Saifullah Khan ’19 — the Yale student acquitted on four counts of sexual assault last March — was suspended from Yale on Sunday, three days after the News reported on new allegations of assault leveled against Khan.
On Wednesday, Khan filed a suit against Yale in New Haven Superior Court contesting the emergency suspension, which was imposed by Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun. According to court documents, Chun ordered the suspension in response to allegations that Khan had acted violently towards Jon Andrews, a former associate of Khan’s who accused Khan of sexually assaulting him earlier this year during an alcohol-fueled threesome in Washington, D.C., and physically attacking him on two other separate occasions.
Under the emergency suspension, Khan has been barred from campus and prohibited from attending any of his classes.
“While I am happy that Yale is taking concrete steps to protect their students from Saif, I stand by my belief that he should be afforded a fair process,” Andrews told the News on Wednesday. “And I’m confident that any investigation Yale conducts will uncover the truth.”
According to the University website, reasons for why an administrator may call for an emergency suspension are broad. The University President Peter Salovey, or another administrator authorized by the president, may impose an emergency suspension when the safety and well-being of members of the Yale community are at risk. In 2015, just a few days prior to Khan’s arrest for allegedly assaulting a fellow Yale student — for which Khan was acquitted last March — the University issued Khan an emergency suspension. He was only allowed to resume classes once the suspension was lifted last August.
Chun, Khan and his attorney Norm Pattis did not respond to requests for comment.
In Chun’s letter to Khan informing him of the suspension — which is included in court documents filed by Khan’s lawyer — Chun wrote that “I am taking this action based on allegations that you engaged in violent behavior toward Jon Andrews and another person” and noted that the suspension will remain in effect pending investigation of the allegations. In the letter, Chun added that the suspension “appears necessary for [Khan’s] physical and emotional safety and well-being and/or the safety and well-being of the university community.”
As per court documents, Khan is seeking “injunctive relief” from the University’s decision to suspend him from campus. He and his lawyer have requested that the court permit Khan to attend classes and require that a University-funded bodyguard protect him from fellow students and faculty. In addition, Khan asked for a court order directing Chun to “require agents, servants and employees to cease and desist from harassing [Khan] on account of the highly dubious claims of a disappointed lover in the campus newspaper,” the court document said.
After the News reported the allegations, members of the Yale Police Department visited Khan on Friday to determine “whether the reporting had so distressed [Khan] that he needed or required physical help of any kind,” according to the court documents. Later in the evening, Trumbull Head of College Margaret Clark urged him to “get adequate sleep, eat well and get some exercise,” the court documents said.
On Sunday morning, Khan was asked to meet with members of the administration. According to the court documents, Khan declined to do so, and he was hand-delivered a letter informing him that he was suspended effectively immediately due to an “emergency.” The court documents also said that Khan will lose his health coverage effective Nov. 1. In Chun’s letter to Khan, he wrote that Khan — who has been living off-campus — could maintain his full room and board stipend for the semester to provide him with interim financial support.
In his complaint to the New Haven Superior Court, Khan argued that there was nothing in the News article to suggest that “Andrews ever set foot on the Yale campus or that he had any affiliation whatsoever with Yale.” The University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, the body that adjudicates Title IX complaints, cannot issue judgments on cases outside Yale’s campus or Yale-sponsored events unless the accuser is a current or former member of the Yale community. Khan’s civil complaint also said “there is no credible evidence that permitting Mr. Khan to attend classes poses a threat of harm to himself or anyone affiliated with Yale.”
Earlier this week, in interviews with the News, students voiced their concerns about Khan remaining on campus following the new allegations of sexual misconduct. But Wednesday, three students praised the University’s decision to suspend Khan.
“I’m glad that the administration is taking precaution and taking care of students’ safety first,” Yale College Council’s student life director Grace Kang ’21 said in a statement to the News. “Quite frankly, I think this is the administration’s way of saying we hear you, and we understand you. And maybe that’s what we really need as a campus right now.”
Former Community Health Educator Meghanlata Gupta ’21 agreed. She said that Khan’s suspension shows that the University is supporting survivors and holding their accusers accountable.
Still, Gupta added that the administration has a lot of work to do to foster a healthier campus sexual climate. For example, the University should “create more supportive and healthy spaces for survivors to share their experiences, commit more strongly to holding abusers accountable and recognize the need for gender-neutral conversations about campus consent culture,” Gupta said.
Valentina Connell ’20, who helped organize the Solidarity with Survivors rally in September, said that while she was relieved that Khan is removed from campus, she is “still anxiously awaiting” the outcome of the University’s investigation. Still, there are many other perpetrators of sexual misconduct on campus, Connell said, adding that the University does not hold them accountable with similar severity.
Khan’s hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.
Serena Cho | email@example.com