A student suspended from MSU in summer 2016 is suing the university for $225,000 as a result of what he claims was a “misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his statements.”
According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit:
“John Doe,” a pseudonym for the plaintiff, was enrolled in Contemporary Issues in Human Sexuality during the summer 2016 term. During a discussion on transgender issues, a topic to which Doe objects, Doe abstained from speaking in front of the group and writing the paper at the end of class in order to not offend a fellow student. “Jane Roe,” a pseudonym for a woman in the class, had previously informed the group that she was transgender, and Doe did not want to upset her with his self-described unpopular belief.
After class, Doe went to the office of his instructor, Katherine Kujawa of the Psychology Department, to ask for half credit on the assignment. Kujawa asked Doe what he would do to Roe if she approached him outside of class, and, according to Kujawa, Doe stated he would ask her to leave him alone and if she persisted, he would “break her face.”
Kujawa asked Roe not to sit by Doe the next class meeting and later told her that Doe had made threats against her. When asked by Kujawa if she would like to file a report with the Title IX coordinator. Roe flashed a pocket knife and said she knew what to do. Roe soon filed a Title IX complaint.
On May 26, Doe was ordered to report to the MSU Dean of Students and was banned from campus during the investigation. Upon an investigation by the Title IX office, Doe was found to have violated MSU policy, having harassed Roe by creating a hostile environment.
Doe held a formal appeal with MSU President Waded Cruzado to contest his suspension. After the university affirmed the Title IX investigation findings, Doe was formally sanctioned, and was barred from campus. Doe then appealed to the Montana Board of Regents in December and they also upheld MSU’s ruling. Doe is now moving to the Federal Court to continue his appeals.
Doe is suing the university with claims that his recent suspension was a violation of
his U.S. constitutional rights to free speech, that MSU declined to observe proper due process and equal protection and that he was discriminated against on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX federal law.
More information can be found on KBZK New’s website at kbzk.com, and on The Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s website at bozemandailychronicle.com.