Expulsion appeal results uncertain

Mike Wereschagin

After a tense, two-hour appeal hearing, David Molohon emerged from a Morrill Hall conference room still unsure if he has a future at the University.
If his appeal is not successful, Molohon contends he will have been expelled from the University without ever giving his side of the story.
Molohon, a second-year occupational therapy student, was expelled from the Program in Occupational Therapy last December for academic fraud. Since then, he has been attending classes pending Thursday’s appeal to the President’s Student Behavior Review Panel to overturn the expulsion.
Molohon and four other students submitted a paper that was missing 12 citations. But since the attribution problems occurred only in Molohon’s section of the paper, he was the only student charged.
The four members of the panel, the University’s highest appellate court, were still in deliberation late Thursday evening.
If the panel finds in his favor, Molohon will present his full case directly to the panel.
Before that happens, however, University President Mark Yudof will have to review Thursday’s appeal and make the final decision. His decision is expected today.
Faculty members could not be reached following the meeting. Earlier, they had declined comment on the basis of student-professor confidentiality laws.
Molohon and Rufaro Katedza, Molohon’s student advocate, are appealing the expulsion because they say the procedure did not allow Molohon to present evidence or witnesses on his behalf.
Molohon contends he and Katedza were repeatedly told by program director Judith Reisman that the initial hearing before the Student Progress Committee was only a meeting. The committee is the disciplinary body of the Department of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation.
Because he was led to believe it was only a meeting — not an official hearing — to discuss the citation problems, Molohon did not prepare evidence or arguments in his defense.
Also, Katedza did not attend the meeting on his behalf because she and Molohon felt it would be unnecessary.
Katedza and Molohon further allege that Reisman went so far as to bar witnesses from testifying in Molohon’s favor.
Molohon said faculty members were “backpedaling” throughout the hearing. In one instance, Reisman told the panel she never kept witnesses from appearing for Molohon, he said.
“That was a blatant lie,” said Molohon after the hearing.
“We’re appealing the process because it has been completely unfair,” Katedza said. “They still contend (the progress committee hearing) was just a meeting.”
Molohon’s expulsion is the end result of two solid years of what he calls “differential treatment,” including alleged incidents of harassment and threats he experienced daily.
And he is not alone in his accusations. Several of Molohon’s classmates have corroborated his accusations and come forward with stories of their own.
The students say the harassment has been so pronounced they have agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from faculty members.

Mike Wereschagin welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3226.