A Wharton student filed suit against the University yesterday alleging that the Judicial Inquiry Office "loaded" his hearing panel against him when he was found guilty of cheating in 1989. Mark Wallace, who filed the suit in federal court, is seeking over $50,000 in punitive and compensatory damages. He was suspended for one semester in the spring of 1991 after more than a year of hearings. In the suit, Wallace alleges the JIO "handpicked a loaded panel in number and composition" to hear the case against him. He said in the complaint he took a Statistics 101 exam for Statistics Professor Edward Lusk in November 1989. During the test, students were "permitted to consult, share and pass notes, notebooks and texts," the suit claims. Lusk said yesterday the exam is optional for his students, but that it had to be completed independently. "Yes, the course is open book and open note," Lusk said yesterday. "But consultation with other students is absurd and the passing of notes was never approved." Wallace and three other students were accused of cheating by a classmate, who is referred to in the suit only as "Christine." The four students were the only black students in the class, according to the complaint. Wallace does not, however, accuse Lusk or the University of racial discrimination. According to Wallace's complaint, formal JIO complaints were brought only against the two male students and Lusk decided to "ignore" the accusations against the two females. Lusk said he looked at the exams of the two male students and that they had "similar answers," but after reviewing the exams of the female students he did not find evidence of cheating. "I also had the Statistics Department chair independently check it and he came to the same conclusion," Lusk said. The complaint said the University Hearing Board found Wallace guilty of cheating and recommended suspension for a semester and notation on his transcript. The suspension was imposed by the University Executive Committee," the complaint said. Wallace said the University "loaded" the hearing panel against him by failing to have three undergraduate members and an undergraduate chairperson. But according to the charter of the University's judicial system, only one undergraduate is supposed to sit on the panel. Wallace is asking for "out-of-pocket" losses including rent, loss of financial aid and extra class credits for a total of $10,870. Wallace charged that the University chose to "abandon" its own policies and therefore did not give him "due process." Associate General Counsel Neil Hamburg declined yesterday to comment on the case but said precedent shows that universities have leeway in this area. Hamburg said a recent precedent is from the University's case with the Psi Upsilon fraternity. "The Psi Upsilon case is the case law for what constitutes a fair hearing," Hamburg said yesterday. "The case law requires that a person be given notice and an opportunity to give their point of view." Former Judicial Inquiry Officer Constance Goodman declined to comment on the matter.Comments powered by Disqus
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