University officials declined to use their legal power to inform students about Atilla Cosby’s Student Judicial Services hearing, his status as a student and his eligibility to live in GW residence halls.
The 1998 Higher Education Amendments allow universities to disclose the results of disciplinary hearings of students who allegedly committed a violent crime.
The University will review new guidelines for the 1998 law to decide whether or not to change its blanket policy of not disclosing an personally identifying information of students involved with SJS hearings. The guidelines were released July 6 and become effective August 7.
Cosby was charged with first degree sex assault after a 46-year-old woman alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her in his Guthridge Hall room May 15. At a preliminary hearing Friday, a D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Cosby, determining that the prosecution failed to show probable cause that Cosby was guilty.
We do what we always do . we’re not releasing any personally identifying information, Dean of Students Linda Donnels said when asked about the status Cosby’s status as a student.
Students said they disagree with the University’s decision not to inform them about Cosby’s status as a student.
That’s definitely our right to know, said junior Jennifer Langlois, a Guthridge Hall resident. That’s just a case of personal safety. I think (the University) should definitely release whether (Cosby) is still here or not . I really would like to know.
SJS hearings normally conclude within 10 days of a charge, said David Pine, manager of SJS. Pine would not comment on the status of Cosby’s case.
Geneva Couser, mother of Cosby’s girlfriend, said Cosby was suspended after the May 15 incident and moved to her Maryland home. Cosby’s eligibility to live in GW’s residence halls will be determined in meetings this week, Couser said. She said Cosby would not comment on the matter
Robert Chernak, vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said head basketball coach Tom Penders would decide whether or not to allow Cosby back on the team by December. He would not comment of Cosby’s status as a student or his eligibility to live in residence hall rooms.
Donnels said she has not consulted General Council about GW’s right to disclose personal information under the 1998 amendments, but plans to in the near future.
Pine said students who know the Student Code of Conduct should feel safe that the University does everything in its power to protect them. The Student Code of Conduct, which was last revised October 1996, does not include exceptions for disclosing information about alleged perpetrators of violet crimes.
The July 6 guidelines also cover the section of the 1998 law that allows universities to contact parents of under-21 students when their child is involved in an alcohol-related incident.
Donnels said the University has already adopted a policy that parents will only be contacted in serious incidents, but no policy has been set for disclosing information concerning alleged perpetrators of violent crimes.
Now that the July 6 rules are available, Vice President and General Counsel Dennis Blumer said he will meet with Pine and other University officials to decide whether or not the University will use the privileges afforded to them in the 1998 amendments.
We have not yet chosen to do what the law permits, Blumer said.
Rich Murphy contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the July 10, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.