Yale Daily News

A Yale student suspended from Yale for sexual assault in March attended commencement ceremonies and received his diploma along with other members of the class of 2019, the News has confirmed.

Following his suspension after the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct determined that he engaged in “non-consensual unprotected sexual intercourse,” the senior — who is referred to in court documents as John Doe — filed a suit against the University on April 25 for discriminating against him on the basis of gender. The News has identified the plaintiff based on publicly available information but has decided not to name the student given that he is not a public figure on campus.

Doe has yet to reach a settlement with the University according to publicly available legal documents associated with the lawsuit.

Doe’s name appeared among the candidates eligible to receive a Bachelor’s of Science degree in the printed program distributed at University Commencement on Monday. His name was also listed as part of the class of 2019 in the brochure distributed at a diploma ceremony in Morse College later that afternoon. A public post to his Facebook profile on May 21 pictured Doe wearing a cap and gown and posing with his diploma. Doe was also spotted in a graduation gown outside of Woolsey Hall following the Saturday afternoon baccalaureate ceremony for Saybrook, Timothy Dwight, Pauli Murray, Pierson and Morse Colleges.

Doe’s graduation, which comes weeks after the University filed a court memorandum arguing that Doe cannot fulfill all the requirements in order to graduate, raises questions about why Doe received a diploma after getting suspended and failing to complete class assignments and exams on time as a result.

“The plaintiff is enrolled in five courses during the current semester, and he needs the credits from all of them in order to fulfill the requirements for graduation,” the memorandum stated. “As will be discussed below, he has already missed the deadlines for completing assignments in several of his courses. In one course he has missed 65 percent of the course requirements. … Furthermore, the plaintiff’s suggestion that he can complete all of the outstanding assignments after having missed 40 percent of the class sessions would suggest that the class sessions are superfluous to the educational process.”

Yale’s Vice President for Communications Nate Nickerson declined to comment for the story and said he “simply cannot comment on UWC cases, because Yale is committed to protecting the privacy of all involved in these matters.”

Doe did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“While I can understand your confusion, I can’t comment on that,” Doe’s lawyer Jorge Hernandez told the News.

Yale College Dean Marvin Chun also declined to comment on the case. When asked about the criteria for being listed as a “candidate for a degree” and whether all graduation requirements must be fulfilled at the time of listing, Chun directed the News to the Yale College Programs of Study for 2018-19. The website includes no information about the criteria the University used to select candidates for the Yale College degrees listed in the Commencement Program. Several other students who participated in the commencement ceremonies without fulfilling their graduation requirements were not listed as candidates and did not receive a diploma last month. In interviews with the News, those students said they will be returning to campus next fall to complete their 36-credit requirement and officially graduate from the University.

In his Facebook post on May 21, Doe recounted his childhood and said he never believed that he would one day graduate from the University. He described the hardships he has faced due to his background, thanked family and friends for their support, and expressed his gratitude to Yale for “giving [him] a chance.”

In April, Doe filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and an injunction and requested that the court immediately prevent Yale from enforcing the suspension to allow him to submit his final assignments and graduate with his peers in May. But after University filed it memorandum defending Doe’s suspension on May 2, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for a temporary restraining order the next day. According to Hernandez, the court has yet to hold a hearing or rule on the motion for a temporary injunction, which requires a lower standard of proof.

The Yale College Undergraduate Regulations states that a suspended student “forfeits all privileges of enrollment,” including class attendance, participation in organized extracurriculars and the use of University facilities. Per the regulations, suspended students may only return to campus during their suspension periods if they have obtained written permission from their respective residential college deans or the Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar.

In an email to the News last month, Nickerson said there are “many reasons why a suspended student might request and receive permission to return to campus” but declined to specify what those reasons may be. For his part, Hernandez said he is “not sure … how [Yale] would characterize [Doe’s] current participation in the school.”

Serena Cho | serena.cho@yale.edu .

Asha Prihar | asha.prihar@yale.edu .

Asha Prihar served as managing editor of the News during the 2019-20 academic year. Before that, she covered community service, Yale's professional schools and undergraduate student life as a staff reporter. She is a senior in Silliman College studying political science.