Criminal proceedings can take a long time to work their way through the system. But if someone has been indicted or convicted, that's public information -- and members of public can decide whether and how to interact with someone accused or found guilty.
Contrast that to disciplinary proceedings for faculty members on college and university campuses, which usually happen in secrecy and the outcomes of which often remain private.
Employers have vested interests -- legal, ethical and reputational -- in keeping misconduct investigations confidential. Institutions don't want to publicly condemn a professor before a finding is reached for fear of being sued, for example. And there is still a presumption of innocence, at least in certain stages of the process.
But students increasingly find confidentiality surrounding investigations into sexual harassment allegations, in particular, irksome and even dangerous. Because campus queries into such claims can take a long time, some students say they shouldn't unknowingly be forced to work with a professor already accused of harassment.
The latest incident is at the University of California, Berkeley, where several dozen graduate students marched this week to protest the institution's handling of a sexual harassment investigation involving a prominent faculty member.
Namely, the students -- some of whom worked closely with the professor -- said they wish they'd known earlier about the charges against him and of the university's findings in the case. Protesters blocked access to the professor's department and some carried signs saying, "We Deserve Safe Classrooms" and "Protect Students, Not Tenure."
The faculty member in question is Nezar AlSayyad, a professor of architecture, planning and urban design. A five-month investigation by Berkeley found that he spent months becoming close to, or "grooming," a graduate student before placing his hand on her upper thigh and proposing that they travel together to Las Vegas.
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