationally-ranked, public, comprehensive research university with the commitment to practical legal education of an independent, non-profit, national law school. WMU-Cooley is accredited by both the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. The law school has provided nearly 20,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world, and enrolls classes in January, May, and September at its Lansing, Auburn Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan campuses, and its Tampa Bay, Florida campus. WMU and the law school continue to operate as independent institutions with their own governance structure and separate fiduciary responsibilities.