UAlbany students to face student conduct hearing on Wednesday

Three UAlbany students, facing assault charges after an incident on a CDTA bus, are scheduled to have a student conduct hearing Wednesday. The charges came after the women initially said they were victims in a racially motivated attack.

The student conduct hearing is to decide if the student code of conduct was violated and if there should be any discipline. But one of the women's attorneys says that process isn't just.

In a statement released Tuesday, Asha Burwell's attorney Fredrick Brewington said, "It appears that the University at Albany must now be called the University of Injustice." He said it's unfair for the University Student Conduct proceedings to play out before the criminal cases do, putting the women in a situation where they would have to talk about an incident they're facing charges for.

"The concern is very understandable that you're exposing your client to perhaps having to testify to defend himself or herself before having all the information," said Paul DerOhannesian, a local attorney who isn't part of these cases, but has represented students during university hearings before.

DerOhannesian said that information developed at an administrative hearing can be used by either side in criminal court and the hearings play out before, or during, criminal proceedings all the time.

"That happens all the time, not just in university settings but sometimes employees are put up on disciplinary hearings who are also subjected to criminal charges," said DerOhannesian.

UAlbany told CBS6 News that it can't talk about specific student conduct cases, because of federal privacy laws. UAlbany did send general information about the Student Conduct process which said the University process is independent of the criminal justice one, and doesn't have to wait.

Brewington laid out an argument in his release that the two proceedings are linked because University police were part of the criminal investigation and will be part of the student conduct proceedings. Burwell's attorney also told CBS6 News that the University's notice about witnesses only includes university employees, no one who was on that CDTA bus.

DerOhannesian said administrative hearings have a different process than criminal court.

"It's not shocking that in a university proceeding, that doesn't need necessarily direct evidence, that they would use the police officers. This type of process takes place all the time against other students, not just at State University but at other schools also," he said.

CBS6 News called the attorney that represents another student, but we haven't heard back yet. It's unclear if the other women will be at their hearings.

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