Panel: Colleges and Courts: Examining Student and Institutional Responses to Criminal Policy in Higher Education

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Soldier Field (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Christopher J. Ryan, Vanderbilt University
Panel Chairs:  Adam Ross Nelson, University of Wisconsin
Discussants:  Matthew P. Shaw, Vanderbilt University; American Bar Foundation

BYOA: An Econometric Analysis of Right to Counsel Legislation in North Carolina
Christopher J. Ryan, Vanderbilt University; American Bar Foundation and Adam Ross Nelson, University of Wisconsin

Higher education institutions interact with an array of federal and state policy aimed at reducing criminal behavior on university campuses, while being tasked with ensuring rights for the accused violators of these policies. The responses of universities and their students to these policies carry real and often permanent consequences. This panel investigates the effect of federal and state policies related to criminal behavior and adjudication through the responses of universities, their officials, and students themselves.

The first paper examines sexual assault through a lens of representative bureaucracy using data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and official documents of investigations by the Department of Education for violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This paper employs a content analysis to examine whether the gender composition of a university influences the likelihood and number of external investigations of sexual assault crimes and estimates the likelihood of investigation using a fixed effects logistic regression. Early findings from this paper suggest that higher proportions of women in senior faculty and administrative posts decrease the likelihood of external investigations. These findings suggest that bureaucratic representation influences policies, programs and procedures that disproportionately affect a subgroup of these organizations.

The second paper performs the first-ever analysis of the effect of right-to-counsel legislation at universities in North Carolina on the number of disciplinary referrals for alleged conduct violations, including drug violations. Leveraging IPEDS and Clery Act data, this paper uses a difference-in-differences approach, comparing North Carolina’s higher education system to like systems that have not adopted right-to-counsel legislation, and verifies results with a synthetic control analysis. Preliminary results indicate statistically significant decreases in the number of drug referrals after the passage of right-to-counsel legislation. Drawing from the behavioral economics literature, the authors posit that university officials responsible for adjudicating student policy violations (whom are often not attorneys) may be reluctant to pursue adjudication drug-related cases because of the perception that attorney involvement produces an adversarial process and increases adjudication costs.

The third paper explores whether the disproportioColleges and Courts: Examining Student and Institutional Responses to Criminal Policy in Higher Educationnate increase in incarceration of Black males for marijuana possession and distribution increased gaps in college enrollment rates after the passage of the Anti-Drug Act of 1986. This paper also employs a differences-in-difference-in-differences analysis, exploiting both the federal law introduction and variation in state laws regarding penalties. This paper uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) data and a state level dataset that specifies state penalties in months for first possession or distribution of marijuana, the range of amount in grams that pertain to the stated penalties and monetary fines for these infractions. The author’s early findings suggest a decrease in the probability of college enrollment of Black males after the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The results have implications for understanding educational gaps by race and gender as the country looks to increase access to and retention in higher education and reform the criminal justice system.

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